Little Change to Office Vacancy Rate — There was little change to Arlington’s high office vacancy rate in the second quarter of 2015, compared to one year prior. On a neighborhood level, the vacancy rate was up significantly in the Clarendon and Courthouse area but down in Virginia Square. [InsideNova]
Metro Offers Credits for Friday Mess — Metro is issuing a SmarTrip credit to riders who travelled on the Blue, Orange or Silver lines between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. The credit is being issued automatically, as an apology for major delays caused by a track power issue near the East Falls Church station, among other Metro snafus last week. [WMATA]
Move-In Date Delayed for New Apartments — The move-in date for the new Verde Pointe apartments on Lee Highway has been delayed. Originally planned for Aug. 1, the building opening is now reportedly expected to take place within three weeks. Would-be residents are being told that building safety inspections are still taking place. [NBC Washington]
Dems Move Chili Cookoff — The annual Labor Day chili cookoff organized by the Arlington County Democratic Committee has been moved this year. The event will be held at the Barcroft Community House (800 S. Buchanan Street) rather than the usual venue of the Lyon Park Community Center, which is in the midst of renovations. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Three people and two dogs escaped from a two-alarm house fire on the 700 block of N. Edgewood Street, near Clarendon, this evening.
The fire broke out around 7:00 p.m. in the rear of a three-story house. Residents told ARLnow.com that they rent the house and were playing video games when all of a sudden they noticed a fire in their backyard, which borders the 2700 block of Washington Blvd.
The three people inside the house grabbed the two dogs that were inside and fled for safety, they said. No injuries were reported.
Despite heavy flames and smoke, firefighters were able to largely contain the fire to the house’s back porch and first floor. Washington Blvd was closed in both directions while fire companies from Arlington and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall battled the blaze.
The county fire marshal is investigating the cause. Residents said they didn’t hear any loud noises before seeing the fire. ARLnow.com spotted a melted electrical meter near the charred rear porch, but a fire department spokesman declined to speculate on a cause.
More on Texas Jack’s BBQ — Texas Jack’s Barbecue, which is replacing the former Tallula and EatBar in Lyon Park, will be helmed by a pair of Hill Country BBQ vets. The 145-seat restaurant will also have a 26-seat patio. It will serve meats that are smoked on site and plans to remain open until 2 a.m. seven days a week. [Washingtonian]
CEO’s $3.7 Million Rosslyn Condo — Gracia Martore, the former CEO of Gannett and current CEO of the newspaper company’s broadcast and digital spinoff, Tegna, has purchased a condo in Rosslyn for $3.65 million. The 4,447 square foot condo in Turnberry Tower (1881 N. Nash Street) features a 900 square foot outdoor balcony with sweeping views of D.C. [Washington Business Journal]
Police Chief Prioritizes Community Engagement — New Arlington Police Chief Jay Farr says he will make community engagement one of his top priorities. Farr plans to “realign how we do business a little bit,” adding more interaction with residents, he told the local Kiwanis Club. [InsideNova]
Arlington Arts Center Director Departs — Stefanie Fedor, executive director of the Arlington Arts Center, is leaving her position next month to head the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. AAC’s Director of Exhibitions will take over as Acting Executive Director while the organization’s board searches for Fedor’s permanent replacement. [Patch]
Rosslyn Employer Leaving for D.C. — The American Psychiatric Association, currently based at 1000 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, has signed a lease at The Wharf project on the Southwest D.C. waterfront. The association has about 250 employees. It is expected to move in 2017. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi
There’s a barbering school within walking distance of Clarendon, and it offers what might be the cheapest haircut in town.
Amid million-dollar homes and trendy apartments, the American Barber Academy has a low profile at its third-floor office in Lyon Park, at 2300 N. Pershing Drive. What the school lacks in street signage, though, it makes up for in pricing: among other services, it offers hot towel shaves for the cost of a large drink at Starbucks.
The academy is owned by master barber Kristen Kelly, who’s been in the business for some 20 years. Kelly, who also lives in Arlington, opened the school in 2014 after realizing that the D.C. region was lacking in schools for barbers.
“And I knew if I opened the school, students would come,” she said.
Currently, Kelly has a dozen students in her first class, which is scheduled to to graduate in the fall. She has also taught advanced-level students seeking to further develop their hair styling skills, she said.
Receiving a degree in barbering from the school take about a year to complete and costs $10,o00 at the college. The school offers the 1,500-hour license, which is standard for D.C. and Virginia, but also works in Maryland where the license only requires 1,200 hours, Kelly said.
The American Barber Academy offers day and night classes and Kelly has students with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She also enrolls students as young as 16 and has pupils of all ages, including one in his 60s, she said.
And while there are other barber colleges in the area there are two aspects that make the American Barber Academy unique, Kelly said. The first is that the college has a multicultural focus, while many other colleges only focus on a specific hair type.
The school is one of the only female-owned barbering schools, Kelly said, which can be difficult.
“I’m a women-owned business in a male dominant art,” she said. “They don’t expect it to be me. I’m the last person expect to see run a barber shop.”
In addition to being a school, the American Barber Academy is a fully functional barber shop. Kelly offers men’s haircuts for $7 and hot towel shaves for $5.
“If a guy comes here once, he tells his roommates or his friends because you can’t beat our prices,” she said.
And Arlington residents love the shop, she said, adding that there are not many traditional barber shops in the county.
The funding for the half-finished renovations to the Lyon Park Community Center may be in jeopardy.
In November of 2014, the Lyon Park Citizens Association voted to take out a $600,000 line of credit from Cardinal Bank to help fund the $1.2 million renovations. The vote was almost evenly split, with those who opposed the motion saying they were concerned about the park and community center being used as collateral to obtain the loan.
Now, the resulting legal wrangling over the loan has resulted in a ruling that will prevent it from being issued, at least as originally planned.
When the LPCA approved the motion to take out a line of credit, a group of seven residents referred to in court documents as the “Concerned Lyon Park Beneficiaries” opposed the petition in court. Their concerns were outlined in a flyer circulated to the community.
The opposition, filed Nov. 7 2014, states that the residents in question feel the Board encumbered the park “under imprudent conditions,” and that the residents “have reasonable and legal concerns regarding the ability of the community to re-pay this sizeable loan, and the resulting ramifications of a loan default.”
(Encumber is a legal term meaning that the property was placed in position where more than one party had a valid legal claim on it; if the park were used as collateral for a loan, both Cardinal Bank and the Lyon Park community would have valid claims.)
Another court document pertaining to the case dated July 30, 2014, states that “recently two trustees [of Lyon Park] resigned because each refused to sign documents pertaining to a $600,000 bank loan for a planned renovation of the community house. The appointment of successor trustees is far from a routine appointment.”
Since its inception in 1925, Lyon Park has had trustees appointed by the community to hold the deed to the park on behalf of all residents. When a loan is taken out for the park, the trustees have been the ones to sign the documents. Court documents also state that the park has been put up as collateral for a loan at least twice before, in 1925 for $2,500 and 1927 for $3,000.
Circuit Court judge Jonathan Thacher ruled last month that the latest loan was improperly filed. While the decision doesn’t prohibit the Board of Governors from using the park as collateral for a loan, that option is effectively closed to the community because at least one of the seven residents who challenged the Board’s decision in court indicated that he or she would also oppose any future filings, thus imposing burdensome legal costs, according to Lyon Park Community Center Chair Jeannette Wick.
“We are going to exclusively pursue options that don’t involve encumbering the park,” said Wick. “We’d like to go forward without further litigation — we could end up tied up in court forever.”
After the judge ruled, Wick said the Board came up with a table of options which included:
- Raising enough money that a loan would not be required.
- Working with Cardinal Bank to find a way to borrow without encumbering the park.
- Stopping construction completely.
According to Wick, with more than half a million dollars still required for renovations, the first option is unrealistic even with neighbors’ “incredible generosity.” The second option is still being explored, but is proving difficult because thus far Cardinal Bank has insisted on collateral. Wick described the third option as undesirable for several reasons.
“It would be bad for the neighborhood, it’s costly to stop construction and having an unfinished building on our property creates an attractive nuisance for thefts and squatters,” said Wick. “Right now, we’re searching for some sort of happy medium between option one and option three.”
Wick estimates residents have donated about $500,000 towards the project thus far, including roughly $85,000 since June 1.
“Everyone that I have talked to has been united in the view that ‘It’s halfway done, we need to move forward,'” said Wick. “If you look at the donation map, giving has been robust throughout the community — this isn’t a project where it’s a one-man show or only a few people want it.”
Kevin Baer, a resident who opposed putting the park up as collateral, said that he and other concerned residents “look forward to continuing to work together in the neighborhood to find a prudent way forward.”
The renovations to the center, currently in progress, include making the building ADA compliant, adding a sun room, and improving the kitchen and bathrooms.
Eclectic Threads, the vintage consignment, furniture and clothing store in Lyon Park, is closing in June.
The shop, at the corner of Washington Blvd and Pershing Drive, has been open since 1982, owner Sheila Selario told ARLnow.com today. It’s combined with Corner Cupboard, and Selario runs the two stores with her daughter, Tara.
The building’s being sold, Selario said, prompting the closure. Everything in the shop — a mix of knick-knacks, furs, lamps and pretty much anything else that can fit through the door — is 20 percent off for now, but the sale could go up before Eclectic Threads shuts down.
“If the public hasn’t come in yet, now’s the time,” Selario said.
The store opened as consignment 33 years ago before growing in scope. Selario said she’s going to use her time now to “catch up on things” she missed while running the business.
“I’m really going to miss it,” she said. “It’s been a wonderful experience.”
A dog fell into a sinkhole that opened up right under its tiny feet in Rockwell Park on Wednesday, according to a witness.
The park, which sits at the intersection of N. Cleveland, Edgewood and 1st Streets, is popular for dog walking in the Lyon Park neighborhood. Resident Elsie Frasier told ARLnow.com that two days ago she and her husband “heard someone screaming” at the park from their adjacent house. Someone walking their dog said it had fallen into the hole.
“We initially thought she was talking about the storm sewer openings, and only later, when we went out to the park, did we find out that a sinkhole had opened up right under her dog while they were out for a walk,” Frasier told ARLnow.com in an email. “The dog was on a leash so she was able to haul it out herself.”
The dog was unhurt from the fall, Frasier said.
The sinkhole is right next to the Washington Blvd bike trail, and was caused by a sewer line break, according to Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish. County water and sewer crews cordoned off the area Wednesday night and have been pumping water away from the line since then.
Repairs to the line have been delayed due to weather, Kalish said, but the pumping has prevented the line from leaking into the surrounding area. As of Friday afternoon, Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter said crews are now working on repairs.
“We have crews there actively repairing it,” Baxter said. “The area is secure and the leak is not causing backups. We do not have an estimated time of repair just yet.”
Another winter with persistent sub-freezing temperatures has led to breaking water and sewer lines all over the county. Along with those line breaks have come rapidly forming sinkholes: a large hole created a substantial hazard on Williamsburg Blvd early last month and a sinkhole formed and caused water and mud to flood nearby properties in north Arlington ten days ago.
A homeowner on the 200 block of N. Fillmore Street says he woke up just after midnight to the sounds of someone trying to open the front door. He went downstairs and discovered a man apparently passed out on the porch.
After trying but failing to wake him up, the homeowner called police. In an email, he described to ARLnow.com what happened.
Last night at 12:05 am (early Thursday morning 3/05/15) I was woken up by what sounded like somebody trying to operate the handle on my front door. That was followed by a ring of the doorbell. I walked downstairs and turned on my porch lights to discover somebody slumped over on my porch furniture. I turned on all of the outside lights hoping that would force him to move, but it didn’t work so I called 911 to report it. The operator said she would send medics and police.
A few minutes later one fire truck, one ambulance and one police car arrived. It took them a few minutes to get the man to respond to them. I overheard him tell the officer that he lives at “Pottery Barn,” but eventually I’m pretty sure he said he lives somewhere on Lee Highway.
He was placed in the back of a police cruiser and presumably taken to jail. He was VERY inebriated.
According to Arlington County police spokesman, the man was arrested, charged with being drunk in public and held at the jail until sober.
This past Saturday, in a similar incident, a homeowner in nearby Ashton Heights woke up and discovered a 22-year-old Arlington man asleep and covered in vomit in his dining room.
(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Arlington County Police were involved in a vehicle and subsequent foot pursuit through the Lyon Park and Courthouse neighborhoods this afternoon.
The pursuit started around 12:20 p.m. According to initial reports, an officer trying to make a traffic stop on Route 50 at 10th Street N. was dragged when the driver took off.
Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said the suspect, a D.C. resident, was pulled over for a red light violation. Police found a gun in the suspect’s car after taking him into custody.
The chase went through Lyon Park and ended following a foot pursuit at Fairfax Drive and N. Barton Street, next to Rocky Run Park in Courthouse. The suspect’s car blew out its two right tires and crashed into a squad car. He consequently took off running in the neighborhood and was caught soon afterwards.
Sternbeck said that initial reports that the officer was dragged were slightly overblown. He was leaning into the Chrysler Pacifica when the suspect took off, and was carried for about five steps before he could disengage. The officer didn’t suffer any injuries, Sternbeck said, just “muddy boots.”
N. Barton Street was blocked off between Fairfax Drive and 11th Street for about two hours. Police officers and a K-9 conducted searches for an item the suspect might have thrown out of the car during the pursuit, but Sternbeck said he didn’t know if anything was recovered.
(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) A convicted felon put a knife to the throat of a 7-Eleven clerk in Lyon Park early this morning, then tried to carjack a delivery truck at gunpoint before ditching the gun and running off into the neighborhood, according to police.
The incident happened around 2:15 a.m., in the midst of this morning’s snow storm, at the 7-Eleven store at 2704 Washington Blvd.
Police say Antonius Sallis, 33, held up the store, putting a knife to the throat of a clerk with one hand while holding a handgun in his other hand. Sallis demanded Newport cigarettes and cash, then slashed the clerk’s neck before leaving the store, Arlington County Police said in a press release.
A delivery truck driver witnessed the robbery, police said, then was robbed himself. The driver told investigators that Sallis demanded his wallet and tried to steal the truck.
Police say the getaway was foiled when Sallis could not disengage the truck’s airbrake, at which point he took off running into the neighborhood.
Officers tracked him down and after a brief foot chase, Sallis was arrested, ACPD spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm said. He’s charged with two counts of armed robbery, malicious wounding, abduction, carjacking and being felon in possession of a firearm.
Police and canine units searched for hours after the robbery to find the gun. Just before 3:00 p.m., an officer found it, along with “some other evidence” in the backyard of a house on the 300 block of N. Fillmore Street, Malcolm said.
“Officers during their evening shift briefing were told the suspected path the suspect traveled,” Malcolm said. “About two blocks behind the 7-Eleven, an officer spotted it.”
Sallis, who police say is homeless, is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Center.
Earlier, police said Sallis — who has retained a lawyer — was being uncooperative as officers searched for the weapon.
“We did searches with canines, patrolled the area… We’ve looked everywhere we can, but we’re only 360 police officers and not all of us are in,” Malcolm told ARLnow.com earlier today. “We’re asking the community to be mindful and look for the firearm. It could be in the snow, in a trash can, in a storm sewer.
“We’re most concerned about kids finding the firearm,” Malcolm said. “We really need to find this.”
Police recovered the knife and other evidence when they apprehended Sallis, Malcolm noted.
Photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department
Whole wheat bakery and cafe Spring Mill Bread Co. might be the latest local retail chain to make the Pershing Drive section of Lyon Park its new home.
Spring Mill Bread has locations on Capitol Hill and in Bethesda and Gaithersburg. It’s in discussions to move into a vacant retail space at 2209 Pershing Drive, ARLnow.com has learned.
Hat tip to Chris Slatt (@alongthepike)
A permit has been filed for a new restaurant — “Texas Jack’s Barbecue” — at 2761 Washington Blvd. That’s the former address of Tallula and EatBar, which closed in October after the owner was “unable to reach an agreement with the landlord on renewing Tallula’s lease.”
Texas Jack’s co-owner Steve Roberts talked to ARLnow.com Tuesday afternoon and said he hopes to open the restaurant by April or May. Roberts said Texas Jack’s will be a neighborhood-centric restaurant serving “classic central Texas barbecue.” Roberts noted that he has no plans for making Texas Jack’s a franchise — rather, he and his business partner plan on treating it as their “second home.”
Roberts, a Montana native who describes himself as a restaurant veteran and a long-time Virginia resident, says Texas Jack’s is named after Texas Jack, a famous Virginia-born Texas cowboy who also served as a courier and scout during the Civil War.
Texas Jack’s will be open for lunch, dinner and late night bar service (until 2:00 a.m.). The original Whitey’s bar, used by EatBar, will remain.
Roberts said he an his management team have a “love and a passion for barbecue.” He anticipates utilizing Southern Pride barbecue smokers, which will be in use “all day long.”
“We want to do it right,” he said.
Flickr pool photo by Dan Brown
The annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 5K returns tomorrow at 8:00 a.m., and motorists hoping for an early Thanksgiving drive should avoid Lyon Park.
The race is organized by, and starts at, Christ Church of Arlington at 3020 N. Pershing Drive. The course takes runners west on Pershing Drive, turning around on 5th Street N. before heading back west on Pershing Drive. Runners will then turn left on N. Fillmore Street and right on 9th Street N. before turning on the southbound lanes of Washington Blvd.
The course goes along Washington Blvd until runners turn right at the intersection with Arlington Blvd. They will turn right on N. Bedford Street and continue until it turns into Brookside Drive and intersects again with Washington Blvd. Runners will turn off Washington on 3rd Street, turn right on Fillmore and end at the church on Pershing.
Roads are expected to close all morning in the area. There is no word from the Arlington County Police Department if the northbound lanes of Washington Blvd will be open to either one or both directions of traffic.
Michael Wardian, Arlington’s own champion distance runner, will both officiate and participate in the 5K, according to the race website.
More than 3,000 runners are expected to participate, and registration is full. Proceeds from the race will go to benefit the Arlington Food Assistance Center, Doorways for Women and Families and the Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless.
Last night, 265 Lyon Park residents attended a meeting of the Lyon Park Citizens Association — a record, according to LPCA President John Goldener — to vote on whether the community center should take out a $600,000 line of credit to help fund the renovation.
Put up as collateral for the bank: the park and community center itself.
After a spirited debate, 121 voted to let the Lyon Park Community Center Board of Governors take out the line of credit, with 114 voting to proceed with the renovations, funded only by donations. The LPCA has been fundraising for five years, according to treasurer Bill Anhut, but they have raised $450,000, far from the organization’s goal.
“It’s been apparent the costs were going to come in higher than we expected, and fundraising was lagging because the process was taking so long,” Anhut said. The LPCA has been discussing renovating the Lyon Park Community House, built in 1925, for more than a decade. “People were wondering if we were ever going to get to the point where we put the shovel in the ground.”
A group of residents has circulated a flyer in the last month asking residents to vote in the motion against taking out the line of credit. The flyer reads, in part:
“Repaying the loan will cost $680,000-$800,000, primarily from new donations, from YOU or else LYON PARK COULD BE LOST TO FORECLOSURE … the community center risks default and the bank could take over operations.”
Goldener said that scenario is “impossible.” In the deed to the park and community center — which is owned by the LPCA, meaning it’s owned by the residents of the neighborhood — it is stated that the property can only ever be a park and community center, Goldener said. Cardinal Bank, which approved the line of credit, knows that and has no intention of foreclosing.
Even if the LPCA can’t repay the loan, Anhut said, a few residents have volunteered to be guarantors on the loan, meaning if something changes with LPCA leadership and the association decides to stop making payments, the residents would step in to cover the expenses.
The only reason the bank asked for collateral, Anhut said, was to protect its investment and prevent the LPCA from getting more money from another bank.
“The bank proceeded with the loan and understands they can’t look to the property to satisfy any default,” Anhut said. “The bank knows that if they were to foreclose on this property, the deed has a stipulation that it will forever remain a park. It cannot be changed.”
The flyer passed out also suggests undergoing a more modest renovation with the cash on hand, asking “why can’t a sunroom be built in a second phase?”
Goldener dismissed the notion that the renovations are more than the facility needs.
“There’s a misperception that the cost of this is a gold-plated facility and it’s not,” he said. “The reason it’s expensive is because we have to do completely redo all the plumbing, electrical, ADA accessible entry, exits and handicapped bathrooms, and the kitchen’s a commercial kitchen, so all of the costs are essentially triple what they would be for a home renovation.”
Goldener said the community has run a number of financial models, and the LPCA anticipates “easily” paying back the sum of the loan, with interest, within 10 years. The citizens association will also continue to fundraise during the renovations, and the organization will only dip into the line of credit when it runs out of cash on hand, Anhut said. When the renovations are complete, donations and rental fees will combine to go toward paying back the credit.
Lyon Park is holding a groundbreaking ceremony for the renovations on Saturday, Nov. 22, at 4:00 p.m. The community center is located at 414 N. Fillmore Street. The renovations are expected be complete by next summer
Photo courtesy John Goldener
Wizards Practice Facility in Arlington? — There’s a potential plan for a Washington Wizards basketball practice facility in Arlington, reports NBC4’s Mark Segraves. However, the more likely plan for the practice facility is for it to be built in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis also owns the Washington Capitals, which has a practice facility at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. [NBC Washington]
Arlington Warns of ‘Potential Severe Traffic’ — Arlington County is warning residents about “potential severe traffic” today due to the massive crowds expected for the Concert for Valor on the National Mall, along with Metrorail service changes and numerous road closures in D.C. that are in place for the Veterans Day event.
Cherrydale Abuzz Over Sound Check — The Cherrydale community email listserv was “going crazy with complaints about the sound check” for the Concert for Valor last night, a tipster tells ARLnow.com. We’re told the neighborhood could hear bass and feel vibrations from the sound check. “One person reported that the Arlington County police were getting so many calls they were telling people to call the D.C. police who then told people to call [U.S.] Park Police,” the tipster said.
Cost of Thanksgiving Dips in Va. — Virginia families will save about $5 per person this year on Thanksgiving dinner thanks to lower food prices, according to the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. [InsideNova]
Lyon Park ‘Sewer Justice’ Petition — A group called Arlingtonians for Sewer Justice — which represents 11 Lyon Park households that are being compelled to pay $10,000-20,000 for a new sewer connection because the county says it will no longer maintain a failing, private sewer line behind their homes — has created a new petition. The petition, which has so far gathered 95 supporters, calls for Arlington County to pay for the upkeep of privately owned sewer lines via a bond referendum. [Change.org]
Flickr pool photo by Ian Livingston