Widening Critics Still Questioning I-66 Deal — “Widening the highway for four miles from Beltway to Ballston will not relieve traffic congestion, according to every expert I’ve spoken to,” writes WAMU transportation reporter Martin Di Caro, regarding the I-66 deal struck by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette, meanwhile, says the overall plan for tolling I-66 is worth the compromise. [Twitter, WAMU]
Arlington Probably Won’t Sue Over I-395 HOT Lanes — After mounting an expensive legal battle over a plan by Gov. Bob McDonnell’s (R) administration to convert the HOV lanes on I-395 to High Occupancy Toll lanes, Arlington appears poised to accept a similar HOT lane plan by VDOT and the McAuliffe administration. There are some key differences between the two proposals, observers say. [Greater Greater Washington]
Arlington Man Arrested in D.C. Cold Case — Arlington resident Benito Valdez, 45, has been arrested and charged with an alleged accomplice in a 1991 triple homicide cold case in the District. [Associated Press]
Chamber Concert in Lyon Park This Weekend — On Saturday, IBIS Chamber Music will hold a free concert of chamber music in the newly-renovated Lyon Park Community Center (414 N. Fillmore Street). The concert will start at 7:30 p.m. and feature music by Schubert, Beethoven and Debussy. [ARLnow]
Local Resident’s Cat Story Appears in Book — A story by Arlington resident April Riser is featured in the new book, “Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Cat,” according to a PR rep for the publisher.
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Democratic County Board candidate Erik Gutshall would like to see further progress on the planning process for the future of the Lee Highway corridor.
Gutshall, a small business owner who serves on the Arlington Planning Commission, warned in a statement (below) that Lee Highway could experience “crazy-quilt development” if not for “a thoughtful, community-led planning process.” He called on the County Board to prioritize long-range planning for Lee Highway this year.
Gutshall is challenging County Board Chair Libby Garvey in the June 14 Democratic primary.
Erik Gutshall called today for the Arlington County Board to make development of a long-range plan for Lee Highway a priority for the County Manager for the coming year.
Gutshall, who is challenging the incumbent Board Chair in the Democratic Primary, congratulated the Lee Highway Alliance, a collaborative effort of all neighborhood civic associations abutting Lee Highway from Arlington’s North Highlands community along the Potomac River to the Falls Church line, noting, “…the Lee Highway community has shown uncommon leadership in developing a vision for the future of Lee Highway.”
Gutshall called on the County Board to appoint a citizen-led task force quickly to undertake the development of a Lee Highway Plan, provide the task force with significant staff support and outside expert resources, and develop a scope of work that allows the task force to think big about the Lee Highway of the future. “Lee Highway,” Gutshall said, “is the last major unplanned commercial corridor in Arlington. Similar plans for the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor have been a central reason for that area’s great success.”
Gutshall, as a task force member, was engaged in the development of today’s plan for Clarendon. “Without a plan,” he said, “we can expect crazy-quilt development along Lee Highway; changes that aren’t the result of a thoughtful, community-led planning process are much less likely to meet Arlingtonians’ needs and are likely to detract from, rather than add value to, surrounding neighborhoods.”
Gutshall noted that long-range plans are extraordinarily valuable to the community and have underpinned much of Arlington’s standout prosperity. These plans are a concrete expression of the community’s hopes for the future and provide property owners with the policy guidance needed to encourage thoughtful, responsible and responsive development. “Unfortunately,” Gutshall said, “County Board leadership looks at the County’s long-term plans as merely advisory, something that can be easily dismissed. In my view, these plans are a compact between our elected representatives, developers and the community and embody the collective vision for the neighborhoods where we live, work, learn, and play.”
(Updated at 11:15 a.m.) A car with D.C. license plates caught fire in the parking lot of the Safeway at 3713 Lee Highway earlier today.
The fire, which was first reported around 10:15 a.m. this morning, was extinguished shortly after firefighters arrived. Nobody was injured during the blaze, said a firefighter on the scene. It was not immediately clear how the fire started.
Firefighters blocked off a portion of the parking lot, causing a small lineup of cars. The smell of burned rubber and charred vehicle components hung in the air as a small crowd gathered to watch firefighters work. A burned car seat and a broken vacuum were seen on the ground behind the car’s open trunk.
Emergency crews left the scene around 10:30 this morning.
(Updated at 3:01 p.m.) Bicycle sales, rental and repair shop Big Wheel Bikes has closed its Arlington location for renovations, according to a notice on the chain’s website. The shop remained open after a fire in September until closing on Dec. 14.
Owner Mike Sendar said the store at 3119 Lee Highway will reopen “in about two weeks” although a hard date has not been set. Sender said customers can expect “new paint, new flooring and a new arrangement.”
According to the sign posted on the door, Arlington residents can receive 10 percent off when shopping at the company’s four other stores in Alexandria, Georgetown and Bethesda.
The Lyon Village shopping center location opened in 1979 as a branch of Bicycle Exchange. It’s been Big Wheel Bikes since 1999.
Hat tip to Big E.
The alleged incident was reported just after 3 p.m. at Bradshaw’s Children’s Shoes, a long-time local business at 4532 Lee Highway, in the Lee Heights Shops.
According to the police dispatch, an intoxicated woman is inside the store, holding an open bottle of wine. She is refusing to leave the store and “keeps demanding adult shoes,” according to the dispatch.
The store requested police to help remove the woman from the premises.
Photo via Google Maps
(Updated at 4 p.m.) Once one of Arlington’s top 5 intersections for collisions — particularly those involving pedestrians and cyclists — the “Intersection of Doom” in Rosslyn now isn’t even in the top 25.
Safety improvements at the intersection have dramatically reduced accidents at the intersection of Lynn Street and Lee Highway, said Larry Marcus, the county’s head of transportation engineering, in a new county-produced video.
The county faced a challenge with the intersection: how to design quick and relatively inexpensive improvements at an intersection where 1,700 bicyclists per day try to cross a street also being crossed by 600 vehicles per hour exiting I-66.
“The obvious thing to do is separate these movements,” Marcus said.
Bicyclists and pedestrians now get a 10 second head start to start crossing Lynn Street while the traffic exiting I-66 waits at a red light with an illuminated no right turn signal. Pedestrians and cyclists then get a don’t cross signal while traffic turning right onto Lynn Street clears out.
Those relatively simple “operational improvements,” along with traffic enforcement and a public education campaign by Arlington County police, have dropped the intersection out of the county’s top 25 most crash-prone, Marcus says.
Despite the improvement, Marcus said the county is getting ready to begin a planning process for a more permanent solution to pedestrian-car conflicts at the intersection.
“There’s certainly an opportunity to build something,” he said.
ART 55 will operate from the same bus stops as Metrobus 3A, at the same rush hour frequency and a higher midday and weekend frequency.
The county issued the following press release about the change today.
Starting Sunday, Dec. 13 a new Arlington Transit (ART) route, ART 55, will replace part of the Metrobus 3A route and connect two Metrorail hubs–East Falls Church and Rosslyn.
The new service will be more frequent midday and weekends, more reliable, and cost the County less to operate, because ART bus service is less expensive to operate than Metrobus.
“Replacing the 3A with lower-cost ART service allows us to reinvest the savings in expanded midday and weekend service along Lee Highway, which residents have been asking for,” said Director of Transportation Dennis Leach. “Converting the route to ART service also gives us the flexibility to adjust and improve service in the future to meet the needs of our community.”
ART 55 in Arlington will stop at all the same places as the 3A.. During weekday peak periods, ART 55 service will run every 12 minutes, the same level of service the 3A provides today. During middays and weekends, ART 55 will run more frequently than the 3A does now:
- Every 15 minutes midday (compared to every 30 minutes for the 3A)
- Every 20 minutes during the day on Saturday (compared to every 30 minutes for the 3A)
- Every 30 minutes nights and Sundays (compared to every hour on Sunday for the 3A)
Weekday service will run until 1:44 a.m. (compared to 12:57 a.m. for the 3A), and the hours of service on weekends will be the same as the 3A.
The robbery occurred around 11:30 a.m. at the Shell station at 5630 Lee Highway, near the intersection of N. Kensington Street.
According to scanner traffic, the suspect is a white male wearing gray pants and a gray sweater, described as approximately six feet tall and in his 40s.
Early reports said he robbed the station at gunpoint with a semi-automatic weapon and stole $400 to $500. Police said he fled the scene on foot, traveling south on N. Kensington.
A K-9 unit was dispatched from Alexandria to help the search. Police also went to the Rivendell School, which is across the street from the station, to notify administrators about the situation.
No injuries were reported.
Earlier this morning an armed robbery was reported at the Giant supermarket at 2901 S. Glebe Road near Arlington Ridge, prompting administrators to secure the building at nearby Gunston Middle School, according to scanner traffic. So far police have not responded to a request for comment about the earlier robbery.
MOM’s Organic Market founder and CEO Scott Nash was pleased with what he saw at the grand opening of the company’s first Arlington store today.
Shoppers — mostly the regional chain’s target customer: moms — lined the aisles, picking out organic goods and trying free samples. Not bad for 11:30 a.m. on the store’s first official day in business.
Nash explained that MOM’s, which has 13 other locations in the Mid-Atlantic region (the closest of which is in Alexandria), typically targets more suburban locales than Arlington.
“Something that has kept us from opening in more dense urban areas is the parking,” he said. “We are for a walkable community, but we have 5,000 customers a week and most of them are mothers, with kids. They need to drive, they can’t carry six bags of groceries to their apartment across the street. They are the bread and butter of our customer base and we won’t open a store unless we have ample parking for our true best customers.”
The new store is located at 1901 N. Veitch Street, in the Verde Pointe development along Lee Highway and within walking distance to the Courthouse Metro station. It has 100 spaces of free parking for customers, though the traffic pattern to get to the 50 lower level garage spaces seemed to be challenging for first-time shoppers.
Other than the parking issue, Nash said Arlington is an ideal location for MOM’s, thanks to the eco-minded population.
“It’s very dense and we are sure this demographic has a lot of ‘lifestylers,'” he said. “The lifestylers are people who don’t just like organic food, but they have the same moral view that we have.”
That moral view was on prominent display, with signs explaining that the store only carries “green rated” seafood, that none of its cereals market to children with cartoon characters, and that it doesn’t sell conventionally grown produce because of the use of pesticides.
At 12,500 square feet, the new Arlington MOM’s is about the same size of most of the company’s newer stores. Asked about competition from the nearby Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s stores in Clarendon, Nash said that the presence of those stores was actually encouraging, pointing to the kind of market in which MOM’s thrives.
“We feel like where’s there’s a successful Trader Joe’s and a successful Whole Foods, there will be successful MOM’s,” he said. “What sets us apart is Trader Joe’s has about 4,000 items, we have 14,000, and Whole Foods has about 28,000. We’re kind of in between, we’re cheaper than Whole Foods, we have only organic produce, we don’t mix, plus we have great customer service and a very unique, incredible selection of products.”
MOM’s is open seven days a week. Its grand opening celebration will continue through Sunday.
Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt, at 2439 N. Harrison Street in the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center, recently closed its doors. The store’s sign has since been taken down and brown paper now covers the windows.
The store first opened in 2012.
It’s the second Tutti Frutti shop to close in Arlington this year; a store in Pentagon City closed in May.
So far there’s no word as to what might replace Tutti Frutti in the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center, which is located along Lee Highway.
Hat tip to Justin Boesel
Wreath-Laying Ceremony — Among other observances of today’s Veterans Day holiday in Arlington is a solemn wreath-laying ceremony at the Air Force Memorial. The event will take place at 11 a.m., with a group of World War II and Korean War veterans on hand. [Twitter]
School Board Considers Gun Safety Measures — The Arlington School Board is considering asking the Virginia General Assembly for new legislation that would restrict guns around schools, although no one seriously believes that the Republican-controlled legislature would actually pass such a measure. [InsideNova]
Lee Highway Residents Debate Development — Arlington County’s planning process for the Lee Highway corridor has prompted many residents to come out against “overdevelopment” and taller building heights. The corridor is currently car-oriented, though neighborhoods like Cherrydale developed thanks to a former streetcar line. [WAMU]
Middle School Tourette Campaign — Williamsburg Middle School staff have created a Public Service Announcement ad as part of Bullying Prevention Month. The campaign, called “Accept Tourette,” is based around a seventh grade student at Williamsburg with Tourette Syndrome. [Arlington Public Schools]
There’s a new pizza shop in town for those who live in the neighborhoods along Lee Highway.
Upper Crust Pizzeria has opened in the former HomeMade Pizza Company space, in the Lee Heights Shops, at 4514 Lee Highway. The restaurant quietly opened for business on Oct. 27, said Chief Financial Officer Ben Deb.
It’s the first D.C. area outpost of the small Boston-based chain since it went bankrupt and closed a former location in the District. Other new stores planned include a location on U Street NW in the District and one in Beverly Hills, California, both of which are slated to open within the next couple of months.
Upper Crust offers 25 specialty pizzas, some with D.C.-centric names, like “The GW,” “Pennsylvania Ave,” “The Nationals” and “The Dupont.” For customized pizzas, the company offers 40 toppings, nine cheeses, a gluten free dough option and three sizes: personal (10″), small (14″) and large (18″). Cheese, pepperoni and a “slice of the month” and “slice of the day” are offered by the slice.
Also on the menu are salads, baked lasagna, beer and wine. Take-out and free delivery are offered; in addition, there’s a small dine-in area and back patio.
Shawn Shenefield, Upper Crust’s Operations Director, says the opening so far has gone “really well.” He described the past two weeks as a soft opening, in which staff get on-the-job experience and training while business ramps up.
Shenefield said Upper Crust seeks to be a community-oriented business — Arlington, he noted, is comparable to Brookline, Mass., where the company has a store — and has been focusing on partnering with local schools. For instance, it has been planning fundraisers with nearby Marymount University and Glebe Elementary.
Task Force Recommends TJ Site — Ten months after the Arlington County Board nixed a proposed new elementary school next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, a working group appointed by the Board has concluded that the site is, in fact, the best one for a new school. The group also recommended that the School Board starts planning for a second new South Arlington elementary school, most likely in the Pentagon City area. [InsideNova]
Election Day Bar Crawl Was a Bust — Organizers of an election day bar crawl in Clarendon say they have learned “that people are not up for celebrating democracy on a Tuesday night of a work week.” Despite giving out 65-70 bracelets for the crawl, which was to encourage younger people to vote, one of the participating bars — Whitlow’s — didn’t see a single customer wearing the bracelets. [Washington Post]
‘Suburban North Arlington Is Going to Develop’ — The urbanist blog Greater Greater Washington says that development is inevitable for Lee Highway. The website is encouraging residents of the car-oriented corridor to participate in a county-led planning process for Lee Highway that’s currently underway, including a “visioning charrette” this weekend. [Greater Greater Washington]
Ray’s Maintains Steak Supremacy — Despite an influx of flashy new steakhouses in the District, Ray’s the Steaks in Courthouse still has the best-tasting steak around, and for a lot less than the newcomers, says food critic Todd Kliman. [Washingtonian]
W-L, Yorktown Rivalry Game Tonight — Yorktown will face Washington-Lee in a cross-county rivalry game with playoff implications. Both football squads could make the playoffs with a win tonight. A win also comes with the unofficial distinction of being this year’s Arlington County champion. [Washington Post]
M.J. Stewart Back at UNC Following Suspension — Former Yorktown standout M.J. Stewart is back leading the University of North Carolina’s secondary, after an off-campus altercation led to an assault and battery charge and a suspension from the team. [Daily Tarheel]
Tuckahoe 5K Road Closures — The annual Tuckahoe 5K race will take place Saturday. Arlington police will close portions of Williamsburg Blvd, Little Falls Road, 26th Street and Underwood Street between 7:30 and 10:30 a.m. to accommodate the race. [Arlington County]
Dems Captured All But One Precinct — The two Democratic County Board members-elect nearly swept every voting precinct in the county during Tuesday’s election. Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey together captured all but one precinct in Arlington. In the Madison precinct of North Arlington, a “bastion of Republicanism in an otherwise true-blue community,” Republican-endorsed independent Michael McMenamin finished second to Christian Dorsey. [InsideNova]
Jury Duty Questionnaires Due — If you were among the seven percent of Arlington and Falls Church residents who received a juror qualification questionnaire in the mail last month, it’s likely past due by now. Recipients are required by law to return the form within 10 days of receiving it. [Arlington County]
Development Forum Next Week — Registration is closing at noon today for a forum on development in Arlington County. Speakers at the event, scheduled for Nov. 10, include Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins, Rosslyn BID President Mary-Claire Burick and Shooshan Company COO Kelly Shooshan. [CREW Northern Virginia]
Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk
A new MOM’s Organic Market is opening next week on Lee Highway, within walking distance to Courthouse.
The store, at 1901 N. Veitch Street, is planning a grand opening celebration between Friday, Nov. 13 and Sunday, Nov. 15.
“Join us for a weekend of local tastings, environmental activities, henna art and more!” the company said on its website. “Five percent of Grand Opening sales will be donated to Moms Clean Air Force, a community of moms and dads united against air pollution and climate change to protect our children’s health.”
There will also be meet and greets with environmental organizations, like the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, and live music Saturday and Sunday afternoon from Arlington singer-songwriter (and H-B Woodlawn student) Calista Garcia.
In addition to the grocery store, MOM’s is also opening a Naked Lunch storefront along Uhle Street. Naked Lunch is an organic, vegetarian and vegan-only eatery that serves soups, sandwiches, bowls and raw juices.
Other MOM’s features include free car charging stations, local beer and organic wine, and recycling drop-off for wine corks, CFL bulbs, eye glasses, plastic bags, household batteries and shoes.
MOM’s is located in the new Verde Pointe development, along with 162 luxury apartments and 36 townhouse flats.
A consulting team will run the workshop, which is meant to help the county shape its vision for the Lee Highway corridor.
“Lee Highway isn’t going to plan itself,” Arlington County Planner Justin Falango said in a statement. “The people who live or work there, own businesses or land, or just visit, need to be integrally involved in this effort — and that begins with crafting a vision for the corridor’s future.”
The four-day workshop will take place at the Langston-Brown Community and Senior Center (2121 N. Culpeper Street) and starts on Friday, Nov. 6, with an introduction to the design team from 6-8 p.m.
On Saturday, Nov. 7, participants will draw their vision for the corridor as part of a community hands-on design session from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. They will then have the opportunity to take a tour of a temporary design studio to watch designers work on the plans for Lee Highway on Sunday from 3-5 p.m.
The workshop will end on Monday, Nov. 8, with a wrap-up open house from 7-9 p.m., where participants will hear the first draft of recommendations for the Lee Highway corridor.
While picturing the vision for Lee Highway, participants and county staff will discuss:
- pedestrian accommodation
- cyclists and vehicles
- issues for commuters
- opportunities for housing
- appropriate development
- transitions from commercial zones to single family homes
- streetscape design
- the preservation of cultural resources
Planning for a redeveloped Lee Highway Corridor is an partnership effort between the county government and multiple civic associations that are affected by the road. The county is currently in a planning phase for the development project, and has been conducting multiple walks and hearing to gather information about the state of the corridor.