Delays on Blue, Orange Lines Due to Person Struck — A person was struck by a train at the L’Enfant Metro station around 9:30 this morning. The incident is causing delays on the Blue and Orange lines, as service has been suspended between L’Enfant and Federal Center. Silver Line trains are operating between Wiehle and Ballston. [Twitter, Twitter, Washington Post]
Reminder: E-CARE Event This Weekend — Arlington County is holding its biannual Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This time around the venue has changed; the recycling and hazardous household materials collection event is now being held at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd). [Arlington County]
Scott Disick Comes to Arlington, Disses ARLnow — Updated at 12:10 p.m. — Reality TV personality Scott Disick lorded over the grand opening ceremony for Sugar Factory in Pentagon City last night. About 100 people, mostly young women, showed up for the event, according to an ARLnow employee on the scene. Disick did interviews with local news outlets, but PR reps cut off the interviews and ushered Disick away just as our employee was next in line. [Twitter, Facebook, Daily Mail]
Kirwan’s Opens to Big Crowds — Mark Kirwan, owner of Samuel Beckett’s in Shirlington, may have another hit on his hands. His new bar, Kirwan’s on the Wharf in Southwest D.C., was packed last night before the Foo Fighters concert at the Anthem. [Facebook]
Courthouse Plaza Parking Lot Closed Sunday — The county’s Courthouse Plaza parking lot will be closed most of the day Sunday for the 2017 Animal Welfare League of Arlington Pints 4 Paws event. [Arlington County]
Marymount Makes USNWR Top Tier — “Marymount University is once again in the top tier among Regional Universities in the South in several categories, ranking 52nd overall in the 2018 edition of ‘Best Colleges’ by U.S. News & World Report.” [Marymount University]
AIRE Wins Regional Award — The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy was among this year’s recipients of the Climate and Energy Leadership Awards from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. AIRE’s Energy Lending Library “makes it easy to check out a thermal camera, a box of 10 different LED bulbs, energy meter, and Do-It-Yourself energy retrofit books through the library system free of charge,” notes COG. [Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Wakefield Student Sang National Anthem — Wakefield High School junior Samantha Rios sang the national anthem before Sunday night’s Redskins-Raiders game. Rios, who previously competed on a Spanish language version of The Voice, was seen by a national TV audience as controversy swirled over players kneeling in protest during the anthem. [WUSA 9]
Officials to Compete in Trivia Battle — County Board Chair Jay Fisette, state Sen. Barbara Favola, Del. Patrick Hope and former County Board members Mary Hynes and Joe Wholey will compete in a “housing trivia battle” next month, testing their knowledge of Arlington history, particularly as it relates to housing issues. [Arlington County]
Clement Blasts Daycare Approval — Independent Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement said in a new email to supporters that the current Board places the interests of developers ahead of that of residents. As an example, she cited the recent approval of a new daycare center on Lee Highway, despite concerns about traffic among some local residents. The approval “will likely engender cut through traffic on an adjacent one lane street off Lee Highway that has already experienced major traffic accidents,” Clement wrote. The daycare had the general support of the local civic association. [Audrey Clement]
Gun Control Group to Host Fmr. ATF Agent — The local chapter of the pro-gun-control group Moms Demand Action is hosting a special event on Wednesday, featuring a former ATF special agent. The event will include discussion of the “the challenges facing gun violence prevention.” It is scheduled from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Shirlington Branch Library. Moms Demand Action had a booth at Clarendon Day this past weekend and signed up nearly 100 new volunteers. [Facebook, Medium]
Nearby: One Guy is Holding Up Development in D.C. — One persistent activist is holding up hundreds of millions of dollars worth of development in the District. Chris Otten has succeeded in delaying numerous developments by rallying a group of neighbors and filing court challenges. [Bisnow]
Those behind a Michelin-recognized Ethiopian restaurant that is now expanding into Arlington say they are hoping to open this winter.
At the time, owner Alemayehu Abebe said he was hopeful of opening this summer, but that timeline has been pushed back. Abebe told ARLnow in a brief interview last Wednesday that construction will start sometime around today (Monday). He did not say what has caused the delays.
The restaurant has applied for a license with Virginia ABC, and is hoping to have more than 100 seats inside as well as more outside on a patio. Chercher offers traditional Ethiopian food and drink on its menu. The restaurant at 1334 9th Street NW was included in Michelin’s D.C. dining guide and earned a “bib gourmand” for high-quality food at a low price.
The eatery previously filed for county permits to convert what was intended as an office space to a restaurant use. As of Tuesday, the space had been completely gutted, ready for work to begin.
The space on the ground floor of a large office building is close to the county courthouse complex and police headquarters, and across the street from the Tellus apartment building. Signs in the window indicate another ground-floor unit in the same building as the planned restaurant is available for rent by a retail tenant.
A local blogging legend, Dan has been tirelessly chronicling community news, happenings and minutia in D.C. for more than a decade.
We asked him about how he started the site, his approach to PoPville’s coverage and about the parallels (and partnership) between PoP and ARLnow.
Photo by Hugh Clarke
Lost Dog Reunited With Owner — A dog that disappeared under mysterious circumstances is back at home this morning, her owner says, after the man who picked her up as she was wandering around North Arlington saw a sign with the dog’s photo and dialed the phone number on it. [Facebook]
County Lauded for Digital Prowess — Arlington has been named one of the “top 5 counties for digital government” by StateTech magazine. The county was lauded for “embracing open data and transparency” in decision making and citizen outreach. [StateTech]
Death at Belvedere Condos — A man reportedly jumped to his death at the Belvedere Condominiums near Rosslyn on Friday. The complex’s pool and pool deck were closed Friday as police investigated the incident.
Priest Who Admitted KKK Past Still Venerated Confederacy — A priest in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington might not have been totally forthcoming when he admitted and renounced his KKK activity as a young man. Even after becoming a priest, in the early 2000s, Rev. William Aitcheson “was a ‘fervent advocate of the Confederacy’ who would joke about ‘Saint Robert E. Lee’ in homilies at the church,” one former student of his recalled. [Washington Post, Washington Post]
Nearby: Two Men Jump From Aqueduct Bridge — One man is dead and another in grave condition after both jumped from the Aqueduct Bridge in Georgetown, near the Key Bridge, into the Potomac River. A friend of the men said they were hanging out on the bridge when one decided to jump, then the other jumped in to save him. Boats and and a helicopter were used as part of the subsequent rescue operation. [NBC Washington]
The new bar, from Beckett’s Irish-born owner Mark Kirwan, is reported to have seating for 235 indoors and outside. It will feature “live Irish music and genuine décor” while touting itself as “Washington’s only Irish pub on the water.”
Texas Murder Suspect Arrested in Arlington — A suspected MS-13 gang member, wanted for two Houston-area homicides, was arrested in Arlington on Saturday. Twenty-year-old Douglas Alexander Herrera-Hernandez, also known as “Terror,” was taken into custody while walking near the intersection of Columbia Pike and Four Mile Run Drive. [Fox 5, WTOP]
Family of Murder Victim Donates Reward Funds — The family of an Iraq war vet shot to death in front of the Pentagon Row shopping center in 2006 has donated $5,000 in unclaimed reward money to Arlington Crime Solvers. “Despite an intensive investigation, a suspect and motive have not been identified,” said Arlington County Police. “This case remains an active cold case investigation.” [NBC Washington, WJLA, Twitter]
Some Arlingtonians Pay to Attend D.C. Public Schools — A handful of Arlington residents pay tuition for their children to attend D.C. public schools. Most are paying for enrollment in the renowned Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Northwest Washington. Arlington, which is still facing a school capacity crunch, does not allow nonresident students as does D.C., Fairfax County and Montgomery County. [Washington Post]
APS May Buy Home Next to Glebe Elementary — The Arlington School Board is considering buying a home next to Glebe Elementary School for $525,000 to provide emergency vehicles another point of access to the school. The home was recently sold to an investment firm for just over $400,000 this past January. [InsideNova]
Explanation for Low-Flying Helicopter — If you spotted a helicopter making low passes over Arlington this past weekend, it might have for a survey by the National Nuclear Security Administration “to measure naturally occurring background radiation.” [Twitter, National Nuclear Security Administration]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
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]
Soon, some parts of Arlington will be just a walk away from the latest Wawa location.
The convenience store with a cult-like following announced today (Monday) it will open a new store at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue NW and Prospect Street NW in Georgetown. That is within blocks of the Key Bridge and about a mile from the center of Rosslyn.
In a press release, Wawa promised the store will “feature the latest Wawa offerings with an upscale, urban feel, including customized architectural elements that meet the historical needs and requirements of the Old Georgetown Historic District.”
The store will include Wawa’s food and drink offerings as well as custom salads and nitro, cold brew coffee. It will be another one of the company’s “urban” stores, as it moves away from its suburban model where a gas station is attached.
Wawa earlier this month announced its first location in the region at 1111 19th Street NW, near the Farragut North Metro station. The push is part of the company’s efforts to add between 30 and 50 stores in the Washington region.
“This second location is one more step in Wawa’s overall D.C. expansion as we continue to look for sites and with the goal of opening numerous locations throughout the city over the next few years,” said Brian Schaller, Wawa’s chief real estate officer, in a statement.
Wawa officials say they are actively pursuing sites in and around D.C., potentially to include Arlington.
“Wawa will also continue its ongoing expansion in the surrounding counties in Maryland and Virginia to further our brand expansion,” the company said.
Map via Google Maps
ACPD Releases New Video of Sex Assault Suspect — Arlington County Police have released new video of the man suspected of sexually assaulting a woman in her Rosslyn condo last month. Police are still seeking more information about the suspect. [Twitter, YouTube]
Big Brother Contestant Is From Arlington — One of the contestants on the upcoming season of CBS’ Big Brother is Matthew Clines, a 33-year-old renovation consultant from Arlington. The show premieres on Wednesday, June 28. [CBS, Hollywood Reporter]
Nam-Viet Closing in D.C. — The Cleveland Park outpost of Arlington’s Nam-Viet restaurant is closing, citing “competition to remain significant and relevant in this fast-paced D.C. restaurant market.” There have been a number of restaurant closings in the neighborhood as of late. [PoPville]
New Cafe in Takoma Park Draws Arlington Talent — A new coffee, beer, wine and cocktail spot called Takoma Beverage Co. has opened in Takoma Park, Md. The cafe features a bevy of Arlington restaurant vets, including alums of Northside Social and the former Sehkraft Brewing in Clarendon. Helping to fund the venture is Mothersauce Partners, the restaurant investment firm and consultancy founded by Nick Freshman of Spider Kelly’s. [Eater]
Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards
Convenience store giant Wawa is considering expanding into Arlington County as part of its push into the D.C. and Virginia market, but has no firm plans yet.
Wawa, which operates more than 750 stores in six states including 81 in Virginia, announced Tuesday night its first location will be in the District at 1111 19th Street NW.
And with an aggressive plan to add 30-50 stores in the region, including 5-10 in the next two years alone, Wawa representatives said there will be a concerted push to also look beyond D.C.’s neighborhoods and into the outlying counties in Maryland and Virginia.
“We think of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun [counties] a little differently, not so much as part of our District expansion but really more as part of our Virginia expansion,” said John Poplawski, Wawa’s senior director of site acquisition and development, in an interview. “We continue to work towards those, but frankly, the approval process and the zoning are a little more challenging in those markets.”
With its new store in D.C., Wawa is looking to expand its more urban stores, as opposed to its previous model of operating in suburban locations with gas stations attached.
The new District store will be the largest Wawa store in the country, and as well as the latest food offerings will be the first to have counter, indoor and outdoor seating. The store will also be the first to have Wawa’s so-called “Wild Goose” café brand.
Wawa announced its first foray into D.C. at an event Tuesday night at the Newseum. Company executives were joined by representatives of various local organizations and developers in a conference room overlooking the city skyline to unveil designs of the new store.
Outside, the company set up a Fan Zone where customers could pose for photographs with mascots Wally and Shorti and pick up branded merchandise.
Wawa is famous across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Florida as well as elsewhere in Virginia for offering fresh food including made-to-order hoagies, fresh coffee and a slew of other food items including breakfast sandwiches.
And given the similarities between neighborhoods in D.C. and areas of Arlington like Ballston, Clarendon, Pentagon City and Crystal City, county residents could get a taste in their neighborhood soon.
“We’re looking for those intersections that have throughout the day pedestrian counts, folks that are there on the weekends, folks that are there late-night, surrounding businesses that will support us, and we have great partners here in the District,” Poplawski said.
Poplawski said more store locations will be announced in the next “60-90 days.” Rumors have swirled online about new stores opening in Chinatown and Georgetown in D.C., while a store in Sterling in Loudoun County will open on June 23.
More on Proposed Rosslyn Residential Tower — As first reported by ARLnow.com, a residential tower is being proposed to replace the RCA office building in Rosslyn. A new preliminary site plan filing provides some additional details: it will be 24-story residential building with 407 units of both apartments and condos, plus some ground floor retail and three floors of underground parking. [Washington Business Journal]
Caucus Voting Starts Today — Voting in the Democratic caucus for County Board and School Board starts today. The first day of caucus voting will take place between 7-9 p.m. at Key Elementary School, followed by additional caucuses on May 11 and 13. ARLnow recently published “why you should vote for me” essays from each candidate. [Arlington Democrats]
Arlington Couple’s Soccer Devotion Recognized — A local couple “is among three finalists in the international family category for Bayern [Munich]’s Fan Awards, recognizing dedication to the fabled club.” Their devotion includes regular attendance Saturdays at Summers Restaurant in Courthouse for games, and holding up matching husband and wife jerseys following their 2015 nuptials. [Washington Post]
Scalia Son Is an Arlington Priest — Paul Scalia, the sixth child of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, is a Catholic priest who serves as Episcopal Vicar for Clergy — an assistant to the Bishop — in the Diocese of Arlington headquarters (200 N. Glebe Road). Scalia just released his first book and NBC 4 used the occasion to ask him about growing up in the Scalia household. [NBC Washington]
Nearby: Amazon Opening Store in Georgetown — Amazon.com will be opening one of its first brick-and-mortar retail stores in Georgetown, at 3040 M Street NW. It has existing physical bookstores in Seattle, Portland and San Diego. [Washington Post]
From 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Arlington police’s SWAT team will take part in the exercise near George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School at 3301 Fairfax Drive.
Residents can expect to see an increase in public safety vehicles and law enforcement officers in the area, and those traveling nearby may hear noise originating from the training site. All activities will be confined to the training site.
Law enforcement officials and other first-responders will take part in the exercise organized by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. The exercise is intended to prepare for a “complex” attack involving multiple target locations and teams of perpetrators.
Arlington is one of six locations for the exercise, along with neighborhoods in Northeast and Southeast D.C., and Prince George’s and Fairfax counties.
MWCOG spokeswoman Jeanne Saddler said the exercise is designed to be as realistic as possible. She said that residents nearby will be notified beforehand and that disruption should be minimal for those in the area.
“To some degree they’re trying to make it a surprise for the participants,” she said. “In order to maintain the exercise for participants and first-responders, we have to avoid making a mention of locations… I don’t think there’ll be disruption for residents or people traveling.”
Hundreds of police, fire, and emergency medical service personnel and volunteer actors will be involved in the exercise. The timing of the exercise is a secret too.
“Law enforcement officials practice and exercise their skills on their own regularly because that’s the best way to ensure we are always ready to respond quickly and professionally,” said Scott Boggs, managing director of Homeland Security and Public Safety at MWCOG, in a statement. “On April 26, we’ll go one step further and stage a very realistic emergency event involving multiple sites and actors posing as the casualties. However, there is no reason for residents to be alarmed because the exercise will occur in a controlled environment.”
Senators Tour Proposed Cemetery Expansion — The Army gave a group of U.S. senators a tour of a proposed expansion area for Arlington National Cemetery yesterday. The expansion, around the Air Force Memorial, would create space for 40,000 to 60,000 gravesites while requiring a realignment of Columbia Pike. Military officials are hoping to open the expansion by 2023 but a land swap with Arlington County and Virginia has still not been completed. [Stars and Stripes]
Arlington Man Killed in D.C. — An Arlington resident, 31-year-old Antwan Jones, was shot to death Tuesday afternoon while sitting in an BMW in Southeast D.C. A second man was injured in the shooting. [Washington Post]
History of Fairlington — Eighteen years ago yesterday Fairlington was added to the National Register of Historic Places. George Washington once owned land in the neighborhood, in the southwest corner of Arlington. It was also home to Civil War fortifications and a horse farm before being cleared to make way for 3,449 units of government housing for defense workers during World War II. [Facebook]
Midwestern Gothic Trailer — Signature Theater has released a cinematic trailer for its new “world premiere thriller with a musical twist,” Midwestern Gothic. The production runs through April 30. [YouTube]
HireEd Conference Coming to GMU — Sponsored — Graham Holdings Chair Donald Graham will be the keynote speaker at an event that will bring together entrepreneurs, business leaders, educators and nonprofits to discuss strategies to place students and graduates in jobs at all levels and solutions for businesses recruiting talent. It’s taking place Wednesday, April 5, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at George Mason University Founders Hall, 3351 Fairfax Drive. Registration is free for students and $25 for general admission. [Arlington Economic Development]
Photo courtesy Fred Cochard
Washington D.C. welcomes the opening of the East Coast’s first virtual reality escape room, “Oblivion.” The thrilling 60 minute brain teaser marries the adventurous concept of escape gaming and the technological marvels of virtual reality.
May it be of historic or political significance, throughout its history Washington D.C. has been home to quite a few firsts. However, not many would have guessed that the nation’s capital is going to be in the headlines when it comes to escape rooms.
In terms of history escape gaming is still a relatively newborn concept, since the first rooms have only opened little more than a decade ago. The idea behind escape rooms is cleverly simplistic: create a room full of puzzles and brain teasers, “lock” in a group of people (usually friends, families or co-workers), and give them 60 minutes to solve said puzzles in order to escape, or “win”. Teamplay, a ticking a clock, some excitement, and you have all the main elements of a proper entertainment.
Escape rooms usually have a theme, may it be a Sherlock Holmes murder mystery or a doomsday bunker, the setting is half the fun. This is where the idea of virtual reality comes into play, as Alex, the owner of Insomnia Escape Room DC puts it, “I had this idea for a while, putting together escape gaming and VR”. He adds, “I have quite a lot of experience in IT, and our escape rooms has been here for two years now, and I though, somehow marrying the two could be fun”.
Insomnia Escape Room has established itself as one of D.C.’s prominent escape rooms, they entertain hundreds of people every month. With Oblivion the creators went an extra mile to create a unique atmosphere, something that is futuristic enough for VR, so haunted houses were out of the question in this case. They needed something techy.
Enter Oblivion and it’s immersive story, which centers around a scientist by the name of Michael Hall, who is credited with inventing the world’s first artificial intelligence, ELIZA. In Oblivion’s lore artificial intelligence proved so successful that people began to use it in critical processes and everyday operations. However, suddenly ELIZA stopped responding to its masters. A built-in automatic security protocol, preventing anyone except the creator to control the A.I. was put in place. The problem is that Michael disappeared and can not be found. Society fell into a complete panic, and this where the brave escape room players enter, as they are the ones sent to figure out what exactly went wrong with ELIZA.
The future of escape rooms?
Many feel that the idea of escape gaming came at the right time. The tactile nature of pulling levers, fiddling with switches and searching for clues came as a welcome alternative to the somewhat disconnected nature of online gaming. Families finally had something fun to do together, not to mention the immense opportunities of corporate team building activities. After all, employees working together in a fun – non stressful – environment is the dream of all HR department heads!
Enter virtual reality, and we might have a match made in heaven. In the past three years VR headsets have outgrown their shiny tech gadget status and started making real headway in the entertainment industry. With more advanced headsets coming out every year, we could be talking about a $162 billion industry by 2020. With such trends already in motion, we would not be surprised to see Oblivion as the first of many VR escape rooms to come.
The preceding post was written and sponsored by Insomnia Escape Room DC.