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The developer behind The Wharf in D.C. is planning a residential development with more than 500 homes in Ballston.

The 530,000 square foot project at 4600 Fairfax Drive would replace the existing Holiday Inn hotel and the aging office building behind it. In its place would be a seven-story apartment building and a four-story “penthouse” building, consisting of 475 apartments and 29 “townhome-style multifamily units.”

Hoffman & Associates, which developed the massive Wharf project and is also working on the 1.2 million square foot West Falls project in Falls Church, is entering the Arlington market in partnership with Ballston-based Snell Properties.

“We look forward to bringing this dynamic residential project to the Ballston neighborhood,” said Robin Bettarel, Senior Vice President of Development for Hoffman & Associates. “4600 Fairfax Drive will offer incredible connectivity in this vibrant community while providing residential options that meet the community’s needs with an innovative and sustainable design.”

The development would bring some additional foot traffic to the western side of N. Glebe Road, where businesses have struggled to gain a foothold. One area of contention might be its location along busy N. Fairfax Drive, which becomes an on- and off-ramp to I-66 just west of the site.

The site is five blocks from the Ballston Metro station, but would be two blocks from a long-discussed western entrance to the station, if it’s built.

Hoffman said in a press release that it is submitting its initial site plan application, which will kick off a community process that will culminate with county commission meetings and an Arlington County Board vote. If approved, the developer expects to break ground in 2024.

The full press release is below.

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A woman was stabbed early Sunday morning during a large fight at a Courthouse hotel.

The incident happened around 2:30 a.m. It drew a large emergency response to the Arlington Court Suites hotel at 1200 N. Courthouse Road, two blocks from Arlington police headquarters.

Arriving officers encountered a melee involving what was estimated at the time to be around 100 people.

“The preliminary investigation indicates two large groups became involved in a physical altercation inside a hotel, during which the female victim was stabbed and the fire alarm had been pulled resulting in occupants exiting the building,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “Upon arrival, officers located the female victim in the parking lot suffering from a laceration and began performing emergency first aid until medics arrived. She was transported to an area hospital for treatment of injuries considered non-life threatening.”

“Officers responding inside the hotel located a suspect armed with a knife attempting to force entry into a hotel room,” Savage continued. “The suspect ignored the officer’s commands and the officer deployed a taser. The suspect was taken into custody without further incident and charged with a weapons offense.”

Video taken outside the hotel, below, shows the suspect being led out in handcuffs as medics treat the victim in the parking lot.

The suspect, a 20-year-old D.C. man, was charged with carrying a concealed weapon. So far there’s no word of anyone being charged in the stabbing itself.

“The investigation into the events that preceded the malicious wounding are ongoing,” Savage said. “Anyone with information that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”

Video courtesy David Cheek. Alan Henney contributed to this report.

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Beds in the Renaissance and Residence Inn hotels in Crystal City (staff photo)

The Arlington County Board has tweaked an existing lodging tax, making sure it covers the entire bill.

The Board passed the measure Saturday, which means the existing 5.25% tax affecting hotels and other lodging will also now apply to any accommodation fees charged by intermediaries, such as Airbnb and online booking sites.

“Before, transient occupancy taxes were collected and remitted… by hotels and other lodging providers based on the amount of the room charge paid by the guest,” county spokesperson Cara O’Donnell said in an email.

Last year the state legislature updated the law authorizing a Transient Occupancy Tax, which is paid by lodging customers, allowing localities like Arlington to make the change. It also requires that a portion of proceeds be sent to the Virginia Tourism Authority.

For Arlington County’s tax, just under 5% of the money collected will go to promote tourism and business travel in Arlington.

The update also suggests that intermediaries, such as online companies, will have to collect and send the tax to the government.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether that means Airbnb hosts with smaller rental setups will no longer have to file monthly tax reports.

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Morning Notes

It’s the End of Summers — The former Summers restaurant in Courthouse was torn down yesterday, making way for a new apartment development. Video of the demolition shows water being sprayed to control dust as the building was razed. [Twitter]

Staffing Concerns At 911 Dispatch Center — “The head of Arlington, Virginia’s Emergency Communications Center is addressing concerns that its current setup is problematic and even potentially dangerous. ‘We are like every other 911 center in the country, which has traditionally struggled with staffing,’ center administrator Dave Mulholland told WTOP. ‘We’re going to be very honest in acknowledging not every shift has optimal staffing.’ However, Mulholland maintains that crucial positions have always remained filled, and that more people are being trained to fill needed roles.” [WTOP]

Lebanese Taverna Helping to Feed Refugees — “When word came that thousands of Afghan refugees would be landing at Dulles in late August after their country fell to the Taliban, World Central Kitchen mobilized to make sure those reaching the U.S. after a harrowing journey would be greeted with a hot meal. The nonprofit’s first call was to Grace Abi-Najm Shea, one of five siblings behind Lebanese Taverna… Of the 61,298 meals WCK served there between Aug. 25 and Sept. 10, 5,037 came from Lebanese Taverna.” [Washington City Paper]

County Board May Modify Hotel Tax — “Arlington County is weighing whether to tax hotel guests for the total cost of their stay, including fees and other charges, and not just the cost of the room. The potential change to the transient occupancy tax — the revenue from which has collapsed amid the pandemic, affecting Arlington’s incentive arrangement with Amazon.com Inc. — follows changes to the tax definition in the state code adopted by the Virginia General Assembly.” [Washington Business Journal]

Much of Crystal City Is Now Carbon Neutral — “JBG SMITH, a leading owner and developer of high-quality, mixed-use properties in the Washington, DC market, today announced it has achieved carbon neutrality across its entire 16.1 million square foot operating portfolio. Building on this accomplishment, JBG SMITH intends for its properties to maintain carbon neutral operations annually.” [BusinessWire]

Tucker Rants About Beyer — Fox News opinion host Tucker Carlson called Rep. Don Beyer “a fashionably radical car dealer from Arlington” on his show earlier this week, in a segment about vaccine mandates. But Beyer’s communications director says that the local congressman, who is actually an Alexandria resident, “does not own any auto dealerships and has not for years.” [Twitter]

Harris Teeter Stores Cutting Hours — “Harris Teeter stores nationwide will be reducing their store hours until further notice, citing the shortage of labor caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Starting Wednesday, Sept. 15, all Harris Teeters will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Stores in Northern Virginia have previously been open 24 hours, or until 11 p.m.” [InsideNova]

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Santé interior rendering, courtesy The Brand Guild

A restaurant specializing in cuisine from across the Mediterranean is planning on bringing that seaside vision to this side of the Potomac.

Santé, a restaurant described in a press release as “Mediterranean-inspired”, is scheduled to open in The Ritz-Carlton (1250 S. Hayes Street) in Pentagon City sometime this fall.

“Santé will be a destination in the Arlington area, whether you’re looking for an after work drink with friends, or a spot for an intimate dinner,” Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City General Manager Matthew Felix said in the press release. “We’re creating an atmosphere that will offer something unique for those who work and live in the neighborhood, along with visitors and hotel guests.”

The restaurant will center around seafood dishes — like grilled oysters and roasted sea bream, but will also have a variety of cocktails, wines and beer. The restaurant will have a range of breakfast to late-evening options.

The press release noted that the dining room will have enough seating for 64 people, with additional bar and lounge seating and a private dining room for groups up to 48 people.

The full press release is below.

Today, Santé, a new Mediterranean-inspired restaurant concept, announces its upcoming arrival in Northern Virginia. Slated to open in Fall 2021, the forthcoming culinary destination will call The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City home, further establishing the property as an inspired neighborhood gathering place.

An expression often used to toast to health and happiness, Santé represents this sentiment and the Mediterranean way of life, while also celebrating the moment and those that you’re with. The concept brings the ease and elegance of the coastline region to life in the Arlington neighborhood, offering a sophisticated, yet approachable atmosphere.

“Santé will be a destination in the Arlington area, whether you’re looking for an after work drink with friends, or a spot for an intimate dinner,” said Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City General Manager, Matthew Felix. “We’re creating an atmosphere that will offer something unique for those who work and live in the neighborhood, along with visitors and hotel guests.”

Santé will invite guests to savor the flavors of the Mediterranean region through shareable dishes like the Grilled Oysters, and innovative mains including the Roasted Whole Sea Bream alongside a collection of craft beer, distinctive wine and handcrafted cocktails. Helmed by Executive Chef, Phil Skerman, the restaurant will offer breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and an evening experience in the fireside lounge. With an emphasis on the present moment, Santé will offer an exceptional culinary experience and an ambiance that transports guests to the seaside.

Designed in partnership with designONE studio, Santé’s main dining room will feature seating for 64 people, with additional bar and lounge area seating, as well as a private dining room for groups up to 48. The space is accented with warm wood tones and varying coastal blues.

Santé will be located at 1250 S Hayes St, Arlington, VA 22202. For more information, please visit MeetAtSante.com, and follow Santé on social media at @meetatsante.

About Santé:

Led by Executive Chef Phil Skerman, Santé is a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant based in Arlington, Virginia. Showcasing the flavors of the coastline region, Santé offers inventive shareable meze-style dishes, handcrafted cocktails, unique wines and craft beers, in a lively yet elevated and approachable setting. For more information, please visit MeetAtSante.com, and follow Santé on social media at @meetatsante.

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Morning Notes

Arlington’s Biggest House Numbers? — “In the early days of the pandemic, I went on a quixotic quest to walk every one of the 1,114 blocks in my Arlington, Virginia, ZIP code, cataloging the styles of the address numbers on every house along the way… I have kept an eye on the house numbers in Arlington ever since, and imagine my joy this spring when suddenly, on a street I biked down every week, a new set of enormous house numbers appeared.” [Slate, Twitter]

Stepped Up DUI Patrols Begin Today — “This Labor Day, the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) is participating in the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over impaired driving awareness campaign, which runs from August 18th through September 6th, 2021. This campaign aims to drastically reduce drunk driving on our nation’s roadways through a two-pronged approach of education and enforcement.” [ACPD]

Fallen Pentagon Police Officer Laid to Rest — “A Brooklyn-born Pentagon cop who was stabbed to death while on duty in DC was hailed as a “warrior” and a hero at his funeral Monday… ‘He fought ’til the end,’ his NYPD sibling, Rodney Rubert, said during funeral services at St. Barbara Roman Catholic Church in Bushwick.” [New York Post]

Beyer Proposes Healthcare Provider Vax Mandate — “Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) today announced the introduction of the Protecting Vulnerable Patients Act, which would require healthcare providers who see Medicare or Medicaid patients to be vaccinated following final FDA approval of a COVID vaccine.” [Press Release]

Arlington Hotels Still Hurting — “Hotel-occupancy rates improved in June but, overall, the first half of the year remained a bust for the Arlington hospitality industry. The occupancy rate of 44.7 percent in June was better than the cumulative 34.4-percent rate recorded over the first six months of the year, according to new data from Smith Travel research and Arlington Economic Development. But that 34.4-percent rate was anemic even compared to the weak first six months of 2020, when it stood at 37.3 percent.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington Office Vacancy Rate Rising — “The Arlington office-vacancy rate continues to go in the wrong direction, according to new second-quarter data. The overall office-vacancy rate countywide was 19.4 percent for the quarter, according to figures reported by CoStar and Arlington Economic Development. That’s up from 18.5 percent in the first quarter and 16.6 percent a year ago.” [Sun Gazette]

Local Nonprofit Eyes Tysons Development — “The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is adding another project to its new Fairfax County pipeline, pitching a development in Tysons that could become the neighborhood’s first apartment building made up entirely of committed affordable units. The nonprofit hopes to build up to 175 new apartments on about 2 acres on Spring Hill Road near the Silver Line station of the same name, converting car dealership parking lots that are part of the massive Dominion Square development site.” [Washington Business Journal]

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A man was shot at a hotel in Crystal City early Saturday morning.

The shooting happened shortly after 1:30 a.m. Police say they initially responded to a hotel on the 1300 block of S. Eads Street for a report of gunshots heard, then found a man with a gunshot wound in the parking lot and evidence of shots being fired in a hotel hallway.

The victim is expected to survive.

On social media, a tipster described “a massive police/SWAT presence at the Embassy Suites this morning” around 4 a.m. No arrests were made, however, and police are still investigating the incident.

The hotel is across from the Amazon HQ2 construction site.

More from an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating a shooting that took place in a Crystal City hotel during the early morning hours of August 7, 2021.

At approximately 1:41 a.m., police were dispatched to the 1300 block of S. Eads Street for the report of shots heard. Upon arrival, officers located an adult male in the parking lot of a hotel suffering from a gunshot wound and immediately began performing emergency first aid until medics arrived. He was transported to an area hospital with injuries that are considered non-life threatening.

During the course of the investigation, officers located evidence in the hallway confirming multiple shots had been fired inside the hotel. Detectives interviewed several occupants of the hotel as they continue to work towards determining the events that preceded the shooting.

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

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After residents spoke out about poor living conditions at the Serrano Apartments, county officials and building owner AHC Inc. say they are committed to making changes.

“It is the highest priority I have right now, in part because we are in a different place with vaccines,” Board Chair Matt de Ferranti tells ARLnow. “This is a health and safety issue I will take responsibility for.”

AHC said it is working with county officials, Arlington’s Housing Commission and community organizations to ensure residents’ concerns are heard and addressed.

“Over the past few days, Serrano’s new management company Drucker & Falk has completed more than half of its 100% inspection of the property (except for the apartments where residents have not provided access) to document and remediate all identified issues through systemic improvements given Serrano’s age,” AHC spokeswoman Celia Slater said. “We are now moving forward with the repairs and encourage everyone to visit our website for updates about the steps we are taking to ensure that all Serrano residents have safe and healthy homes.”

Earlier this month, residents and community leaders told ARLnow about the dire state of some committed affordable apartment units at The Serrano (5535 Columbia Pike). Problems include rodents eating through food and leaving droppings, mold growing on walls and white dust permeating HVAC conductors.

Residents and advocates say they are glad the plight of those living in The Serrano is getting attention but are also frustrated at how many people and walkthroughs it took to get the county and AHC, an affordable housing nonprofit, to act.

The most recent walkthrough was last Friday, when about 40 people, including county officials, Del. Alfonso Lopez, as well as AHC and management representatives, looked at units and talked to residents.

“There were a lot of people there who were supposed to be there a long time ago,” community organizer Janeth Valenzuela said. “Finally, they could experience this with their own eyes and listen to families.”

Former School Board member Tannia Talento said she was frustrated to disrupt the lives of families once more, while not knowing if changes would actually happen.

Ashley Goff, a pastor with Arlington Presbyterian Church, was critical of AHC’s lack of responsiveness to an issue that was many months in the making.

“Look at all the people that had to turn out to get AHC to pay attention,” she said. “They were shamed into taking action, absolutely.”

(An Arlington NAACP newsletter from November, providing an update on its advocacy about conditions at the Serrano, said that the “exhausting battle by the tenants and their allies” — the NAACP and Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) — had been ongoing since at least the fall of 2019.)

Conditions provoke strong reactions 

The Serrano has 196 committed affordable units and 84 market-rate units. After walking through about a dozen apartments, officials said the conditions were unacceptable and needed to be fixed, quickly.

“I long ago lived in a place that had a problem with rats and no one can actually relax in their home when they’re worried that there could be mice there,” de Ferranti said.

Some problems will be more difficult, but no less essential, to solve due to the building’s age, he said.

“The medium-term solution for holding AHC accountable is getting a clear and specific schedule of what must be done at the Serrano,” he said. “I could envision taking the form of a short, specific Memorandum of Understanding. That is a step over the coming month or two that we are likely to take.”

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Morning Notes

GMU Computing School Clears Hurdle — “George Mason University’s new School of Computing, the first of its kind in the commonwealth, has received the all-important thumbs up from Virginia education regulators… The computing school, as well as the new Institute for Digital Innovation, will eventually have a physical home in Arlington, in a 360,500-square-foot building on Mason’s Virginia Square campus.” [Washington Business Journal]

Marymount Women’s Golf in NCAA Tourney — “After winning the Centennial Conference and Atlantic East Conference championships earlier this season, the Marymount University women’s golf is officially headed to the NCAA Division III Championships after yesterday evening’s selection show. The championships are scheduled to take place May 11-14.” [Marymount University]

AIM Hosting ‘Couchella’ — “Arlington Independent Media (AIM) and WERA 96.7FM present Couchella, a two night, online concert on May 7th & 8th, from 8:00pm – 10:00pm, featuring a wide array of musical performances from the DC region and beyond. Hosted by DC’s own sideshow girl, Mab Just Mab, this two-night virtual concert will feature national acts along with some of the DMV’s most popular performers, playing from their living rooms and studios.” [Arlington Independent Media]

Ballston Company Supplying Green Power to Google — “Arlington, Virginia-based AES Corp. has signed an agreement to supply electricity to power Google’s data centers in Virginia with carbon-free energy. Financial terms of the 10-year supply contract weren’t disclosed, but AES said it will require about $600 million of investment and generate 1,200 jobs, both permanent and construction, in Virginia.” [WTOP]

Hotels Hurting in Arlington — “Hoteliers and moteliers in Arlington continue to be filling far fewer rooms than they were in the pre-pandemic period, and coupled with significant reductions in room rates, are receiving less than half the revenue per available room than they were a year before. Arlington’s hotel-occupancy rate of 31.6 percent for the first three months of the year was down from 52.3 percent for the January-February-March period of 2020.” [Sun Gazette]

Office Vacancy Rate Up This Year — “Countywide, the office-vacancy rate stood at 18.7 percent in the first quarter, according to data from CoStar as reported by Arlington Economic Development. That’s up from 16.6 percent a year before, but still down from a peak several years ago, when the countywide rate touched the 20-percent mark.” [Sun Gazette]

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Morning Notes

Feds: Comfort Inn Hosted Gun Cache — “Members of the Oath Keepers paramilitary group likely stored weapons at a hotel in Arlington, Virginia, as part of their plan to have an armed rapid-response force during the January 6 insurrection, federal prosecutors said. The new details flesh out previous accusations from prosecutors that members of the Oath Keepers assembled a ‘quick reaction force,’ or QRF, in Virginia that could deploy into the nation’s capital if needed.” [CNN, Politico]

Nature Centers Reopen — “Another sign things are returning to a semblance of normalcy, albeit slowly (this is Arlington, after all): The Gulf Branch and Long Branch nature centers, operated by the county government, have reopened. Hours and exhibitions are limited, but this marks the first time in nearly 13 months that Arlington residents have had consistent access to the nature centers.” [Sun Gazette]

Shirlington’s Past and Present — “This pet-friendly community five miles southwest of the District and adjacent to Highway 395 started off as a 27-acre former shopping center. Shirlington was one of the first strip malls in the country when it opened in 1944. For a while, it had the largest shopping center in the area and originally was named Chernerville, after automobile dealer Joseph Cherner, but the name didn’t stick. Instead, it was renamed Shirlington, a blending of Shirley Highway (395) and Arlington.” [Washington Post]

Amazon Not Abandoning Office Work — “As vaccines become more available, most companies may start to expect their workers back in the office and allow for just one or two days of teleworking a week — and Amazon is likely to be among them… That’s good news for many of the businesses and jurisdictions expected to benefit from the 25,000 to 37,850 employees Amazon has said it will bring to the D.C. region as it continues to build out its HQ2 campus in Arlington.” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Company Donates to African School — “Washington Workplace, an award-winning commercial office furniture dealer in Arlington, teamed up with Business Furniture Installations and a nonprofit alumni association to donate unused office furniture to Pioneer Middle School in Senegal, in West Africa.” [Press Release]

Letter Writer: Don’t Hate on the Cicadas — “The message of the havoc wreaked on young trees and shrubs, and the month of constant shrill buzzing has sent home an idea of impending doom… Although the ominous message of cicada arrival is likely still in your head – and I can’t argue that cicadas aren’t a nuisance – I ask you to remember that they do have a role in our ecosystem and a purpose on our planet.” [Sun Gazette]

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Morning Notes

Most Library Branches Still Remain Closed — “Arlington officials say it is no longer public-health concerns, but budget issues, that are keeping most of the county’s libraries locked up tight. And it’s likely most of them will stay that way for months to come. ‘Community health metrics are not the driving factor in regard to opening additional locations and services,’ library officials said in an e-mail to patrons last week. ‘The county [government] has been under a hiring freeze for more than one year. Libraries cannot open additional locations or services with current staffing levels.'” [Sun Gazette]

Rosslyn Startup Raises Millions — “Arlington meal delivery service Territory Foods has raised $22 million in fresh funding, the startup announced Tuesday… The company creates specialty meals that cater to a wide variety of specific diets, including paleo, Whole30, keto, vegan, low carb and low fat, among others. Customers can order the meals delivered in bulk once or twice a week.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Board Meetings Stay Virtual — “It could be summer before Arlington County Board meetings return to an in-person venue. The board schedule currently anticipates meetings through May will be ‘virtual’-only, as they have been since the spring of 2020 when the pandemic took hold.” [Sun Gazette]

Flower Market Coming to Rosslyn — “Roses are red, violets are blue, if you’re looking for fresh flowers, Rosslyn is here for you! With spring in full bloom, the Rosslyn BID is continuing Rosslyn Refresh with a series of outdoor flower markets. Rosslyn Flower Market will bring local plant, herb, and flower vendors to Central Place Plaza, Saturdays April 24-May 8.” [Rosslyn BID]

New Development to Host Temporary Hotel — “The developer of another new apartment complex is seeking permission to use some of the units as hotel rooms for a period, but is quibbling with county staff over how long that period should be. Arlington County Board members on April 17 will be asked to approve a proposal to permit up to 100 residential units in one of the two towers in ‘The Highlands’ to be used as hotel space.” [Sun Gazette]

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