Arlington, VA

The County Board is set to consider a set of projects that would upgrade sidewalks and improve a small park.

Of the four, three focus on pedestrian improvements with an eye toward walkability for Arlington Public Schools students in the Bluemont, Columbia Heights and Fairlington neighborhoods. The fourth would fund improvements to 11th Street Park in Clarendon.

These upgrades, at a cost of roughly $2 million in total, were given a thumbs up last December by Arlington’s Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee. This group identifies needed improvements such as sidewalks, street beautification, street lights and parks and recommends them to the County Board.

At the intersection of 6th Street N. and N. Edison Street in Bluemont, the committee proposes to widen some corners and build out the sidewalks as well as upgrade landscaping and accessible ramps.

“It’ll be very visible to cars that people are crossing,” project representative Nick Pastore said during the December meeting. “That will help slow the rate of speed of cars going around those corners.”

Drivers take these residential roads “at a pretty decent speed” to avoid N. George Mason Drive between N. Carlin Springs Road and Wilson Blvd, he said.

At the intersection of 12th Street S. and S. Scott Street in Columbia Heights, nearu Columbia Pike, NCAC is requesting $500,000 to conduct a feasibility study for improving the intersection by extending the street corners, and making improvements to the crosswalks, landscaping and accessible ramps.

“This improved crossing will help students walking from nearby S. Courthouse Road to Hoffman-Boston [Elementary School] safely cross a busy road,” said Kristin Haldeman, director of multimodal transportation planning for Arlington Public School, in a letter to the county.

She added that the extra curb space “will provide more room for students in the area who attend Gunston Middle School and Wakefield High School to wait for their bus at the intersection.”

Columbia Heights Civic Association member Sarah McKinley welcomed the project for the neighborhood of apartment buildings and condos, saying the committee has been criticized over the years for mostly benefitting single-family neighborhoods.

“Here’s an example of an NC project that can benefit both types of neighborhoods,” she said.

In Fairlington, the committee proposes a sidewalk, curb, and gutter along the north side of S. Abingdon Street between 31st Street S. and 31st Road S. — near the STEM Preschool and the former Fire Station 7.

Fairlington representative Ed Hilz said these changes would improve walking paths for students getting to Abingdon Elementary School.

“Currently, there’s a staircase that is not very convenient to negotiate for children,” he said.

Finally, a green space at 11th Street N. and N. Danville Street in Clarendon would get new furnishings, park signage and path lighting. Additionally, the lawn will be aerated.

“I think this park is heavily used so all these upgrades will be a tremendous benefit for the community,” project representative Alyssa Cannon said.

Money for the projects will come from the 2016 and 2018 Community Conservation bonds.

Images via Google Maps

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Grab a basket and brush up on your produce-scoping skills, it’s farmers market season once again.

A number of Arlington farmers markets have or will be opening for the season in the coming days, including:

  • Crystal City on Tuesdays, from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. (starting tomorrow, April 6)
  • Ballston on Thursdays, from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. (opened on April 1)

Several other farmers markets will be opening in the weeks to follow, including:

  • Lubber Run on Saturdays starting April 17, from 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Fairlington on Sundays, starting May 2, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Rosslyn on Wednesdays, starting May 5, from 3 p.m.-7 p.m.

Three Arlington farmer markets are open year-around, though with shifting hours depending on the season including:

  • Westover’s Sunday winter hours of 9 a.m.-1 p.m. will remain until May 2, a market representative confirmed, when it shifts 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Courthouse’s Saturday farmers market shifts their hours to 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on April 17.
  • The Columbia Pike market on Sundays is now in the parking lot of the Fillmore Shopping Center and keeps the hours of 8:30-11:30 a.m. year around.

The Courthouse farmers market is the oldest in Arlington, selling produce since 1979. All of the markets will have modified operations, including limited capacity, as a result of the pandemic.

In total, Arlington has eight farmer markets.

The Marymount University farmers market closed last year and is not currently operational, a county official confirms. It opened in 2016, billing itself as the only Arlington market north of Lee Highway.

Despite being encouraged to offer pre-ordering, markets are open for in-person shopping. This is a change from early last year, at the start of the pandemic, when markets were briefly shut down and then allowed to open for pre-ordered sales only.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Future of Fairlington Fire Station — “A community process to determine the future of Fairlington’s 1940s-era, one-bay fire station has been on hold during the COVID crisis, but may be tackled later in the year, a top community leader says. The Arlington government in late 2018 closed Fire Station #7 over concerns about the structural integrity of its flooring.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington’s Affordable Housing Effort — “Some jurisdictions are building more homes than others. Of 10 localities analyzed by HAND’s Housing Indicator Tool, D.C. and Arlington County are closest to meeting some affordable housing targets recommended by the Urban Institute… For its part, Arlington County has excelled at adding more homes for low-middle-income households, but has built virtually none for the most vulnerable households in the last two years.” [DCist]

Women in Stolen Car Arrested Near Crystal City — “An officer observed the vehicle enter Arlington County on I-395 NB. With the assistance of additional units, a traffic stop was initiated. The occupants of the vehicle were initially noncompliant and were observed reaching around the vehicle and storing items on their persons, but were detained without incident. During the course of the investigation, the vehicle was confirmed as stolen; distribution quantities of marijuana were located and determined to be associated with the driver of the vehicle.” [ACPD]

Cicada Swarm Coming Soon — “They’ve been buried — alive — for 17 years. And now, Brood X, one of the world’s largest swarms of giant fly-like bugs called cicadas, is ready to rise. When the ground warms to 64 degrees, they’ll stop gnawing on tree roots and start scratching toward the surface by the hundreds of billions.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Morning Notes

Reminder: In-Person School Resuming Updated at 8:55 a.m. — “@APSVirginia elementary schools re-open for preK-2nd grade on Tuesday, March 2, followed by 3rd-5th + 6th (middle school) and 9th (high school) grades on March 9, then all returning students on March 16.” [Twitter, Twitter]

County Buying Fairlington Area Apartments — “A push to redevelop the Park Shirlington apartment complex in South Arlington has fallen through, prompting county officials to take the unusual step of buying part of the aging affordable community. Arlington leaders signed off on plans in late January to purchase about half of the property, located along I-395 near the county’s border with Alexandria. The county will end up paying about $27.9 million for 105 apartments on a 6.3-acre parcel should the deal close in August.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Rosslyn Apartments Start Leasing — “Today, Penzance… announced the start of leasing and the opening of their interactive leasing center for Aubrey, the first luxury apartment tower to deliver at The Highlands, a dynamic mixed-use development project along the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor.” [Press Release]

Amazon Donates to Wakefield HS — “As part of it’s celebration of Black History Month, Amazon presented a $15,000 donation to support Wakefield High School. This is the latest in Amazon’s ongoing work to support education and racial equality initiatives in communities across the country where its employees live and work. The donation to Wakefield High School of $15,000 will include the book Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You by Jason Reynolds.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Food Stand Operators Expand into Alpacas — “What started as just a food truck eight years ago [and later a food stand in Crystal City] has now turned into an expanded business. The Peruvian Brothers are actually selling a new product — selling alpaca poop. Yes, that’s right.” [WJLA]

Jaywalking Now No Longer a Primary Offense — “Though it didn’t garner as much attention as other police reform measures during the special legislative session that ended this fall, a provision to decriminalize jaywalking in a pretextual policing bill from Delegate Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, means that come March 1, police will no longer be able to stop folks for the act of crossing the street outside of a marked crosswalk.” [Virginia Mercury, NBC 4]

Amazon Funds Affordable Housing in Falls Church — “In response to concerns about the anticipated impact of its second headquarters in Arlington on the region’s housing prices, Amazon pledged $75 million over five years to affordable housing in Northern Virginia… Falls Church will get $3.4 million for a new affordable housing homeownership program and $350,000 to extend the availability of nine committed affordable apartments at the Read Building (402 W. Broad Street).” [Tysons Reporter]

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In this week’s Neighborhood Spotlight, please join us as we give you a full breakdown of Arlington’s Fairlington neighborhood!

No matter where you live in Arlington, there’s something unique to fall in love with. What do you love about your community? Let us know down in the comments below, so we can highlight them in a future Neighborhood Spotlight.

And, as always, if you have any questions about Arlington real estate, please click here to contact the Keri Shull Team, Arlington’s No. 1 top-selling real estate team.

An Overview of Fairlington

Fairlington is an unincorporated neighborhood in the southern part of Arlington, Virginia. It borders the similarly named Shirlington neighborhood and is quite close to Alexandria, Washington D.C. and the business districts of Arlington. This location makes it a great place to live if you work in Arlington — in addition to being a wonderful neighborhood in its own right.

At the time of its initial construction — during the 1940s — Fairlington was a rental community. It was founded by the Defense Homes Corporation as temporary housing for those working at the newly built Pentagon.

Following the conclusion of the Second World War, a private real estate group began renting Fairlington properties out as apartments. In 1972, the owners decided to convert Fairlington into a condominium development. At that time, Fairlington became the largest condominium community in all of Virginia.

What Types of Homes Are in Fairlington?

Fairlington is uniform, consisting almost entirely of townhome-style condominiums. This means that detached, single family homes are exceedingly rare in the Fairlington community, as are the apartment-style units found in other Arlington condo communities.

In general, owning a home in Fairlington is a good investment, as home values have been steadily going up all around Arlington for a while now. This means that people who buy a home in Fairlington now will likely have their home be worth more later — especially once Amazon’s HQ2 opens up in National Landing.

Because of the size of the community and how fast the market moves in Arlington, it can be difficult to find and win your dream home in Fairlington. The best thing to do is work with a team that can help find you off-market homes in Fairlington.

Communities Within Fairlington

Fairlington is divided into seven smaller communities that all feature similar home styles. Because of this, the area tends to feel more like a neighborhood defined by its community, rather than by certain streets and landmarks.

All of the homes in Fairlington have access to lovely community amenities. These include community pools, clubhouses for the villages, exercise facilities, courts to play tennis and basketball, and plenty of walking trails that are perfect for enjoying the natural beauty of Fairlington and Shirlington.

What Makes People Want To Live in Fairlington?

Fairlington is family friendly, convenient for commuters and has a relatively low cost for how much home you are getting.

In general, the same buying power that would get you a two-bedroom condo in North Arlington will cover a three-story townhouse in Fairlington. Plus, homes in Fairlington tend to have generous outdoor spaces — which is more important than ever for some people who are outgrowing their homes after 2020.

Fairlington residents can easily get to North Arlington and Alexandria painlessly thanks to King Street and I-395, both of which run through Fairlington.

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A gunshot was fired during a robbery in the residential Fairlington neighborhood last night, according to police.

The incident happened around 9:45 p.m. on the 2800 block of S. Buchanan Street, a couple of blocks from Abingdon Elementary.

A woman was robbed by two male suspects, one of whom was armed with a gun, during a “pre-arranged sale of narcotics,” Arlington County Police said in a press release Sunday afternoon. After the robbery, the armed suspect allegedly fired a single gunshot in the victim’s direction.

More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating an Armed Robbery and Attempted Malicious Wounding in the Fairlington neighborhood that took place on the evening of December 5, 2020.

At approximately 9:48 p.m., police were dispatched to the 2800 block of S. Buchanan Street for the report of an armed robbery. The investigation revealed the female victim and two unknown male suspects were meeting at the location for the pre-arranged sale of narcotics. Suspect One approached the victim and engaged her in conversation. Suspect Two then approached, knocked her to the ground, brandished a firearm and demanded cash before stealing her purse. The suspects fled the scene on foot and fired a single shot in the direction of the victim. She was not injured. A perimeter was established by responding officers and a canvas of the area returned with negative results.

Suspect One is described as a Black male in his late teens, wearing all black and a blue face mask. Suspect Two is described as a White/Hispanic male wearing all black, a black beanie hat and dark blue face mask.

This remains an active criminal investigation. Anyone with information related to this incident and/or home surveillance that may assist the investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Map via Google Maps

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Coyotes have been known to roam around Arlington, but sightings of the bashful wild canines are relatively rare.

Nonetheless, a coyote is causing a stir in the Fairlington area after being spotted multiple times around the neighborhood, according to posts on a local Facebook group.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington, which runs the county’s animal control operation, says it’s aware of the coyote sightings. The animal’s behavior, however, is so far not sounding any alarm bells.

“[We] received three calls from the public yesterday about a coyote spotted behind Abington Elementary School,” AWLA spokeswoman Chelsea Jones told ARLnow last night. “All the calls reported the coyote was exhibiting normal behavior, and by the time [an animal control officer] arrived the coyote was gone.”

“Coyotes do live in Arlington County, although sighting are typically rare,” Jones said. “They pose no threat to humans. We do, as always, recommend keeping your pets inside when not supervised, for this, and many other reasons.”

The last time we reported on an instance of a coyote spotted out in the open in Arlington was five years ago, when one was photographed along Washington Blvd.

“These animals learn to live next to humans and not mess with humans,” Arlington Natural Resource Manager Alonso Abugattas told ARLnow.com in 2014. “There have been cases, however, where feral cats and loose dogs, coyotes will occasionally eat a smaller dog, both as a competitor and as prey. Cats are considered prey as well. That’s the only way that they might affect the public.”

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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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Two residents of the Fairlington Arbor condominiums were told by the condo board to dig up their spooky gravestones that seek to lay bigotry to rest.

Katrina Reed and her husband Joe decked out their yard with six decorative gravestones, but they papered over the space for names of the deceased to bury hate, racism, religions discrimination, sexism, homophobia and white supremacy instead.

Both Reeds teach and coach high school basketball. As teachers, Katrina said they strive to create an inclusive environment in their remote and in-person classrooms.

“Our thought process was, ‘Why wouldn’t we want to be inclusive at home?'” she said.

The death-to-discrimination markers received a lot of love from neighbors, but drew the ire of the Fairlington Arbor management. The dispute centers around whether the gravestones are signs, which are not allowed unless the Board of Directors approve them, or seasonal decor, which are allowed if they are “modest and in keeping with community norms.”

A letter from management and addressed to the Reeds on behalf of the Fairlington Arbor Board of Directors asked them to “correct this matter” to “avoid further action by the Board of Directors.”

The letter treats the gravestones as decor, but the messages as signs.

“While the frames on your sign are compliant, the content is not,” the letter said. Joe disputed the application of the bylaw in an email to management.

“The signs displayed are not deemed ‘seasonal’ by the board since they display a message that does not fit the Halloween occasion,” Arbor management said in response.

The letter’s author, Fairlington Arbor’s general manager, declined to comment further. In an automated message, Matt Duncan, the President of the Board of Directors, said he is out of office and referred inquiries to management.

In a private neighborhood Facebook group, Katrina asked her neighbors for advice and to see if others had similar experiences. The response was overwhelming, with more than 175 comments on Katrina’s post so far.

“People went nuts,” she said. “They were ready to light their pitchforks and find the board members.”

One Facebook commenter said of the decorations: “We thought they were awesome. 10/10. Do not take them down.”

“These have made me very happy every time I walk by!” another said.

The couple maintains that stifling free speech causes more division than signs promoting inclusivity.

“If you can let people express First Amendment rights within a time period, I think it solves these issues,” Joe said.

The couple said the bylaws need to be clarified and they plan to speak about it during the next board meeting on Oct. 27. Joe said ironically, he was on the board and helped write the bylaws.

“I don’t envy them,” he said.

On Facebook, some theorized that the condo board was pushed to take action by a handful of complainers.

“Neighbors have been complimentary of our messages of inclusion, but I seem to have offended the racists, homophobes, etc.,” Katrina wrote in her post.

Others guessed that the current political climate might have caused an overreaction by condo management.

“It’s probable that no one is offended by your decorations but management just wants to head off something truly objectionable,” wrote one commenter, who congratulated the couple for speaking up.

This summer, the S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395 in Fairlington was the site of a showdown between those supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and counter-demonstrators who replaced BLM slogans with pro-Trump messages.

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Morning Notes

About Last Night’s Flyover — The two fighter jets that flew low and loud over Arlington last night, startling many, were participating in a flyover for the dedication of the new Eisenhower Memorial in D.C. [Twitter, Twitter]

Big Crane Coming to Amazon HQ2 Site — “There will be tower crane erection work this weekend, starting at 5 a.m. on Saturday, September 19 and 7 a.m. on Sunday, September 20. Work will be completed no later than 9 p.m. each day.” All southbound traffic on S. Eads Street will be detoured. [Twitter]

No PARK(ing) Day — “Arlington County will not be hosting annual PARK(ing) Day events tomorrow due to COVID-19 precautions. But feel free to imagine the possibilities of drab, curbside asphalt turned into unique community spaces.” [Twitter]

Barr Speech in Arlington Makes News — “Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday that the Justice Department has recently acted ‘more like a trade association for federal prosecutors than the administrator of a fair system of justice’ and equated some prosecutors to preschoolers and ‘headhunters’ […] in a speech at Hillsdale College’s annual Constitution Day Celebration, which this year was held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia.” [NBC News]

New Fire Engines for ACFD — “The Arlington County Fire Department recently took delivery of two new Pierce Manufacturing pumpers, which went into service with Engine 105 and Engine 109. The twin pumpers have a 1,500-gallon-per-minute pump and carry 750 gallons of water and 30 gallons of firefighting foam.” [InsideNova]

Virtual Award Gala Next Week — “Please join us for the 2020 Spirit of Community celebration on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 12:00 PM. This year, the Arlington Community Foundation will be honoring Arlington’s front-line human service workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic with the 2020 William T. Newman, Jr. Spirit of Community Award.” [Arlington Community Foundation]

Fairlington 5K Goes Virtual — “Having canceled its traditional event in April, organizers of the Fairlington 5K have announced plans for a ‘virtual’ race on Saturday, Oct. 3. Participants will have one week to compete in the event, which will support Fairlington resident Ellie McGinn, a young girl born with the rare brain/spinal cord disorder LBSL. Additional funds raised from the event will support Abingdon Elementary School.” [InsideNova]

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The Arlington County Board took a first step towards the future redevelopment of Shirlington over the weekend.

The Board approved a new “Shirlington Special General Land Use Plan (GLUP) Study,” which has been in the works since December 2017 after being requested by Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT), owner of the Village at Shirlington retail center.

The GLUP study contains the broad strokes of the potential redevelopment of Shirlington, which would include taller buildings but the retention of the neighborhood’s “main street” feel.

Shirlington, as people currently know it, was the result of redevelopments in the mid-1980s and mid-2000s, but the current site plan for the area does not allow additional development density. That prompted FRIT to ask for the study, which has been subject to a detailed public process over the past year. Shirlington-based television station WETA, which itself is moving forward with updates to its headquarters, later signed on to FRIT’s request.

“Federal Realty and WETA jointly applied for an amendment to the General Land Use Plan at Shirlington in order to facilitate long-term reinvestment in the Village at Shirlington,” Dan Corwin, Director of Asset Management — Mixed Use for FRIT, told ARLnow. “There are a few locations throughout the Village that provide opportunities for new vertical development that can be done in manner that respects the character and charm that makes Shirlington so special. Importantly, the additional density will facilitate future reinvestments in the public spaces which are needed to ensure Shirlington remains a great place for its residents, workers, and visitors to enjoy.”

The finished study calls for generally higher building heights around much of Shirlington, which currently has heights ranging from one-story retail buildings to a 13-story apartment building. Under the changes, the 13-story Io Piazza building would remain the tallest building in the study area, but higher buildings — from 4 to 12 stories — would be permitted where shorter buildings, or parking lots, currently exist.

Among other potential changes, the GLUP study would allow an 8-10 story redevelopment of the gas station at the corner of Campbell Ave and S. Quincy Street; the redevelopment of the large surface parking lot along S. Arlington Mill Drive; and the replacement of several existing above-ground parking garages with new buildings.

FRIT unsuccessfully asked for the GLUP study’s approval to be delayed in order for it to make the case for even taller buildings and more flexibility to move around density.

Company representatives told the Board that the redevelopment of the parking garages, as well as the south side of the main Campbell Avenue shopping and dining drag, is unlikely at this time. On the other hand, the company would like to add more height than is called for in the GLUP study to the AMC movie theater site and the site of the former Capitol City Brewing location.

FRIT reps said the company wants to “reinvest in the property and the retail street environment,” citing maintenance issues with some of the aging buildings and competition from newer retail centers. In addition to new buildings, the company envisions “new family-oriented outdoor improvements,” including new outdoor seating areas along Campbell Avenue, water features, event space, art installations.

“We need to make sure Shirlington is a great place,” a company representative told the Board, promising to “breathe new life” into the neighborhood.

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