by Bridget Reed Morawski March 12, 2018 at 3:45 pm 0

Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.

Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.

Tuesday, March 13

Trivia Night: Are you smarter than a Catholic sister?*
Ireland’s Four Courts (2051 Wilson Boulevard)
Time: 6:30-9 p.m.

Test your pop culture and general knowledge against a team of Catholic Sisters, with drink specials and free appetizers. Prizes for top trivia teams.

Wednesday, March 14

Shaping Arlington for a Smart & Secure Future*
County Board Room (2100 Clarendon Blvd)
Time: 6-8 p.m.

Listen to a panel discussion on how technology will shape Arlington, featuring government and cybersecurity experts. A reception with light refreshments will also be held.

Arlington Committee of 100 Virginia Hospital Center Expansion*
Marymount University (2807 N. Glebe Road)
Time: 7-9 p.m.

The Committee of 100 is hosting a panel discussion on Virginia Hospital Center’s expansion, the county’s population growth and evolving community healthcare needs. Optional dinner served.

Thursday, March 15

Parenting Lecture: Parenting an Anxious Child
The Sycamore School (4600 N. Fairfax Drive)
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.

Dr. Christine Golden will discuss the challenges of parenting a child with anxiety and offer some helpful strategies for managing behaviors. The lecture is free to attend.

Friday, March 16

St. Agnes Soup Supper*
St. Agnes Catholic Church (1910 N. Randolph Street)
Time: 5:30-7 p.m.

The church will offer meatless soups and a noodle dish, and more every Friday during the Lenten holiday. Guests are invited to stay for confession and the stations of the cross afterwards.

Saturday, March 17

Whitlow’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration
Whitlow’s On Wilson (2854 Wilson Boulevard)
Time: 9 a.m. – Close

Live Irish music and an open rooftop welcome you at Whitlow’s On Wilson’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Special Irish menu and March Madness games on the TVs all day.

WJAFC Open Day*
Virginia Highlands Park (1600 S. Hayes Street)
Time: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

A co-ed, free clinic to learn the Australian football game. Kids from 5-15 will learn starting at 9 a.m., with an adults clinic and co-ed non-contact game at 10:30 a.m.

Guinness and Gold*
Ten at Clarendon (3110 10th Street N.)
Time: 12-5 p.m.

Tour the Clarendon apartment building with a free Guinness and cash in on leasing deals. Leasing specials are subject to terms and conditions.

Wine Dinner*
Osteria da Nino (2900 S. Quincy Street)
Time: 6:30-10:30 p.m.

Join Tre Monti winery over a four course meal with five wines, including theThea Passito 2012 Romagna Albana DOCG raisin wine. Tickets are $75 per person.

Yorktown High School Presents “Almost, Maine”*
Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Boulevard)
Time: 7-9:30 p.m.

Students will be performing John Cariani’s “Almost Maine,” about a remote, mythical town and the effect of the northern lights on the lovestruck residents. Tickets are $10.

Sunday, March 18

St. Joseph’s Table Celebration
St. Agnes Catholic Church (1910 N. Randolph Street)
Time: 1-4 p.m.

Join the church following the noon mass for a procession to celebrate this feast day with a potluck lunch, live music, and a kids woodworking shop.

*Denotes featured (sponsored) event

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 6, 2018 at 2:45 pm 0

In just six days, about 41 Arlington households have volunteered to host gun control demonstrators later this month.

That translates to approximately 131 beds for guest marchers in Arlington.

Altogether, 350 host families volunteered in the first six days that a website aimed at connecting protesters with host families went live, or about 1,120 beds, according to Tricia Duncan, an organizer who lives in Washington but grew up in Arlington. Duncan added that that is a conservative estimate of the currently volunteer housing stock.

Thousands of marchers will descend on Washington on March 24 for the March For Our Lives gun control protest, and a group of mothers with DC Local Ambassadors knew that they’d need a place to sleep.

That’s when the women issued the call last week seeking lodging for the thousands of anticipated protesters.

Initially, the group consisted of seven DC Local Ambassadors who had the same idea: finding free lodging for kids who were coming in for the march. Now there’s 15 organizers, working to find housing for a march that has already suffered from organizational challenges.

The group reached out to their “trusted network” — church groups, civic groups, and parent-teacher associations — for lodging locations.

Both potential hosts and prospective guests have to fill out a form online to be considered. Some social media vetting is conducted, said Elizabeth Andrews, a Washington resident and organizer, but it’s for safety reasons.

The group is also requesting biographical information to try to make “thoughtful matches” that consider the backgrounds of everyone involved, like gender, race, and ethnicity.

“We are trying to think about making it the best situation possible for everyone,” said Andrews.

The Arlington County Democratic Committee, meanwhile, is planning its own events for the March 24 demonstration, including a poster-making party, a walk from the Virginia side of the Memorial Bridge to the march, and a rally at an Arlington church in support of action in Virginia

File photo.

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 28, 2018 at 1:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a $7.9 million loan to redevelop Queens Court, an affordable housing building in North Rosslyn.

The Affordable Housing Investment Fund loan would help build 249 affordable units at what will be called Queens Court South, yielding “a net gain of 388 bedrooms over the existing 39-unit building,” according to a county press release.

The existing Queens Court structure, built in 1940, has studio and one bedroom apartments. Queens Court South will have those configurations as well as two and three bedroom units, with more room for families.

The project also dedicates 9,000 square feet for a northern leg of Rosslyn Highlands Park, with a planned playground and tot lot.

The redevelopment is part of a Western Rosslyn Area Plan adopted in 2015 that will add a new fire station and public secondary school. Current Queens Court households will be relocated, and the new building will be required to remain affordable for 75 years.

County Board Chair Katie Cristol said the Board was “delighted to help” the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, which is redeveloping the property.

Here’s more from the press release regarding the project’s financing:

APAH will apply to the Virginia Housing and Development Authority for competitive 9 percent low income housing tax credits for Queen’s Court South, which will contain 90 affordable units. If APAH is awarded the 9 percent low income housing tax credits by VHDA, the Board is expected to consider a second AHIF request of up to $11.8 million for the remaining 159 units this fall. Although Queen’s Court North and South will be separated into two land condominiums for financing purposes, the development will be built in one phase, with all 249 units in one building.

After the Board approved its Site Plan in February 2017, APAH submitted an AHIF application for $24 million as part of the County’s Fiscal Year 2018 Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) process for affordable housing funding, to redevelop the property. Staff selected the Queen’s Court project to move forward with AHIF negotiations and the public process.

During the negotiation process, APAH reduced the AHIF request for the entire development by $4.3 million. The AHIF reduction was a result of APAH working with VHDA to increase the amount of certain VHDA low interest loans that are being layered with the VHDA senior loan. APAH also agreed to contribute another $2 million in equity to the development resulting from the transfer of the property into the tax credit partnership.

by ARLnow.com December 18, 2017 at 8:55 am 0

Board Votes for Housing Conservation District — The Arlington County Board on Saturday voted 4-1 in favor of the creation of Housing Conservations Districts, which will make it more difficult for property owners to convert multifamily buildings into single-family homes. The Board says there is an urgent need to preserve market-rate affordable apartments, though critics charged that the Board rushed a decision that will restrict the rights of private property owners. [Washington Post]

Volunteers Place 245K Wreaths at ANC — “The weather was chilly but that didn’t stop huge crowds from heading to Arlington National Cemetery to help out with the annual wreath laying Saturday. Traffic was jammed and sidewalks were packed with long lines of volunteers.” [WTOP, Twitter]

New Fire Station 8 Moving Forward — The County Board approved a zoning change that will allow the creation of a new Fire Station #8 on Lee Highway to move forward. [InsideNova]

Doctor Charged With Spiking Drink with Abortion Pill — A doctor who had recently moved to Arlington was arrested in May and charged with spiking his pregnant girlfriend’s drink with an abortion pill, which then caused her to lose the baby. He’s currently being held at the Arlington County jail, awaiting trial. [Fox News]

Bridging the Biking Gender Gap in Arlington — “Despite overall growth in the number of people biking to work, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed by cities, organizations, and employers for more women to bike more often.” [BikeArlington]

Children Visit Incarcerated Parents — Children of inmates at the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse were able to visit and play with their incarcerated parents during the jail’s annual holiday party. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Phil

by ARLnow.com December 15, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

Chamber Calls for Pause on Housing Conservation District — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is calling for the Arlington County Board to pump the brakes on a proposed Housing Conservation District policy, set for a vote at tomorrow’s Board meeting. The Chamber says the policy would affect more than 450 privately-owned properties. “The County’s failure to provide any notice to property owners that would be affected by the Framework is inconsistent with Arlington’s established government process and the level of transparency the community has come to depend on,” said Chamber President Kate Bates. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Carlin Springs Bridge Work to ResumeDemolition of the Carlin Springs Road Bridge over George Mason Drive was curtailed by winter weather last weekend, but is set to resume this weekend. Drivers should expect a number of detours in the area. [Twitter]

Fisette Tribute Packs Local Church — “A Dec. 13 tribute to departing Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette was about 90 percent heartfelt thanks for his 20 years of service in elected office. And about 10 percent celebrity roast.” The event was so well-attended that the parking lot of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington was filled to capacity by those whom Fisette has not yet convinced to take the Car-Free Diet. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Gossip: Britt McHenry Back on Local Airwaves? — A noted local Twitter user who goes by the name “Clarendon Bros” shared some local TV gossip last night, claiming that Britt McHenry was seen auditioning for a job at Fox 5. McHenry at one point lived in Arlington — it is unclear if she still does — and had a well-publicized run-in with local towing company Advanced Towing. [Twitter]

Fox Leaves Crystal City BID — “After more than a decade running the Crystal City Business Improvement District, Angela Fox is stepping down. The BID’s board of directors announced Fox’s departure Thursday, but has not named a permanent replacement.” [Bisnow]

Local Homebuilder Getting Bigger — “Arlington-based homebuilder CalAtlantic Homes is purchasing Home South Communities, a privately held homebuilder based in the Atlanta area. CalAtlantic itself is in the midst of a $9.3 billion merger with Miami’s Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN), expected to close early next year.” [Washington Business Journal]

Realtor Group Extends Clothing and Food Drive — “Despite the weather, the first community wide drop off for the Arlington Realtors Care (ARC) initiative, held on Saturday, Dec. 9 was a great success. ARC is sponsoring a second community wide drop off date scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 16 at RGS Title.” [Press Release]

by ARLnow.com September 26, 2017 at 8:45 am 0

Wakefield Student Sang National Anthem — Wakefield High School junior Samantha Rios sang the national anthem before Sunday night’s Redskins-Raiders game. Rios, who previously competed on a Spanish language version of The Voice, was seen by a national TV audience as controversy swirled over players kneeling in protest during the anthem. [WUSA 9]

Officials to Compete in Trivia Battle — County Board Chair Jay Fisette, state Sen. Barbara Favola, Del. Patrick Hope and former County Board members Mary Hynes and Joe Wholey will compete in a “housing trivia battle” next month, testing their knowledge of Arlington history, particularly as it relates to housing issues. [Arlington County]

Clement Blasts Daycare Approval — Independent Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement said in a new email to supporters that the current Board places the interests of developers ahead of that of residents. As an example, she cited the recent approval of a new daycare center on Lee Highway, despite concerns about traffic among some local residents. The approval “will likely engender cut through traffic on an adjacent one lane street off Lee Highway that has already experienced major traffic accidents,” Clement wrote. The daycare had the general support of the local civic association. [Audrey Clement]

Gun Control Group to Host Fmr. ATF Agent — The local chapter of the pro-gun-control group Moms Demand Action is hosting a special event on Wednesday, featuring a former ATF special agent. The event will include discussion of the “the challenges facing gun violence prevention.” It is scheduled from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Shirlington Branch Library. Moms Demand Action had a booth at Clarendon Day this past weekend and signed up nearly 100 new volunteers. [Facebook, Medium]

Nearby: One Guy is Holding Up Development in D.C. — One persistent activist is holding up hundreds of millions of dollars worth of development in the District. Chris Otten has succeeded in delaying numerous developments by rallying a group of neighbors and filing court challenges. [Bisnow]

by Kalina Newman July 5, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

Construction at luxury apartment complex Ten at Clarendon will continue until September, but prospective renters can now tour apartments with the use of virtual reality.

In a partnership with Immerse Virtual Reality Nation, developer CRC Companies is launching a fully immersive virtual reality apartment tour of the new apartments at 3110 10th Street N. The 143-unit complex is expected to be completed this fall.

Using an HTC Vive headset with two motion sensors, residents can experience a realistic, 360-degree home tour of what their apartment will look like after construction.

“We have developed a fully interactive and accurate VR experience using our experience from architecture and gaming,” said IVR Nation CEO Olivier Demangel in a statement. “It’s clearly a new era for real estate and architecture.”

IVR Nation is a company entirely dedicated to partnering the hospitality industry with virtual reality. CRC plans to incorporate IVR technology into other company projects, such as during the architecture design process.

“We are excited to employ IVR’s virtual reality technology and allow prospects to gain a unique preview of the Ten at Clarendon as we prepare to deliver the project to this coveted Arlington neighborhood,” said CRC Companies senior development associate Oliver Lee in a statement.

In addition to virtual reality tours, other new features in the apartment complex will include keyless apartment entry, mobile-controlled thermostats and a video intercom system.

Apartments at the new building are currently available for new tenants under pre-lease.

by Chris Teale June 26, 2017 at 10:05 am 0

Average house prices in Arlington County have recovered to or exceeded what they were before the 2008 financial crisis, except in eight neighborhoods, according to new findings.

Randy Smith, a senior fellow at the D.C. Policy Center and a GIS specialist at Hood College in Frederick, Md., found that on average, houses in the following neighborhoods have gone down in value since 2007:

  • Arlington Forest (-1.83 percent)
  • Bellevue Forest (-8.2 percent)
  • Dominion Hills (-16.19 percent)
  • Foxcroft Heights (-20.9 percent)
  • Gulf Branch (-22.85 percent)
  • Old Glebe (-5.11 percent)
  • Rock Spring (-2.42 percent)
  • Riverwood (-33.1 percent)

All other neighborhoods have seen average home values either reach or exceed their pre-crisis levels, with the likes of Buckingham, Madison Manor, Glebewood and High View Park seeing increases of more than 50 percent on average.

On average across the county, property values have steadily ticked upwards. Earlier this year, the county said values rose 2.6 percent over their 2016 levels.

In an interview, Smith said the slight downward trend for some home values could be due to a lack of sales in those neighborhoods, or a lack of amenities that make them an attractive and convenient place to live in.

“Just because there’s not much to do and not much local resources: you have to drive further for grocery shopping, for any retail that you would have to go and buy normally,” he said. “Overall, I would think that the time spent having to drive to do anything would contribute to that part.”

Smith also found that foreclosures on county homes peaked during the financial crisis, but since then have stabilized with the local economy.

“It was fairly stable through that time period to begin with, as it wasn’t as affected as the rest of the country,” Smith said. “I’m guessing that’s why it wasn’t any crazy numbers per month for foreclosures, but I’m guessing people are more encouraged to start buying again in the area.”

Smith said he does not expect a slowdown in increasing property values in Arlington, due to the relative strength of the local economy and various other factors that make it attractive.

“There’s a fairly good job market, there’s a lot of people that want to move there, it’s close to D.C., good transportation,” Smith said. “Maybe that’s what’s influencing it…But I don’t see any reason that sales prices aren’t going to stop increasing in the near future.”

Smith’s interactive map of home value changes in Arlington, sorted by neighborhood, is below (after the jump).


by ARLnow.com May 18, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Arlington’s Former Row House Ban — Responding to complaints from community leaders who “hoped to preserve Arlington’s then-suburban character,” Arlington County changed its zoning ordinance to ban row houses in 1938. That decision is one factor in the area’s “dramatic undersupply of missing middle housing.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Police Still Searching for Sex Assault Suspect — Arlington County Police are still looking for a man who posed as a maintenance worker and sexually assaulted a woman in her Rosslyn condominium on May 7. “This investigation remains a top priority of the department and detectives continue to follow-up on significant investigative leads,” ACPD said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “Police continue to ask that anyone with information on the identity of the suspect or details surrounding this investigation call 703-228-5050.” [Arlington County]

Review of Synetic’s ‘Hunchback’ — “‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ gives a hyper-creative Washington group a source for one of its most beautifully realized productions,” theater critic Peter Marks writes of the new Synetic Theater production in Crystal City, which runs through June 11. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by Chris Teale May 12, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

The county’s ordinance on accessory dwelling units, also known as “granny flats” or “mother-in-law suites,” is set for some changes after staff and a citizen group put together some initial ideas.

Only 20 ADUs — defined as a second place to live on a property, with a kitchen, a bathroom and a separate entrance — have been approved in Arlington since the ordinance first came into effect in 2009.

In a bid to encourage more accessory dwellings, the county convened a working group, which has come up with several proposals, including:

  • ADUs would be allowed in townhomes. (Currently they are only allowed on the inside of a single-family home.)
  • ADUs would be allowed to exist as detached dwellings.
  • The maximum allowed size would be increased from 750 to 1,000 square feet
  • The maximum occupancy would be increased from two people to three to allow for couples with a child or similar circumstances.
  • The requirement that accessory dwellings can also only be added after a year of ownership would be removed, meaning home builders could begin to add them in new homes.

In March, local economist Eric Brescia, a member of the County Housing Commission and the Arlington County Republican Committee’s policy director, said there are too many “poison pills” preventing further approvals of accessory dwellings. He argued that relaxing regulations could help ease the county’s lack of affordable housing.

Staff will share these preliminary ideas and more at a community meeting Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon at Francis Scott Key Elementary School (2300 Key Blvd).

by Chris Teale May 1, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

As the spring turns to summer, one of many certainties in the D.C. region along with the stifling heat and humidity is the influx of interns from across the country.

And those interns, either still in college or recent graduates, typically are in need of somewhere to stay.

That’s where Capstay comes in, offering short-term rentals for interns in addition to accommodations for international students studying in the D.C. area. The company also offers short-term housing for professionals on temporary assignments, including for those in the military.

It was founded in 2015 by Dilek and Emre Yenici, and the majority of its rental apartments are in Crystal City, with some also in Fairfax.

The pair said they began the business after doing some market research and finding a lack of intern-specific housing in some states like California and the D.C. metropolitan area.

“The Crystal City, Arlington and D.C. area is expensive for housing,” said Emre Yenici. “There are lots of interns in the area throughout the year, and they are looking for short-term housing. We are trying to provide them short-term, pre-furnished, all utilities included housing to interns.”

Tenants can either have a private or shared room, or an entire apartment. All properties are fully furnished and have a variety of amenities like laundry, cleaning services and bicycle rental. Utilities are also included in rent, which varies depending on the season.

Apartments vary in size between studio and three-bedroom, and include all the amenities of the private and shared rooms.

Emre Yenici said Capstay has been proactive in partnering with universities and other institutions like language schools, government bodies and agencies that help match up prospective interns with companies.

The diverse nature of their client base means that while summer is a busier time for Capstay, there are still plenty of customers year-round, enough to keep their residences filled.

“We are trying to fill all our gaps with different customer bases,” Emre Yenici said. “There are some interns starting their internships in different times of the year, and other small groups are interning in other different times. They need shorter-term housing, so we fill our gaps like that.”

In the summer, the Yenicis said, they expect around 100 tenants, and so expand their housing stock to take into account the higher demand.

And in the future, Emre Yenici said Capstay could expand into the District to take advantage of the need for intern housing across the Potomac River.

“About 95% of our properties are in Crystal City, but D.C. is a good market,” he said. “The next step will be D.C., and we will try to expand our business downtown.”

by Katie Pyzyk April 12, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

Arlington Housing Sale Prices Drop — Arlington showed a year-over-year decline in housing sale prices in March. The median price of $508,500 was a 6.2 percent drop from a year ago. However, real estate experts indicate that’s only because of changing inventory in Arlington — more condos and townhomes instead of detached houses — and it’s not a sign of an overall slump. [WTOP]

No Fire in Barricaded Person Situation — Police and firefighters responded to the 1500 block of Crystal Drive last night for a report of a barricaded person inside an apartment that may have been on fire. The smell of smoke had been reported coming from the apartment. Emergency responders tried to gain access to the apartment for a couple hours but cleared the scene when they determined there was no fire. [Fox 5]

Motorcyclist Dies Following Collision — A motorcyclist has died following a collision with an SUV in Chevy Chase. The 24-year-old man was an Arlington resident. [Bethesda Magazine]

Caps Fan Leaves Salty Message —  Starting tomorrow, the Washington Capitals face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and one fan left a request for a different playoff outcome than in recent years. A photo shows a message written on the boards of the Caps’ practice rink at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston: “Y’all better make it past the 2nd round.” [USA Today Sports]

by Katie Pyzyk April 3, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Attending college comes with a variety of challenges, but the team behind 4stay doesn’t want finding secure and affordable student housing to be one of them.

The Crystal City-based startup’s founders — Akobir Azamovich and Faridun Nazarov — spent the past six years working in the housing rental field to learn industry trends and best practices. They recently launched 4stay with the help of Crystal City’s 1776 startup incubator.

4stay functions similarly to rental sites like Airbnb, but it’s for short- to medium-term student stays rather than vacations. Students — including graduate students and interns — can search for available housing based on factors like property size, neighborhood, length of stay and whether they prefer to live alone or with others.

The listings showcase the properties’ features, prices and photos. Residences come in a variety of types, from an entire apartment to a room in someone’s house, but they all must be fully furnished and the student must have an entire bedroom of their own.

4stay employees assist those on both sides of the housing equation. On the property side, they work with families or individuals who wish to rent out a room to ensure the owner can provide a safe, student-ready residence. On the rental side, employees learn about a student’s needs and their length of study to negotiate the lease. The 4stay team indicates that it also benefits students because its prices often are more reasonable than other choices.

“By providing options beyond realty companies in a centralized location, it’s a much more appropriate way for students to find the price point they’re looking for,” says marketing manager Leah Wald.

Azamovich and Nazarov are from Tajikistan and went to school in Northern Virginia. They have firsthand experience with the sometimes challenging and cumbersome process of finding student housing, especially in an unfamiliar city.

“The founders… want to help other students overcome their problems of finding safe, affordable housing near their school,” says Wald. “Having dealt with these problems themselves… is why they decided to found their company.”

The business currently serves students in the D.C. metro area, with a focus on Arlington and Northern Virginia. Although the 4stay team expects to spread into other cities at some point, right now they’re focused on ensuring a quality experience instead of expansion.

“Our primary goal to make sure platform is best it can be… and helping as many students as possible,” Wald says.

by Chris Teale March 23, 2017 at 11:25 am 0

Eric Brescia at Arlington GOP housing talkThe County Board’s work group exploring changes to rules around accessory dwelling units could help Arlington add more affordable housing units, according to a local economist.

Rules around the units, sometimes called a “mother-in-law suite” — a second home with a kitchen, bathroom and separate entrance on a single-family lot — were approved less than a decade ago after much local debate. But in the interim, few new units have been approved.

Eric Brescia, a member of the County Housing Commission and the Arlington County Republican Committee’s policy director, said there are too many “poison pills” preventing further approvals.

If regulations are relaxed and more units come online, however, affordability could improve, he said. Brescia discussed his views on affordable housing at the monthly meeting of the Arlington GOP on Wednesday night.

"Backyard cottage" accessory dwellingHe noted that the local GOP was previously opposed to accessory dwellings, but things change over time. The plan to relax rules on accessory dwellings has also received support on the left of the political spectrum.

“I’m of the view that finding places we allow units to be built is a free market solution,” he said.

Brescia added that county staff is “playing around” with a different kind of zoning on Columbia Pike. Under the new zoning, a building would be required to occupy a certain amount of space, but the number of units contained within is not regulated.

That could allow more units to be built, as could the oft-discussed plans to turn vacant offices in Crystal City and other neighborhoods into micro-unit apartments. Brescia said discussions are continuing on that proposal.

And despite the strain on schools, roads and other infrastructure caused by more people moving into Arlington, Brescia said a balance must be struck.

“There most definitely is a trade-off and there is a stress on facilities,” he said. “But then you go to the other extreme in somewhere like San Francisco where they’re not building anything and it’s so expensive to live there.”

by Lindsay Smith July 22, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

A modern-looking plaque across the street from the Madison Community Center and Fort Ethan Allen Park is sporting some seriously outdated lingo.

The plaque reads:




Of particular interest is the phrase “War of Northern Aggression.” It’s safe to say that this term, used by some southerners to refer to the Civil War, has been out of favor in Arlington for some time.

The plaque is attached to a large stone on the corner of N. Richmond and Stafford streets, near where the fort once stood. Behind it is a small but lush green space, surrounded by a wood rail fence. But “the Sanctuary,” according to neighbors, is the name a housing developer gave to the homes he built in the area.

Many residents of this 18-home community, who say their homes were built on land owned and developed by the Caruthers family, find the plaque near the entrance to their neighborhood a little strange. (We were unable to reach the Caruthers family to comment on the plaque.)

“The thing that mentions the War of Northern Aggression?” said Maxwell Denney. “I mean, it’s just ridiculous.”

Other locals also find the terminology out of place.

“I thought this plaque… was rather odd,” said a tipster who emailed ARLnow.com. “While I recognize that Virginia seceded at the Civil War, a modern-day reference to the ‘War of Northern Aggression’ (at the site of a Union fort) strikes me as somewhat peculiar.”

Officials we talked to said they are not sure of the story behind the plaque.

The Arlington County Historic Preservation program, Arlington Public Schools, the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation, and even the people at the Madison Community Center — none knew anything about the plaque. Arlington historic preservation officials said the plaque does not belong to the county and they had no record of its installation.

Update at 5:05 p.m. — Commenter AnonymousArlingtonian linked to a 2011 Arlington Connection article that points to Preston Caruthers as the plaque’s builder. The plaque also was mentioned in a Falls Church News-Press column in 2011, but the author of that column, Charlie Clark, told us today he doesn’t believe Caruthers installed it.

Update at 6:45 p.m. on July 24 — Clark has updated his previous assertion, saying he has since confirmed the plaque was indeed installed by Caruthers.

Update at 9:50 a.m. on July 25 — Falls Church News-Press columnist and Arlington history enthusiast Charlie Clark has walked back his earlier statement on who wrote the three-decade-old plaque mentioning the “war of northern aggression” that is on display on private property on N. Stafford Street at the Madison Center and Fort Ethan Allen.

Clark over the weekend contacted the Caruthers family and learned that it was indeed developer Preston Caruthers who created the sign, which the family has long seen as a humorous way to get people’s attention. Here is Caruthers’ statement to Clark:

“Thank you for the concern about some my friends and good neighbors’ attention to our sanctuary street sign. It was never intended to be offensive in any way, but rather to point out to citizens and visitors the sad history of our area during the Civil War. The plaque and statues on the school playground provide so little attention to this sad era of our community’s history. I’m very sorry if this has ever offended anyone.”


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