Arlington, VA

Arlington County is seeking volunteers to participate in focus groups and provide feedback on proposed changes to Lee Highway.

Residents can sign up online if they want to represent their neighborhood in discussions about future plans for the roadway and land use around it.

Last August, former Board member John Vihstadt called Lee Highway “the next big planning frontier” but said it was important to be “sensitive” to the neighborhoods bordering the roadway.

Feedback formally kicked off in February, when the county began hosting “Plan Lee Highway” community events to discuss ideas for redeveloping housing and retail areas along the corridor between the East Falls Church Metro station and Lyon Village near Rosslyn.

The area’s many single-family home neighborhoods and possible increases in density will likely be a topic for discussion now that Amazon’s 25,000 newly promised jobs is a done deal.

“Plan Lee Highway will meet with community members over the course of the planning process to get feedback on proposed potential areas of change along Lee Highway and the types of change that should be planned for in these areas,” notes the county website.

Those who live in the neighborhoods or own businesses along Lee Highway can sign up to join focus groups, and those who don’t but are still interested in the process can sign up to be “notified of other engagement opportunities.”

Previously, the Arlington County Board considered spending millions for dedicated bus and HOV lanes along the highway to move more people and reduce congestion, among other improvements.

Images via Arlington County 

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The Angelico La Pizzeria on Lee Highway is gone, but a new pizza place could be opening soon in its place.

Staff at another Angelico La Pizzeria confirmed that the restaurant closed for good at the end of April.

But construction crews are already at work on renovations for another restaurant. Owner Mandeep Singh said the current plan is to convert the location into a Chicago Pizza With a Twist, a franchise that offers pizza, Indian food, and fusions of the two — like a Chicken Tikka Masala pizza.

Singh said the restaurant is currently planning to open sometime between June 5 and 10.

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(Updated at 6 p.m.) The “Coming Soon” sign in front of the Bob and Edith’s Diner at 5050 Lee Highway could be a bit premature.

The space was once home to Linda’s Cafe, which closed after Bob and Edith’s owner Greg Bolton bought the property last May. A faded sign for Linda’s Cafe is still on display outside of the store.

At the time, it was estimated that the new location could open within six to nine months. But one year later, the inside of the building looks much the same as it did as Linda’s Cafe.

Rebekah Steele, a representative of the restaurant, said that they would not offer an update on the status of the location, but that more information could be available during the summer.

An employee at another Bob and Edith’s — which has diners on Columbia Pike and 23rd Street S. in Crystal City, in addition to other Northern Virginia locations in Alexandria and Springfield — said customers have been asking regularly about the Lee Highway location, but the only timeline they have been told is that the company plans to open within the year.

Avid local Twitter followers may wonder whether the delay has anything to do with a hex, of sorts, from the infamous @LindasCafeVA account, which made it clear that there was some bad blood between the former restaurant and its planned successor:

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A new stand-alone Starbucks appears to be coming to the location of a former bank branch along Lee Highway.

Permits have been filed to replace the former BB&T Bank at 5515 Lee Highway with a coffee shop.

A permit filed on Monday (April 29) seeks approval for extensive renovations to the building and its drive-thru window.

Remodel of existing building for new coffee [shop], interior alteration, new walls, floor, ceiling, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, exterior work, new canopy, new drive through window and associated equipment, trash enclosure, mechanical units.

The Arlington Economic Development website says the new tenant for the 2,609 square-foot building is Starbucks, as does the permit on the window of the building.

Once it opens, it’s unclear what will happen to the nearby Starbucks store at the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center, a block away.

The new cafe would be the first drive-thru Starbucks in Arlington, though there are others throughout the region. The closest is a drive-thru at Barcroft Plaza (6365 Columbia Pike) in Falls Church. Another Starbuck drive-thru is planned to open tomorrow (May 2) at 367 Maple Avenue E. in Vienna.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt

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A new restaurant has opened along Lee Highway.

Maya Bistro, which offers Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine in a sunny, modern setting, recently opened its doors. Spurred by positive reviews on Nextdoor and Yelp, customers flocked to the restaurant Friday night, causing it to run out of some of its menu items, staff said Saturday.

Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, Maya Bistro is family-run and those working in the front and back of the house over the weekend included a brother, sister, father and grandmother.

Menu items include moussaka, sandwiches including falafel and adana, grilled meats on skewers, and several varieties of pide flatbreads.

Maya Bistro is located at 5649 Lee Highway in the Leeway-Overlee neighborhood, in the former Nook Play Space storefront.

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Customers walking into the new luxury shoe store “JŪS4thqtr” on Lee Highway may be surprised to be greeted by a wall of juice bottles.

The real way in is through a refrigerator door, which pushes open into a showroom with illuminated shelves of footwear and display cases holding high-end fashion.

Founders Shadi Ello, 24, and Mohamed Sha, 27 told ARLnow that the speakeasy entrance is all part of a feeling of “community engagement” they wanted to cultivate since opening last month. It’s also why they show only display shoes, Ello said, to encourage customers to ask store employees about sizing and color options.

“The minute someone puts that on their foot, it’s a wrap,” said Ello, who explained the store only carries “deadstock,” or never-before-worn sneakers purchased from retailers. “This is not a Foot Locker.”

The store is located in an unassuming, low-slung shopping center at 5139 Lee Highway. Initially, Ello said he was worried about attracting enough customers to a high-end boutique in “deep Arlington” but so far they’ve had enough customers to start running out inventory.

JŪS stocks about 4-5 glow-in-the-dark Yeezy 750 Boosts that run $1,000 and several sneakers from the Off-White Airmax 90 collection for $750. For women, there’s a selection of kicks from Adidas and Travis Scott in size 5 for $500.

The most expensive shoe is the ‘Not For Resale’ Air Jordan 1s selling for $1,500.

“The shoes just generate foot traffic,” said Ello, who acknowledged many of the shoes “are outrageously priced” by design. Most of the store’s revenue comes from its apparel, he said.

The clothing sold at JŪS includes a $35 JŪS-branded shirt, $200 for a leather body vest from Maryland designer Daniel Green’s brand “Insane Cult”, and a $1,000 Dior sweatshirt.

Ello, who grew up in Arlington and attended Wakefield High School, expected most of his customers to be in high school or their mid-20’s, and was surprised by the number of middle schoolers shopping to resell kicks.

He jokes that the 11-year-olds “like to give me a hard time” about the prices but he enjoys them coming by.

“It’s not illegal, and it’s keeping them in a safe, clean environment selling shoes,” he said.

Ello, Sha, and a third co-founder say they signed a lease in the shopping center six months ago.

After three weeks of steady business, they say they’re working on turning the basement into a space for photo shoots and pop-up fashion galleries. The store’s Instagram account has already filled with some of the modeling shots.

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Morning Notes

Lidl Opens Store at Arlington HQ — “Arlington finally has its first Lidl grocery store — it just happens to be pint-sized… the company took a little more than 1,000 square feet it was using as storage on the ground floor of its HQ to open Lidl Express, a convenience-sized store with a variety of convenience store staples and fresh food.” [Washington Business Journal]

Lee Highway Group Wants More Funding — “The Lee Highway Alliance is seeking what its president calls a modest increase in funding from the county government. But the budget proposed by County Manager Mark Schwartz is heading in the other direction.” [InsideNova]

Crystal City Condo Aiming for Record Sale — “With Amazon’s HQ2 on the way, the seller of Penthouse 3S at the Crystal Gateway Condominiums believes the time is right to go for a record… While $2 million might sound like a hefty number, DeHart stresses that inside DC limits, buyers pay nearly twice as much for Potomac views.” [Washingtonian]

Former ACPD Captain in the News — “The former police chief of Portsmouth, Va.” — Tonya Chapman, a former Arlington County Police captain and the first black woman to lead a municipal police department in Virginia — “says she was forced out by city leaders over resistance to her attempts to overhaul a department riven by racial tension.” [Washington Post]

Instagrammable Arlington Spots — Arlington tourism booster StayArlington has compiled a list of Instagram-friendly locations in the county. [StayArlington]

Nearby: Halal Butchery Approved — “A retail halal butcher shop that slaughters chickens on-site will be allowed to open in a small industrial area of Alexandria, despite strong opposition from nearby business owners and their patrons.” [Washington Post, Patch]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Morning Notes

County Officials Defend Amazon FOIA Deal — “The Arlington government’s top attorney says there’s nothing improper about part of the county’s incentive deal with Amazon that gives the company notice of Virginia Freedom of Information Act filings related to the agreement.” [InsideNova]

Pedestrian Struck in Virginia Square — Police, firefighters responded to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle on Wilson Blvd at N. Oakland Street Tuesday morning. The vehicle was turning and struck the pedestrian, who suffered minor injuries, we’re told. In Arlington, pedestrian-involved crashes like this are common, occurring almost every day, though most — like this incident — result in non-life-threatening injuries to the victim. [Twitter]

Smoke Fills Lee Highway Building — Firefighters responded to an under-construction commercial building on the 5800 block of Lee Highway yesterday afternoon to investigate smoke in the building. It was determined that the smoke came from a malfunctioning HVAC unit. [Twitter]

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An art studio for kids along Lee Highway is looking to double in size as part of its new expansion plans.

Art House 7, located at 5537 Lee Highway in Yorktown, is looking for the County Board’s permission to earn the necessary zoning changes to make the move. The studio has offered classes and summer camps on everything from painting to pottery-making since it opened in the space in 2015.

Art House 7 is currently based in a condo complex near the Lee Harrison shopping center, with classes offered on both floors of the small home. But its owners recently purchased an adjacent condo as well, located at 5535 Lee Highway, and wants to expand its operations there as well, according to a report prepared by county staff.

That would allow the studio to double the number of students allowed in the space at any given time, from 12 kids up to 24.

Staff wrote that they haven’t found any reason to deny that request, and noted that both the Yorktown and Leeway Overlee civic associations support the permit changes.

The matter is slated to go before the Board Saturday (March 16), as part of its consent agenda. That is generally reserved for noncontroversial items passed without debate.

So long as the Board signs off on this change, it would be up for review in one year’s time.

Photo via Arlington County

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A new senior living center, perhaps the first to be built in Arlington in decades, could soon be on the way for a property along Lee Highway.

McLean-based Artis Senior Living has filed plans with the county to build a six-story facility with 175 units on a 2.79-acre property near Cherrydale. The building would be divided into two wings, surrounding a landscaped plaza and a new public park near the site, located at 2134 N. Taylor Street.

Artis has discussed the potential of bringing a senior living center to the property with neighbors in Cherrydale and Waverly Hills for close to a year now, but the company (which operates facilities across nine different states) only brought zoning applications to county officials in late November.

“The proposed facility would be the first new assisted living facility constructed in Arlington in almost 20 years,” Martin Walsh, an attorney representing Artis, wrote in a letter to zoning officials. “There is a sincere need for additional senior housing in Arlington. Currently, without sufficient capacity in the county, seniors are forced to look outside Arlington for assisted living. The proposed facility would allow Arlington’s seniors to ‘age in place’ and continue to call Arlington home.”

Artis’ plans call for one wing of the building to be about 173,600 square feet in size, with another at about 152,500 square feet. That would include room for 95 assisted living units, and another 80 specifically set aside for “memory care” patients.

The apartments would range in size from studios to one- or two-bedroom units. The buildings will overlook a plaza with green space for residents, which will sit over top of a partially buried parking garage. That will have about 108 spaces, under the company’s proposal, which Artis expects will be more than enough space for the center’s 50 employees.

The company also expects that close to 30 percent of its workforce will rely on nearby Metrobus and Arlington Transit routes to get to work, and a traffic analysis attached to the plans does not foresee the senior center impacting congestion on Lee Highway.

The new park, designed as a contribution from Artis to the county in order to benefit both the facility’s residents and neighbors, would be located at N. Taylor Street’s intersection with Lee Highway. Walsh noted in the application that a visioning study of the Lee Highway corridor completed in 2016 called for a new park on that site — the document was created ahead of a broader effort to draw up new plans for the entire corridor, which just began in earnest last month.

Once the county signs off this proposal, Artis plans to purchase the property, which is made up of several different parcels of land along the 4300 block of Lee Highway. They were owned for decades by the Courembis family, and neighbors have often debated what might become of them, though the homes on the land now sit empty, according to Arts’ application.

The company is asking for some zoning changes to allow for the construction of a senior center in the area, and submitted this application as a “site plan,” a process that will involve an additional layer of county scrutiny.

The Site Plan Review Committee will now hold meetings on the project and its design. Should it withstand that group’s review, it will need to advance to the Planning Commission and, ultimately the County Board for approval.

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Morning Notes

Snow Likely Tonight — An inch or two of snow may fall overnight tonight. Snow is also possible Sunday. [Capital Weather Gang]

Clement Running for County Board Again — “She’s been a familiar name and face in local elections for nearly a decade, and Audrey Clement has made it onto the ballot again for 2019. Clement filed all requisite paperwork to run for County Board as an independent, Arlington election officials confirmed.” [InsideNova]

Lee Highway Revitalization Process Chugs Along — “Neighborhood activists… turned out Feb. 12 to execute ‘The Arlington Way’ and put in their two cents on how to create a theme for the multi-ingredient pudding that has characterized Lee Highway since it was so-named nearly a century ago.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Ballston Apartment Project Update — “Saul anticipates substantial completion of its massive North Glebe Road project by early 2020. The $275 million development will include 490 apartments and 60,000 square feet of retail — small-format Target included — across 2.8 acres.” [Washington Business Journal]

Dim Sum Restaurant Closes in Seven Corners — “Fortune is closed for good. Always an awkward space in the middle of the Home Depot parking lot, but I know it was a special spot for many.” [Twitter]

Lubber Run to Become Smoke-Free — Thanks to a change in state law, Lubber Run Amphitheater could be smoke-free by the end of the year. The state has until now prohibited Arlington County from being able to enforce a smoking ban at the venue. [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy David Ruckman

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