A 7-Eleven store near Shirlington was robbed early this morning by a pair of suspects, one of whom was armed.
The robbery happened shortly after 2:30 a.m. at the convenience store on the 2800 block of S. Wakefield Street, just down the hill from the Fairlington neighborhood.
A man and a woman allegedly each stole items from the store, and the man displayed a gun when a store employee tried to stop the woman from leaving, according to an Arlington County police crime report.
More from ACPD:
ROBBERY, 2023-08300027, 2800 block of S. Wakefield Street. At approximately 2:43 a.m. on August 30, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined Suspect One entered the business, collected merchandise and exited the store without payment. Suspect Two then entered the business and collected merchandise during which a store employee attempted to prevent her from leaving without payment. Suspect One, who was outside the glass door entrance, lifted his shirt, exposing a firearm and made threatening statements towards the employee. Suspect Two then exited the business with the stolen merchandise and fled the scene on foot with Suspect One. Officers canvassed the area for the suspects yielding negative results.
Work is underway to make a 53-year-old bridge S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395 safer and extend its overall life, per the Virginia Dept. of Transportation.
The 53-year-old bridge is located between the I-395 interchanges for King Street and Shirlington Circle in the Fairlington neighborhood. It was last rehabilitated in 1994 and is in need of attention, according to a press release from the state transportation department.
The planned repairs will use $8.4 million in federal and state funding and will wrap up in late 2024, the press release said.
Work includes rehabilitating the bridge deck, repairing deteriorating concrete, replacing all steel bearings and eliminating bridge joints, per a project overview video.
Arlington County also identified S. Abingdon Street, from 34th Street S. to Fire Station 7, for resurfacing. It is coordinating with the state on those changes, including a buffered bike lane to improve the cycling experience and narrower travel lanes to manage vehicle speeds.
Bridge deck rehabilitation work will last about 12 weeks and occur in three stages, the video says.
In the first phase, all traffic will be shifted to the east side of the bridge, with two shared bicycle and traffic lanes and one five-foot-wide sidewalk. A temporary crosswalk will be added near 36th Street S. In the second phase, all traffic will be shifted to west side of the bridge.
In the third stage, traffic will be split on both sides of the work zones and the crosswalk will be removed.
“When one sidewalk along the bridge is closed, pedestrians will be detoured to the sidewalk on the opposite side,” VDOT said in the press release. “Drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians are reminded to use caution when traveling in active work zones. Be alert to new traffic patterns and limit distractions.”
The I-395 main and express lanes may see periodic daytime and overnight lane closures, VDOT says.
“Most of the work below the bridge will be performed during nighttime operation to avoid impact to normal daytime traffic particularly peak hour traffic,” the project video says.
The owner of garden apartments on the edge of the Fairlington neighborhood nabbed $46.6 million in federal loans to help keep the units affordable and fund upgrades.
Over the last two years, Standard Communities, which owns Park Shirlington (4510 31st Street S.), has been amassing funding — including from Arlington County — to keep the nearly 300 units on site affordable to people earning up to 60% of the area median income, while funding renovations and new construction work.
Last week, commercial real estate company Walker & Dunlop announced it had helped the company nab the $46.6 million in federal funds, on top of $31.9 million in loans from the Arlington County Affordable Housing Investment Fund.
With the new federal loans, it is able to keep the units affordable at least through 2053, according to the announcement.
“Transitioning Park Shirlington from market rate to committed affordable housing was an ambitious but critical objective given the affordable housing landscape in Arlington and many other high-opportunity locations,” said Scott Alter, the co-founder, and principal of Standard Communities, in a statement.
“Standard Communities is proud to have successfully worked with so many other committed stakeholders to ensure that Park Shirlington provides nearly 300 high-quality, affordable housing units for decades to come,” he continued.
Chris Rumul, the leader of Walker & Dunlop’s Federal Housing Administration team, says the availability of affordable housing is a national concern but this complex “is an excellent example of how the federal government, local municipalities, and private investors can collaborate to be part of the solution.”
Arlington County has already done its part, loaning some $31.9 million from its Affordable Housing Investment Fund over the course of 2021 and 2022. This included a $6 million loan that helped Standard Communities purchase the property in 2017, preventing market-rate developers from taking it over and building more expensive housing.
With the new funding, renovation and construction work could start this August, an employee at Park Shirlington said this afternoon, adding that tenants would be notified once renovations begin.
The work was initially predicted to start soon after the close of county financing last fall and wrap up in 2024.
The property owner proposes to build new community center with a co-working space and management office. It will renovate 293 existing units and turn the leasing office into a 294th unit.
The renovations include new kitchens and bathrooms, new boilers and chillers, rooftop solar panels, a new community building with a fitness center, hallway upgrades and exterior work, according to a 2022 report from Arlington County.
Bill Schweigart is always thinking about the best place for a dead body.
The Arlington-based author, who lives in the Barcroft neighborhood, could be taking a walk on nearby trails, grabbing a bite at a local restaurant, or even out with his wife, but he’s always looking for the next local spot to set a crime.
“I’ll be out on a bike ride or a date with my wife, and we’ll be strolling somewhere, and I’ll say ‘Oh, that would be a great place to drop a body,’” Schweigart told ARLnow. “Now, that’s not the most romantic thing to say on a date, but my wife knows I’m a crime writer.”
Schweigart is the author of five books, including The Guilty One, which was just released last month. What makes his novels unique, at least to locals, is that he makes a point to base many of them in places he frequents in Arlington and Alexandria.
That might mean a biking path he uses often, the woods behind his house in Barcroft, or even a pizza place he likes.
“In the Guilty One… I shout out Fairlington Pizza,” Schweigart said. “I put a lot of different cameos [in my books]. As much local flavor as I can include, I do that just because it makes it more fun.”
The Guilty One tells the story of an Alexandria Police Department detective who helped stop an active shooter but can’t remember how he did it. Six months later, while running on the W&OD Trail, he finds a body in a tree that possibly reveals the truth of what happened that day.
While a good portion of the book takes place in Alexandria, Fairlington figures prominently in the story as well.
“I will say some deadly shenanigans occur in Fairlington,” Schweigart said.
The Guilty One isn’t his only book where familiar locales are plot points. His second book, The Beast of Barcroft, is named after the neighborhood he’s lived in since 2008.
Schweigart explained that the simple reason why he includes so many local spots is that it’s easy and fun to “write what I know.” Plus, Arlington’s real-life diversity in terms of neighborhoods, settings, and residents makes it an ideal fictional backdrop.
“This place is a great place because you can write any kind of story,” he said. “You’ve got gleaming high rises. You have trails and wilderness. You’ve got politics. You’ve got the rich and powerful. You have the not-rich and the not-powerful. And they are all colliding and living pretty close together in the shadow of the nation’s capital. And it’s just a great engine for stories.”
It’s been a busy few months for Schweigart, not even accounting for his day job working for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Earlier in the year, a James Patterson-led collection of short stories to which Schweigart contributed was released. He first started working on his story “Women and Children First” with the legendary writer prior to the pandemic, but it took some time for the book 3 Days to Live to come out, due to the number of projects Patterson has his hands in.
For Schweigart, it typically takes about a year for him to write a book. It took him four years, though, to finish his first book, Slipping the Cable. He came away from that experience with a valuable lesson that he now passes along to other aspiring writers.
“Write every day. I learned that the hard way,” he said. “It does not have to be a huge word count, but if you establish a daily practice, the words just come easier over the long run.”
As for what’s next, Schweigart said he has already completed a sequel to The Guilty One and is talking with the publisher about it now. Asked whether readers can expect even more well-trodden local spots in this next book, Schweigart enthusiastically answered.
“Oh, absolutely,” he said.
(Updated at 11:25 a.m.) With the weather warming up, local farmers markets are reopening for the spring season.
Arlington has eight official farmers markets. Three markets are coming back this month to sell produce, including the following.
- Ballston on Thursdays from 3-7 p.m. starting April 6
- Cherrydale on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon starting April 15
- Lubber Run on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon starting April 15
Two markets will also be reopening next month:
- Rosslyn on Wednesdays from 3-7 p.m. starting May 3
- Fairlington on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. starting May 7
Some markets are open year-round but are shifting hours for the new season.
- Westover on Sundays from 8 a.m. to noon starting May 7
- Arlington (in Courthouse) on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, started April 1
- Columbia Pike on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m year-round
The Courthouse farmers market is the oldest in the county, having started operations in 1979.
In recent years, two farmers markets in Arlington have closed up shop. The Marymount University market shuttered in 2020 amid the pandemic and county officials said in 2021 that it was likely for good. The Crystal City farmers market ran for over a decade, from 2010 to 2021, but didn’t sell produce last year. It’s unclear whether it will open this year.
A nearly decade-old 5K race through Fairlington supporting a local girl with a rare disease is canceled, possibly indefinitely.
Since 2014, hundreds of Arlingtonians and visitors have participated in the Fairlington 5K, which raises money to fund research for a cure for leukoencephalopathy, or LBSL. The disorder affects the brain and spinal cord of Wakefield High School student Ellie McGinn.
Her P.E. teacher at Abingdon Elementary School initiated the first race in 2014. Since then, her family established the nonprofit, A Cure for Ellie, now Cure LBSL, which supports treatment research and raises awareness about the disease, while the race has attracted those affected by it from as far away as New Zealand.
“It’s been more than I ever could’ve dreamed for,” Ellie’s mother, Beth McGinn, tells ARLnow. “It’s a great community event and brought out the best in everyone here.”
This year would have been the eighth year for the race, but it was canceled due to stepped-up security for local races.
“For the safety and security of participants, spectators and special event staff, ACPD has a longstanding practice of clearing race courses of parked vehicles,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage said.
Over the last year, organizers of a few regularly occurring races that “did not have clear courses” were notified that by 2023, ACPD would no longer allow these events to occur if vehicles were parked along the race route.
The policy is intended to avoid drivers accidentally or purposefully striking participants. During last year’s race, police had to escort five individuals who inadvertently drove on the race course, despite public messaging and signage, Savage said.
This policy has been around for nearly a decade, according to Kathy Dalby, the CEO of local running store Pacers Running, which has handled race-day logistics for the Fairlington 5K as well as other races around the county.
“This isn’t a new policy, just probably not enforced across the board,” Dalby said. “We have been paying for car removal and meter charges since probably a year after the Boston Bombings, give or take.”
While ACPD offered to work with Beth McGinn to find a solution, she says she just does not see a way forward right now that keeps the race in Fairlington. Too many people use street parking, and relocating the race may result in fewer participants.
“What made our [race] so successful was also its downfall,” she said. “Thanks to the volume and density of Fairlington, we were able to turn out a lot of people. The civic association, the schools and the farmer’s market would promote it. There’s not that buy-in from everybody if I move it to a park.”
She says she understands the perspective of the police department. In addition to the incidents on the Fairlington 5K course last year, there have been a number of incidents in the last three years in which drivers have intentionally driven into crowds at community fundraisers, protests and foot races.
“It’s coming from a good place,” the mother said. “I wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt during my race, either… Right now, that’s the world we’re in.”
Although the race is canceled, Beth McGinn says people are still donating to the cause. The race has raised some $130,000 for research, per the race website, while the A Cure For Ellie cause has raised some $2 million, per the Cure LBSL website.
Right now, there are two drugs in clinical development. Beth McGinn says she hopes these could stop the disease’s progression in Ellie’s body and even help her daughter recover some mobility.
The disease has progressed to the point that Ellie uses a wheelchair at school and for long distances. Still, her mother makes sure to count her blessings.
“She’s a happy camper,” Beth said. “That’s a blessing.”
The nonprofit food pantry announced in a release that it is launching a new distribution center in The Waypoint at Fairlington, an affordable housing complex at 2451 Menokin Drive that opened last year.
“This is a major step for AFAC in moving beyond Arlington to nearby areas where we can expand on our mission to address long-term food insecurity,” Charles Meng, chief executive officer of AFAC, said in the release.
Nonprofit affordable housing provider Wesley Housing is partnering with AFAC to open the site, which is the food pantry’s first in the City of Alexandria and the second outside of Arlington County, per the release.
Around 2,900 families come to AFAC each week for access to fresh and healthy groceries, per the release. The nonprofit has seen an uptick in people needing assistance, as well as higher grocery bills, due to inflation. It is bracing for more clients now that the federal government last month rolled back a pandemic-era expansion of food assistance benefits, known as SNAP.
“AFAC is already seeing a record number of families coming to our doors weekly,” Meng said in his statement. “The reduction in SNAP benefits will only drive more families to seek our services. While many low income families received an increase in the minimum wage, that increase has already been consumed by inflation especially with the cost of food.”
As part of the partnership with Wesley Housing, residents at The Waypoint who participate in AFAC’s program will receive free weekly supplemental groceries, including chicken, beef, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables and canned goods.
“Our residents in Arlington have been the beneficiaries of AFAC’s program for more than 12 years,” said Wesley Housing Director of Resident Services Irrin Suvanasai. “Mitigating food insecurity at one of our newest communities is another example of our ongoing commitment to create and operate healthy, supportive, stable, affordable housing communities.”
A proposed apartment renovation project in Shirlington could receive an additional $2.6 million in loans from the county.
Tomorrow (Saturday), the Arlington County Board is set to review a proposal increasing the size of an existing loan from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) for renovations to the Park Shirlington Apartments, a 1950s-era, garden-style complex with 293 units along 31st Street S., on the edge of the Fairlington neighborhood.
The loan under consideration would bring the total amount Arlington is lending to the property owner, Standard Communities, to $31.9 million. This number includes a $22.8 million loan approved last summer, an existing $6 million loan used to assist Standard Communities with the purchase of the property in 2017, and a more than half-million dollar deposit.
The owner intends to set the renovated units aside as committed affordable units to people making 60% of the area median income (AMI) for 75 years.
Pending County Board approval, renovations could begin this fall and be completed in 2024.
The “extensive” planned work includes new kitchens and bathrooms, new boilers and chillers, rooftop solar panels, a new community building with a fitness center, hallway upgrades and exterior work, according to a draft report outlining the project.
The current leasing office will be converted into a two-bedroom apartment, and the leasing and management office will move to the new community building.
Renovations will take approximately three weeks per unit, and approximately 10 units will be under renovation at a time.
Park Shirlington Apartments is nearly at-capacity, with only two vacant apartments as of March, according to a report outlining the renovation and relocation process.
Standard Communities says it’s taking several steps to minimize disruptions for tenants who stay and to assist tenants who earn too much to remain.
“Residents will be allowed to remain at the property during renovations,” said Erika Moore, a spokeswoman for the Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development. “Residents would temporarily relocate from their current unit, with all of their furniture and belongings, into a vacant ‘hospitality’ unit, which would be comparable to their current apartment.”
Standard Communities will provide residents with boxes and packing materials and a renovation coordinator will “schedule, coordinate, and supervise the moving of their packed belongings and furniture from their home to the hospitality unit and then back again using a licensed, bonded and insured professional moving company,” Moore said.
The owner will also arrange for packing and unpacking assistance for elderly residents and residents with disabilities, as well as “any other reasonable accommodation requests,” she added.
But an estimated 40 households will have to relocate, as they earn over 60% of the AMI. For an individual, that’s $59,820 a year.
A family of four living on 60% AMI ($85,380) and living in a 3-bedroom apartment would still meet the federal government’s definition of “rent burdened,” paying slightly more than 30% of their income on rent.
They will receive four-month notices and moving cost assistance, according to the relocation report.
Under the new threshold, rents would be $1,602 for a 1-bedroom, $1,921 for a 2-bedroom and $2,220 for a 3-bedroom apartment.
Arlington County was initially planning to buy and build up part of the property with a partner developer, Washington Business Journal previously reported, but that plan was eventually scrapped.
The county assisted Standard Communities with the acquisition in 2017 to prevent market-rate developers from taking it over, according to the draft county report. The owner then converted the complex to committed affordable housing for people making up to 80% AMI.
The young, mangy Fairlington fox that’s roaming around Fairlington and the efforts to trap it has become an object of fascination on local social networks.
The saga started over the past week or so when several community members started spotting a sickly, young fox wandering around streets and in between houses. Appearing on the verge of being hairless, it was clear that the fox had mange — a potentially fatal skin disease that causes loss of fur and is caused by microscope mites.
Beyond impacting foxes, mange is also dangerous to household pets and can cause severe itching in humans as well. The disease can potentially be resolved with medication, however.
Karen Dadey, Fairlington resident and a retired major in the U.S. Army, sprung into action. She contacted the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) and, then, proceeded to set up a trap herself in hopes of getting the fox to a wildlife rehabber as quickly as possible.
Dadey put a camera near the trap as well, baited it with a 7-Eleven cherry pie — at the advice of an expert, she said — and posted daily videos onto Nextdoor and the popular “Fairlington Appreciation Society” Facebook group in hopes of encouraging others to help.
Dadey admitted to ARLnow that this was her first time doing something of this nature, but felt like something needed to be done quickly.
“I’m just leaning in as a private citizen, trying to do the right thing for my neighborhood, to keep our pets safe and our wildlife safe,” she told ARLnow.
She ended up getting three other volunteers to help monitor the trap, replacing the bait and water bowl, and releasing any other animals that may have inadvertently wandered in. That included several squirrels and a neighborhood cat.
While many applauded her efforts in the comments, some argued that “capturing a wild animal is a really bad idea, not to mention illegal.” They urged her to “leave this to the professionals.” Those exhortations have been met from strong pushback from supporters of the amateur effort to save the fox.
Dadey called those positing critical comments “bullies.”
Both Dadey and her critics, however, seem to approve of what happened next. Within days, the professionals at AWLA got wind of what was happening and replaced Dadey’s trap with one of theirs.
Chief of Animal Control Jennifer Toussaint posted on the neighborhood Facebook group, providing background on fox behaviors and advising against handling, interacting, or feeding the animals. She also cautioned that helping a fox with mange can be very challenging.
“For the young fox in the photos we want to be up front and honest with the public. Finding rehabbers willing to take a yearling fox with mange is near impossible,” Toussaint wrote in the post. “This illness is highly transmissible to other animals they have in care and they most commonly recommend humane euthanasia.”
Dadey said that at least one of these issues has been resolved, having already arranged with the Nirvana Ridge Wildlife Refuge near Culpepper, Virginia to take the young fox and nurse it back to health.
In the days since, though, the fox still hasn’t been caught.
A rehabilitation project and a potential lane reconfiguration are both in the works for the S. Abingdon Street bridge in Fairlington.
The bridge, which carries local vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the neighborhood over I-395, was built in 1970 and last rehabilitated in 1994. It’s due for more work to improve safety and extend the bridge’s life, VDOT says.
A VDOT presentation noted that inspectors found crumbling concrete below the bridge span.
The state transportation department is conducting a virtual public engagement process about the upcoming $10.5 million rehab project, for which it anticipates starting construction in the summer of 2023. At least one lane of vehicle and bike traffic will be maintained in each direction during construction, VDOT says.
More from VDOT’s website, below.
The project includes:
- Resurfacing the concrete bridge deck and closing deck joints
- Repairing concrete piers and abutments
- Adding protective concrete barriers adjacent to piers
- Extending and adding concrete in-fill walls between piers
- Replacing bearings and reconstructing bearing seats
The existing sidewalks on both sides of the bridge will remain and the bridge bicycle lanes will be restriped as part of the project.
The bridge averages 8,300 vehicles a day based on 2019 data.
The project is financed with federal and state funding.
In lieu of an in-person meeting, VDOT invites residents and travelers to learn more, watch the virtual presentation and give feedback in the following ways through Wednesday, June 1:
In addition to VDOT’s construction project, Arlington County is gearing up for a “Complete Streets” repaving and re-striping project on the bridge — from Fire Station 7 to 34th Street S. — this summer.
The project may involve removing the sparsely-used street parking on either side of the bridge, in favor of more robust and protected bike and pedestrian facilities, based on public comments and past history with the program.
Several comments note concerns about vehicles speeding on the bridge and the presence of students going to and from school.
An exact plan for the county’s Complete Streets project has yet to be published.
Photo via Google Maps
(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) Police swarmed the Fairlington neighborhood Friday afternoon after a car chase came to an end near Abingdon Elementary.
Virginia State Police troopers were chasing suspects in a stolen vehicle when the vehicle sped into Fairlington and then crashed, according to police.
“ACPD is assisting [VSP] with the search for three suspects who fled on foot from a stolen vehicle at S. Abingdon Street and 30th Street S.,” Arlington police said via Twitter shortly before 3:45 p.m. “Expect continued police activity in the area.”
The elementary school, which had already dismissed for the day but still had some teachers inside, according to a tipster, was quickly placed in “secure the building mode,” said Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia.
On a neighborhood Facebook group, a resident said she saw what happened.
“Happened right in front of me,” she wrote. “I was walking down Abingdon Street. Car was speeding chased by 2 police cars. Car made a sharp turn onto 30th and crashed into a parked car. Two people — looked like teenagers — got out and ran. Third person ran a different direction so I didn’t see.”
“I shudder to think what could have happened if this was just a bit earlier at school dismissal time,” the resident added.
The Fairfax County police helicopter was called in to help search for the suspects. As of 4:15 p.m., police started breaking down the perimeter they had previously established as part of the search and the school’s security stance was lifted, according to scanner traffic.
The suspects remain at large, according to a Virginia State Police spokeswoman, who recounted the series of events that led to the chase ending in Fairlington.
“At 3:17 p.m. Friday, a Virginia State Police trooper was alerted to a Toyota Camry that had been reported stolen traveling south on I-395 near Exit 4,” VSP’s Corinne Geller tells ARLnow. “When the trooper activated his emergency lights and siren to initiate a traffic stop, the vehicle refused to stop and sped away. A pursuit was initiated.”
“The stolen vehicle took Exit 4 and entered… Arlington. The driver of the Toyota lost control and the vehicle ran off the road and struck a light pole at S. Abingdon Street and 30th Street S.,” Geller continued. “The driver and two passengers fled on foot. A search perimeter was established and, with the assistance of Arlington police, a search was conducted in the area for the three males. None [were] located. The search was discontinued.”
POLICE ACTIVITY: ACPD is assisting @VSPPIO with the search for three suspects who fled on foot from a stolen vehicle at South Abingdon Street and 30th Street S. Expect continued police activity in the area.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) April 22, 2022
.@AbingdonGIFT is currently on Secure the Building due to police activity in the area. Access to the school is limited, and families are not able pick up Extended Day students at this time. We will update families when they can access the school https://t.co/7MLzFJAefJ
— Arlington Public Schools (@APSVirginia) April 22, 2022