The Arlington County Board voted unanimously yesterday to move forward with the sale of the historic Reeves farmhouse in Bluemont.
Despite a last push from a group that wants the farmhouse converted into a learning center for students, the county says that selling the farmhouse to a private buyer, who will be required to “maintain its historic integrity,” is the only economical way to preserve it for future generations.
“The County’s goal is to preserve the historic character of Reeves farmhouse and to preserve the site’s two acres of open space, the raised gardens, sledding hill and milk shed,” the county said in a press release.
“The County’s efforts to achieve the sort of successful partnership to restore the Reevesland farmhouse that it has achieved with other projects have been hampered by the estimated, and increasing, cost of renovating the farmhouse and bringing it up to code for public use, estimated to be in the range of $2.5 – $3 million, as well as an unspecified amount for ongoing maintenance and operating costs.”
The full press release, after the jump.
The Rosslyn parking garage in which a Washington Post reporter met a source dubbed “Deep Throat” to discuss the Watergate scandal looks like it may not be relegated to the history books quite yet.
The garage and the two office buildings atop it were set for a major redevelopment. Approved in 2014, the plan was to build a 24-story office tower and a 28-story, 274-unit apartment building on the site.
But the original County Board approval for the plan expires in June and property owner Monday Properties is asking for a three-year extension at the Arlington County Board meeting this Saturday.
Other than the extension, no other changes to the development’s site plan have been proposed. County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending the Board approve the extension.
Skimmers Found on Gas Pumps — Arlington County Police are investigating credit card skimmers that were found on gas pumps at the Shell station on S. Four Mile Run Drive. [NBC Washington]
‘Project DAPS’ Now Online — An Arlington Public Library project to digitize records, photos and oral histories of the effort to desegregate schools in Arlington County went online last month. Arlington “defied the state” when the first black students began attending Stratford Junior High in January 1959, though it would take another 12 years before county schools were fully integrated. [WAMU]
Candidate Withdraws from Delegate Race — It’s the shortest local primary challenge in recent memory. Alexandria City School Board member Karen Graf, who announced on Feb. 6 that she was challenging Del. Mark Levine (D-45) for the Democratic nomination, has withdrawn from the race. Levine’s 45th House of Delegates district includes part of Arlington. [Alexandria News]
Some Still Skeptical of High Water Bills — “Ridiculous” is how one local civic association president described Arlington County’s conclusion that big spikes in water bills charged to some homeowners last year were not the result of systematic errors. [InsideNova]
New Vape Store in Ballston — “House of Vape, one of the fastest growing retail vape chains in the Mid-Atlantic region, has opened a new brick and mortar store in Arlington, Virginia, near the Ballston Metro station.” [PR Rocket]
Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak
Median Home Sales Price Ticks Down — “Prices, sales and contract signings for home sales all hit 10-year highs for a January in the Washington metro.” according to WTOP’s Jeff Clabaugh. However, in Virginia, “Falls Church, Arlington County and Alexandria were the only three jurisdictions with lower median sales prices from a year earlier.” [WTOP]
Primary Challenge for Del. Levine — Del. Mark Levine, who represents part of Arlington, is facing a Democratic primary challenge from Alexandria School Board member Karen Graf. Levine has been endorsed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe while Graf has the endorsement of state Sen. Adam Ebbin. The primary will be held in June. [InsideNova]
Remodeling Reveals Historic Headlines — A couple in north Arlington made a surprise find inside a wall while remodeling their home: “yellowed newspapers detailing the stock market crash of October 1929.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Gov. Announces New Jobs for Arlington — Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has announced that Vorsight, a “sales effectiveness” tech firm in Rosslyn, will be expanding its corporate headquarters, creating 112 new jobs in Arlington. [Governor of Virginia]
New Apartments in Crystal City/Pentagon City — More than 1,100 new apartments opened in the Crystal City and Pentagon City area in 2016. More than 3,000 additional apartments are in the development pipeline. [Bisnow]
History of Churches in Arlington — Arlington’s first church was the Chapel of Ease of Arlington Plantation, built in 1825 by George Washington Parke Custis. The church was located near what is now the Sheraton hotel at the intersection of Columbia Pike and Orme Street. It was burned by union troops during the Civil War. [Falls Church News-Press]
(Updated at 4:17 p.m.) A historic graveyard could get a new lease on life thanks to newly updated plans to redevelop a Ballston church.
The graveyard is located next to Ballston’s Central United Methodist Church, which has filed a site plan application to redevelop its property at 4201 Fairfax Drive into an eight-story building with a new house of worship, 119 apartments (48 would be affordable units), a daycare and preschool facility and charitable facilities.
The site the developer wants to build on includes the Robert Ball Graveyard, the final resting place of some members of the family behind the Ballston name. The 150-year-old, 325-square foot burial ground includes several white headstones originally for members of the Ball family and may even contain some of their remains, though no one knows for sure whether the remains are still there or have been moved.
The plan to move the graveyard has ruffled some feathers. Residents urged the developer behind the project not to move the graveyard last October. The Arlington County Board has also considered granting the graveyard a special historic designation.
Members of the Ball family said that, although they do not want to prevent the redevelopment of the church, they do want the church to honor its century-old commitment to preserve the graveyard. In a Dec. 15 letter to the chair of Arlington’s Site Plan Review Committee, Ball family attorney Alexander Berger wrote that “further design evolution is required to preserve the historical integrity of the cemetery.”
The cemetery merits more “breathing room,” green space and separation from the building, Berger wrote.
Now, it looks as though the family might get their wish. Fairly recent renderings show the graveyard would be preserved next to the church inside a larger, fenced-in grassy area.
Arlington Sending Officers to Inauguration — Updated at 10:55 a.m. — The Arlington County Police Department is assigning “more than a hundred” officers to help with inauguration security on Friday. Like other local departments, ACPD will sending some of its officers to D.C. to assist the Metropolitan Police Department. Others will be assigned to Metro stations or areas where large crowds are expected. [WJLA]
Local Inauguration Day Event — A number of local nonprofits, from the Arlington Food Assistance Center to activist groups like Moms Demand Action, will be participating in an “alternative” Inauguration Day event at the Barcroft Community House. The event encourages attendees to “explore how you can get involved in their important causes” and “post your thoughts about how we, as citizens of Arlington, can work to further our common good as we face new tests to our society and democracy after Inauguration Day.” [ARLnow, Facebook]
Senators Hope New Administration Will Fund Bridge Repairs — Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have written a letter to two of president-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees, asking them to “do all in your power to see that the rehabilitation of Memorial Bridge is fully funded.” The senators note that the weight limit imposed on the bridge has forced some changes to inauguration plans. [Scribd]
Arlington Jeopardy Contestant Keeps Winning — Arlington resident John Avila, 30, again bested his fellow contestants on last night’s episode of Jeopardy, his second appearance on the show. Avila, an attorney, will face a high school physics teacher from Indiana and a writer from Brooklyn on tonight’s episode. [Sun Chronicle]
Small Dog Owners Want Separate Area of Dog Park — A group of owners of small dogs have proposed a separate small dog zone at the Fort Ethan Allen Park community canine area. There are currently two other dog parks in Arlington with separate small dog areas. [InsideNova]
Remembering Preston King — “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark recounts the life and times of Preston King, for whom the Westover Post Office is named. King was killed while bailing out of his plane in the midst of a reconnaissance mission during World War II. [Falls Church News-Press]
Hunt Loses Mansion Legal Battle — Rodney P. Hunt, once one of the D.C. area’s wealthiest businessmen, has lost a legal battle to keep his $24 million Chain Bridge Road mansion. Hunt, who represented himself in court, asserted that the entity that bought the mansion at a foreclosure auction this summer was not its real owner. While Hunt was living there, the 20,000 square foot property hosted large “#RHPMansion” parties, one of which led to a drive-by shooting in McLean. [Washington Post]
‘Loss of Historic Architecture’ — The historic George Washington Carver Cooperative Apartments in the Arlington View neighborhood were torn down in February. The apartments’ 70-year history as a centerpiece of the working-class African American community there was, however, preserved via oral histories and historic markets. The property is now the Carver Place townhomes, which start at $689,000. So far, 38 of 73 have sold. [Falls Church News-Press]
Road Closure in Lyon Park — Washington Gas pipeline work is prompting a road closure in Lyon Park today and tomorrow. Cyclists who use the Arlington Blvd trail may also be affected. [BikeArlington Forum]
First Day of Winter — Today is the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It is also known as the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in terms of daylight. [Capital Weather Gang]
County to Continue Westover Study — Arlington County’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board has asked county staff to study garden apartments in the Westover neighborhood. The study is expected to take 6-12 months, after which the board will consider whether to recommend a historic designation. Some residents want Westover designated as historic in order to prevent redevelopment. The study limits the historic designation to the garden apartments and not to other parts of Westover. [InsideNova, Arlington County]
Donations Needed for ANC Wreaths — The nonprofit Wreaths Across America is seeking donations to help sponsor wreaths for the gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. Without additional donations, nearly half of the graves at the cemetery may be bare for the holidays. [Washington Examiner, WTOP]
New Name for New Street — A new street that will be built as part of a planned apartment development along Columbia Pike may be getting a new name. Originally set to be called S. Smythe Street, the short connector road behind the Wellington apartments may instead be named S. Ross Street. [InsideNova]
High School Boundary Change Approved — Despite some resident complaints, the Arlington School Board on Dec. 1 approved a series of high school boundary changes that will move students, starting with high school freshmen next year, from overcrowded Washington-Lee High School to Wakefield and Yorktown. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Racist Group Has Offices in Arlington — The National Policy Institute, a fringe white nationalist group that has gotten national media attention recently for a conference that culminated with Tila Tequila giving a Heil Hitler at a D.C. restaurant, has offices in Arlington. Asked about it, County Board members condemned the group but said “we have no standing to tell people who can and can’t be here.” [WTOP]
Remembering Arlington’s Racist Past — Arlington has not always been the welcoming, diverse community it is today. In 1968, for instance, Yorktown High School students protested outside of Washington Golf and Country Club in north Arlington, after the club refused to participate in interclub tennis matches with a black woman. Arlington was also once home to the headquarters of the American Nazi Party. [Falls Church News-Press]
Thanksgiving Bell Concert — The Netherlands Carillon near Rosslyn will play two special songs for Thanksgiving at noon and 6 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday). The Carillon plays automated concerts throughout the year but there are special performances for Dutch Liberation Day, V-J Day, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. [National Park Service, Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Eric
W-L Defeats Yorktown, Heads to Playoffs — The Washington-Lee Generals defeated cross-county rival Yorktown Friday night to advance to the football playoffs. W-L was trailing when senior quarterback Ricardo Mestre passed for a touchdown with just seconds remaining to clinch the win. [Washington Post]
Board Advertises Ballston Historic District — The Arlington County Board voted unanimously Saturday to advertise hearings on designating a small family graveyard in Ballston a local historic district, ahead of a planned redevelopment by the Central United Methodist Church. “The Board on Saturday received assurances from the church that it will not seek to remove any remains from the graveyard before the County has an opportunity to consider its historic designation,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]
Students: Adults Should Tone Down Boundary Rhetoric — Some adults have taken their rhetoric over the current Arlington Public Schools high school boundary refinement process too far, according to a pair of high school students who spoke at Thursday’s School Board meeting. “We honestly consider some of the comments made thus far to be an embarrassment,” said a Yorktown student. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Arlington Smartphone App Updated — Arlington County has made a number of new upgrades to its My Arlington App for smartphones. The changes include a new home screen design, transit alerts and, just in time for Election Day, polling locations and a map of voter precincts. [Arlington County]
Library Director: Vote on Nov. 8 — From Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh’s blog: “Every election is important and every vote counts. And it’s a privilege that for people in many parts of the world is not enjoyed. On Tuesday, vote as if your life depends on it; it does.” [Arlington Public Library]
Free Home Buying Seminar Tonight — Sponsored — The Orange Line Living Team is hosting a Free Home Buying Seminar with a local lender and all attendees will receive two guarantees just for attending: 1) Buyer satisfaction — if you don’t love your new home they will buy it back or sell it for free for 12 months, and 2) $1,500 home purchase credit. See website for details and conditions. The event is being at 1600 Wilson Blvd #101 in Arlington, from 6-8 p.m. tonight, Nov. 7. [Orange Line Living]
Arlington’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board has recommended designating a tiny Ballston graveyard a local historic district, potentially disrupting a church’s redevelopment plans.
The HALRB voted 8-2-2 Wednesday night for a local historic district designation of the Robert Ball Sr. Family Burial Ground, after hearing from 37 speakers both for and against the designation.
The County Board will now decide, as early as next month, whether to authorize an advertisement of public hearings before the Planning Commission and the Board. Following the hearings, the County Board could vote on the historic district as early as December.
The graveyard is located next to Ballston’s Central United Methodist Church, which has filed a site plan application to redevelop its property at 4201 Fairfax Drive into an eight-story building with a new house of worship, 132 apartments (55 would be committed as affordable units), a daycare and preschool facility and charitable facilities.
The 150-year-old, 325-square foot burial ground includes headstones for members of the Ball family, for which Ballston is named. Nobody knows for sure whether there are human remains buried in the graveyard or whether the remains were relocated elsewhere decades ago during any number of construction projects.
Historic preservation activists have pushed for a historic designation, which could scuttle or at least significantly alter the redevelopment plans.
The church and its members, on the other hand, want the development to proceed.
“This project… is excellent for the community as it will provide much needed affordable housing in Ballston, maintain a sacred space of a church in Ballston proper, continue a strong outreach by providing meals to those in need on Fridays, and provide expanded daycare and preschool options in Ballston conveniently located near the Metro for commuting parents,” said Kathy Sibert, a congregant who’s also the president and CEO of the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network.
“[The graveyard] was deeded to the church from the Ball Family in the 1920s,” said Sibert. “It is NOT an active grave site and the entire site has been heavily excavated for construction by the church and the County since that time so that virtually the entire site has been disturbed.
Sibert said the county officials have stopped processing its site plan application, “despite their prior commitment to us to hold our March 2017 tax credit application deadline.”
Update at 3:30 p.m. — The church’s pastor, Rev. Sarah Harrison-McQueen, tells ARLnow via email: “The local historic district boundaries recommended by county staff to the HALRB would have made our project infeasible. The HALRB voted to designate a smaller section of land than the staff proposed boundaries so we’ve asked our design team and engineers to evaluate the impact of this smaller section. I anticipate that we will have a better understanding of the potential ramifications sometime next week.”
She added: “Our current sanctuary is built within the boundaries of the former Ball family graveyard. The grave-markers do not appear to be in their original location. The church is seeking permission from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to investigate this further.”
Arlington Featured on MTP — Arlington County was featured in a Meet the Press segment on Sunday, comparing the level of support for Hillary Clinton here to support for Donald Trump in a rural Ohio county. The show interviewed residents in the Clarendon area. [NBC News]
Surge in Registration, Absentee Voting — Officials are anticipating about 43,000 absentee ballots in Arlington this year, up 50 percent compared to the last presidential election in 2012. Throughout the region and the state, absentee voting is on the rise, which is generally good news for Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, a surge in last-minute voter registrations yesterday and a statewide software slowdown has the county advising that it could take several days to process all of the applications. [Washington Post, WTOP, WTOP]
Vehicle Decal Design Contest Starts — The Treasurer’s Office Decal Design Competition is back for another year. Local high school students will compete to design the next Arlington County vehicle decal, which will appear on some 160,000 vehicles in the county. The submission deadline is Nov. 28. [Arlington County]
Pike Recycling Center May Move — Next month the Arlington County Board is expected to consider whether to relocate the recycling facility at the corner of Columbia Pike and Four Mile Run Drive to the Arlington Trades Center in Shirlington. County officials want to lower the level of illegal dumping that’s currently taking place. [InsideNova]
Historic Designation for Ballston Cemetery? — On Wednesday night Arlington’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board will discuss the merits of a proposed local historic district designation for the Ball cemetery in Ballston. The cemetery is currently slated to be relocated to make way for the redevelopment of a church. [Preservation Arlington]
Last Day at Fuego Cocina — Fuego Cocina y Tequileria in Clarendon served its final meals and margaritas Sunday. “We’re turning the light off now. Farewell,” the restaurant said via Twitter. [Twitter, Twitter]
Average Lifespan in Arlington — Arlington and Fairfax county residents have a higher average lifespan than residents of D.C., Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, according to newly-released data. The average life expectancy in Arlington and Fairfax is 86, compared to a nationwide average of 78. [Washington Post]
Protesters Arrested Outside Pentagon — A total of 21 demonstrators were arrested during an anti-war protest outside of the Pentagon yesterday. According to Pentagon police, those who were arrested were attempting to block an employee entrance near the Pentagon transit center. [Patch]
African American History Book — Updated at 7 p.m. — Arlington County’s Historic Preservation Program has published a new, 59-page book about the history of African Americans in Arlington. The book includes the history of Calloway Cemetery. Since 1891 the cemetery, along Lee Highway, “has been the burial site for dozens of African Americans, including a slave who fought in the Union Army.” [WJLA]
Wardian’s Berlin Marathon Performance — Arlington resident Michael Wardian, 42, ran the Berlin Marathon over the weekend in 2:28:19. Wardian is currently on pace to run all five 2016 World Marathon Majors faster than anyone in history. [Twitter, Competitor]
Theater: ‘Man of La Mancha’ — The Arlington Players performance of ‘Man of La Mancha’ was “filled with exceptional performances and is quite inspiring,” writes a reviewer. “Don’t miss it.” The one-act performance is two hours with no intermission. [DC Metro Theater Arts, InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
There are more than 80 historical markers scattered throughout Arlington County’s 26 square miles, but if you’re like many locals, you probably haven’t visited all of them.
A recently launched video series from Arlington Public Schools will let you learn about some of those sites without leaving your computer.
The program, hosted in part by APS Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy, highlights 11 of the county’s most significant historic sites.
Since the series debuted earlier this summer, it’s already uncovered some interesting tidbits about the area, such as:
- An Arlington resident’s medical research led to a breakthrough in blood transfusions.
- A community campaign turned an old school into a museum.
- The first flight of an aircraft on a military installation happened at an Arlington fort.
- The first federal building constructed in the county was a post office in Clarendon.
- Arlington once had a community for newly freed slaves.
- There used to be three massive radio towers in Arlington that were, at the time, the second-tallest manmade structures in the world.
- The county’s first fire company consisted of 10 leather buckets, a ladder and some volunteers.
- Chain Bridge got its name from a chain suspension bridge built over the Potomac River in 1808.
And there’s more history on the way. Next up, the series will tackle historical sites such as the Necostin Indian Site at the Roosevelt Island Parking Lot, Stratford Junior High School (which currently houses the H-B Woodlawn secondary program) and the Reevesland farmhouse.
Screenshot via Arlington Historical Markers video