Press Club
Map showing site of water main project (via Arlington County)

The Arlington County Board is set to approve a contract for a new water main.

The new main will serve the Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, near Rosslyn, and will run under the N. Rhodes Street bridge over Route 50.

“This contract is for the construction of a 12-inch watermain between 14th Street North and North Queen Street,” notes a county staff report. “This contract includes approximately 230 feet of 12-inch ductile iron pipe suspended under the North Rhodes Street / Arlington Boulevard overpass Bridge. The proposed water main will provide system redundancy and improved pressure in the neighborhood.”

At its meeting tomorrow (Saturday), the Board will consider a $1.14 million contract, plus an approximate $230,000 contingency, with Alexandria-based contractor Sagres Construction Corporation.

The new main will replace a smaller pipe that broke and has not been returned to service.

“The Fort Myer Heights Watermain Improvement project is part of the effort to interconnect water supply systems to ensure redundancy,” says the county staff report. “The old 6″ watermain under Route 50 that connected the two sides of the Fort Myer Height’s neighborhood was isolated and abandoned in place after a water main break. The proposed 12″ watermain will interconnect the two sides of the neighborhood and thereby provide the essential redundancy and improved water pressure.”

Residents in the area can expect some temporary traffic and water disruptions during the project. A construction timeline was not given.

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This weekend, a new affordable housing development in the Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, near Rosslyn, could get the green light to get started.

During its regular meeting on Saturday, the County Board is slated to review plans for the Marbella Apartments, a proposal from Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to build two 12-story, multifamily residential buildings that will be 100% affordable units for residents earning less than the area median income (AMI).

It will also review a proposal to issue a $10.5 million, 38-year loan to the Arlington-based affordable housing developer to fund one half of the project.

The two buildings, with a total of 555 units, would replace the existing three-story, garden-style complex located at 1300 and 1305 N. Pierce, north of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. These buildings are located on the east and west sides of N. Pierce Street, between N. Queen Street and N. Ode Street.

About two-thirds of the units in both buildings will be affordable to those earning up to 60% AMI and more than half of the units will be family-sized, with two to three bedrooms. The rest of the units will be affordable to people earning up to 30% to 50% of AMI.

Current residents will be prioritized as new tenants and the units will be affordable for 75 years, according to a Board report. In the “unlikely” event of a foreclosure with the senior lender, Virginia Housing, APAH may be able to reduce the number of affordable units to no fewer than 20% of the total, it said.

The project would be built in two phases:

  • Phase 1: “Site A,” a 234-unit tower with 118 below-grade parking spaces
  • Phase 2: “Site B,” a 321-unit tower, 132 of which will be dedicated to senior housing, with 163 below-grade parking spaces

Each building will be oriented around central courtyards, with two new pedestrian walkways across each site. They have some environmentally friendly features, including green roofs, rooftop solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations and bicycle parking.

The developer will also take utilities underground and plant street trees.

APAH intends to return to the County Board later to request funds for the second phase. The County loaned the developer $4 million in 2011 when it purchased the existing 134-unit complex, built in the 1940s.

APAH is allowed to build 12-story buildings in the neighborhood through an April 2021 zoning ordinance amendment that hasn’t been used before, according to the report. Developers can tack on height if they commit to keeping all the units affordable and designing effective height transitions to lower-slung neighbors.

But this policy lacked “well-defined planning and urban design guidelines or other applicable policy guidance,” resulting in a contentious public review process, according to the report.

The Radnor/Fort Myer Heights Civic Association, Lisa Court townhouses homeowners and representatives for the Flats at Pierce Court condos all “voiced a number of concerns with the proposal, including issues related to overall building height, density, proposed parking, construction impacts, and transition to lower density properties,” the report said.

The Marbella Apartments site, showing neighboring communities (via Arlington County)

But revisions addressing these concerns worried several Site Plan Review Committee members and advisory group representatives, who said they reduced the number of units too much, the report continued.

The county says the final proposal smoothes the transition from townhouses to 12-story buildings as much as possible while removing only a half-dozen of units.

The evolution of the Marbella Apartments proposal (via Arlington County)

Meanwhile, this summer, APAH intends to renovate some low- and mid-rise affordable apartment buildings it owns next to the buildings intended for redevelopment.

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Morning Notes

Geese clean themselves in Boundary Channel (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Hotel Redevelopment Plan Paused — “The redevelopment of one of Arlington’s oldest hotels looks to be on hold indefinitely, as the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic disrupt the hospitality-focused project. Grant Investment Properties is asking county planners for more time to complete its overhaul of Rosslyn’s old Best Western Iwo Jima, now known as the Red Lion Hotel Rosslyn Iwo Jima, at 1501 Arlington Boulevard. A site plan for the project projected that it would be finished by March 2022, but the Chicago-based firm filed papers last week to ask for an extension through March 2025.” [Washington Business Journal]

Proposed APS Changes Questioned — “Based on feedback from the Arlington School Board, the Arlington Public Schools system is focusing on what they call more equitable grading practices. The preliminary proposal calls for: No late penalties for homework… No extra credit… Unlimited redoes and retakes on assignment… No grading for homework.” [WJLA, Washington Post]

Hit and Run Crash in Bluemont — From yesterday afternoon: “Several lanes of Wilson Blvd and N. George Mason Dr are closed after a reported hit-and-run crash in the intersection. Police and Fire Dept. on scene.” [Twitter]

Video: Crash on I-395 — From Dave Statter: “Watch: Another left turn in the middle of an interstate ends badly. 1p, I-395S at Rt 1. Third one recorded at this spot in the last month.” [Twitter]

Toby’s May Be Expanding to Vienna — “Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream, which saw a boost in sales over the summer thanks to the debut of its cicada sundaes, appears to be branching out. The Arlington-based shop, located along a Washington Boulevard in the Westover neighborhood, plans to open a new location at the Cedar Park Shopping Center in Vienna, according to Fairfax County permit data.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Fire and EMS Staffing Stretched — ” Fairfax County saw its largest-ever increase in coronavirus cases among fire and emergency medical responders this month, mirroring a surge in case rates compared to 2020. Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department data shows that there are 53 positive cases and 14 in quarantine, all staying at home to curb the spread of COVID-19.” [FFXnow, DCist, Twitter]

Crash and Arrest Block the Pike — Columbia Pike was blocked at S. Greenbrier Street yesterday evening after a crash in which one of the drivers reportedly refused police commands to exit the vehicle and was later tased. [Twitter]

It’s Thursday — There will be drizzle and possible fog before 2 p.m. on an otherwise cloudy day, with a high near 55. Sunrise at 7:26 a.m. and sunset at 4:54 p.m. Tomorrow, on New Year’s Eve, expect mild weather, with cloudy skies, a high near 60 and a low around 51. [Weather.gov]

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Arlington police about to pull over someone who rolled through a stop sign (video courtesy Kevin F.)

Arlington County Police Department motor officers had no shortage of drivers to pull over at a Rosslyn area intersection this year.

A resident who lives near the intersection of N. Pierce Street and 16th Street N. sent the following video, a compilation of drivers being pulled over for rolling through the intersection’s stop signs.

“This guy’s done. Oh, he’s so done,” the resident can be heard saying, as sirens started blaring and the police motorcycle started rumbling towards its prey.

An ACPD spokeswoman tells ARLnow that the department indeed engages in proactive traffic education and enforcement.

“Transportation safety is a key initiative of the Arlington County Police Department and officers take a two pronged approach of education and enforcement to ensure the safety of all travelers on our roadways,” said Ashley Savage. “As part of the Department’s traffic safety program, we work collaboratively with other County agencies and community members to address areas of concern.”

“Failure to stop at stop signs is a common concern we hear from community members throughout the County… It is a violation of Virginia Code § 46.2-821 to fail to come to a complete stop at a stop sign,” Savage added. “Officers conduct enforcement in identified areas of concern on a random rotating basis with the goal of compliance even when police are not present.”

As of last week, ACPD officers had issued more than 3,000 traffic tickets (or summons, in Virginia law enforcement parlance) and 1,000 warnings for stop sign violations over the course of 2021, according to data provided by the department.

Stop sign tickets and warning issued in 2021 (via ACPD)
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(Updated at 2 p.m.) Plans from a local affordable housing nonprofit to redevelop apartments in the Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, near Rosslyn are ready for public review.

Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) proposes to redevelop some buildings in a housing complex consisting of a series of three-story garden apartments and a detached single-family residence. These buildings are located within a mile of the Rosslyn and Courthouse Metro stations.

If approved, the plan will demolish some of the existing Marbella buildings, while renovating others and adding two 12-story buildings, at 1300 and 1305 N. Pierce Street, for a total of 561 units. The new buildings would only have committed affordable dwelling units.

According to APAH, a public comment period is set to open today for residents to provide feedback on the project. The site plan submission for the project was accepted by the county earlier this month, a precursor to reviews by county commissions and the County Board. Public review meetings and a County Board vote have yet to be scheduled, however, per the project’s webpage.

“The development will provide critically needed affordable housing in north Arlington, thereby advancing the priorities of the County Affordable Housing Master Plan and other County housing policies,”  said Kedrick Whitmore, a land-use lawyer with Venable.

Currently, the apartment complex — deemed “notable” in the county’s historic preservation program — has 72 committed affordable units. The new construction will bring a net increase of 489 committed affordable units to Arlington.

The two buildings, designed by KG&D Architects, are designed to attain EarthCraft Gold energy efficiency. They will feature a mixture of family-size and senior housing units.

The project will be divided into two phases. In the first phase, a 12-story tower with 325 residential units — 132 of which are dedicated to senior housing — and 163 underground parking spaces will be built. The second phase will see the construction of the second 12-story tower with 236 residential units and 118 below-grade parking spaces.

The project includes streetscape and sidewalk improvements, make utility fund contributions and improvements and add bicycle parking. There will also be in-building wireless first responder networks.

APAH is looking to request modifications for bonus height and density, among others possibly needed for the projects.

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Morning Notes

Redevelopment Proposal Near Rosslyn — “The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) is moving forward with a proposal it previewed to redevelop part of the Marbella Apartments. APAH has filed a zoning application to replace 72 units across a pair of low-rise apartment buildings at 1300 and 1305 N. Pierce Street (map) with two 12-story buildings, delivering a total of 561 affordable units.” [UrbanTurf]

Vision Zero Plan Approved — “Arlington County Board approved a five-year Vision Zero action plan over the weekend, joining other jurisdictions throughout the region that are trying to curb traffic fatalities. The county’s goal is to reach zero traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2030. Currently, Arlington has about four traffic fatalities per year and about 55 severe crashes.” [GGWash, Sun Gazette]

Trump Aides Are Still Working in Arlington — “Taxpayers are still footing the bill for Donald Trump to pay aides, Business Insider reported Monday… For Trump, accepting public money has meant employing 10 transition aides in Palm Beach, Florida — where Trump has been living since he left the White House — and another seven aides in an office building in Arlington, Virginia.” [Raw Story]

Metrobus Service Changes Planned — Adjustments are coming to numerous Metrobus routes starting Sunday, June 6. Service is being restored to a number of routes, but one notable pandemic-era service reduction will stay in place: the 16Y, a limited-stop service route which once connected Columbia Pike stops to McPherson Square in D.C., will remain out of service. [WMATA]

Longtime Arlington Judge Honored — “Its presentation was due to the pandemic, but Arlington Circuit Court Chief Judge William Newman Jr. on May 11 was honored with the 2019 Harry L. Carrico Outstanding Career Service Award by the Judicial Council of Virginia. The award is presented annually to a Virginia jurist who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in court administration while exhibiting the traits of integrity, honest, courtesy, impartiality and wisdom.” [Sun Gazette]

YHS Dominating in Boys Lacrosse — “Pick one: Stingy defense; a potent, high-scoring offense; scads of talent, especially at midfield; depth and experience with 17 seniors; versatility; and a willingness to work hard, achieve and improve. That describes this season’s undefeated Yorktown Patriots high-schoolboys lacrosse team, which began the week with a dominating 6-0 record. The Patriots’ accomplishments include a shutout and outscoring opponents 96-18.” [Sun Gazette]

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(Updated at 9:55 p.m.) The Arlington County Fire Department doesn’t just untangle flags from national monuments. It also rescues parakeets that have flown the coop.

Yesterday evening the fire department received a “public service” call for a prized sun parakeet that was stuck in a tree. The bird’s owner was out on a walk with her avian companion when “the bird was spooked by a dog and flew into a tree and did not come down,” ACFD spokesman Taylor Blunt tells ARLnow. She called the fire department after running out of options for getting the bird down.

The crew of Truck 106 responded and used the fire engine’s ladder to gently grab the bird from its perch above a house, bringing it back to its grateful owner.

“As firefighters, we never know what our day will be like!” the fire department said on social media this morning. “Happy to help.”

“This was an interesting run for us,” Blunt added.

The bird rescue happened around the same time as other ACFD crews were battling an apartment fire on the 1300 block of N. Pierce Street in the Radnor/Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, near Rosslyn. No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.

Photo courtesy ACFD

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A 22-year-old man was arrested last night and charged with attacking and strangling a woman as she walked through a neighborhood near Courthouse.

The attack happened along a path on the 1800 block of N. Uhle Street, in the Colonial Village community, at around 7 p.m.

Police say the man put a cord around the woman’s neck, pulled her to the ground and then tried to strangle her with his hands. He ran off “when two witnesses arrived in the area,” according to police.

Detective work led police to a suspect who was subsequently arrested on the 1500 block of N. Pierce Street, in the Rosslyn area.

“Following the April 13 incident, detectives launched a thorough investigation which included canvassing for information, reviewing crime scene evidence, interviewing witnesses and following up on investigative leads,” Arlington County police said in a press release. “As a result, detectives identified [Marquis] Holmes as a suspect and sought a warrant for Strangulation.”

“On the evening of April 21, officers responding to the report of a suspicious person in the 1500 block of N. Pierce Street located the suspect and took him into custody without incident on the outstanding warrant,” the press release continued. “Following an interview with detectives, an additional charge of Abduction with Intent to Defile was obtained.”

The abduction charge implies that police believe the suspect intended to have some sort of forcible sexual contact with the victim.

The police department is asking anyone with additional information about the case to contact them.

“This remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected],” police said.

Photo courtesy ACPD

Arlington County police are searching for a man they say tried to rape a woman near Courthouse last night.

The incident happened around 10:45 p.m. in the Radnor/Fort Myer Heights neighborhood.

The victim was walking her dog alone when the suspect allegedly started chasing her. He fell on top of her at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Rolfe Street, then tried to remove her pants, but a witness started yelling at the suspect and he ran of, according to ACPD.

Officers on the ground and a police helicopter tried to find the man, but the search was unsuccessful.

More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit is investigating an attempted rape in the Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood that took place on the evening of November 17, 2020.

At approximately 10:47 p.m., police were dispatched to the 1300 block of N. Rolfe Street for the report of an attempted rape. Upon arrival, it was determined that the female victim was walking her dog along the N. Rhodes Street bridge over Arlington Boulevard when she noticed the male suspect begin to follow her. The victim picked up her pace to a run in an attempt to separate herself from the suspect who then began to chase after her. At the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Rolfe Street, the victim and suspect fell to the ground. The suspect ended up on top of the victim, told her not to talk and attempted to remove her pants. A witness heard the victim yelling and called out to the suspect. The suspect froze and the victim was able to run away. Responding officers established a perimeter and canvased the area with negative results.

The suspect is described as a Black male in his 20’s, approximately 6’0″, 225-250lbs with broad shoulders. He was wearing a black hoodie with the hood up, dark jeans and a navy-blue face mask at the time of the incident.

This remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective J. McGrath at 703-228-4244 or [email protected] Information may also be provided to the Arlington County Police Tip Line at [email protected] or anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Map via Google Maps

The Virginian Suites hotel at 1500 Arlington Blvd, near Rosslyn, has closed.

Earlier this week workers could be seen hauling furniture out of the building, which is located on the southern side of Route 50, a couple of blocks from the Iwo Jima memorial. A sign on the door said the building is under new management.

The plan is to renovate the building and convert it back into apartments, according to Bernstein Management Corporation.

The company said last month on its website that 1500 Arlington Blvd will be reopened “as value-oriented multifamily rental apartments with amenities to include a lobby lounge, an amenity floor with fitness options and co-working, and an outdoor patio with grills and fire pit.”

“Unit interiors will undergo kitchen renovations, and receive new lighting, flooring, closet organizers and paint,” the company said. “The property is approximately 1/2 a mile from the Washington D.C. line. Its proximity to the Rosslyn Metro station, national employers, multiple universities, dining, and entertainment options makes it a promising acquisition and attractive place to live for those looking for amenities, sustainability, technology and a compelling value given the location.”

The ten-story tower was originally an apartment building after it was completed in 1951. It was later converted into a suite-style hotel.

Bernstein Management Corporation says it now owns a 50% interest in the building. The family behind the D.C.-based residential and commercial property operator just announced a $12 million charitable pledge to local organizations that champion “the arts, racial equality, and a brighter future.”

It’s unclear how long the renovations will take and when the new apartments will be available for lease. Reached by ARLnow, a spokeswoman for the company did not have any other details to share.

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A 25-year-old Arlington man is behind bars after police say he broke into a hotel room early this morning and assaulted a woman inside.

The incident happened around 2 a.m. on the 1600 block of Arlington Blvd, which is home to the Inn of Rosslyn motel.

Arlington County police say the man banged on the locked door of the hotel room before forcing his way in and grabbing the woman “around the upper torso.” She fled and called police. The suspect was later spotted by officers banging on another building door in Rosslyn and taken into custody, police said.

More from today’s ACPD crime report:

BURGLARY, 2020-09230019, 1600 block of Arlington Boulevard. At approximately 1:48 a.m. on September 23, police were dispatched to the report of a breaking and entering. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 1:40 a.m. the victim was awoken by noise from the suspect allegedly banging on the door to a secured hotel room. The suspect subsequently forced entry to the room, causing damage, and grabbed the woman around the upper torso. The victim was able to free herself from the suspect, who then fled on foot. Arriving officers established a perimeter, canvased the area, and a K9 track was conducted. At approximately 2:07 a.m., police were dispatched to the 1700 block of N. Quinn Street, where a male matching the suspect description was banging on the door to a building. Arriving officers located the suspect and took him into custody without incident. During the course of the investigation, it was determined the suspect had also caused damage to a shed located outside of the building on Quinn Street. Nomin-Erdene Begzjav, 25, of Arlington, Va., was arrested and charged with Burglary with Intent to Commit Assault, Assault & Battery, and Destruction of Property (x2). He was held on no bond.

Photo via Google Maps

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