The frightening incident happened just before 3 a.m. on Sept. 19, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the 1400 block of Crystal Drive. The men made off with cash following the hold up, police say.
From the Arlington County Police crime report:
Three unknown subjects entered the [Crowne] Plaza Hotel with shotguns and stole an undisclosed amount of money. The subjects fled on foot. The first suspect is described as a mixed race male in his twenties, approximately 5’10”-6’1″ tall and weighed 175 lbs. He was wearing a black ski mask, a black hooded long sleeve North Face jacket, black pants, and black shoes. The second suspect is described as a white male in his twenties, approximately 5’9″-5’11” tall and weighed 210 lbs. He was wearing a black ski mask, a baggy brown jacket, black pants, and black shoes. The third suspect is described as a black male in his twenties, approximately 6’0″ tall and weighed 155 lbs. He was wearing a black ski mask, a tight black jacket, black pants, and black shoes.
(Updated at 6:20 p.m.) It’s slow going for drivers and bicyclists on the stretch of Wilson Blvd between N. Wayne and N. Adams Street in Courthouse, as two construction projects are underway.
Wilson Blvd is currently down to one lane, with cars navigating through traffic cones, due to construction on the new Hyatt Place hotel and a county project to install fiber optic cables below the street, said county spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
Driving down the stretch of Wilson puts the cars half on the bicycle lane, while crews access underground wiring for fiber optic cable installation. The utility project is set to finish in the “early part of next week,” Baxter said.
Once the utility work is finished, the left lane and parking lane on Wilson Blvd will reopen to vehicles, she said.
However, the righthand parking lane and possibly one travel lane of Wilson Blvd between N. Wayne and N. Adams Street will remain blocked off until the end of September for hotel construction, Baxter said, and lanes may also be closed periodically after that.
“Each periodic closure will require the issuance of a right-of-way use permit from the Department of Environmental Services, and that closure will only be for the timeframe requested on such permit,” she said.
The new Hyatt Place in Courthouse, the hotel brand’s first in Arlington, is on schedule for an August 2016 opening, according to Jim Villars, a spokesman with Schupp Company, the hotel’s developer. Contrary to information from the county, Villars said the hotel construction project will not require the closure of a travel lane on Wilson Blvd.
The topping out of the eight floor structure is expected to be complete before the end of the month, Villars said. At that point, all eight floors above grade and the two floors below grade for underground parking will have been built.
After sealing the structure, crews will start constructing the hotel’s interior, he said.
Once finished, the Courthouse Hyatt Place will 161 rooms, two restaurants and a bar. The hotel will also be the first hotel with gold LEED certification in Arlington and the first Hyatt Place to receive gold LEED certification, according to Villars.
The company is currently looking for a tenant to fill one of the restaurant spaces, which is almost 1,300 square feet, he said. The hotel is replacing a low-rise commercial building that was formerly home to Wilson Tavern.
Snow began to fall as developers and Arlington officials broke ground this morning at the future site of the Hyatt Place hotel at 2401 Wilson Blvd.
The hotel was approved last spring and is expected to be finished by summer 2016, according to the Schupp Companies, which owns the site. What now sits at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Adams Street — where Wilson Tavern and Northern Virginia Mixed Martial Arts used to be — is a large, empty foundation with graffiti on the sides.
What will be built, starting on Wednesday, is an eight-story, 161-room hotel that will be the first LEED Gold-certified hotel in Arlington, and the first LEED Gold certified Hyatt Place in the country. Ray Schupp, the owner of the Schupp Companies, planned on building a hotel when he first bought the property in 2007.
“I told Ray, ‘that’s a great idea, the county’s going to love that,'” Schupp Development Manager Jim Villars said. “We got site plan approval in May. It’s been a long seven years.”
The plan for the development fluctuated from a hotel, to a planned apartment building, before its final status as a hotel with four single-family houses behind it, as a buffer to the adjacent community. As part of the site plan approval, the developers will donate $1.54 million for a Courthouse Metro elevator and will install a piece of public art at the corner of Wilson and Adams.
“This is a fabulous example of how we can do this moving forward,” Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said. “The community wanted a hotel here and county staff just needed to find a way to make this work.”
The hotel will be the first Hyatt Place in Arlington, but the brand’s portfolio is rapidly expanding. According to Hyatt Place’s vice president of real estate and development, Jim Tierney, a Hyatt Place is expected to open every other week in the U.S. by the end of the year.
Along with the hotel, the building will have space for a first-floor restaurant — potentially a reincarnation of Wilson Tavern — and two floors of underground parking.
(Updated at 6:00 p.m.) The Doubletree hotel at 300 Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City was evacuated this afternoon due to a large gas leak.
The gas leak was said to be in the hotel’s parking garage. Firefighters at the scene reported strong odor of natural gas inside and outside the hotel. Guests and employees were evacuated from the hotel.
An Arlington County hazmat team and Washington Gas crews responded to the scene. Police shut down down Army Navy Drive between Eads and 12th Streets to accommodate the large emergency response.
Firefighters and gas company crews managed to shut off the gas after about an hour. Army Navy Drive reopened just after 5:30, and people are being allowed back into the hotel.
No injuries have been reported.
USS Arlington Remembers 9/11 — The crew of the USS Arlington marked the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks while at sea in the Atlantic Ocean yesterday. The sailors and Marines aboard the ship, named in remembrance of the attack on the Pentagon, participated in a solemn ceremony to honor the 184 people who died in that attack. [DVIDS]
Travel Tips for Crystal City Wine Fest — Arlington County has car-free travel tips for those who will be attending Sunday’s Vintage Crystal Sip and Salsa festival in Crystal City. There are numerous rail lines, bus stops and Capital Bikeshare stations near the food and wine tasting event, which is taking place from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the parking lot behind 220 20th Street S. [Car-Free Diet]
Renovated Sheraton Now a Westin — The former Sheraton hotel at 1800 Jefferson Davis Highway in Crystal City has undergone a $20 million renovation and has now reopened as the Westin Crystal City. The hotel has “220 luxurious guest rooms and extensive meeting facilities.” [eTurbo News]
Arlington Taking Neighborhood College Apps — Arlington County is accepting applications for its Neighborhood College program through Sept. 29. The eight-week “civic engagement and leadership development program” teaches students “how to advocate for your neighborhood and effect change.” [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Peter Roof / Alt Gobo MediaWorks LLC
The building was sold recently, according to an AKA employee, and the hotel is no longer taking reservations as it prepares to close.
Attempts to reach AKA representatives who could further discuss the sale were unsuccessful. The hotel was constructed within the last 10 years and, we’re told, it was originally intended to be a condominium building. So far, there’s no word on when the building will re-open or start selling units.
Photo via AKA
Noise Ordinance Approval Delayed — The Arlington County Board decided to delay approval of an update to the county’s noise ordinance after hearing concern from swim clubs that the ordinance could make cheering at swim meets illegal and punishable by fines or jail time. County staff will now try to craft an exemption for the summer swim leagues. In addition to strengthening prohibitions on loud TVs and music, the noise ordinance update calls for a “quiet period” in single-family home neighborhoods that would impact morning swim meets. [InsideNoVa]
Chatman Addresses Fraud Conviction — Fresh off the announcement that Oprah Winfrey would headline her upcoming fundraiser in Arlington, congressional candidate Lavern Chatman is trying to downplay word that she was found liable for $1.4 million in damages in a decade-old fraud case involving a D.C. nursing home operator. Chatman called the case a “nightmare” and said she “didn’t pay much attention to the details” when she agreed to provide a loan to a “trusted friend” — a friend who ended up withholding the wages of nearly 300 employees of the nursing home company. [Blue Virginia]
Arlington Honors ‘Women of Vision’ — Arlington County’s Commission on the Status of Women has announced the winners of the 2014 Arlington County Women of Vision awards. They are political strategist and Young Democrats of America president Atima Omara, Dominion regional manager Deborah Tompkins Johnson and Bowen McCauley Dance founder Lucy Bowen McCauley. [Arlington County]
Chamber Honors Hospitality Workers — On Tuesday the Arlington Chamber of Commerce honored more than 80 “frontline” hospitality workers at its 10th annual Hospitality Awards. One winner was Gadisa Bulla, who rescued a co-worker’s son from a fire across from the Sheraton hotel on Columbia Pike. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
Rosslyn Company Scores Angel Investment — Encore Alert, a Rosslyn-based social analytics startup, has raised a $390,000 seed round from the local investment group NextGen Angels. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Keithhall
Construction is expected to begin this summer on a 161-room hotel at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Adams Street after the Arlington County Board approved its site plan on Saturday.
The construction will also include four single-family homes behind the hotel on 16th Street N., acting as a buffer between the new building and Lyon Village’s existing single-family homes. The houses standing now, which are occupied by renters, according to the county, will be torn down and replaced.
The motion required amending the property’s General Land Use Plan, a process that began in 2009 before Wilson Tavern had even opened. Despite the lengthy process, County Board Chair Jay Fisette hailed the way the proposal made its way through the county government.
“What’s nice about today is we had three speakers, very little outstanding to talk about,” he said during the meeting. “That’s because the commissions did a great job, the community and neighbors did a great job in reaching an attractive end point. I hear it’s called the Dream Hotel. It’s been a dream process here in the end.”
The eight-story building will also include a 1,300-square-foot restaurant space, separate from the bar and cafe that will be in the hotel lobby. There will be 80 dedicated parking spaces and the building is expected to be LEED Gold-certified, which qualified the developer, Schupp Companies, for bonus density.
Of the three speakers, two were representatives of the Lyon Village and Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Associations, who endorsed the project. The third was Jim Hurysz, who criticized the Board for what he said was an unacceptably low contribution to the Affordable Housing Investment Fund: $586,000. The developer has agreed to contribute about $1.5 million to the county to replace the Courthouse Metro Station elevator with two high-speed units, County Manager Barbara Donnellan said.
“While some of us would like a larger amount [for affordable housing], a lot of times there are other community benefits that must be taken into consideration,” Board member Walter Tejada said. “We also have an amount that’s going to affordable housing. Would I want it to be more? Absolutely, but in other days, it would have been none.”
The Metro elevator contribution, along with a previous contribution from the approved Clean Technology Center, will allow elevator construction to begin before 2020, Donnellan said, and funds at least 50 percent of the costs. It was originally planned for after 2020 in the 2013-2022 Capital Improvements Project.
Schupp Companies is also providing funds for constructing a bus shelter on Wilson Blvd and improving the streetscape in the area.
The Arlington County Board could approve a plan to replace Wilson Tavern in Courthouse with an eight-story hotel at its meeting on Saturday.
Schupp Companies owns the property and is hoping to build a 161-room Hyatt Place hotel at 2401-2407 Wilson Blvd, at the intersection with N. Adams Street. The proposed site plan also includes four single family detached houses to be built along 16th Street N. to provide a buffer between the hotel and the existing Lyon Village neighborhood.
When Wilson Tavern opened in 2011, replacing Kitty O’Shea’s, Schupp Companies owner Ray Schupp already was planning a hotel for the space. Wilson Tavern isn’t expected to close, but rather move to a separate location and then perhaps into a planned 1,300-square-foot restaurant space next to the new hotel’s entrance. The Washington Business Journal reports that Wilson Tavern’s temporary space could be somewhere in Ballston.
Schupp is requesting density above the maximum allowed for its rezoning, but county staff is recommending approving the bonus density in exchange for a $1.54 million contribution to building a new Courthouse Metro Station elevator and a commitment to achieve LEED Gold certification. The Metro contribution, along with a previous contribution from the approved Clean Technology Center, will allow elevator construction to begin before 2020, when it was expected in the 2013-2022 Capital Improvements Plan.
Schupp is also requesting to construct 80 parking spaces, below the standard for hotels of its size, which county staff agreed was appropriate considering the space is about 500 feet from the Courthouse Metro Station.
The hotel would be at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Adams Street, and the restaurant space would be to the west. If approved, Northern Virginia Mixed Martial Arts would also be displaced. The WBJ also reports that Schupp is hoping to break ground on the project in June.
Image via Arlington County
Renovations for Crystal City Sheraton — The Crystal City Sheraton hotel (1800 Jefferson Davis Highway) will close in mid-April and undergo renovations.. The 218-room hotel will reopen as a Westin. Nearly 100 workers will be laid off during renovations. [Washington Business Journal]
New Signage for WJLA Building Approved — A divided Arlington County Board has approved new rooftop signage for the office building at 1100 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, also known as the WJLA building. The board split its vote 3-2 after residents expressed concern that the new signage would “be detrimental to their neighborhoods” and local monuments. The potential signage is for an unnamed prospective client. [Sun Gazette]
Board Approves New Transportation Funding — The County Board on Tuesday gave the okay to Arlington’s share of a new regional transportation funding stream. The county will receive $11.4 million in the first year, which will go to support projects like the Columbia Pike streetcar, a western entrance to the Ballston Metro station, local transit service and “complete streets” improvements. [Arlington County]
Galaxy Hut Named Top Karaoke Spot — DCist has dubbed Clarendon’s Galaxy Hut (2711 Wilson Blvd) “Arlington’s favorite dive” and one of the “best places for karaoke in the D.C. area.” [DCist]
Alexandria is Poised for Growth — Arlington’s neighbor to the south, Alexandria, is poised to begin booming with new development. The city expects a new Potomac Yard Metro station and the impending move of the National Science Foundation to the Eisenhower Valley area to further spur development. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Last Wednesday, an armed man robbed a woman at gunpoint in her room at the Sheraton hotel on Columbia Pike.
From this week’s crime report:
ROBBERY, 900 block of S. Orme Street. At 10:17 am on December 4, an unknown suspect allegedly robbed a female at gunpoint in her hotel room. The suspect is described as a black male in his late 20’s with short hair. The suspect was wearing a black shirt, blue jeans, a gray sweater, and black and gold shoes at the time of the incident.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump. All names suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Hotel occupancy rates have dropped steeply because the shutdown has meant a trifecta of key travelers have cancelled trips, B.F. Saul President Mark Carrier said. B.F. Saul owns the Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn in Crystal City and 13 other hotels in Northern Virginia.
Government workers and contractors that would have traveled here for business are canceling reservations, as are visitors with their families and large tour groups concerned they won’t be able to see key monuments and museums in D.C.
“The decline has been quite severe and very impactful,” Carrier told ARLnow.com. “The reality in the hotel business is when you lose business today, it’s gone. October is the strongest month in the second half of the calendar year, so to have this occur right in October is particularly harmful.”
Carrier said the typical occupancy rate in B.F. Saul hotels at this time of year is between 75-80 percent, and estimates that since the shutdown started, it has dropped to around 50 percent. As of Wednesday afternoon it appears Congress is close to a deal to end the shutdown, but Carrier said that doesn’t mean relief is necessarily on its way.
“I expect we’ll see significant effects from this,” he said. If contractors have lost revenue because of the shutdown, “one of the things they cut back on is travel. It seems to be an expense you can say ‘no’ to.”
Carrier said some hourly staff and supervisors have had their hours cut into to try to offset the hotel’s declined revenue, which he called “very painful” as a hotel operator. If the shutdown deal falls through and the Marine Corps Marathon is cancelled, the effects could be even worse. Carrier said his hotels, and many others in Arlington, are usually close to 100 percent occupancy rate during race weekend.
The steep drop in revenue could have impacts for Arlington County’s planned transportation projects as well. The Transient Occupancy Tax — commonly known as the hotel tax — helps pay for the funding in last year’s transportation package, and will take a hit from the drop in hotel visitors.
Authorities are trying to figure out why a box of old medical waste was left outside a hotel in Rosslyn this afternoon.
Police were first called around 3:00 p.m. to investigate a suspicious package, found next to a trash can outside Le Méridien hotel at 1121 19th Street N. Upon looking through the contents of the worn cardboard box, police discovered what was reported to be human waste.
Firefighters were then dispatched to the scene to conduct a hazardous materials investigation. They discovered sealed medical waste with labels indicating it was from 1985, according to Battalion Chief Daniel Fitch. Among the contents were blood and various needles.
“There was no leakage, no threatening note,” he said. “I guess whoever dropped it off wanted it to be someone else’s problem.”
A duty fire marshal is remaining on scene to ensure that the waste is disposed of by a qualified contractor. So far, there’s no word of any suspects or criminal charges related to the incident.
Photos by Audrey Batcheller
This weekend, the Arlington County Board is expected to consider a plan to build a new hotel on the former Colony House furniture site at 1700 Lee Highway.
The hotel is slated to be branded as a Hilton Homewood Suites. Developer B.F. Saul plans for the hotel to be 8 stories tall, with 168 rooms and 102 parking spaces.
“Due to the extreme topography of the site, which rises 20-50 feet in elevation from the northern to the southern property line, the two levels of parking are at grade and visible along Lee Highway and at the corner of North Quinn Street,” Arlington County staff wrote in a report to the County Board.
The staff report anticipates “marginal” increases in traffic at nearby intersections after the hotel opens, with no additional traffic delays expected. The hotel is roughly a half mile from the Rosslyn and Courthouse Metro stations.
The County Board is set to consider the project at its Saturday meeting. If the Board approves a rezoning and site plan for the hotel, developers hope to have it built and open at some point in 2014.
The new Residence Inn by Marriott hotel in Ballston (650 N. Quincy Street) is welcoming its first guests this afternoon.
The hotel, which is part of the Founder’s Square development, has 183 hotel suites, 1,880 square feet of retail space, 110 underground parking spaces, an indoor pool, fitness center and a landscaped terrace. It was built to LEED Gold sustainability standards with features like a green roof and reduced water use and energy consumption.
The groundbreaking for the $36 million, 11-story hotel took place in October 2011. Its construction was completed ahead of schedule, according to a press release from The Donohoe Companies, which built and is now managing the hotel.
Residence Inn is Ballston’s first extended-stay hotel, according to the company. An official “grand opening” ceremony is planned for June.