Apartment Rents Bounce Back — “It took a little while, but average rents for Arlington apartments have now shot past pre-pandemic levels, according to new data. With median rent prices of $2,013 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,437 for two bedrooms, Arlington is among 92 of the nation’s 100 largest urban communities that has seen rents return to, or exceed, levels of March 2020, when the pandemic hit.” [Sun Gazette]
Ballston Resident Creates Bourbon Brand — “I Bourbon is one Arlingtonian’s ode to this classic American whiskey. Now, if he could just get it on store shelves.” [Washington Business Journal]
Reston to Crystal City Bus Proposed — “One of two projects proposed by Fairfax County, the new express bus service would connect Fairfax Connector’s Reston South Park and Ride lot with key employment destinations in Arlington County, including the Pentagon and Pentagon City and ending in Crystal City. The county is seeking $5.1 million to cover two years of operating costs for the service as well as the purchase of six buses.” [Reston Now]
AWLA Takes in Louisiana Pets — “A special delivery arrived Wednesday afternoon at Manassas Regional Airport: a plane carrying more than 100 pets that were evacuated from the Louisiana hurricane zone ahead of Ida’s arrival earlier this week. As the plane landed, rescue organizations from throughout the D.C. area were standing by to take the animals in. ‘There were mostly dogs, but also a few cats in the mix,’ said Samantha Snow with the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.” [WJLA]
Student Housing May Become Hotel — “Marymount University is moving to convert some of its recently acquired student housing in Ballston into hotel rooms, giving its hospitality program a boost in the process. The Arlington university filed documents with county planners Tuesday seeking permission to convert as much as half of the 267-unit residential building at 1008 N. Glebe Road into a hotel. Marymount has operated the building, dubbed The Rixey, as housing for students, faculty and staff since buying it back in 2019.” [Washington Business Journal]
Northam Declares State of Emergency — “Governor Ralph Northam today declared a state of emergency to respond to impacts from Tropical Depression Ida, which is expected to cause heavy rains and flooding along the I-81 and I-66 corridors. Localities in the southwest region have already experienced heavy rainfall in recent days, leading to flash floods and complicating storm preparation efforts. In addition to the flood threat, there is also a risk of tornadoes across the Commonwealth.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]
Jail to Distribute Fentanyl Tests — “Beginning September 1, 2021, Arlington County will begin to distribute fentanyl test strips to individuals being released from incarceration. This new effort is in response to rising overdose numbers.” [Arlington County]
Pike Apartment Building Sold — “Zurich Alternative Asset Management has sold Siena Park, a 188-unit multifamily community in Arlington, Va., for $80.1 million. The property includes 33,602 square feet of retail and 17,373 square feet of office space. Located at 2301 Columbia Pike, Siena Park is just 15 minutes from Washington, D.C.” [Commercial Observer]
Marymount Testing VR Headsets — “Eric Bubar, a Marymount associate professor of physics, has led 3D printing projects and testing for face masks and other polymer-based personal protective equipment. But more recently, the professor… is working with three other science faculty members to develop virtual reality technology for Marymount chemistry students to take lab classes remotely — and, perhaps in the future, for physical therapy patients.” [Washington Business Journal]
Local Catholic Org Seeking Help with Refugees — “Following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, diocesan Catholic Charities has issued a plea for resources to support Afghan refugees resettling in Virginia as the Taliban’s rapid resurgence prompted Afghan translators and others who assisted U.S. military forces to flee the country along with their families… Catholic Charities has prioritized finding properties for rent in Fredericksburg, Sterling and Woodbridge, as the agency hopes to place the Afghans near family and friends in the area.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]
It’s National Preparedness Month — “It’s a situation everyone has experienced: The media and public safety agencies warn of an impending storm, chance of power outages, and loss of service. But you find yourself scrambling at the last minute for batteries, water, and ideas to keep your family entertained. Disasters don’t plan ahead — even during a pandemic — but you can.” [Arlington County]
Without the help of one prosperous Arlington doctor, however, the elite club founded in 1893 would have closed in 1906.
Rear Admiral Presley Marion Rixey, Surgeon General in the U.S. Navy, served as the full-time personal physician to Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. He is considered the first “White House Physician,” though the title wasn’t officially used until 1928.
Beyond his medical exploits, the doctor owned a significant amount of land in Arlington. He lived on a large property then-called Netherfauld, which he purchased in 1888 from Mary Ann Hall, known for the rowdy brothel she ran in D.C. According to Johnathan Thomas, the former president of the Arlington Historical Society, there is no evidence her property in Arlington housed a similar business.
(Her brother, Bazil Hall is the namesake of Halls Hill: He owned enslaved persons and later sold his land to African-American families in Arlington, leading to the founding of the historically Black neighborhood.)
Rixey’s relationship to Teddy Roosevelt was not just one between a doctor and patient. They were friends, and so were their wives. President Roosevelt often came to Netherfauld to ride on horseback with Rixey through his many acres of rural lands and to eat ice cream made on the property. Mrs. Roosevelt, meanwhile, would frequently walk from the White House to Netherfauld to have lunch with Mrs. Rixey.
While Rixey enjoyed his property, he also was generous with it, ensuring the Washington Golf & Country Club — of which he was a member and the Chairman of the Greens Committee — had a permanent home.
“Admiral Rixey carried Washington Golf through its worst financial times, restructuring notes and forgiving interest so the fledgling club could survive,” according to an article written by Thomas, who also acted as the historian for WGCC.
Thomas went so far as to call Rixey the “Godfather” of the golf club. In 1906, WGCC was pushed out of its original Rosslyn location by investors looking to develop a residential area instead. Close to disbanding, members of the club searched for a location that would keep them close to D.C.
The club unsuccessfully tried to reestablish the club on the Saegmuller Farm — land that is now used by Arlington’s Knights of Columbus. Rixey’s offer in 1908 to sell 75 acres of his Netherfauld Farm for $50,000 saved WGCC from extinction.
“There’s a story handed down at the club that one of the members got the [Saegmuller Farm] under contract because he wanted to make a fee off of it. They said ‘forget it,’ and ended up buying the property from Rixey,” Thomas tells ARLnow.
Rixey helped the club after the sale. With it struggling financially, Rixey redesigned the agreed-upon payment plan and forgave interest. The doctor also donated more acres to WGCC as a prize to club president Joseph Johnson for defeating him in a golf game. Later, he offered to sell even more of his land to the club at a discounted price, but the leaders declined.
While clearing out part of Rixey’s land for the golf course and club, Richard Wallace — Rixey’s valet, Roosevelt’s former White House chauffeur, and one of four men who laid down the first nine holes in 1908 — happened upon a previously uninhabited log cabin on the Netherfauld grounds.
Wallace became enchanted with the log cabin and Rixey gifted it to him to live there. Whenever President Roosevelt visited the Rixey home, Wallace would bring homemade ice cream that Roosevelt enjoyed so much that Wallace let him lick the ice cream from the paddles once he was done churning.
On Sunday, the university wrapped up two weeks of construction that turned the concrete parking lot at 2807 N. Glebe Road into a green space. Now, Marymount leaders envision the school community using the space for recreation and picnics.
“As students, staff, faculty and their families enter Marymount, they’ll now be greeted with a beautiful lawn devoted to bringing our community together,” said Marymount University President Irma Becerra.
Marymount originally had a grass lawn in front of the Main House, but that was paved over in May 2000 to accommodate the growing number of students who need a place to park. Now that the university has two parking garages, Marymount said it no longer needs the lot.
Those employed by the university have embraced the change already, according to Barry Harte, the school’s treasurer and vice president for finance and operations.
“Bringing back the beloved recreation area has sparked overwhelmingly positive feedback from our staff and faculty. This change is important not only to our students and their families, but also to the greater Arlington community of which Marymount is proud to be a part of,” said Harte.
In a press release, the university said the lawn will help the surrounding community by absorbing storm water runoff and improving water quality.
The front parking lot previously hosted a seasonal weekly farmers market. Organizers announced earlier this summer that the market was permanently closed, encouraging local residents to go the new Cherrydale Farmers Market instead.
Marymount plans to hold a picnic on the lawn to celebrate the start of the academic year this coming Monday, Aug. 23.
This week, a Marymount University graduate working in tech is packing up and moving to Dublin, Ireland.
He didn’t expect — or want — to leave his home on the border of Arlington and Falls Church this way.
Hansel D’Souza, 25, is an Indian national who was born and raised in Kuwait who now works for a tech company. He has been in Virginia since 2014, when he arrived on an F1 student visa to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology at Marymount. There, he dove into theater, student affairs and campus ministry.
“I was everywhere at the same time, wearing lots of hats,” he said. “People asked me, ‘Is there any job you don’t do?”
He programmed backstage lighting and sounds for the campus theater club, the McLean Community Players and the Little Theatre of Alexandria. With the campus ministry group, he went to Louisa, Kentucky for a service project and returned as a camp counselor for a few summers, watching campers graduate high school and go to college.
His extracurricular resume may be impressive — but none of his positions or volunteer work mattered when it came to seeking an H1B visa to continue working in the U.S. in his specialized field, which selects 65,000 people a year through a lottery. Up to 20,000 additional people can get this visa if they’ve earned a master’s degree or higher.
“This is not a merit-based system,” said James Montana, an attorney at Steelyard LLC, an immigration-focused law firm in Arlington. “The question is, do you have a degree that is related to the proposed work in a specialty field? An individual can do nothing to increase his chances — other than get a master’s, which is an awfully expensive way to increase them.”
D’Souza said his frustration with the H1B process, which wrote about in a Medium post, is that it whittled him down to a number in a lottery.
“Seven years of hard work, putting myself out there, making this place my home, building relationships, just came down to a lottery process,” he said. “I know I’m not the only one. I know a handful of other people going through it — and there are thousands of others across the country in similar situations every year.”
Indians in the U.S. face particular hurdles. In recent years, members of the diaspora living in the United States have protested a 150-year backlog in green cards, caused by a policy capping the number of Indians who can come to the U.S., and a coronavirus-induced excess of green cards that could go to waste despite this backlog.
Many Indian immigrants advocate for the cap to be lifted and for the immigration process to consider their technical skills instead.
As for D’Souza, he says he considered getting a master’s degree to increase his chances of staying. But after four years of tuition, and room and board, a master’s represented a financial lift he said he couldn’t justify, especially since he saw people advance in his field without one.
“Unfortunately, the world has gotten to a point where people are doing more degrees to check boxes on resume, and I didn’t want to do that,” he said.
It is too late for D’Souza, who departs tomorrow night (Wednesday), but he said he wants to elevate the voices of “international students and working professionals just like me.” He wants the Americans he knows to understand how complex immigrating to the U.S. is, as well.
“Immigration needs to change,” he said. “I’m hoping more people will realize it’s not all rose-colored glasses.”
Two decades ago, Marymount University paved paradise and put up a parking lot on its main campus in residential North Arlington.
“This restores that area to how it looked prior to May of 2000, when the lot was created to supply additional parking for the University,” spokesman Nicholas Munson said.
Construction began Monday and is expected to be completed around Sunday, Aug. 15, depending on the weather, he said.
Marymount added the surface parking lot to accommodate a growing school community at the Main Campus. Today, Marymount’s Blue and White garages now provide “ample parking” for the community, he said.
“Once it’s completed, Marymount will provide more recreational space for students while creating a positive impact on our physical campus environment,” he said.
The project is being paid for with capital funding.
Other upcoming campus projects include transforming “The Lodge,” a historic structure on the Main Campus, into a welcome center for students, families and visitors. Marymount also plans to reorient the front entrance so that fewer cars can access the campus core, making it more pedestrian-friendly, and to create a “student hub” in Rowley Hall “to promote a new community space for Marymount Saints to gather.”
The university also has a campus along N. Glebe Road in Ballston.
AWLA Captures Escaped Parakeet — “Officer K. Davis of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington successfully captured this errant budgie tonight… She used her phone to play budgie calls in hope of enticing the stray bird. Twice the budgie alluded the net but three times proved the charm as Officer Davis’s patience and speed completed the apprehension.” [Facebook]
Massage Studio Opening Next Week — “Elements Massage opens at Westpost (formerly Pentagon Row) on Monday, July 19… The 2,100-square-foot studio will be located at 1101 S. Joyce Street, Suite B10.” [Press Release]
Arlington Tech Students Earn Nat’l Medal — “Lina Barclay and Ellie Nix, two Arlington Tech seniors at the Arlington Career Center, won the second-place silver medal in the 2021 SkillsUSA National Competition for Television Video Production. This is the highest placement for APS students since placing fourth in 2018 and 2019.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Marymount Conducting Heat Study — “Marymount University is joining 11 other higher education institutions within the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) in setting out across the state to understand where residents are most at risk during extreme heat waves. Marymount faculty, staff, students and community volunteers will use specially designed thermal sensors to record air temperatures and humidity throughout the Northern Virginia area over three specific times this Thursday: 6 am, 3 pm and 7 pm.” [Press Release]
Local Woman’s Journey from Vietnam — “It was April 30, 1975 – as North Vietnamese troops converged on Saigon in the last hours of the Vietnam War – that Sonia Johnston (then known by her Vietnamese name To Nga) boarded an American helicopter atop the U.S. embassy and, with no family at her side, was whisked away to a refugee camp in preparation for a new life… ‘I had nothing, and here I am. You can’t do it by yourself,’ Johnston said during a July 7 presentation.” [Sun Gazette]
Undefeated Yorktown in Lacrosse State Final — “Yorktown will play at Battlefield in Haymarket after the Bobcats beat Cosby, 6-4, in the other Class 6 semifinal Tuesday… For Yorktown, the first steps toward Saturday’s state final were laid before this year’s players were born, and over 21 years the Patriots toiled and waited until they could play in a state semifinal.” [Washington Post]
Streaming Show at Signature Theatre — “The Signature Theater in Arlington, Va., is presenting an energetic full production of the revue ‘After Midnight,’ which ran on Broadway in 2013. Christopher Jackson (“Hamilton”) leads the cast through a whirlwind of jazzy Cotton Club-era songs, held together by Langston Hughes texts. The show has many pleasures, like the heavenly vocal harmonies in ‘Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’ and a timely reminder that tap is exhilarating.” [New York Times]
Marymount Partnering With Netflix — “The world’s leading streaming entertainment service and a global leader in education technology are expanding their partnership and bringing Marymount University into the fold as they work to increase diversity in tech fields. Starting this August, Netflix and 2U, Inc., will offer three for-credit, fully online tech boot camps in Data Science, Java Engineering and UX/UI to Marymount undergraduates, all at no cost to accepted students.” [Press Release]
Ballston-Based AvalonBay Now Accepting Credit Cards — “AvalonBay residents will receive an invitation for the Bilt Mastercard, an extension of Bilt Rewards and the first credit card that allows users to pay their rent with no annual fee and without burdening the building owner with ongoing fees. With the card, AvalonBay residents can also earn points on non-rent purchases, enabling them to maximize rewards potential.” [BusinessWire]
Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards
Key Bridge Marker Rediscovered — “A recently identified marker in Virginia hitherto thought lost to history has been rediscovered – hiding in plain sight… The newly-rediscovered marker stands at the Virginia entrance to Key Bridge in the furthest north grassy median separating the westbound entrance to the George Washington Parkway, North Fort Myer Drive, and North Lynn Street.” [Sun Gazette]
Vet Punched By Litterbug — “Arlington County police are looking for two suspects who beat up a military veteran after she asked them to pick up trash dumped outside their car… on 28th St. South near Arlington Ridge Road about 9:30 a.m. Sunday.” [NBC 4]
Northam Signs Bill at Marymount — “In what he called a move that will make the commonwealth more welcoming and inclusive, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill extending financial aid benefits to students who came to the country illegally and who are eligible for in-state tuition. ‘They are Virginians, in every sense of the word, except for the immigration status,’ Northam said before signing the bill at Marymount University in Arlington on Monday.” [WTOP]
Free Clinic Continues Vax Effort — “AFC has vaccinated 65% of our patients… Vaccine hesitant patients require a different, more intensive effort, but having doses on-site will allow us to use any encounter to encourage the vaccine for those who haven’t yet received it.” [Twitter]
Drunk Man Robbed in Clarendon — “At approximately 1:29 a.m. on June 11, police were dispatched to the report of an intoxicated male walking in the roadway. Upon arrival, officers made contact with the individual who stated that between 12:00 a.m. and 12:30 a.m., he was exiting an establishment when he was approach by the unknown male suspect. The suspect told the victim to go to the ATM and withdraw an undisclosed amount of cash. After failing to obtain money, the suspect demanded the victim give him whatever money he had, and lifted his shirt to reveal a firearm.” [ACPD]
Crash Along Lee Highway — “Two WB lanes of Lee Hwy are partially blocked, and the NB lane of N George Mason Dr. is completely blocked due to a motor vehicle collision.” [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Yorktown Grad Sets Record at Olympic Trials — “18-Year-Old Arlington Aquatic Club swimmer Torri Huske just exploded in the first heat of women’s 100 fly semifinals, breaking the American Record. After showing off her speed this morning, splitting under World Record pace on the first 50, Huske blasted a 55.78 to touch first tonight. The swim marks a personal best by nearly a full second, and makes Huske just the 2nd American of all-time to break 56 seconds in the event.” [SwimSwam, Twitter, Twitter]
Amazon Adopts Hybrid Office Schedule — “We’ve adjusted our guidance on our plans for returning to the office and added more clarity. Going forward, we’ve decided to offer Amazonians a mix of working between the office and home… Our new baseline will be three days a week in the office (with the specific days being determined by your leadership team), leaving you flexibility to work remotely up to two days a week.” [Amazon]
Arlington Man Imprisoned for Harassment — “For more than a decade, the employees of a Washington think tank were traumatized by an unlikely harasser: a career Foreign Service officer. In hundreds of emails and voicemails, he called them ‘Arab American terrorist murderers’ and ranted about how they should be cleansed. Yet there was almost nothing they could do.” [Washingtonian]
Marymount Gets Federal Grant — “Marymount University has established a new fellowship program to prepare Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduates to serve high-needs populations and meet the demands of a growing profession. A $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will fund 84 fellowships for students within the University’s School of Counseling.” [Press Release]
Reflections on Halls Hill History — “One of those local historians is Wilma Jones, who grew up in the mostly Black community of Halls Hill in Arlington, Virginia. Now the neighborhood is rapidly gentrifying and Black families like hers have been pushed out. Today, Jones says it’s too late to save Grandma’s house, but it’s not too late to save her history.” [With Good Reason]
Vote: Favorite Outdoor Dining Spot — There’s one day left in the voting for this week’s Arlies category: Favorite Outdoor Dining Spot. [ARLnow]
APS Working With Nonprofit on ‘Cultural Competence’ — “This week, RISE, a national nonprofit that educates and empowers the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, began facilitating interactive workshops with Arlington Public Schools Student-Athlete Advisory Council members and coaches. This is the first in a series of interactive cultural competence workshops that APS and RISE will be providing to athletes and coaches as part of a new partnership.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Northam to Sign Bill at Marymount — “This coming Monday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam will be visiting Marymount University to hold a ceremonial bill signing for House Bill 2123 and Senate Bill 1387. The legislation will make Virginia students eligible for state financial aid if they are eligible for in-state tuition in the fall of 2022, regardless of citizenship or immigration status.” [Press Release]
GOP Candidate Running Against Del. Hope — A Republican challenger has emerged to contest the re-election campaign of Del. Patrick Hope. Laura Hall said she filed paperwork last week. Hall said she would share more publicly when she hears back from the state regarding her filing. A Democratic primary for the delegate’s district did not occur, after the state Board of Elections determined challenger Matt Rogers did not meet a filing deadline. [Twitter]
Metro Changes On the Way — “Rail service will be extended to midnight, seven days a week, in July, and other bus and rail service improvements and fare changes will start being implemented in the Fall, beginning Labor Day weekend, as many in the region prepare to go back to work and school.” [WMATA, DCist]
Domino’s Is Offering a Signing Bonus — The Domino’s Pizza location on Columbia Pike has signs advertising a $500 hiring bonus for new employees, amid a national labor shortage that is hitting restaurants particularly hard. [Twitter]
Video Shows Wrong-Way Driver on I-66 — Updated at 8:20 a.m. — “Scary video footage shows a driver speeding the wrong way on Interstate 66 in Northern Virginia on Thursday morning. Virginia State Police say the driver headed the wrong way on the Capital Beltway and I-66, hit at least one car and set off a wave of 911 calls… The driver finally pulled over in the Rosslyn area because of a flat tire. No information on an arrest or charges was immediately released.” [NBC 4]