Arlington, VA

(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) Arlington County will be holding a virtual public meeting tonight to discuss a trio of road projects set for later this year.

The county plans to repave and re-stripe portions of Wilson Blvd in the Dominion Hills and Boulevard Manor neighborhoods, Potomac Avenue in Potomac Yard, and Clarendon Blvd in the Courthouse and Rosslyn neighborhoods. The work is expected to take place this summer and fall, following the current public engagement process.

Arlington has been using its regularly-planned street maintenance to re-stripe roads in an effort make them safer, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists. It often involves the addition or enhancement of bike lanes, sharrows and crosswalks.

At an online meeting tonight from 6:30-7:30 p.m., held via Microsoft Teams, county staff will present the concept plans for its three 2020 projects while seeking public feedback.

More from the event page:

The Master Transportation Plan identifies routine street maintenance as an opportunity to provide cost-effective and easy to implement measures to improve safety and access for all people using the street. Community engagement is a core value in Arlington, and we wanted to provide opportunities for community members to share their feedback on the concept plans for the 2020 Street Maintenance season.

Please join county staff for an online meeting on Thursday, June 4 from 6:30-7:30 pm to learn about the project, ask questions and share feedback on the design concepts for the three 2020 Resurfacing Projects for Complete Streets.

Staff will present concepts for:

  • Wilson Boulevard – N Larrimore Street to McKinley Road (Dominion Hills/Boulevard Manor)
  • Potomac Avenue – S Crystal Drive to Alexandria City Line (Potomac Yard)
  • Clarendon Boulevard – N Nash to N Oak Street (Clarendon-Courthouse/Radnor/Fort Myer Heights)

The country recently repaved and re-striped portions of Lorcom Lane and Military Road. The work was done in conjunction with construction on the new Dorothy Hamm Middle School.

An online open house in April discussed all four projects.

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Arlington County Police have nabbed four suspects in connection with another series of car break-ins.

The vehicle tamperings occurred around the 6000 and 6100 blocks of Wilson Blvd, in the Dominion Hills and Boulevard Manor neighborhoods, early Tuesday morning. Police say eight mostly unlocked vehicles were entered, and a number of items were stolen.

Four teens, including three young adults from Falls Church, were subsequently taken into custody and are facing a variety of charges, from identity theft to petty larceny to contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

This is the latest in a string of vehicle break-ins over the past year, which have prompted Arlington police to post daily social media reminders for residents to lock their cars at night.

More from today’s ACPD crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2020-05260015/05260016/05260020/05260021/05260023, 6000 block of Wilson Boulevard/6000 block of 6th Street N./6100 block of Wilson Boulevard/6000 block of 8th Place N. At approximately 3:06 a.m. on May 26, police were dispatched to the report of multiple vehicle tampering incidents. Arriving officers canvased the area and located two suspects in the area of the 500 block of N. Livingston Street and two suspects in the area of 4th Street N. and N. Lombardy Street. All four suspects were taken into custody without incident. The investigation determined that the four suspects allegedly entered approximately 8, mostly unlocked, vehicles, tampered with items and stole items of value. Abel Perez Santiago, 19, of Falls Church, Va., was arrested and charged with Identity Theft, Forgery, Entering or Setting a Vehicle in Motion, Petit Larceny: Theft from Motor Vehicle and Contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Alex Navidad-Ostorga, 19, of Falls Church, Va., and Kevin Aguilar-Lara, 18, of Falls Church, Va., were arrested and charged with Entering or Setting a Vehicle in Motion. Petitions were sought for Entering or Setting a Vehicle in Motion and Petit Larceny: Theft from Motor Vehicle for the fourth juvenile suspect.

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Rumor has it the Febrey-Lothrop House (6407 Wilson Blvd) — the home on a huge lot at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. McKinley Road — could be headed to market soon.

The 9+ acre parcel, which includes the main house and two other side buildings, is one of the last large pieces of contiguous property of its kind in space-constrained Arlington.

Officials have recently been made aware that the property was for sale, according to Arlington County spokeswoman Jennifer Smith. The property is listed as a “generational” site in the county’s Parks Master Plan (page 162) — a place that could be potentially acquired and turned into a public park, although it’s just a block from Upton Hill Regional Park.

The county, with its need for land for schools and public facilities, might also consider it for other uses.

The house sits removed from the main road, near Seven Corners, on a long driveway. It’s an isolated, wooded retreat even though it’s just two miles down Wilson Blvd from the high rises of Ballston. The exterior of the house is in a disheveled state. Windows are broken, paint is peeling away from the side of the building, foxes drink from rainwater in the clogged pool.

The property’s financial value is in the large tract of mostly undeveloped land.

“In terms of development potential, the price (of around $30 million) is reasonable, as the land is already zoned for single-family homes and/or townhouses development,” local activist Suzanne Sundberg, who supports converting the property into a park and potentially a school, told ARLnow. “With so little undeveloped land in the county that comes on the market once in a blue moon, we cannot afford to be picky about location. Land is land.”

Sundberg noted that, should the property be developed as housing, it could stress already-crowded local schools.

“With the proposed upzoning of single-family neighborhoods, the property could hold 2, 3 or even 4 times as much housing as the current estimate [of] 67 townhouses,” she wrote.

The property also holds some sentimental value in its long and curious history of opulence.

“The expansive size of the property… with a number of domestic and agricultural outbuildings surrounded by mid-twentieth-century development, adds to the grandeur of the main dwelling,” an architectural survey of Arlington prepared in 2009 said.

The earliest records of the property show a house being built at the then-rural property in 1855. The original building, called Fairmount, no longer exists but later additions to the property were incorporated into the new structures.

The property was purchased by Alvin Lothrop — one of the founders of the Woodward and Lothrop department stores chain — in 1898. By 1907 the Fairmount building was destroyed and replaced with the colonial revival style home, inspired by George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Lothrop died in 1912, and the family maintained the estate through the Second World War, when it was reportedly leased to Howard Hughes, according to Arlington Magazine. Among the guests entertained at the house were movie star Jane Russell.

After the war, the home was purchased by local real estate developer, socialite and expert horseman Randy Rouse. When Rouse purchased the property, most of the acreage was broken up to form the Dominion Hills neighborhood, though he kept the house and the surrounding property.

Rouse was briefly married to The Honeymooners star Audrey Meadows. The stress of her commute from Arlington up to New York on Fridays reportedly took a toll on their short-lived marriage, according to local historian Charlie Clark.

Rouse died in 2017 at the age of 100. The business Randolph Rouse Interprises is still listed as operating out of the building.

Map via Google Maps

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Four community improvement projects are on this weekend’s Arlington County Board agenda.

The Board is expected to approve the $3 million slate of projects as part of its Neighborhood Conservation program. The somewhat controversial program, previously on the budgetary chopping block, awards funding to modest infrastructure improvement projects requested by local community groups.

The projects set for funding this fall include:

  • Street improvements in the Glencarlyn neighborhood along 4th Street S., from Kensington to Illinois streets ($1.3 million)
  • Pedestrian safety and intersection improvements in the Dominion Hills neighborhood at N. Larrimore Street and 9th Street N. ($1.2 million)
  • Intersection improvements in the Highland Park-Overlee Knolls neighborhood at 14th Street N. and N. Ohio Street ($0.5 million)
  • Landscaping and beautification in the Old Dominion neighborhood at 24th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive ($28,125)

Photo via Google Maps

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Someone rifled through at least five cars parked in the Dominion Hills neighborhood over the weekend.

The vehicles were all parked along the 900 and 1000 blocks of N. Madison Street, a couple of blocks away from McKinley Elementary School.

Only loose change was reported to have been stolen, though one of the vehicles — a truck — was also spray painted. Police described the spray paint as “alleged gang graffiti;” multiple tipsters tell ARLnow it was “MS-13” gang graffiti, though that could not be officially confirmed.

More from Arlington County Police Department crime reports:

Destruction of Property, 2019-06160101, 1000 block of N. Madison Street. At approximately 9:21 a.m. on June 16, police were dispatched to the report of a destruction of property. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim’s truck had been vandalized by spray paint and change had been taken from within the vehicle. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

Larceny from Auto, 2019-06174001, 1000 block of N. Madison Street. Between 2:00 a.m. – 4:00 a.m. on June 15, an unknown suspect entered a vehicle and stole loose change.

Larceny from Auto, 2019-06174010, 900 block of N. Madison Street. Between 11:00 p.m. on June 15 and 9:30 a.m. on June 16, the owner left their car open and an unknown suspect rummaged through it. Nothing was reported stolen.

Vehicle Tampering, 2019-06174013, 900 block of N. Madison Street. Between 11:35 p.m. on June 15 and 9:35 a.m. on June 16, two vehicles were rummaged through. Nothing was reported stolen.

“It appears most vehicles were left unlocked,” noted ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage, who offered some theft prevention tips. “Residents are reminded to keep their vehicles locked, remove valuables and report suspicious activity such as individuals attempting door handles by calling the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222.”

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One month after it served its last beer in D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood, Meridian Pint is planning to open its new location in the Dominion Hills shopping plaza tomorrow.

For owner John Andrade, the move brings his new bar — at 6035 Wilson Blvd — a little closer to home. Andrade is from the neighborhood and many of the wait staff are hired from the nearby neighborhoods.

“I live a quarter-mile away and my daughter goes to Ashlawn,” Andrade said. “I know the neighborhood, and I’ve gotten to understand the void for folks here for craft beer.”

Andrade said oversaturation and competition with a new wave of breweries having their own bars forced Meridian Pint out of D.C., but added that the move is also an opportunity to rebuild the small community bar scene.

“There is a focus on D.C. or even Clarendon or Ballston for beers, but the neighborhoods are neglected,” Andrade said.

A sign at the front says the restaurant will be called Dominion Pint, but Andrade said there was a legal challenge to the name so the bar is sticking with Meridian Pint. The restaurant has been holding a series of soft openings for neighbors and other invitees this week, but the official public opening is Thursday.

It will be the sixth restaurant Andrade has opened, including those no longer operating. Andrade also runs three other D.C. restaurants: Brookland PintRosario’s Tacos & Tequila in Adams Morgan, and Smoke & Barrel in Adams Morgan.

Andrade said the focus of Meridian Pint will be on American grilled food and craft beer — both local and national brands. In addition to beers, Andrade said he’s focusing on the restaurant’s homemade ice cream.

Jace Gonnerman, the beer program director for Meridian Pint, said his goal is to maintain a careful balance of obscure and approachable beers.

In addition to the obscure and higher-end craft beers, Gonnerman said he’s happy to have two more affordable brews for the opening: Narragansett Lager and Genesee Cream Ale.

“We want to have a beer for everyone,” Gonnerman said. “We want something for the community, but also the latest and greatest for aficionados.”

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(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Meridian Pint hopes to open up in Arlington by mid-May, according to owner John Andrade.

Andrade told ARLnow today (Wednesday) that his new Dominion Hills location is slated to open around May 15, pending final county inspections this month.

The new pub is inside the Dominion Hills Centre shopping plaza at 6035 Wilson Blvd. Andrade said he’s applying the “last layers of polyurethane” to the space.

On Monday, he announced his flagship “Pint” in Columbia Heights will close Sunday after nine years in business. In a statement shared by PoPville Andrade cited “evolving needs of our staff, our customers, our lives and our city” as a reason for packing up shop.

Andrade also runs three other D.C. restaurants: Brookland Pint, Rosario’s Tacos & Tequila in Adams Morgan, and Smoke & Barrel in Adams Morgan.

Construction of the Arlington space began last fall, two year ago after he announced plans to expand across the Potomac. Now he says he’s hiring servers, bartenders, and cooks, and redesigning the Columbia Heights menu to fit an Arlington clientele. 

“IPAs are very popular in Northern Virginia, so you’ll definitely see a nice selection of that,” said Andrade.

“From the food perspective, we expect to cater to a lot more families here,” he added. “The kids menu is going to be very nice, and well-manicured to make sure we’re giving kids healthy options and at the same time satisfying the kids’ palate as well.”

Andrade, who is an Arlington resident, said last year he looked forward to pub being within walking distance of his neighborhood.

“It’s just a great opportunity,” he said. “Especially for those of us that live slightly more than walking distance from Ballston or Clarendon, or have multiple kids, and don’t really want to do the dance of finding a parking garage or hunting down a metered space to go explore out that way.”

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Some work to repair stream erosion will prompt a weeks-long closure of two trails in the Dominion Hills neighborhood starting next week.

The W&OD trail and Four Mile Run trail will both be impacted by the construction, aimed at reversing the impacts of erosion along Four Mile Run as it nears I-66. Construction is set to kick off on Monday (Feb. 18).

The work will force the closure of the W&OD trail for about a month, the county says, shuttering a section between N. Ohio Street and its intersection with the Custis Trail.

The section of the Four Mile Run trail in the area, between N. Madison Street and Patrick Henry Drive, will be closed for about six weeks.

“Tree impacts will be avoided to extent feasible,” the county wrote on its website. “Some trees will be pruned along the Four Mile Run trail in the vicinity of the staging/access area.”

Workers will post detour signs near the closed sections of the trails. Cyclists and pedestrians will be directed onto N. Manchester Street, then 10th Road N. to avoid the construction.

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A masked man tried to abduct a woman outside of her residence along Wilson Blvd this past weekend, according to Arlington County Police.

The abduction attempt happened early Saturday morning on Wilson near the intersection with Patrick Henry Drive. The man tried to drag the woman away but she fought back and the attacker eventually fled.

More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

ABDUCTION, 2019-01120041, 6100 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 3:00 a.m. on January 12, police were dispatched to the report of a suspicious person. Upon arrival, it was determined that the female victim was walking in the area when she noticed an unknown male subject following her. As she approached the entrance to her residence, the male suspect pulled the victim’s hair from behind and wrapped his arms around her, preventing her from leaving. The suspect attempted to pull the victim away from her residence, however she resisted and the suspect eventually fled on foot when a vehicle drove by the area. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, with light-olive toned skin, possibly in his late 20’s or early 30’s, approximately 5’8″-5’11”, 150-180 lbs., wearing black pants, a black jacket, black shoes and a winter mask. The investigation is ongoing.

Also last week, police were dispatched to a store in Pentagon City for a man who exposed himself to a group of children inside a fitting room.

The incident happened Friday night, on the 1100 block of S. Hayes Street — which is address of both the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall and the Pentagon Centre shopping center.

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2019-01110259, 1100 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 7:11 p.m. on January 11, police were dispatched to the report of an indecent exposure. Upon arrival, it was determined that the juvenile victims were in the area of the fitting rooms inside of a business when they observed a male expose himself and touch himself inappropriately. The suspect is described as a Middle Eastern male, 25-35 years old, taller than 6’1″, approximately 190 lbs., with short black hair, brown eyes, scruff on his face, wearing a dark gray shirt, black jacket and black jeans. The investigation is ongoing.

Below are the rest of the highlights from this week’s crime report, including some we’ve already reported.

Read More

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Meridian Pint is getting closer to opening its first Arlington restaurant, with plans to open a new brewpub in Dominion Hills sometime next spring.

The D.C.-based, craft beer-focused chain announced plans to expand into the county late last year, targeting a spot at 6035 Wilson Blvd in the Dominion Hills Centre shopping plaza. Construction is set to get underway next week at the new space, and owner John Andrade told ARLnow that he’s “tentatively targeting the beginning of April to get it open.”

“It’ll just be another iteration of the expanding ‘Pint’ brand,” Andrade said. “And this is nestled into a great community.”

Andrade currently operates two “Pint” restaurants in D.C. — Meridian and Brookland Pint — as well as Rosario’s Tacos and Tequila and Smoke Barrel. But as an Arlington resident, living just a quarter mile away from the new location, he says he was anxious for the chance to expand into his home county.

“The idea that I can just walk to work, door-to-door in somewhere between 13 and 15 minutes is really great,” Andrade said. “It’s just a great opportunity… especially for those of us that live slightly more than walking distance from Ballston or Clarendon, or have multiple kids, and don’t really want to do the dance of finding a parking garage or hunting down a metered space to go explore out that way.”

Andrade is unsure of a name for the new establishment just yet — he originally planned to dub it “Dominion Pint,” but ran into some legal headaches — but he says it will generally mirror the food and beverage options at his D.C. locations.

“It’ll have an all-American menu and all-American craft beer, with a generous emphasis on wine and spirits as well,” Andrade said.

Andrade also foresees offering growler fills and six-packs for sale at the restaurant, something he’s barred from doing in D.C. but is anxious to try now that he’s operating in Virginia.

He hopes to “start swinging hammers” at the space Monday (Oct. 22) now that he’s won all the necessary permits, and expects it will take roughly six months to get things up and running.

“We’re really planning on being members of the community, so we hope it’ll be a great neighborhood establishment,” Andrade said.

Photo via Google Maps

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Starting in the next few months, Upton Hill Regional Park is set to get a major makeover — but the process of sketching out plans for the renovation work is getting a bit messy.

Some neighbors and county conservationists see the whole project as poorly conceived and deceptively managed by NOVA Parks, the regional body that maintains Upton Hill. Plans to cut down 115 trees at the park, located at 6060 Wilson Blvd near Seven Corners, strike them as a blow to both the country’s tree canopy and a disaster for stormwater runoff in the area.

But park officials, and even some of their fellow neighbors, feel these complaints have been blown entirely out of proportion, arguing that a few malcontents are lobbing bombs against a project that will transform a park sorely in need of a facelift.

The $3 million renovation work is set to proceed over the next year or more, and with a new petition urging NOVA Parks to re-think its plans, debate over the project seems sure to intensify moving forward.

“I look at this as a phenomenal upgrade to the community… and some of the arguments being made against it are beyond ridiculous,” said Chris Tighe, president of the Boulevard Manor Civic Association, where the park is located. “Eventually, we’re going to have to ask what’s more important: a couple of voices, or the safety of park-goers and this park’s future?”

Paul Gilbert, the executive director of NOVA Parks, says his group last upgraded Upton Hill back in 2006, and decided back in 2015 to pursue some upgrades to the park.

Some of the planned changes are relatively uncontroversial: park officials hope to add a new ticket booth for the park’s batting cage, renovate some of its restrooms and build a new playground in the park’s lower half (Tighe compares the current playground there to “something out of a Stephen King horror movie.”)

The arguments start over proposed additions like a ropes course, a new entrance on Wilson Blvd complete with a small parking lot and 103 new parking spaces in Upton Hill’s upper half, near its water park.

The last item on that list has attracted the most controversy, as it would require the removal of more than half of the aforementioned 115 trees in favor of thousands of square feet of pavement — a group dubbing itself the “Friends of Upton Hill” wrote on its website that Joni Mitchell warned of just an occurrence when she sang “They paved paradise/And put up a parking lot.”

“NOVA Parks has never made a convincing case for expanding parking at Upton Hill, which has a parking lot that is barely used for nine months of the year, when the water park is closed,” said Sada Aksartova, a Boulevard Manor resident. Her husband, Josh Handler, helps run the friends group, which notes that many of the trees set to be chopped down are several decades old.

Yet Tighe argues the new parking will help ease crowds at the park, avoiding the need for so many people to park on the street, and Gilbert says there’s a bit more nuance to consider regarding the trees to be cut down.

Of the 115 trees to be removed, he says 19 trees are already dead, while 31 are non-native trees, which he feels don’t add much to the area’s ecosystem. He points out that he hopes to plant dozens of new trees, shrubs and grasses elsewhere on the park to create an “oak/hickory forest” that he believes will represent a net positive for the county’s tree canopy.

Local activist Suzanne Sundberg believes Gilbert’s thinking amounts to: “We must destroy a forest to save a forest.”

“It’s degrading a park that’s just a little postage stamp of green in an ocean of parking lots,” Sundberg said.

She also fears that removing so many trees and replacing them with asphalt will worsen the already substantial stormwater management problems in the area. The friends group posted a series of videos earlier this month illustrating how huge amounts of water already flow off the park’s grounds.

But Gilbert believes the underground cistern included in plans for the new parking lot will alleviate the stormwater problems in the area, rather than exacerbate them. Furthermore, he feels those videos are misleading, as they were taken just after a heavy rainstorm.

Certainly, Gilbert has plenty of problems with the way the Friends of Upton Hill have conducted themselves. He believes the group’s name is a “complete misnomer,” dubbing it “a couple of individuals with an ax to grind” and “not a true friend’s group.” He feels the community has been broadly supportive of the project.

“We’ve worked very hard to work with the various community groups, but that doesn’t mean every individual is going to get everything they want,” Gilbert said. “And some people can understand that and some people clearly don’t.”

Sundberg believes there are plenty of people upset with the project, pointing to the new petition and work of the Arlington Tree Action Group to oppose it. Furthermore, she says that “if there are, indeed, a low number of citizens who are outraged, it’s likely because they have no idea what the plans are.”

“This whole process has been very opaque,” Sundberg said. “NOVA Parks has gotten so used to doing whatever the heck it wants… it barely posts any documents or makes any information available about this.”

Tighe charges that park officials have been “phenomenal partners every step of the way.” Other neighbors, however, are taking more of a wait-and-see approach, rather than coming out so strongly in favor of the park.

“I understand the objections from some… even if some people may be exaggerating points to serve their own conclusions,” said Brian Hannigan, president of the nearby Dominion Hills Civic Association. “Let’s follow the facts and see where they lead.”

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