Almost three years to the day since the cancellation of the Columbia Pike streetcar project, the nonprofit behind revitalizing the Pike and its neighborhoods believes it is on the right path.
The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization received extra funding in April when the Arlington County Board approved its FY 2018 budget, and CPRO president John Snyder said the money has already helped.
He said the extra funds are helping pay more CPRO staff as full-time employees rather than part-time, and has also provided an extra staff member in the county’s Solid Waste Bureau within the Department of Environmental Services to pick up litter, empty trash cans and keep the area tidy.
“It’s been a big boost, and I think we’re going to see some more visible changes as we’re able to really execute on some of the things that we’ve wanted to do for a while but haven’t had the resources to do,” Snyder said.
Being able to employ more full-time staff means CPRO can support more events, Snyder said, including the soon-to-relaunch Arlington Mill Farmers Market in addition to the market already at Pike Park. (CPRO also puts on the annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival.)
He also pointed to this summer’s outdoor movie screenings at the Arlington Mill Community Center and Penrose Square, which were about much more than watching movies.
“Last summer we had a big increase in our movie nights and really advertised them a lot,” Snyder said. “So we got pretty big crowds at both Arlington Mill and Penrose Square, and that’s not just about the movies. They’re all 1980s movies that probably everybody has already seen, but it’s about getting together as a neighborhood.”
And to encourage more businesses to move onto the Pike, Snyder said CPRO will partner with Arlington Economic Development on a market study of the potential customers who live near the Pike and demographics. That way, businesses would have more of an idea of their customer base before moving in.
“[If] some business is thinking, ‘Gee, would I like to relocate to the Pike?’ we can give them some concrete data that would tell them what the demographics are like, what the buying power is, to help them make those decisions,” Snyder said. “It will also perhaps help us guide policies so we know what are things that would help the businesses.”
With new projects coming online soon, like the “Columbia Pike Village Center” anchored by a Harris Teeter grocery store in place of Food Star, as well as a condo building next to S. Buchanan Street, Snyder said it will be imperative for the planned “Premium Transit Network” of buses to work as planned.
“I think it can help, particularly if we make sure that we’re going at regular six-minute intervals all through the week,” he said. “One of the most consistent traffic days on the Pike is Saturday. If we make sure that we’ve got the transit coming by on a reliable six-minute interval so that people can really just walk to the stop, use it, walk back home, I think it’ll start getting a lot of that sort of business.”
Middle School Redistricting on Tap — Following a number of meetings and other processes designed to solicit public feedback, the Arlington School Board is expected to approve new middle school boundaries in December, to take effect for the 2019-2020 school year when a sixth county middle school is set to open. Past school boundary change processes have often proved controversial. [InsideNova]
Four Mile Run Restoration Project Complete — Local elected officials and community activists celebrated the completion of the Four Mile Run Restoration Project on Saturday. The project, which was years in the making, revitalized the shoreline of Four Mile Run from just south of I-395 to the Potomac and included trail improvements and public art. [Arlington County, WTOP]
New Beneficiaries for Turkey Trot — The annual Arlington Turkey Trot 5K has some new nonprofit beneficiaries. Organized by Christ Church of Arlington, the race will no longer benefit Doorways for Women and Families — “in light of Doorways’ projected success to meet its current goal to raise $10 million to strengthen and expand its services” — and will this year benefit Offender Aid and Restoration and Christian group Young Life of South Arlington. That’s in addition to repeat beneficiaries AFAC, A-SPAN, Arlington Thrive and Bridges to Independence. [Arlington Turkey Trot]
Local nonprofit Phoenix Bikes will rent space in the Arlington Mill Community Center after the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a five-year lease Tuesday night.
Phoenix Bikes will lease just over 1,800 square feet of space for its bike repair shop on the center’s first floor at 909 S. Dinwiddie Street. It will also rent office space on the fourth floor and some storage space.
The nonprofit, which lists its mission as promoting bicycling, building community and educating young people, celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.
It moves into first-floor space that had been vacant since the center opened in 2013. Phoenix Bikes had previously planned to build an education center along S. Walter Reed Drive near the W&OD Trail, but ran into significant opposition from nearby residents concerned about tree removal, parking and unsavory people visiting the public restrooms.
“This is a great location for Phoenix Bikes and a great way for the county to fill vacant retail space at Arlington Mill,” County Board chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “Phoenix Bikes’ award-winning program of mentoring youth through bicycle repairs and sales will thrive in this high-visibility location on the west end of [Columbia] Pike. We’re happy to have them.”
Phoenix Bikes has one year from the execution of its lease to build out its retail space, and 21 months to build out its office space. It will pay just under $9,000 a year in rent. It is estimated the build-out will cost $170,000.
Phoenix Bikes executive director Meg Rapelye said the new space will help the organization add to its programming and help serve more people.
“We are so grateful for Phoenix Bikes’ new home at Arlington Mill Community Center,” she said in a statement. “This move is the most significant event in Phoenix Bikes’ 10 years of existence and will dramatically increase our organization’s capacity to serve the community. We look forward to augmenting the afterschool and summer teen programming the Center currently provides and helping activate Columbia Pike’s West End.”
Arlington Nonprofit Gets State Grant — “Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced a $175,000 grant to La Cocina VA, a nonprofit workforce development organization in Arlington County, to enhance its culinary skills training facility, create a business plan training course, and develop a small business competition.” [Gov. Terry McAuliffe]
Actual Driverless Car in Arlington — Moving beyond vans with people dressed as car seats, an actual driverless car has now taken to the streets within Arlington County. An autonomous vehicle developed by Carnegie Mellon University drove itself around Ft. Myer yesterday as part of the military base’s Industry Day event. [Facebook]
Nestle Buys Blue Bottle — Nestle, which is still moving into its new U.S. headquarters in Rosslyn, has bought Oakland, Ca.-based hipster coffee brand Blue Bottle. Could that mean that a Blue Bottle location in Arlington is around the corner? Possibly, but the company already has a location across the river in Georgetown. [Washington Business Journal, Nestle]
Arlington Gets Gigabit Internet — Comcast announced earlier this week that “it has launched a new Internet service in Arlington that will deliver speeds up to 1 Gigabit-per-second (Gbps) to residential and business customers.” According to a press release, “these speeds will be among the fastest and most widely available,” utilizing DOCSIS 3.1 technology. The cost of the service is $79.99 a month with a one-year contract or $104.95 a month without.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Man Struck By Car Near Ballston Metro — A man was struck by a vehicle on Fairfax Drive near the Ballston Metro station yesterday. The incident happened between 5-5:30 p.m. Numerous witnesses immediately called 911 or rushed to the man’s aid. His injuries were reported to be not life threatening. [Twitter, Twitter]
Driverless Car Research Is Legal in Va. — Virginia law does not explicitly ban the kind of “driverless” car research conducted by Virginia Tech on the streets of Clarendon and Courthouse. While the Virginia Tech van was driven by a man in a seat costume, it is also legal to test legitimately self-driving cars in the Commonwealth. [NBC Washington]
Video: Weekend Apartment Fire — The Arlington County Fire Department has posted video of the apartment fire on Columbia Pike over the weekend. A 27-year-old man was arrested and now faces numerous charges in connection with the blaze. [Facebook]
Courthouse-Based Nonprofit Up For National Award – The Organization for Autism Research is one of 15 finalists in the country for a $50,000 prize that recognizes “innovative ideas for engaging people over 50 in improving the lives of vulnerable children and youth.” OAR, based in Courthouse, launched its Hire Autism initiative earlier this year, an online portal to connect adults with autism seeking work and potential employers. Online voting is open through August 31. [Hire Autism]
Nearby: McLean Residents Want New Potomac Span — Civic leaders in McLean are pressuring officials to expedite a new American Legion Bridge span across the Potomac River. The existing bridge is clogged with Beltway traffic, sending congestion onto local streets, residents say. There is an existing proposal to extend Beltway High Occupancy Toll lanes between the Legion bridge and the I-270 spur in Maryland. [InsideNova]
National nonprofit For The Love Of Others and the local chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity are hosting a free lunch for those in need this Saturday at Gunston Middle School (2700 S. Lang Street).
The goal of the event is to give out 650 meals between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in an effort to help those who struggle with food insecurity. No reservations are required.
For The Love Of Others provides food drives across the country, and participates in other giving events to “empower, enrich and enhance the lives of people from all backgrounds through providing opportunities to enable them to live a purposeful life.”
Alpha Phi Alpha, the first black intercollegiate fraternity in the country, partners with organizations that are in keeping with the fraternity’s motto of “First of All, Servants of All, We Shall Transcend All” — promoting brotherhood while providing service in the community.
“The fraternity stands on the motto of manly deeds, scholarship and love for all mankind,” said David M. Preston, a local fraternity member who is helping with the event. “We wanted to partner with an organization that has the vision and the goal of service to the community that is when we partnered with For The Love Of Others.”
The fourth annual Kennan Garvey Memorial Ride will take place this Saturday, August 5, starting from local nonprofit Phoenix Bikes in Barcroft Park )4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive).
Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey helps lead the event, alongside Phoenix Bikes. The ride is in honor of Garvey’s late husband, Kennan, who died of a heart attack in 2008.
He was a supporter of Phoenix Bikes, a nonprofit that aims to educate the community about biking and help make it more affordable. Libby Garvey has served on the organization’s board of directors since 2009.
The race will raise money for the Kennan Garvey Memorial Fund, which will help Phoenix Bikes move to a more permanent site. The organization is set to transition to a new facility on the first floor of the Arlington Mill Community Center later this year.
The ride is open to all ages and experience levels with five different trail routes:
- 15-mile course: out and back along W&OD Trail from Phoenix Bikes to Bikenetic (Falls Church)
- 40-mile course: out and back along W&OD Trail from Phoenix Bikes to Green Lizard Cycling (Herndon)
- 60-mile course: out and back along W&OD Trail from Phoenix Bikes to Spokes, etc. (Leesburg)
- 90-mile course: out and back along W&OD Trail from Phoenix Bikes to Bicycles & Coffee (Purcellville)
- 100-mile course: out and back along W&OD Trail from Phoenix Bikes to Bicycles & Coffee (Purcellville), plus portions of Arlington Loop (Custis, Mount Vernon and Four Mile Run Trails)
“You can ride for as little or as far as you like on a great bike path that Kennan and I loved and rode often. Despite the heat now, it has been fairly cool for the ride for the past three years,” Garvey wrote in an email to constituents.
The entry fee is $25, with a minimum fundraising amount of $100. Each rider is encouraged to set a $500 fundraising goal, while children that are registered with Phoenix Bikes get a complimentary entry.
Pre-registered riders will receive a boxed lunch, and all riders and volunteers will receive a free shirt. All those who meet or exceed the $500 fundraising goal will receive a prize.
The Reading Connection, which has offices at 1501 Lee Highway near Rosslyn, will close its doors on Friday, August 11. It will hold its last “Read-Aloud,” where volunteers read to children at shelters and community centers, on Wednesday, August 9.
The nonprofit is dedicated to providing low-income children and their families with opportunities to read and be read to, as well as giving them free books when they might otherwise not have any.
Its volunteers held Read-Alouds at over a dozen locations — mostly apartment complexes — across the D.C. metropolitan area, including at Columbia Grove, New Hope Housing, The Shelton, The Springs, Sullivan House, Virginia Gardens and Woodbury Park in Arlington. Other locations are in Alexandria, Annandale, Bethesda and D.C.
The nonprofit’s director of program operations Stephanie Berman Hopkins announced the closure earlier today in an email to volunteers, which was obtained by ARLnow.com.
“I am so proud of the work we have done together and all of the children we have inspired to love reading,” Berman Hopkins wrote. “The impact our programs have had will continue to live on. Thank you for your dedication to this organization, the Read-Aloud program and the kids and families we serve. It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with you all. Our programs would not have been as strong as they have been without all of your efforts.”
In the email, Berman Hopkins said The Reading Connection’s board of directors reviewed the organization and determined it is not financially viable. TRC’s annual budget was $600,000, according to its website.
Berman Hopkins and The Reading Connection’s executive director, Catherine Keightley, declined to comment on the review, citing privacy considerations for those involved, but Keightley said finding continued funding would have been too difficult.
“What lots of reports are telling us is that funding is going to become more challenging, I think locally and regionally,” she said in a brief interview. “There may be a shift in funding priorities given some of the actions with the new [presidential] administration.”
Prior to its closing The Reading Connection will hold a book and supply sale from Monday, August 7 until Wednesday, August 9.
The email to The Reading Connection volunteers is below, after the jump.
Arlington-based nonprofits have raised more than $16,000 so far as part of the United Way’s Do More 24 campaign.
The 24-hour fundraising campaign encourages D.C. area donors to give to any of more than 700 local participating nonprofits, thus funding “programs and services right here in our own community.”
“Held on June 8, 2017, Do More 24 is the DMV’s largest 24-hour online fundraiser,” said the United Way of the National Capital Area. “Last year, Do More 24 raised more than $1.55 million, which allowed nonprofit organizations to fill holes in their budget, buy desperately needed new equipment and serve more people in need across our region.”
Among the Arlington-based organizations on the Do More 24 leaderboard as of 5 p.m. Thursday were:
- Animal Welfare League of Arlington — $1,257 (28 donors)
- Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) — $368 (7 donors)
- Arlington Free Clinic — $274 (3 donors)
- Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) — $24 (1 donor)
- Arlington Thrive — $4,435 (40 donors)
- Doorways for Women and Families — $4,622 (35 donors)
- Bowen McCauley Dance — $738 (11 donors)
- Encore Stage & Studio — $24 (1 donor)
- Linden Resources — $493 (9 donors)
- Lucky Dog Animal Rescue — $3,839 (65 donors)
To help generate excitement for the campaign, many local nonprofits were active on social media, posting videos, detailing good things for which donations would be used, and setting goals for matching donations.
The donation campaign runs through 11:59 p.m. tonight (Thursday).
Public Hearings Set for Sign, Rosslyn Streetscape Changes — At its meeting Saturday, the Arlington County Board set public hearings for changes to the county sign ordinance related to mixed-use retail centers and industrial districts, which would allow for more blade signs in certain places. The Board also set hearings for a plan that “would establish a cohesive set of streetscape furnishings to strengthen Rosslyn’s character, and encourage more pedestrian use and vibrancy in Rosslyn’s core.” [Arlington County]
Washingtonian Spends Day in Crystal City — The staff from Washingtonian magazine spent Friday — Bike to Work Day — in Crystal City, filing stories about everything from quirky neighborhood fixtures like a reasonably-priced strip club and a long-time puppet store to WeLive, TechShop and other places driving Crystal City’s innovation economy. The goal was to report “stories of a place that’s creating a new future for itself in the ashes of one that didn’t quite work out the way everyone thought.” [Washingtonian]
Bike to Work Day Record — This year’s Bike to Work Day set a regional record, with 18,700 registrants at 85 D.C. area pit stops. [Twitter]
Beyer Calls for Expulsion of Turkish Ambassador — On Friday Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) urged the Trump administration to kick the ambassador of Turkey out of the country in response to a violent confrontation between protesters and bodyguards for the visiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey, meanwhile, today summoned the U.S. ambassador to complain about police treatment of the bodyguards who were seen beating up protesters. [Rep. Don Beyer]
D.C. Man Is Big Arlington Thrive Donor — A retired ophthalmologist who lives in D.C. has donated more than $750,000 to the nonprofit Arlington Thrive over the past few years, after reading about it in a Washingtonian magazine article. Arlington Thrive, formerly known as Arlingtonians Meeting Emergency Needs, “delivers same-day emergency funds to our neighbors in crisis, so they can be secure in their jobs, health, and homes and thrive in a caring community.” [Washington Post]
Board Approves Intersection, Stormwater Projects — The Arlington County Board has approved more than $2.3 million in contracts to improve safety at the intersection of Arlington Blvd and N. Irving Street and construct a “green streets” stormwater management system along Williamsburg Blvd. [Arlington County]
Arlington Represented on Route 1 Renaming Group — The former president of the Arlington NAACP and former president of the Arlington Historical Society have been appointed to an “Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Renaming Jefferson Davis Highway” formed by the City of Alexandria. The city is moving forward with its effort to strip Route 1 of its confederate monicker, but wants to coordinate with Arlington in case the county decides to lobby Richmond to allow it to rename the road. [WTOP]
Columnist Blasts Website Comments — “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark says that reader comments about the candidates in the recent Democratic Arlington County Board caucus were “inflammatory” and “pea-brained.” He singled out ARLnow’s comment section and “the slightly-more-civil commenters in the Sun-Gazette.” Caucus winner Erik Gutshall, meanwhile, said he seldom reads the comments, opining that “some are thoughtful, but it’s like opening a horror show.” [Falls Church News-Press]
It promises to be a busy few months for local nonprofit Phoenix Bikes as it celebrates 10 years since its founding.
The organization — which lists its mission as promoting bicycling, building community and educating young people — marks its 10-year anniversary today.
It will celebrate on Thursday night from 6:30 p.m. with its Makers’ Ball at 1750 Crystal Drive. The evening will include music, food, drink, an auction of art and other hand-made craft, a bicycle showcase and more.
Later this year, Phoenix Bikes will take center stage once again as it hosts this year’s Youth Bike Summit on October 6-8 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City.
The summit is geared toward youth, bikes, education, advocacy and leadership, and it features a number of workshops and seminars as well as keynote speakers and networking.
“By creating a space where voices of all bicyclists can be heard, the Youth Bike Summit fosters an inclusive national dialogue that addresses the issues, rights, and concerns of all bicyclists,” Phoenix Bikes posted on its website.
Phoenix Bikes currently is located in Barcroft Park, where it provides its community bike shop to help recycle, mend and repurpose used bicycles. But before the end of the year, the organization will relocate to the ground floor of the Arlington Mill Community Center. Such a move has supporters very excited.
Photos via Facebook
Vornado Scraps Development Proposals — Ahead of the closing of its merger with JBG, Vornado has indefinitely put on hold a number of development proposals, including: all but one building of its proposed RiverHouse development in Pentagon City; a revamp of the shops at 1750 Crystal Drive that was to include a new 12-screen multiplex; and a pair of retail pavilions at 2101 and 2201 Crystal Drive. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington a ‘Best City’ to Go Car-Free — According to a new list in Forbes, Arlington County is one of the top 25 U.S. cities for one to live without a car. Arlington was also one of nine places whose walkable neighborhoods were profiled in the magazine. [Forbes]
Video of Apartment Fire — The weekend fire at the Serrano apartments on Columbia Pike was caught on video. The dramatic video shows firefighters arriving and starting to douse the flames with water. [Statter 911]
‘Taming of the Shrew’ Review — A review of Synetic Theater’s new production of Taming of the Shrew says the physical theater performance “speaks colorful volumes” despite the lack of dialogue. [Broadway World]
Leadership Change at Community Foundation — Arlington Community Foundation Executive Director Wanda Pierce is stepping down next month after eight years of leading the local nonprofit.
Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak
Clarendon Ballroom Battles Alt-Right Blitz — After beating up on Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation earlier this month, the alt-right faction seeking to hold inauguration rallies and parties in Arlington has focused its attention on the Clarendon Ballroom. The Ballroom, one alt-right leader alleges, turned away their planned “DeploraBall” due to political pressure. The Ballroom, however, says the organizers never actually signed a contract. Since then, the Ballroom has been receiving “hundreds of slanderous, dangerous, vulgar and threatening posts and tweets,” along with threatening phone calls. [NBC Washington, Washington Post]
Library Director’s Christmas Playlist — Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh has released her annual “mix tape of seasonal favorites” on the library blog. This year’s list is a Spotify playlist that starts with Diana Krall’s rendition of “Let It Snow” and concludes, on a unique-to-2016 note, with “World Spins Madly On” by The Weepies. [Arlington Public Library]
Six Fired by Metro in EFC Derailment — Following an investigation, Metro has fired six track inspectors and supervisors and demoted several others in the wake of July’s East Falls Church train derailment. Additional firings are in the works. [WJLA]
Arlington Community Foundation Grants — The Arlington Community Foundation has approved grants to 26 local nonprofits and school, totally nearly $100,000. [Patch]
Since July 2013, Arlington Thrive has provided more than $180,000 in utility assistance. In the month of June alone, it has helped almost 150 people nearly three dozen families different households.
Almost half of Americans couldn’t afford an emergency expense of $400 without selling something or borrowing money, according to a report from the federal reserve on American households.
Schneider’s organization aims to change that.
“Arlington Thrive provides emergency same-day financial assistance to Arlingtonians in crisis working in partnership with social workers from the County and our social services partners like A-SPAN and Doorways for Women and Families,” he said. “Our largest areas of assistance are with rental assistance to help people avoid eviction and medical costs,” including doctor’s bills, prescriptions and dental assistance.
The organization provided nearly $475,000 in rent payments in fiscal 2015 between July 2014 and June 2015, helping prevent the eviction of almost 425 households, many of which had children.
Along with its daily emergency fund, Arlington Thrive also sponsors other programs.
Its Carter-Jenkinson Memorial Homeless Prevention Fund provides long-term assistance that the daily fund is unable to cover. Another initiative is its Dress for Work Success Program, which gives new professional work attire for clients who have completed Arlington County’s Arlington Works job readiness program.
In fiscal 2015, the organization received half of its income from Arlington County, with individuals providing 34 percent. The remaining 16 percent came from various businesses, civic organizations, foundations and faith groups.
“Arlington Thrive is a great example of a successful public-private community partnership that provides a financial safety net for our residents,” state Sen. Barbara Favola (D) said on the organization’s website. “I hope that successful model will continue for many decades to come.”
The Arlington Community Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year in style.
The nonprofit, which awards scholarships to local students and grants to community groups, is holding a gala fundraiser Saturday night at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City.
The event is changing its format this year — instead of a sit-down dinner, there will be food, wine, beer and dessert tastings from a number of local restaurants and stores, thus encouraging guests to move around and mingle. Among those slated to be mingling: chef and prolific restaurateur Mike Isabella.
The event will have a silent auction, as usual, but this year it will feature a four-night stay for four people at a castle in a Tuscany, Italy vineyard, donated by Total Wine, which is opening a new store in Ballston. The stay is valued at $5,000.
Music at the event will be primarily by the band Marquise. The full press release about the event is below.
The Arlington Community Foundation will host its 25th Anniversary Gala on May 14 at The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City. The Foundation has been serving the Arlington community in the areas of scholarships and grantmaking through the management of charitable funds for 25 years.
With an exciting “Celebrate Community” theme, this year’s gala promises to be a one-of-a-kind evening featuring culinary delights and gourmet tastings presented by local chefs. You can also expect wine tastings by Barrel Oak Winery; craft beer tastings by The Brew Shop; and desserts by local bakeries – Artisan Confections, Bakeshop, Buzz Bakeshop, The Cheesecake Factory, Clement’s Pastry Shop, Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe, LeoNora Gourmet Bakery, Northside Social, Pastries by Randolph, Livin’ The Pie Life & Whole Foods.
There is an exciting auction planned for the evening, featuring unique items that have never been offered before, as well as bringing back some very popular items from past events. The celebration will also feature the unveiling of a new video – “Arlington: Past, Present and Future” – featuring interviews with Foundation founder the Honorable William T. Newman Jr., current executive director Wanda Pierce, and past chairs of the organization.
The Foundation is honored to have this year as Gala Co-Chairs Mr. & Mrs. John & Marcia Shooshan and Mr. & Mrs. Brad & Cathy Coyle. “We continue to be impressed by, and grateful for, the outpouring of support to make this year’s gala a success,” Cathy Coyle said. “There are so many people . . . [who] have gladly and generously donated time, energy and resources.”
“They are bringing a tremendous amount of energy and creativity to the event,” said Wanda Pierce, Executive Director of the Foundation. “They are leading a committee that is bringing a different look and feel – it will be the event of the year! We are looking forward to a fun evening to raise funds that will enable the Foundation to continue operating and supporting the stellar work of nonprofits and deserving students in the area.”