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Meridian Pint Owner Taps Out

After several difficult months for Meridian Pint (6035 Wilson Blvd), owner John Andrade said an opportunity came along to sell the business and he took it.

The bar in Dominion Hills was part of a small, pint-sized franchise when it opened in 2019, but the Columbia Heights location in D.C. closed as part of the move to Arlington. Smoke & Barrel, another Andrade restaurant in Adams Morgan, closed late last year. Brookland Pint in D.C. remains open.

“It is with heavy heart I announce I am no longer the principal owner of Meridian Pint,” Andrade said in a post on Facebook this week. “This past year presented fiscal challenges that were difficult to survive. And although Meridian Pint and its staff received heroic and loyal support from our incredible Arlington neighbors, ultimately, Meridian Pint was simply unprepared financially to keep operating to a level that the community and our amazing staff deserves.”

Andrade has launched a GoFundMe in January to help cover expenses for the staff. The fundraiser ultimately raised $3,560.

“Recently, the opportunity was presented to pass the torch on to an organization better prepared to carry on the legacy of Meridian Pint,” Andrade said. “The decision was tough but obvious. I am pleased to tell you that under new management, Meridian Pint will now begin its next chapter in Arlington, ready to serve you everything you have come to love, only better.”

No information about the new owners was immediately available.

“I hope that you will support this next phase in the story of our neighborhood gathering place along with me,” Andrade said. “You will continue to see me at ‘The Oldest Bar in Dominion Hills’ regularly. Except from now on, I’ll be on the customer side of the bar. It has truly been my greatest pleasure and honor in serving you.”

The run of bad luck for the bar didn’t end with the sale announcement, however.

Early in the morning, the day after the announcement, a burglar reportedly broke into the bar. According to a police report, an unknown suspect forced entry into the business early Wednesday morning, caused damage to the bar and stole a cash box.

Andrade confirmed that it was Dominion Pint that was burglarized, saying that he thinks the break-in was part of a string of burglaries occurring in the area.

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As a large Arlington estate nears a potential demolition, a local historic preservation group is fighting to have the estate’s main house saved.

The Febrey-Lothrop Estate — also known as the Rouse estate — is a 9-acre site at 6407 Wilson Blvd, near Arlington’s western border with Fairfax County. On it sits a more than 100-year-old home that has housed prominent business figures and celebrities over the years.

With a demolition permit application pending, a local nonprofit hopes that the county government can intervene and preserve the building.

“Over the past 150 years, the Febrey-Lothrop Estate has graced the Upton Hill neighborhood of Arlington,” the Arlington Historical Society (AHS) said in a letter recently sent to the County Board. “Despite war, twentieth-century alterations, and major development of the neighborhood, the manor home and grounds remain a proud, historically significant Arlington landmark.”

The original home on the property was built before the Civil War and once hosted a Union encampment and hospital. The property later became residence of Alvin Lothrop, co-founder of Woodward & Lothrop Department Store; Howard Hughes; and most recently businessman Randolph Rouse and his wife, Honeymooners actress Audrey Meadows.

According to an application for a historical district to protect the home from demolition, filed last year against the wishes of the estate of its late owner, the original home was destroyed and replaced by the current colonial revival-style house in 1907. The Arlington Historical Society, however, says portions of the original home and subsequent additions are likely still part of the building.

“Given the historical significance of the Febrey-Lothrop House, the Arlington Historical Society believes the property must be saved for future generations,” AHS said in the letter. “With requests for demolition permits already in the pipeline, AHS feels an urgent need to prevent harm coming to the Estate.”

The organization requested that the County Board and County Manager issue cease and desist orders, preempting the proposed demolition. AHS also requested that the county’s Historic Affairs and Landmarks Review Board quickly recommend approval an application for Local Historic District designation and forward the designation to the County Board for approval.

The county has already listed the site for potential conversion into a public park in the Parks Master Plan (page 162), though so far it remains owned by Rouse’s estate. The historic district application notes that the property “is extremely attractive to developers for townhouse, condo, single family home, and retail commercial establishments,” due to its large size.

“Over the past 15 years, Arlington has lost many historically and architecturally important buildings to the wrecking ball,” AHS wrote in its letter to the County Board. “Let’s not let another gem go unprotected.”

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Workers are removing roof shingles from the Febrey-Lothrop house in Dominion Hills.

The 114-year-old home, which preservationists have been trying to save against the wishes of the current owners, currently has a demolition permit application pending with the county, after having a sewer cap permit approved.

While the demolition permit has yet to be issued, what might be prep work was underway this afternoon, ahead of expected rain tonight. A worker in a full protective suit and ventilator could be seen removing roof shingles — potentially asbestos shingles.

That has prompted alarm among some of the local preservationists hoping to pressure the county to somehow stop the demolition. An online petition calling for the demolition permit to be denied, despite county officials suggesting that would be illegal if all the paperwork was otherwise in order, is currently up to about 875 signatures.

The home sits on a 9+ acre estate most recently owned by sportsman Randy Rouse, who passed away in 2017. Local activists have been pushing Arlington officials to buy the property, preserve the house, and use the rest of the property for a park or other public uses — something they say is a “generational” opportunity, given the lack of large, open privately-owned parcels in the county.

The county is set to study the property, to determine whether it should be given a historic district designation that would restrict changes, but the owners appear to be moving forward with a demolition project before that could be put into place.

An accountant representing the trust that owns the property did not respond to an earlier request for comment from ARLnow.

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A demolition permit application has been filed for 6407 Wilson Blvd, the address associated with the more than century-old Febrey-Lothrop house.

The permit has yet to be approved after Tuesday’s filing, but county officials previously said that legally it must go through if all of the paperwork is in order, despite the protestations of some local preservationists.

The turn-of-the-century mansion with a colorful history and notable former residents — including department store magnate Alvin Lothrop, businessman and aviator Howard Hughes, local businessman and sportsman Randy Rouse, and actress Audrey Meadows of The Honeymooners fame — is potentially set for demolition after the Arlington Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board voted to study a historical designation for the 9+ acre property.

The historic designation process is being conducted against the wishes of the trust left by Rouse, who passed away in 2017. Demolition would circumvent the restrictions imposed by a historic designation, before they’re put into place.

Sid Simmonds, an accountant who represents the Rouse trust, did not return a request for comment from ARLnow.

Those who would like to see the aging mansion preserved have been circulating an online petition.

The MoveOn.org petition, created by “passionate preservationist” Tom Dickinson, calls for Arlington County to suspend the issuance of a demolition permit, expedite the completion of the Local Historic District designation study, and to either purchase the property or “find a buyer who will preserve the property for public use.”

The petition also calls for the creation of a “‘Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens’ in Arlington for the community to enjoy, and for historic tourism and economic benefits.”

Here’s what the petition says about the property, which is located in the Dominion Hills neighborhood, near Arlington’s border with Fairfax County:

The Febrey-Lothrop-Rouse estate is a unique, large privately held property in Arlington. It has a long and significant history, dating back to the Febrey family farm and house, built in 1855. The Febrey family was one of the most prestigious and well-known in the D.C. area at that time. It was the location of a large encampment for thousands of Union Soldiers during the Civil War, 1861-65. The estate was subsequently owned by Alvin Lothrop, a co-founder/owner of the Woodward-Lothrop Department Store chain. The last owner was Randolph Rouse who was married to Audrey Meadows, a world famous actress in the 1950s and 60s. The property was also once owned by TWA Airlines, which was owned by Howard Hughes, who occasionally stayed at the property. It is important that Arlington protect and preserve such a unique, undeniably historic property for public access. This is a once-in-forever opportunity to take a stand for historic preservation in Arlington County.

As of this morning the petition has more than 675 signatures.

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A permit filed with Arlington County suggests that a potentially historic house in Dominion Hills may not be long for the world.

The Febrey-Lothrop House at 6407 Wilson Blvd, also known as the Rouse estate, has been the subject of sale speculation this year. The 9 acre property on which it sits is considered to be a “generational” land acquisition opportunity for the county and a prime site for a potential residential development, should it sell to a developer.

A historic designation for the property has been proposed, however. From a Sun Gazette article last week:

Members of the Arlington government’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) voted 10-0 on Nov. 17 to move forward on a preliminary study toward determining whether the 9-acre Rouse estate at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and North McKinley Road meets qualifications to be designated as a local historic district.

The bone of contention? The trust that controls the property doesn’t want the study, or the historic designation, to move forward.

The property is owned by a trust set up by sportsman Randy Rouse, who purchased the estate (then consisting of 26 acres) in 1951 and owned it until his death at age 100 in 2017. His widow currently resides on the circa-1907 main house.

Not only is the house more than a century old, but its former residents are of some note: Alvin Lothrop, one of the founders of the Woodward and Lothrop department stores chain; business magnate and aviator Howard Hughes; and actress Audrey Meadows of The Honeymooners fame.

A historic designation, should it be approved, may limit the development potential of the property. Also from the Sun Gazette:

Inclusion in a county-government local historic district in Arlington restricts the maneuverability of property owners in terms of what they can do with their property.

While owners of properties being considered for inclusion as a local historic district could always attempt what might be considered a nuclear option – razing the structures to the ground before a vote on such a designation takes place – such a move likely would result in a reaction that would complicate efforts to redevelop the parcel down the road.

A recent permit filing could be a prelude to the aforementioned “nuclear option” of a preemptive demolition.

This week the county approved a permit application to cap off the property’s sewage line. A sewer cap is one of the requirements for obtaining a demolition permit.

“[The] kiss of death of any house is the sewer cap on,” a tipster tells ARLnow.

Demolition of the house would forestall restrictions that may be imposed by a historic district designation. The actual plans for the property could not be immediately confirmed, however.

In April, Falls Church News-Press columnist Charlie Clark reported that while the trustees for the property were not actively marketing it, they had received an unsolicited offer that was seriously considered.

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Morning Notes

Dozens March for Racial Justice — “A group of about 100 people marched more than three miles on a hot August afternoon through Arlington demanding justice for victims of police brutality and calling on the county’s elected officials to bring police reform to the county.” [Patch]

Police Investigating More KKK Stickers — “Stickers that appear to promote the Ku Klux Klan have been found on traffic signs and utility boxes in Arlington over the past month, Arlington police said… They were found between July 2 and 28 in four locations, mostly in the Yorktown neighborhood, on the back of traffic signs and on a utility box.” [Washington Post]

Big Power Outage on Saturday — “A power outage in South Arlington has about 3,000 customers without power, according to Dominion Energy. The outage is affecting several neighborhoods between Columbia Pike and Interstate 395, including Arlington Mill, Columbia Forest, Douglas Park, and Nauck.” [WJLA]

Parents Rally Against School Plan — “All 12 school jurisdictions in the D.C. area have announced their intentions to start the 2020-2021 school year virtually, and not all parents are pleased with that decision. Vienna, Va. resident Jill Gartin rallied with other parents and students today at Arlington district headquarters to make their voices heard… ‘It’s been awful because I have five kids running on one wifi. It’s draining and the kids are miserable.'” [WJLA]

Ribbon Cutting for Vida — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony last week for Vida Fitness’ new Ballston location, its first outside of D.C. It’s only the second ribbon cutting pictured on the Chamber’s Instagram account (the first was Bowlero in Crystal City) since the pandemic started. [Instagram]

Meridian Pint Fighting for Survival — “As you all may have heard, there is a possibility we may have to permanently close our doors. With the effects of Covid-19 the restaurant industry is feeling an enormous impact, Meridian Pint is no exception. We did get a Payroll Protection Loan but those funds have since been fully depleted. We are asking for your help.” [Facebook]

Nearby: MoCo May Reinstate Restrictions — “COVID-19 cases have been increasing across the state while Montgomery County’s have plateaued to about 70 to 80 new cases a day. But now officials are considering whether to reinstate some restrictions to try to decrease the virus’s spread and reduce cases.” [Bethesda Magazine]

Yes, But Where’s *This* Story? — Wondering why something that happened over the weekend was not included in Morning notes? We may be planning to cover it later today. Or, if it’s something that we might not know about, you can tell us about it for potential future coverage.

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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The final plans are in for a trio of road projects in Arlington, and two out of three involve the removal of travel lanes.

The projects — in Rosslyn, Dominion Hills and Crystal City/Potomac Yard — are all part of the county’s 2020 road repaving schedule. Each has been singled out for changes to the lane striping via the county’s Resurfacing Projects for Complete Streets program, which aims to make streets safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians via inexpensive means during the regular repaving cycle.

The first project is planned in Rosslyn along Clarendon Blvd, from N. Rhodes Street to N. Oak Street, near the standalone Starbucks. The plans call for new sections of buffered and protected bike lanes, green paint for bike lanes through intersections, upgraded signage, and no reduction in travel lanes — though it will remove seven of 78 on-street parking spaces.

The Clarendon Blvd project is set to start construction this month.

The second project will reconfigure Potomac Avenue in the Potomac Yard area of Crystal City, from Crystal Drive to the county line. The project calls for upgraded bike lanes, an interim on-street pedestrian zone along a construction site, new turn lanes, and 34 new parking spaces. One of two travel lanes in each direction will be removed, though the road has relatively light traffic.

The Potomac Avenue project is also set to start construction this month, and is reportedly now underway.

Finally, the last project will make changes to Wilson Blvd through the Dominion Hills neighborhood, from Bon Air Park to the county line. It calls for the addition of turn lanes, dedicated school and transit bus stop lanes, curb extensions for shorter crossing distances, buffered bike lanes, and marked bike lanes through intersections. It adds one parking spot to the stretch but removes one of two travel lanes in each direction.

The removal of lanes follows a prior, similar project along sections of Wilson Blvd from Bluemont to Bon Air Park, which was somewhat controversial at the time but only resulted in minimal traffic impacts for the average rush hour commuter.

The Wilson Blvd project is set to start construction later this summer or in the early fall.

The design process for the three projects involved two virtual open houses and rounds of public feedback, through which a number of modifications to the plans were made.

File photo (top). Street view images (1) (2) and (3) via Google Maps.

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(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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