There’s word this morning that the idea of a Rosslyn-Georgetown gondola might not be as dead as we first thought.
Just over four years since the Arlington County Board said it was “not in favor” of the $80-90 million project, which always seemed to be more attractive to Georgetown business interests than to those on the other side of the river, a D.C. Council member is raising the hopes of the gondola’s cult-like following with a new funding request.
Per the Washington Business Journal’s Alex Koma:
While the idea of aerial lift transportation from Manhattan on the Potomac directly to the Exorcist steps — not to mention the sweeping views in between — may make gondola advocates giddy, the initial estimate of $3.25 million in annual operating costs puts a damper on the chances of it actually happening.
Nonetheless, should Councilmember Brooke Pinto’s proposal go through, purchasing the former Exxon station and completing an Environmental Impact Study would eliminate major hurdles to the gondola project moving forward. Next stop: getting Arlington County elected officials to climb on board.
What do you think of this latest gondola news?
(If you can’t see the emojis, here is the key: 1 = happy, 2 = unhappy, 3 = shrug.)
Police Called for Man Spitting on Bus Passengers — An incident on a bus prompted a police response Thursday afternoon. Per ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage: “At approximately 1:38 p.m., police were dispatched to the report of a disorderly subject on a Metro bus in the area of Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street. The suspect left the area prior to police arrival and a search by responding officers returned with negative results… The call for service alleged the subject was acting disorderly and spitting on individuals on the bus.”
Arlington Company Is Among Fastest-Growing — Ballston-based Hungry is the fastest-growing technology firm in the D.C. area and the 18th fastest growing tech company in the nation, according to a new list from Deloitte. Another Ballston tech company, Evolent Health, ranked No. 402 in the U.S. [Deloitte]
NAACP Statement on H-B Incident — “We are pleased that the principal took swift action to notify families and meet with affected students and that the Superintendent followed up with a letter to APS families with an honest depiction that did not minimize the significance or harm it caused. This act of racial violence is the latest and most egregious in a progressive pattern of racist incidents occurring within our schools.” [Press Release]
Grant to Help Local Tourism Recover — “Arlington Convention and Visitors Service has received $10,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Recovery Marketing Leverage Program, designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging limited local marketing dollars through a local match of state grant funds.” [Arlington County]
ACFD Hosting Kids’ Bedtime Stories — “We are extremely excited to host our 4th Virtual Bedtime Story/ Fire Engine Tour! Spots are limited and previous events have maxed out quickly. If you are interested in joining please email [email protected] Can’t wait to see you Monday night.” [@ArlingtonVaFD/Twitter]
Gondolas Gaining in Popularity — “Air gondolas — ski-lift-type conveyances that have become common sights in South American cities like Medellín, Mexico City and La Paz — could one day dot the U.S. urban landscape, some transportation planners say.” [Axios]
Nearby: Car Plows Into CD Cellar — The CD Cellar store in Falls Church was damaged after a car came crashing through one of the front windows earlier this week. “Someone thought we were a drive-thru record store,” CD Cellar quipped on social media. [Facebook]
The commentariat has spoken and ARLnow has listened.
The second item in our lineup of locally-themed apparel, just in time for the holidays, is our exclusive GONDOLA NOW! shirt.
Available in multiple hues so you can stand out at local meetings, the GONDOLA NOW! shirt tells the world that ariel lift transportation is, in fact, a perfectly modern and practical way to get from here to there. For instance, from Rosslyn to Georgetown.
The proposed Potomac gondola may be down — given its lack of support from the Arlington County Board — but it’s not completely out. After all, current Democratic County Board candidate Chanda Choun said last year that he would support “exploring this proposal” after exclaiming the very words on this shirt.
ARLnow does not endorse candidates nor transportation policy positions, but we do endorse looking good in shirts we designed. So get your GONDOLA NOW! apparel on Amazon in any of the following styles:
New Restaurant Opening Soon in Ballston — “Zoup! Eatery, the fast casual restaurant known for its award-winning soups and made-to-order sandwiches and salads, is set to open its first Arlington location on Monday, Oct. 21.” [Press Release]
School Library Lending Down Slightly — “Who says print is dead? Circulation of print materials at Arlington’s public-school libraries held relatively steady during the 2018-19 school year at about 980,000 items – or about 36 items per student. The total figure… was down about 1.5 percent from a year before.” [InsideNova]
Notable Tree Nominations Open — “Since 1987, Arlington has identified and registered its most notable trees, as well as the residents who care for them.” Nominations for 2020 notable trees nominees are now open, with a Dec. 1 deadline. [Arlington County]
Job Fair for Local Census Workers — “Interested in a job with the U.S. Census for 2020? @ArlEmploymentCt is hosting recruitment events this month. The first two sessions are Tuesday, Oct. 8.” [Eventbrite, Twitter]
‘Cautionary Tale’ for Gondola Plans — “Several years after closing the gondola that served the Alemão favela, the state of Rio de Janeiro has kept up hope that it would restart service. In May, the state said it would reopen the line by the end of the year. But with three months left in 2019, there’s little sign of action.” [Wired, Twitter]
Nearby: Bearer of Bad News for Hire — “Want a divorce? Have to quit your job? Need to tell your family you crashed your car into the side of the Van Dorn Station Shopping Center? Sometimes there’s no easy way to break bad news, so don’t. An Alexandrian is offering his services via Craigslist to break the bad news for you.” [ALXnow]
Police Investigate Stabbing Near Alexandria Border — Updated at 2:45 p.m. — Arlington County Police are investigating a stabbing that happened last night at S. Arlington Ridge Road and S. Glebe Road. The incident, which started when the victim asked for help finding a ride, was initially believed to be a shooting, but was later determined to be “the result of a sharp weapon.” The victim was found with non-life threatening wounds just across the border in Alexandria. [Twitter, ACPD]
Major Redevelopment in Rosslyn — The Dittmar Co. has filed a preliminary site plan to redevelop the Holiday Inn hotel in Rosslyn, building 26- and 38-story towers housing 490 apartments and 327 hotel rooms. The proposal includes a 6,000 square foot event space on the top floor of the taller tower and the demolition of a skybridge crossing Fort Myer Drive. [Washington Business Journal]
Leonsis Says Build the Gondola — In a joint WaPo op-ed, Caps and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, JBG Smith CEO Matt Kelly and former GOP Congressman Tom Davis say the proposed Georgetown-Rosslyn gondola would be a “forward-looking and innovative” investment in our transportation infrastructure. [Washington Post]
Local CEO Buys Rosslyn Buildings — “Affiliates belonging to Cogent Communications Holdings Inc. CEO Dave Schaeffer, one of the region’s highest-paid chief executives, have acquired a pair of Rosslyn office buildings (1550 and 1560 Wilson Blvd) recently renovated to include upgraded common-area space and a new boutique boxing-oriented fitness facility.” [Washington Business Journal]
Sheriff’s Office Raises Money for Prostate Cancer — The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office helped to raise money for prostate cancer treatment at Virginia Hospital Center during the month of November via its “Beards with a Badge initiative.” [Virginia Hospital Center, WJLA]
November Sets Weather Record — Last month was the wettest November on record for the Washington area. It was also the second-wettest meteorological fall on record for the area, according to the National Weather Service. [Twitter]
Police Searching for Missing Man Last Seen in Georgetown — Police are still looking for David Stern, a D.C. accountant last seen at Dixie Liquor on M Street in Georgetown. The 29-year-old, who is engaged to be married, hasn’t been seen since buying a bottle of Crown Royal at the store this past Tuesday. [Fox 5]
Photo courtesy @wwwchris
Georgetown Condo Development Could Further Stymie Gondola Push — Work seems to be moving ahead on an effort to redevelop a former Exxon station in Georgetown into 21 condos, which planners have long eyed as a key property in the development of a Rosslyn-Georgetown gondola. The development could further imperil a project already broadly viewed as a non-starter among Arlington’s leaders. [Urban Turf]
Rosslyn “Pop Up” Store Opens for Business — “The Alcove,” backed by the Rosslyn BID and a variety of other community partners, held a grand opening yesterday (Wednesday). Located at the corner of 19th Street N. and N. Moore Street in Rosslyn’s Central Place Plaza, the store will be open through end of September. [Twitter]
Arlington Food Assistance Center Looking for Fresh Produce Donations — The center is asking local gardeners and farmers for some help this summer, and will accept donations at three locations around the county. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo via Tom Mockler
L.A. Bar and Grill Reopening — After closing for renovations (and because it was late in renewing its state alcohol license) Columbia Pike watering hole L.A. Bar and Grill is planning to reopen this weekend, just in time for Cinco de Mayo. [Facebook, Facebook]
The D.C. Case for the Rosslyn Gondola — “The Gondola will provide anyone within the Metro catchment area a faster trip to Georgetown. With the Gondola, the total travel time to Georgetown drops to less than 30 minutes for a much larger part of the region, including areas of the District with the greatest need for employment opportunities, giving them a faster way to connect with jobs in Georgetown.” [D.C. Policy Center]
Petition Against iPads in Middle School Cafeterias — An online petition, signed by nearly 100 people, seeks to have Arlington Public Schools strengthen its rules regarding iPad use in middle schools. Specifically, the signers want iPads to be used in classrooms and not during lunchtime or recess. Such a policy, the petition creators wrote, would “ensure that APS electronic resources enhance, and do not detract from, the learning process of middle school students.” [Change.org]
More ART Arrival Info Issues — Once again, Arlington Transit is having problems with its real-time bus arrival system. Officials told ARLnow.com that a technical issue with the contractor that provides the system was to blame. [Twitter]
Native Plant Sale This Weekend — The Long Branch Nature Center will host a sale of “plants that are accustomed to local climate and wildlife” on Saturday afternoon. [Arlington County]
Scott McGeary Lauded — “Decades ago, Scott McGeary’s parents would take him to occasional celebratory dinners at the Key Bridge Marriott, where they would enjoy both the food and the vistas of the nation’s capital… On May 2, McGeary was again at the hotel, this time in the 14th-floor ballroom as he was inducted into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame.” [InsideNova]
Four Mile Run Dye Testing — Arlington County is conducting dye testing along S. Four Mile Run Drive today. Traces of green and red dye may be seen in Four Mile Run as a result. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The two contenders for the Democratic nomination for Arlington County Board spent most of their May 2 debate in agreement on a wide range of issues — with one gondola-sized exception.
Chanda Choun and Matthew de Ferranti took turns emphasizing the need for more affordable housing and economic development in the county during the forum, which was held in Ballston and hosted by the Arlington County Democratic Committee. Both Democratic hopefuls had plenty of criticisms of the record of the man they’re hoping to knock off this November: County Board member John Vihstadt, an independent.
The rare policy divergence between the two came on a question about whether they’d support using county funds to help build the oft-discussed Rosslyn-Georgetown gondola.
De Ferranti, a lawyer and Democratic activist who’s racked up endorsements from a whole host of elected leaders, adopted the more cautious stance of other county officials and suggested that he’s “fairly wary of moving forward” with the project.
By contrast, Choun — a cybersecurity professional and U.S. Army reservist — borrowed a phrase from the ARLnow comment section to declare: “Gondola now!”
“I know it sounds silly, but I don’t think we should just write it off,” Choun said. “I don’t think there’s any harm to continue exploring this proposal.”
Choun pointed to previous studies of the project suggesting that it could ease the connection between Rosslyn and Georgetown by helping people bypass the Key Bridge, adding that the gondola could also increase access to the Rosslyn Metro station for Georgetown residents.
Yet de Ferranti said he’d much rather support Metro more directly via continued county’s financial support of the troubled transit system. He also noted that many local officials fear that Virginia’s recent deal to provide dedicated annual funding to Metro could pull badly needed money away from regional road projects.
“We have to preserve our existing bus routes and the transportation we have now,” de Ferranti said. “I just don’t think now is the right moment for us to get the gondola.”
But neither Choun nor de Ferranti will get a chance to weigh in on the issue at the board level if they fail to best Vihstadt, who became the first non-Democrat to win a seat on the County Board in 15 years back in 2014, and both candidates argued forcefully that they can topple the incumbent.
GGW Boosts Gondola — “While [the proposed Georgetown-Rosslyn gondola] might not be the one, most important transportation project in the whole region, it’s a worthwhile way to help people reach jobs and shops and reduce single-passenger car trips.” [Greater Greater Washington]
USB E-Cig Banned at APS — “Schools in Arlington, Virginia, have specifically banned a new type of e-cigarette that has gained popularity among local teenagers: the Juul.” [WTOP]
‘Collision’ to Showcase N. Va. Tech — Arlington and Alexandria’s economic development agencies last week “announced their collaboration in showcasing the brightest and emerging startups on a national platform next month at one of the fastest growing tech conferences in the country.” [Alexandria News]
Beyer Unhappy With Military Helo Report — “A 400-page U.S. Army report on military-helicopter noise in the Washington area has failed to satisfy the member of Congress who authored legislative language requiring its compilation.” [InsideNova]
Snow Predicted for Arlington Tonight — “Expect a sloppy mix of precipitation that slowly transitions from rain to sleet to perhaps snow between early Tuesday morning and Wednesday afternoon.” [Capital Weather Gang]
Market Common Redevelopment Approved — The Arlington County Board last night approved a plan to redevelop a portion of Market Common Clarendon. The project is described as “a major renovation and expansion of a commercial-retail block in the heart of Clarendon,” which will preserve the A&R Engravers building and widen the Wilson Boulevard sidewalk at Edgewood Street. [Arlington County]
Gondola Idea Not Dead Yet — “A gondola connecting Georgetown and Rosslyn adjacent to the Key Bridge is still in the works,” with those on the D.C. side of the Potomac continuing to work on it despite Arlington’s public reticence. However, the project now faces an exceedingly complex Environmental Impact Study. [Washington Business Journal]
Man Shot and Killed in Philly IDed — A local man who was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in South Philadelphia after allegedly deliberately striking a pedestrian with his car has been identified. Per the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Khalil Lawal, of the 100 block of South Frederick Street in Arlington, Va., was shot early Monday morning by the officer in the face, torso, and legs, police said.” [Philly.com]
Mitten Under Consideration for Michigan Job — Arlington Deputy County Manager Carol Mitten is among three candidates under consideration for the job of City Manager in Grand Rapids, Michigan. [Grand Rapids Business Journal]
Ship’s Hatch Under New Ownership — Long-time military gift store Ship’s Hatch has been sold to a new owner. Founder Mary Beth Cox, 73, is retiring after more than three decades of running the store in the Crystal City Shops. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by GM and MB
County Opts to Acquire Hospital Site — Arlington County Board members on Tuesday voted to formally seek a large tract of land along S. Carlin Springs Road in a land swap with Virginia Hospital Center. In exchange, the county is offering to VHC county-owned land next to the hospital, which would allow it to expand. [Arlington County, InsideNova]
Bike Thefts Up in Arlington — Bike thefts were up for the first 6 months of 2017, compared to a year prior. No one seems to be safe from the prolific bike thieves, who often target high-end bikes parked in garages and bike lockers; among those reporting recent thefts were Henry Dunbar, the director of BikeArlington and Capital Bikeshare in Arlington, and an ABC 7 employee. [WJLA]
Gondola Project Not Dead — Though Arlington County has moved on from it, D.C. is still budgeting money to advance the proposed Rosslyn-to-Georgetown gondola project, including $250,000 for an environmental review of a potential gondola site near the C&O canal. One other intriguing factor: should the gondola run north of the Key Bridge, as shown in renderings, it may reach Arlington at the Key Bridge Marriott property, which is in the early stages of a potentially large-scale, mixed-use redevelopment. [Bisnow]
County Buys Office Building — As expected, the Arlington County Board has voted to purchase a low-slung office building at 2920 S. Glebe Road, to house Arlington’s head start program. The program is currently housed in the Edison Center next to Virginia Hospital Center, which is slated to be transferred to VHC in a land swap (see above). Arlington is paying $3.885 million for the Glebe Road property, nearly $1.5 million above its assessed value. [Arlington County]
JBG Has Big Plans for Crystal City — JBG Smith, the newly-formed combination of JBG and the Washington properties of Vornado, says repositioning and enhancing its 7 million square foot portfolio in Crystal City is a “top priority.” Among the changes in the works for the Bethesda-based firm: expanding the vacant office building at 1750 Crystal Drive, converting it to residential, and adding an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and a grocery store. [Washington Business Journal]