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Misomen Ramen Restaurant on Lee Highway Appears Closed

Misomen, a ramen and sushi restaurant on Lee Highway, now seems to have closed its doors.

The eatery only opened at the location at 5731 Lee Highway late last year, when it took the place of Asian Kitchen. Now, its doors are closed and windows covered, with a note covering up the restaurant’s hours of operation.

A call to a number posted on the restaurant’s door was not immediately returned, and Misoramen’s main phone line seems to have been disconnected.

But, according to Yelp commenters, the restaurant has been shuttered for a few weeks now. One first reported that the eatery was closed on Sept. 13, with tables and chairs removed from the space, while another wrote on Sept. 16 that the restaurant seemed to be closed during its normal operating hours and trash littered its floor.

The restaurant is located next to a former car repair center, and the original District Taco location.

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VDOT Finalizes Plans for W&OD Trail Bridge Over Lee Highway

Transportation planners will soon unveil the final design of a new bike and pedestrian bridge stretching over Lee Highway in East Falls Church.

VDOT plans to show off the finalized schematics for the Washington & Old Dominion Trail bridge at a community meeting next month, capping off a design process that drew plenty of flak from neighbors last year. The new bridge, which is being built as part of widening work on I-66 eastbound in the area, is designed to replace the trail’s current crossing at the highway’s intersection with Fairfax Drive and offer a safer environment for walkers and cyclists.

Officials had initially proposed a design for the bridge that featured a trussed roof and red paint, yet neighbors objected to those features, as well as the bridge’s potential to disrupt long-range plans for the area’s transportation networks.

But VDOT has since tweaked its design to address the most controversial features, proposing a bridge that’s gray in color without a trussed roof, in a bid to address some of those concerns. Even still, some questions about noise walls and public art lingered during a meeting on the project last year.

Planners will look to address those worries and more at an Oct. 11 meeting at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd) from 6:30-8:30 p.m., where they’ll deliver a presentation on “final design plans and aesthetic details.”

If all goes as planned, construction is set to start on the bridge by spring 2019 and run through fall 2020.

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Lee Highway Taco Bell Shuts Down Ahead of Full Renovation

The Taco Bell on Lee Highway will be out of commission for the next few months, as its owners tear down the existing store and replace it with a new one.

The fast food restaurant, located at 4923 Lee Highway near Yorktown, shut down last week and construction tape now blocks off its drive-through lane. The eatery will remain closed for the next three to four months, general contractor Steve Taylor told ARLnow.

Taylor said the exact timeline for the project will depend on the weather in the coming weeks, but current plans call for the old restaurant to be demolished and completely replaced.

County records show its owner, the Ionedes Family Corporation, received the necessary permit approvals for much of the project in April.

The records also show that the current restaurant was built back in 1993.

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Cassatt’s Hasn’t Been Operating, Fueling Fears About Its Future

Just a few weeks after new owners took over, Cassatt’s Kiwi Cafe and Gallery has suddenly stopped serving customers these last few days.

As of this afternoon (Friday) a sign posted on the door of the New Zealand-themed eatery (4536 Lee Highway) informed visitors that the restaurant is closed, even though its posted hours would indicate it should be open. A tipster told ARLnow that the restaurant was similarly shuttered yesterday (Thursday), fearing its long-term future.

Longtime owner Art Hauptmann, who opened Cassatt’s 16 years ago, recently sold the restaurant to a pair of new owners: Mario and Marco Jelencovich. While the pair’s family has worked on other restaurants in the D.C. area before, Hauptmann previously said he was unsure of their plans for the eatery, though he hoped they’d keep the business going as usual.

The Jelencoviches haven’t responded to repeated requests for comment about Cassatt’s future, and no one answered the phone at the restaurant Friday.

County permit records show that Mario Jelencovich has successfully won a business license for the establishment, and had it inspected by the county recently, though they offer few other details.

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Morning Notes

Road Closed Due to Downed Tree — Williamsburg Blvd is closed at N. Westmoreland Street due to a tree that fell overnight and took down several utility lines with it. Arlington’s emergency management office says the closure “may last through evening rush hour.” [Twitter]

Reminder: DUI Checkpoint Tonight — The Arlington County Police Department will conduct a sobriety checkpoint in an undisclosed location tonight. “Officers will stop all vehicles passing through the checkpoint and ask to see the licenses of drivers. Any driver suspected of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be directed to a safe area off the roadway for further observation.” [Arlington County]

Metro Could Become Larger Financial Burden — “Metro expects to turn to state and local governments across the region to cover the costs of pay raises for workers an arbitration panel ordered last week, but the Metro Board chairman is warning of a more significant fiscal ‘ticking time bomb’ just over the horizon.” [WTOP]

Annual CivFed Candidate Forum Scheduled — “The unofficial kickoff to Arlington’s fall election season begins on Tuesday, Sept. 4, when the Arlington County Civic Federation holds its annual candidate forum. Candidates for 8th District U.S. House of Representatives, County Board and School Board have been invited to participate.” [InsideNova]

Basketball Player Punched at Gym — A man who plays professional basketball for LaVar Ball’s Junior Basketball Association says he was sucker punched while playing a pickup game at a Crystal City gym. [Fox 5]

One Hurt in Lee Highway Apartment Fire — A resident of a Lee Highway apartment building suffered burn injuries after a fire broke out in an apartment kitchen Wednesday morning. The fire was out by the time firefighters arrived on the scene. [Patch]

Flickr pool photo by Arlington VA

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Morning Notes

Crash Closes WB Lee Highway — All lanes of westbound Lee Highway were closed at Spout Run for part of the morning after a crash. [Twitter, Twitter]

Flyover Planned Today — A flyover of Arlington National Cemetery, in support of a funeral, is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. today. [Twitter]

More Buses for Rosslyn Commuters — “After initially providing no additional backup options for riders during the Blue Line shutdown and major Orange and Silver Line work that began Aug. 11, Metro is now making some changes… Without much fanfare or notification to riders, Metro said this week it will add four additional Route 5A buses between Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride and Rosslyn and L’Enfant Plaza each morning.” [WTOP]

Rep. Jim Jordan Coming to Arlington Fundraiser — Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) will be the special guest at a fundraiser for Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) in Arlington next month. The fundraiser is being held Sept. 7 at Washington Golf and Country Club. Jordan has been in the news this summer over accusations that he turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of wrestlers while an assistant coach at Ohio State. [TrailBlazer]

Ballston Apartment Building Sold — “The Ballston Place transaction… has closed with Akelius Residential AB buying the 382-unit apartment complex for $170 million, or $445,026 per unit.” [Globe St.]

Photo courtesy Patricia Kime

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Downed Traffic Light Closes Lee Highway

The westbound lanes of Lee Highway near N. Oak Street in Rosslyn are now closed, after a traffic light collapsed and fell on the roadway.

County police have now set up a detour in the area and are advising drivers to follow posted signs around the section of the road.

The road was first closed around 10:30 a.m.

Photo via @ArlingtonVAPD

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Longtime Lee Highway Restaurant Cassatt’s Changes Hands

Cassatt’s Kiwi Cafe and Gallery is now under new management, after opening 16 years ago along Lee Highway.

Longtime owner Art Hauptman told ARLnow that he sold the New Zealand-themed eatery, located at 4536 Lee Highway, about a month ago to a father-son duo.

Hauptman declined to offer many details about the sale, other than saying he felt it was “just the right time to sell to somebody that will take care of it and keep it going.”

“I thought I needed to take a break and I handed it over to people with a lot of experience in the restaurant business,” Hauptman said. “They seem committed to keeping the Cassatt’s concept going.”

Hauptman says he met the new owners, Mario and Marco Jelencovich, shortly after he closed his other restaurant in Arlington: the Bistro 360 wine bar in Rosslyn.

A third member of the Jelencovich family, Michael, approached Hauptman about setting up a “pop-up” bar at the space on Wilson Blvd in late May. “Parlay” temporarily took over the location, with the D.C. bar briefly hosting some World Cup watch parties at the location.

Though that partnership was only temporary, Hauptman says he quickly thought of the Jelencoviches when he decided to move on from Cassatt’s. He hopes that the new owners will largely “keep [Cassatt’s] the way that it’s been” over the years, and even help build up the restaurant’s dinner business a bit more, though he’s not sure of their exact plans.

The Jelencoviches didn’t respond to calls or emails seeking comment on what they plan to do with the restaurant, though it’s remained open as usual since the transition. However, it seems the new owners have cancelled all scheduled live performances, according to an email from local group “Kitchen Gorilla” to its fans that was forwarded to ARLnow.

Overall, Hauptman says it’s bittersweet to leave behind a business he cared so much about, but he has no regrets about what he accomplished at the restaurant.

“I’m very proud of what we did at Cassatt’s, proud how it became a community institution,” Hauptman said. “I hope it stays that way.”

Photo 2 via Google Maps

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Density, Development Debates Take Center Stage as Lee Highway Planning Nears

In many ways, the Lee Highway corridor is the last part of Arlington that looks like the rest of the Northern Virginia suburbs.

With high rises coming to define both the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and Crystal City, and neighborhoods along Columbia Pike becoming ever more dense, Lee Highway has remained persistently suburban in character with its procession of low-slung shopping centers and vast parking lots.

But should it stay that way as the county keeps growing? And if not, how should it change?

Those are the questions the community and county planners will try to answer as they embark on a years-long planning process for Lee Highway in the coming months.

With land-use policies last updated in 1955, Arlington officials have long seen the corridor as ripe for a new round of planning. Now, after years of back-and-forth, the county is set to hire a consulting firm and kick off the process in earnest this fall.

“The next big planning frontier is Lee Highway, from Rosslyn all the way out to East Falls Church,” said County Board member John Vihstadt. “The brewing consensus is that it’s appropriate for some increased density. We’re an urbanizing county, but we also have to be sensitive to the neighborhoods that flank Lee Highway.”

Certainly, the question of density along the highway will be among the most contentious issues to be resolved in the planning process. As Vihstadt puts it, “nobody wants to see the Clarendon-ization of Lee Highway,” considering that so many single-family homes sit directly behind the roadway.

Michelle Winters, the executive director of the Alliance for Housing Solutions and a board member for the Lee Highway Alliance, isn’t so sure about that.

The LHA, a coalition of civic associations and community groups along the corridor, helped spur the start of this new round of planning in the first place, largely out of concern that development was likely coming to the highway and needed to be managed appropriately. Winters reasons that there is room for dense, mixed-use developments along some sections of the highway — she feels it was only the “bad math” guiding the area’s current zoning that prevented the right mix of residential and commercial properties from moving to the corridor in the first place.

“Would the community want another Ballston? Maybe not,” Winters said. “But another Clarendon, especially if it looks like the less dense parts of Clarendon? Maybe.”

Natasha Alfonso-Ahmed, a principal planner on the county’s comprehensive planning team, allows that the county won’t know the best way to proceed until the process wraps up, noting that planners are “going to test every possible scenario” for the corridor.

But, as Winters suggested, Alfonso-Ahmed expects that certain “nodes” on the highway could be rezoned to allow for more density, perhaps creating more walkable communities on the otherwise car-heavy corridor.

In an initial “visioning study” in 2016, the community identified five such areas that could become home to taller buildings and mixed-use spaces — East Falls Church near the Metro station, the intersection with N. Harrison Street and N. George Mason Drive, the intersection with N. Glebe Road, the Cherrydale neighborhood near N. Quincy Street and Lyon Village near Spout Run. Alfonso-Ahmed believes the county could approach each of those “nodes” differently, allowing more density only where it makes the most sense.

“A lot of the communities in that area…want to be able to walk or bike to places like a restaurant or a coffee shop,” Alfonso-Ahmed said. “At the same time, they want to be able to get in a car and go to the supermarket or the cleaners. They’re not totally independent of the car yet, like in other parts of Arlington…The goal is to balance both.”

But what will become of the existing shopping centers on the highway? As Alfonso-Ahmed points out “it’s not like it’s a blighted corridor,” and is filled with plenty of successful small businesses that the county doesn’t want to lose.

That means Arlington officials will need to think critically about what “sort of incentives or tools will be needed for business owners to even entertain” moving, she added. Or perhaps the county could allow for the expansion of those existing commercial areas, which would then bump up into residential neighborhoods.

“Are they comfortable with the encroachment of the commercial properties?” Alfonso-Ahmed said. “If they are, how much of it are they comfortable with?”

Another possibility that intrigues Vihstadt is the expansion of affordable housing options in the area. County Board Chair Katie Cristol agrees, and suggested one “illustrative example” of a change the county might make is rezoning some areas meant for single-family homes to allow for “by-right duplex development” on the edges of neighborhoods.

But, once more, such a change would surely require extensive community engagement to allay concerns about the corridor’s changing character.

To that end, Alfonso-Ahmed expects the whole process will take three years in total, with both a large “community forum” and a smaller working group constantly weighing in on the effort and lots of chances for the community to see the county’s work.

It should all start “before the end of the year,” she said, once the county can pick a consultant to help guide the effort. Though the Board had to scale back some of the process’s funding, thanks to the county’s constrained finances, Alfonso-Ahmed says planners have everything they need to move forward, and are plenty anxious to do so.

“We really want to get it started,” she said. “We know it’s been too long.”

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Custis Trail Work Hits New Stage, More Detours Planned

Arlington is kicking off a new phase of construction along the Custis Trail near Rosslyn, as workers add a bevy of safety improvements to the area.

The county’s contractor plans to kick off work at the intersection of N. Scott Street and Lee Highway on Monday (Aug. 13), so long as the weather cooperates.

Anyone using the trail will need to follow a short detour onto N. Scott Street as it meets 21st Street N., but the county hopes the detour will only last about a week.

Earlier this year, the county kicked off bike safety improvements along Lee Highway, widening the trail itself, improving some trail crosses and crosswalks and adding curb extensions. County contractors are also reconfiguring the bike lanes on both N. Scott and N. Quinn Streets as part of the construction, resulting in some road closures in the area.

The county also plans to add new traffic signals at Lee Highway’s intersection with N. Scott Street, but planners predict they’ll only be installed “after completion of major construction activities”, likely “in the latter half of 2018.”

Workers are also busy repairing the trail as it runs alongside I-66 between N. Adams Street and McCoy Park, necessitating another detour in the area set to last through the end of the month.

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‘Maya Bistro’ Could Replace Nook Play Space on Lee Highway

A new restaurant could be on the way along Lee Highway, taking the place of the Nook Play Space.

The indoor play area, once located at 5649 Lee Highway in the Leeway-Overlee neighborhood, is picking up and moving to the new Ballston Quarter development.

The space currently sits empty, but it’s unlikely to remain that way for long — a chef at a Turkish restaurant in East Falls Church appears to be eyeing the location for an expansion.

Imam Gozubuyuk has applied for a permit at the location, using the business name “Maya Bistro,” county records show. Gozubuyuk currently cooks up food at the Yayla Bistro, located at 2201 N. Westmoreland Street, with his brother, Abuzer.

Managers at Yayla Bistro did not immediately respond to a request for comment on plans for the Lee Highway space. Maria Vogelei, Nook’s owner, said she didn’t have any information on what might take her business’s place in the small shopping center.

Nook is set to re-open in Ballston Quarter sometime this fall.

H/t Chris Slatt

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New Protected Bike Lane Coming to Courthouse This Month

A new protected bike lane is on the way for Courthouse this month.

Workers are set to add the new lane along N. Veitch Street as it runs between Wilson Blvd and Lee Highway, in a bid to better connect the Custis Trail with both Courthouse and Rosslyn.

Construction on the protected lane is set to move in conjunction with the county’s paving work starting this month, and will require some adjustments for the area’s on-street parking. Workers have also temporarily relocated the Capital Bikeshare station along N. Veitch Street to the road’s intersection with Key Blvd in preparation for the construction.

Soon afterward, the county also hopes to retool parking along N. Troy Street as part of the repaving work, set to take place sometime in “late summer.”

In subsequent phases of this project, the county plans to extend a previously built protected bike lane between N. Oak Street and N. Quinn Street in Rosslyn, linking the neighborhood to Courthouse. Some paving work on that effort could start as soon as this month.

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Car Crashes into Lee Harrison Shopping Center

A car crashed into the Lee Harrison Shopping Center over the weekend.

The crash happened Saturday morning in front of the Chesapeake Bagel Bakery store, which is often crowded with weekend breakfast customers around that time. A driver reportedly hopped the curb and crashed her car into the front of the bakery, though not with enough force to physically enter the store.

Tire tracks could still be seen on the sidewalk next to the store on Monday. The damage was relatively minor: a small fence surrounding a portion of sidewalk seating was smashed and wrapped in yellow “caution” tape, while a few bricks in the storefront appeared to be cracked.

Neither the driver nor anyone in or outside the store was reported to be injured in the crash, according to a fire department spokesman.

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Linda’s Cafe Closes Its Doors, Clearing the Way for New Bob and Edith’s

Longtime Arlington diner Linda’s Cafe has officially closed its doors, clearing the way for work to start on a new Bob and Edith’s location at the Lee Highway site.

Linda’s, located at 5050 Lee Highway, served up its last meal yesterday (Sunday), after it spent the last two decades at the location. Staff briefly posted a banner saying “Thank You Arlington” prior to the shop’s closing.

The restaurant was known for its all-day breakfast and burgers, not to mention a colorful social media presence, but the property’s owner sold the location on May 31, prompting the closure.

https://www.facebook.com/LindasCafe/posts/1966504520028382

Greg Bolton, the owner of the Bob and Edith’s chain, hopes to eventually transform the small restaurant into his third diner in Arlington. County property records show a company he controls purchased the land for $1.1 million.

Ryan Brown, Bolton’s attorney, told ARLnow last month that the new Bob and Edith’s could open in the next “six to nine months.”

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New Bike Lanes Proposed to Connect Lee Highway to N. Glebe Road

Some new bike lanes and other road improvements could soon be on the way for N. Woodstock Street as it runs between Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road.

County officials are circulating some new designs for the road, which primarily runs through the Waverly Hills neighborhood, ahead of some paving work kicking off later this summer.

The county currently has a community survey open on possible designs for the retooled street, including the addition of bike lanes in each direction and some new traffic calming measures to bring down speeds on the road.

Officials also plan to add new, high-visibility crosswalks where the road meets both 20th Road N. and N. Glebe Road, as the county embarks on the wholesale replacement of brick crosswalks in favor of reflective plastic markings.

The work also calls for the removal of several “outdated medians” to help facilitate the construction of the bike lanes, without requiring any change in on-street parking or traffic patterns.

“Adding bike lane markings rather than having un-utilized pavement (previously occupied by medians) will also serve as a traffic calming measure to keep vehicle speeds low and encourage safer movements,” the county wrote in the survey.

The survey is set to close to respondents tomorrow (July 31).

Photo 1 via Google Maps

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