Arlington, VA

Update at 9:10 p.m. — Power was briefly restored but is back off, according to a Dominion spokeswoman.

Earlier: About 3,700 Dominion customers are without power in Arlington as of 8 p.m. Friday night.

A massive outage is mostly affecting customers in Alexandria, but thousands in Arlington’s Crystal City, Aurora Highlands, Arlington Ridge and Fairlington neighborhoods are also in the dark.

Some have reported the power flickering.

Power restoration is currently estimated between 10 p.m.-1 a.m., according to Dominion’s website. The cause of the outage is a malfunctioning circuit at a substation, according to a company spokeswoman.

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Morning Notes

Crystal City Parking Lot Staying Put — “Crystal City has been a scalding hot market for new development ever since Amazon.com Inc. moved in — but one well-positioned lot will continue to sit empty for the foreseeable future. Gould Property Co., which owns a small parking lot at 2661 S. Clark St., filed a request with Arlington County last month asking for permission to maintain the property as surface parking through early 2026.” [Washington Business Journal]

Westover Apartment Building Named — “Kathleen Sibert, who led the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN) from 2008 until earlier this year, will remain a permanent part of the organization through a facility named in her honor… Located in Westover, Sibert House is designed to provide permanent-supportive housing and a foundation to help individuals achieve better health, overcome substance abuse and mental illness, obtain job security, and attain their goals.” [InsideNova]

Schools Also Facing Budget Gap — “Superintendent Durán said that APS is facing an estimated budget gap at this time of between $24 million and $31 million. The APS budget gap continues to fluctuate and is based on continued unknowns including more possible revenue loss, more possible savings and more costs as APS works to return students to in-person learning while continuing to provide distance learning. The school district is examining its current practices and reviewing the budget.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Arlington Water Facts — “In a year, Arlington residents use some 8 billion gallons of water. That’s about a trillion 8-ounce glasses of the stuff. Clean, safe and always at the ready.” [Twitter]

Real Estate Costs on the Rise — “Not only are home prices on the rise across the Washington area; the average cost on a per-square-foot basis continues to grow, too… In Virginia, Arlington led the pack, with its average per-square-foot cost of $455 up 4.4 percent from $436.” [InsideNova]

Real Estate Firm Opening Second Office — “McEnearney Associates is excited to announce a new office location in the heart of Clarendon in Arlington, Virginia located at 3033 Wilson Boulevard… This will be McEnearney Associate’s second office location in Arlington.” [Press Release]

Airport Concession Sales Way Down — “Roughly 33 concessionaires were open at Reagan and 44 at Dulles, or just over 40% of all shops in the two airports… the shops that are open are still struggling with very low foot traffic and a customer base that is spending less than normal. Sales per passenger were down 20% at Reagan National and 22% at Dulles in August compared to the same month of 2019.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Early Voting on Irish TV — “Irish TV RTÉ was in Courthouse filming the early voting for the election.” [@Irelands4Courts/Twitter]

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The Virginia Department of Transportation is asking residents to take a short survey that will shape a study of potential improvements to Route 1 between 12th and 23rd Streets S. in Crystal City.

As development activity in Crystal City and Pentagon City continues, VDOT and Arlington County are looking for ways to improve the safety, accessibility and effectiveness of a variety of transportation modes on Route 1 the area. In particular, the study responds to the increased demand for transportation resulting from the construction of Amazon’s HQ2.

“As this area’s commercial and residential densities continue to increase, transportation plans will need to address the wide-ranging needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, motorists, and other users while maximizing the safety, convenience, and sustainability of the system for decades to come,” according to a news release from the VDOT.

The survey asks respondents to explain how they use Route 1 (also known as Richmond Highway), rank improvements by priority, and identify areas with congestion or safety problems. It is available through Nov. 15.

Officials say the study will help identify safety improvements for pedestrians, bicyclists, those using micro-mobility modes such as electric bicycles and scooters, and those taking transit or driving. The study will also examine ways to make transit more accessible, reliable and convenient, as well as options for protecting the environment.

The team leading the study plans to form a task force from representatives of civic associations, Arlington County advisory groups and the National Landing Business Improvement District, the news release said. The task force is anticipated to have five meetings.

More from the press release:

After collecting and analyzing the initial survey data, VDOT is planning a virtual public meeting this winter to share preliminary survey results and latest study information. Draft recommendations for the study will be presented to the public for feedback in spring 2021, and the final study is expected to be complete in summer 2021.

Please note that this study does not include construction funding, but will develop proposed future improvements that VDOT and other agencies will consider and may pursue for funding.

The study was announced a week after the National Landing BID released a report, “Reimagining Route 1,” which envisioned the car-centric highway as a slower, greener, pedestrian-friendly boulevard lined with retail and restaurants.

VDOT is studying the Route 1 overpasses over 12th, 15th and 18th streets, which some have called to be eliminated in favor of more urban intersections at grade.

“Route 1 was originally designed to accommodate the auto-centric development trends of the mid-20th century, when the primary objective was to move cars through the area as quickly as possible,” the BID said in a press release. “The resulting elevated highway, super blocks, and oversized intersections divided the community for decades, inhibiting not only connectivity and access, but also the area’s ability to come together as a singular downtown district.”

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Arlington County police arrested a man over the weekend after he allegedly tried to force his way into the home of a woman who opened her door to see if he needed help.

The incident happened around 1:45 a.m. Sunday on the 3100 block of 9th Street N., near Clarendon.

Police say the 22-year-old man was drunk when he started to damage items outside the home and then pushed the victim in an attempt to enter the home.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

UNLAWFUL ENTRY, 2020-10180035, 3100 block of 9th Street N. At approximately 1:45 a.m. on October 18, police were dispatched to the report of a suspicious person. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was inside her residence when she heard noise at her door and observed the male suspect outside. As the victim opened the door to see if the suspect was in need of assistance, he requested to be let inside and kicked a shoe and his phone into the residence. As the victim attempted to retrieve the items, the suspect allegedly began to damage the victim’s property outside, then pushed the victim as he attempted to enter the residence. The victim fought back and yelled for assistance, at which point neighbor came to the aid of the victim and chased the suspect out of the building. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the suspect had also entered another residence in the building. Kyle Lewis, 22, of Chantilly, Va., was arrested and charged with Assault and Battery, Unlawful Entry, and Drunk in Public.

Also in the most recent ACPD crime report, police are investigating Saturday morning robberies in Crystal City and Rosslyn.

ROBBERY, 2020-10170061, 1400 block of Crystal Drive. At approximately 3:17 a.m. on October 17, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that when the two victims came outside to meet the suspect,  she exited her vehicle and demanded money from them. As Victim One pulled out an undisclosed amount of cash, the suspect struck him with a closed fist and grabbed the money. The suspect then turned to Victim Two, who initially declined to provide money, and became angered. Victim Two produced an undisclosed amount of cash, which the suspect grabbed, then fled in the vehicle prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a Black female, 6’2″ to 6’4″, and 300 lbs. The vehicle is described as a gray Mercedes hatchback. The investigation is ongoing.

ROBBERY, 2020-10170094, 1100 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 9:56 a.m. on October 17, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery by force just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business and began selecting merchandise. The victim approached the suspect telling him to pay for the merchandise, at which point a physical altercation ensued. The suspect pushed the victim and grabbed his eyeglasses, causing them to break, then selected additional merchandise and fled the business prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a White male, approximately 6’0″, 220 lbs., wearing a dark gray hoodie, camouflage shorts, with black and yellow sneakers. The investigation is ongoing.

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Morning Notes

Nonprofit Won’t Return to Arlington Office — “The American Diabetes Association isn’t planning a return to the Crystal City headquarters it left Alexandria for a few years back, not even when a Covid-19 vaccine is readily available and it’s safe to go back to the office again. The nonprofit is seeking to sublease all of its space at 2451 Crystal Drive, about 80,000 square feet.” [Washington Business Journal]

Voter Registration Open Until Midnight — “A judge on Wednesday granted a request from civil rights groups to extend Virginia’s voter registration deadline until Oct. 15 after the state’s online system crashed on the final day of the registration period, according to Virginia’s attorney general.” [Axios, Press Release]

Oh, Deer — The regional deer population has been increasing during the pandemic, which is making driving more dangerous this fall as deer potentially become “too comfortable” around roads. [NBC 4]

Park Rangers Patrolling for Rogue Mountain Bikers — “Park rangers have been patrolling the parks to keep the mountain bike riders off the natural trails. ‘We put up barriers in places where we can. We put up signs … in key areas we put up some things to block their access … but we’re focusing on education,’ Abugattas said.” [WTOP]

Voting Lines Should Move Quickly — “Arlington election officials are advising the public not to be dissuaded if lines for voting, either in advance of Nov. 3 or on Election Day itself, seem long. ‘You can expect to see a pretty long line, but that’s because of the spacing we’re trying to put between voters,’ county director of elections Gretchen Reinemeyer said.” Also, the Reinemeyer said the county is already fully staffed with volunteer poll workers. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Certification for Sheriff’s Office — “The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office has met all applicable Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards following an audit that was conducted earlier this year.” [Arlington County]

Pentagon City Planning Meeting Tonight — “Participate in a virtual workshop about Arlington’s community planning process for Pentagon City! The first workshop will include small group discussions about the community’s vision for the Pentagon City Area.” [Arlington County]

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Arlington County is asking for public input for a new park in Crystal City, just on the border of Pentagon City.

Current called “Teardrop Parcels” from the shape of the two pieces of land that form the space, the county’s working name is “New Park at South Eads Street and Army Navy Drive.”

The green space is located by the Verizon telecommunications facility site (400 11th Street S.) and the construction site for a new, 19-story residential building. It’s also adjacent to the recently-built Altaire apartments and across the street from the second phase of Amazon’s permanent HQ2.

An online feedback form is available until end of day today (Oct. 14), according to a presentation delivered on Sept. 29. The next opportunity for public feedback will be in November, while third and final opportunity will come in December. Name suggestions are welcome, according to the presentation.

The owner of the Altaire is contributing more than $1.4 million and the new apartment development is pitching in nearly $1.2 million, for a total budget of $2.6 million for the new park.

With the new developments, the park could see more activity from residents, workers and shoppers in the coming years, said Mark Gionet, the Principal at LSG Landscape Architecture.

Studies show that having retail space bordering an urban park — as is planned in this case — can help activate the two spaces, said the architect, whose firm is partnering with the county to facilitate public engagement with plans for the park.

Currently, during weekday work hours, the land is used by people walking to get groceries and lunch. On the weekends, children play while their parents watch from lawn chairs. The land is popular with dog walkers, who use the pet waste station.

The presentation notes that Metropolitan Park, Long Bridge Park and Virginia Highlands Park are all within walking distance, with a variety of existing amenities.

“A range of active, passive and social park amenities are available within a walking distance,” the presentation said. Planners will take that, public feedback, and the fact that the park is shaded by nearby buildings much of the time into consideration when mulling over what features the new park might have.

Work on the park should not harm the large, leafy tree on the land, Gionet said. Its extensive root system, however, will limit the developable area in the park, he said.

Photo (2) via Google Maps

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Route 1 through Crystal City is currently a car-oriented, exhaust-clogged asphalt canyon that’s unpleasant for pedestrians to cross or even walk along. But there’s a push for that to change.

The National Landing BID, formerly known as the Crystal City BID before Amazon came to town, has just revealed its lusher, more pedestrian-friendly vision for Route 1, complete with wide sidewalks lined with ground-floor retail and restaurants.

VDOT is currently studying the corridor and considering whether overpasses in the Crystal City area should be removed in favor of a more conventional, urban street grid. The BID’s new Reimagine Route 1 report takes that and other ideas for modernizing the corridor and turns it into a series of concept designs, complete with 3D renderings.

“The concepts presented in Reimagine Route 1 draw upon best practices in urban street design by placing people at the center of National Landing’s future,” Matt Gerber, General Manager of the Westin Crystal City and Co-Chair of the BID’s Transportation Committee, said in a statement today. “Narrow lane widths, lower design speeds, and urban intersection geometries ensure that the autocentric mistakes of the past will not be replicated in the development of the corridor’s new and distinctly community-focused identity.”

The BID’s vision for turning Route 1 — also known as Richmond Highway — from a commuter route into an “iconic corridor serving a thriving urban neighborhood” draws comparisons to main routes in other major cities.

The report includes photos of Octavia Boulevard — formerly Central Freeway — in San Francisco, as well as Michigan Avenue in Chicago, which like Route 1 has three vehicle lanes in each direction.

“Also known as the Magnificent Mile, the 13-block stretch of North Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Oak Street has a similar vehicle carrying capacity as the existing Route 1 yet boasts a walkable and vibrant public realm with safe connections to transit and a well-connected street grid,” the report says.

The report is intended to start a conversation about the corridor’s long-term future, which officials may then opt to turn into action via transportation and land use changes. The overall goal is to turn the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods — collectively now known as National Landing — into a cohesive urban area over time.

“Route 1 was originally designed to accommodate the auto-centric development trends of the mid-20th century, when the primary objective was to move cars through the area as quickly as possible,” the BID said in a press release. “The resulting elevated highway, super blocks, and oversized intersections divided the community for decades, inhibiting not only connectivity and access, but also the area’s ability to come together as a singular downtown district.”

Others have also been working on envisioning changes to Route 1. The Crystal City Sector Plan, approved in 2010, set a more urban vision for the community through 2040. Local civic associations, meanwhile, have recently formed a collective called Livability 22202 to discuss ideas. From an August article:

Proposed changes ranged from building storefronts or markets in the area underneath the overpasses, creating more open space where thick sandstone-colored walls now hold up the highway, and putting Route 1 underground to allow for development on top of it.

More on the Reimagine Route 1 report, from a press release, is below.

Read More

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Morning Notes

Girl’s Study Shed Featured on NBC — With the help of a local Facebook group called “Buy Nothing,” an Arlington dad built a study shed for his daughter using materials donated by neighbors. The project was featured on Saturday’s national NBC Nightly News broadcast. [YouTube, Washington Post]

APS Graduation Rate Improves — “Arlington’s public-school students posted a 93.4-percent on-time graduation rate up from 92.5 percent a year before, according to new data from the Virginia Department of Education. Rates rose among both genders and in major racial/ethnic groups compared to the Class of 2019, while the school system’s dropout rate showed improvement, declining from 5.6 percent in 2019 to 4.9 percent in 2020.” [InsideNova]

Crystal City Halloween Shop Struggles — “This was supposed to be the biggest Halloween of Lorenzo Caltagirone’s career.
For the first time in 95 years, it would fall on both a full moon and a Saturday — an equation that normally would mean big profits for his Virginia costume shop. Instead, sales are down 80 percent and he is running low on cash.” [Washington Post]

Vehicle Tampering Suspects Flee — “Police were dispatched to the report of two subjects trespassing and tampering with vehicles in a parking garage. Upon arrival, it was determined that security observed two suspects enter the garage on motorcycles and begin trying door handles. Arriving officers observed the suspects, however, when they attempted to stop them, Suspect One got on a motorcycle, then fled on foot and the Suspect Two fled on a motorcycle.” [ACPD]

Memorial Service for Erik Gutshall — A memorial service for the late County Board member Erik Gutshall was held last night at outdoor the Lubber Run Amphitheater. Some mourners attended in person, though the service was also broadcast online. [YouTube]

Beyer’s Warnings Unheeded By White House — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) “specifically and directly warned the White House and the Trump Campaign in June, July, August, and September that refusing to wear masks or social distance could create ‘super-spreader events.’ We used those words,” said Beyer’s spokesman. [Twitter]

Cross-Country Tandem Bike Ride — “Terri and Bruce Brown are finishing up a more than 3,000-mile, three-month bicycle trip from Oregon to the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, not with two bikes, but one.” [WTOP]

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Morning Notes

Crystal City Water Park to Get Big Upgrade — “JBG Smith Properties is pitching a major makeover for a small park at the heart of its Crystal City holdings, envisioning some new retail and even a bar atop a water feature. The developer filed plans with Arlington County earlier this month requesting an additional 6,100 square feet of density for the 1.6-acre park, located across the street from JBG Smith’s massive ‘Central District’ project at 1770 Crystal Drive.” [Washington Business Journal, Twitter]

Vote By Mail Facts — “The first round of vote-by-mail ballots have been sent to people who requested them, but it’s not too late to request yours. Ballot applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Oct. 23. To help you understand how voting by mail works — and feel confident in submitting your ballot — we’ve broken down the facts you need to know.” [Arlington County]

Deer Rescued from Country Club Fence — “On Tuesday night, a curious fawn tried to get through a metal fence in the Washington Golf and Country Club. Unfortunately her adventurous plan backfired, and the fawn ended up stuck and stranded. The country club called animal control, which is under the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, and that’s when Officer Shannon Rose sprung to action.” [Washingtonian]

Weekday Afternoon Robbery in Ballston — “At approximately 4:21 p.m. on September 23, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business, approached the front counter, and passed the employee a note demanding money and threatening them if they didn’t comply. The victim complied, and the suspect stole an undisclosed amount of cash, then fled on foot prior to police arrival.” [Arlington County]

National Landing Food Program Extended — “Thanks to generous support from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), Amazon, JBG SMITH, Equity Residential and individual Arlington residents, the National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) announced today that its Farm-to-Families food assistance program will be extended through the fall.” [Press Release]

Addiction Recovery Org Rebrands — “The name will change but the mission will remain the same – working to help those struggling with addiction turn their lives around. Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic announced Sept. 16 that it would change its name to National Capital Treatment and Recovery, following its split last year from the national Phoenix House organization.” [InsideNova]

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PBS is asking the Arlington County Board permission to add its logo to the top of its new headquarters in Crystal City.

The public broadcasting network is moving from its current space at 2100 Crystal Drive to the northern corner of the neighborhood, at 1225 S. Clark Street, after signing a 15-year-lease for 120,000 square feet of office space last year.

There’s just one problem: the new headquarters building has a condition placed on it, from its original county approval in 1979, specifying that no rooftop signs be placed. PBS is asking the County Board, at its meeting this Saturday, to scrap the 40-year-old restriction and allow its logo to grace the top of the office tower.

From a county staff report:

The subject site consists of four (4) office buildings on individual parcels of land, and the associated underground parking; the buildings also have a small amount of below grade retail in the Crystal City Underground. The buildings are part of the larger Crystal Gateway mixed-use site plan that was originally approved in its current form by the County Board in 1979, with an additional major amendment approved in 1984. Crystal Gateway has approximately 1,380,000 square feet of office and commercial use and 242 dwelling units in two (2) condominium buildings.

The original approval of the Crystal Gateway site plan in 1979 included a condition (#3) that prohibited the installation of rooftop signs. A comprehensive sign plan for the Crystal Gateway site plan project was initially approved by the County Board in 1983 and was amended several times. Additionally, the site plan has been amended twice to specifically allow rooftop signs on separate office buildings within the project boundaries. The applicant now requests that the restrictive condition prohibiting the installation of rooftop signs be eliminated to allow for sign permits to be obtained for the buildings in a manner consistent with the current provisions of Article 13 of the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance

The new PBS headquarters is located next to the U.S. Marshals Service headquarters and a couple of blocks from Amazon’s under-construction HQ2.

“We are thrilled that PBS will remain in Crystal City, especially during such a transformative and exciting time for this community,” PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger said last year. “Keeping our headquarters in Arlington is great for PBS and our employees, and we’re proud to call ‘National Landing’ our home.”

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The National Landing BID (née Crystal City BID) is hosting a series of drive-in movies, starting Thursday and running weekly in September.

Retro drive-ins have become a popular alternative to traditional theaters, which can be a COVID-19 hazard. In Alexandria, a similar drive-in series has already sold out all of its tickets.

For the National Landing film series — dubbed “Ride in Reels” — the venue is the empty lot at 33rd Street S. and Crystal Drive. Gates will open for moviegoers at 7 p.m.

Films scheduled for the drive-in are:

Prior registration is required to attend. Would-be attendees are encouraged to sign up for the National Landing BID newsletter; a link will appear in the Monday newsletter for Thursday’s movie. When registering, participants select their vehicle type or choose one of the non-vehicle spaces for those walking or biking to the movies.

“Please note, once you make your selection, you should complete your registration quickly because Eventbrite does not reserve ‘tickets’ that are in your cart,” the BID cautioned.

Registration for this Thursday’s showing of Little Women is currently open.

Attendees should remain in their vehicles, or in designated non-vehicle spaces, throughout the movie, the BID said. Public restrooms will not be available.

Outside food and drink is allowed, but alcohol and smoking is prohibited. Face masks are required when entering and exiting but can be taken off during the movie.

The series is co-sponsored by grocery store chain Lidl, which has its U.S. headquarters in Crystal City.

Image via Disney

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