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(Updated 9:55 a.m.) A Capital Bikeshare station in Penrose was relocated Wednesday to free up more street parking in response to concerns about safety and illegal parking.

But some residents are unhappy about it.

“We fail to see how relocating the Bikeshare station will help with the illegal parking at Penrose Square, as those problems existed well before the Bikeshare Station’s installation in 2022,” Chris Slatt, president of Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County, told ARLnow.

Slatt — who also serves on Arlington’s Transportation Commission — argues relocating the bikeshare station two blocks away along S. Wayne Street won’t solve the numerous traffic and safety-related issues that have plagued the square.

Instead, he says it will make “life more difficult for people choosing not to drive to the area, such as Bikeshare users.”

The planned relocation is meant to address “double-parking from pick-up/drop-off traffic at one of the Penrose Square retailers,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesperson Claudia Pors wrote in an email.

“In the new configuration, the curbside lane next to the retailers will be turned into 15-minute pick-up/drop-off (PUDO) parking, and travel lanes will shift toward the west side,” she said.

The county did not specify which retailer it was referring to. However, Slatt and a nearby business owner previously noted that the illegal parking issue worsened after the Starbucks (2413 Columbia Pike) moved in eight years ago.

Pors said the plan is to move the bikeshare station back to Penrose Square in 2025 once Segment D of Columbia Pike Multimodal Improvements Project  — slated to start next week — is finished and the “station is determined safe to move to this final location.”

Pors said the S. Wayne Street location was chosen because of adequate sidewalk width, continuous sunlight — used to power the bikeshare station — and its proximity to public space.

The station’s new permanent location has not been confirmed, but Pors said the county is seriously considering “the grassy area in front of the wall at the south end of the plaza, near the Burrito Bros.”

Construction prevented the station being moved there now.

“Segment D construction will at times close sidewalk access in front of the plaza and narrow travel lanes on the Pike, which could add a pinch point or prevent people from accessing the Bikeshare station,” Pors said.

While Slatt says he generally supports moving short-term parking for vehicles to the other side of S. Barton Street, he disagrees it should come at the cost of the bikeshare station.

“This location was chosen in 2022 through a community conversation and online survey which indicated majority support for putting the station on Barton Street,” Slatt said, adding its proximity to the grocery store and park is more convenient than the new temporary location.

Slatt also voiced his frustration that residents were only told about the move last Wednesday, and there wasn’t enough time for the community “to comment, object, or suggest other solutions.”

Pors said the county typically does not “seek input on temporary relocations of Capital Bikeshare stations.” Moreover, she noted that relocating it to privately owned spots in the plaza would have been more time-consuming process, whereas moving the station to S. Wayne Street was more convenient because it’s a public space.

Penrose resident Christiann MacAuley — also opposed to the relocation of the bikeshare station — said she thinks there may have been “some miscommunication” between the county and residents.

“It’s surprising was that apparently ‘the community’ was consulted, but none of the transportation or bike people in the neighborhood seem to have heard anything about it,” she told ARLnow.

Either way, MacAuley said, “it’s hard to imagine how the new plan will fix any of our traffic problems here.”

Those problems, as documented by a local resident on social media, include drivers making illegal U-turns, double parking, and making other unsafe driving maneuvers while rushing to pick up their orders at Starbucks.

Slatt said Starbucks should put up signs encouraging customers to instead use the garage, which offers an hour of free parking. He also advocated for more parking enforcement in the area.

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(Updated 9/13/23) Columbia Pike pet festival “Paws on the Pike” will return this month and unleash a day of pet-centric offerings and activities.

The pet fair, hosted by the Columbia Pike Partnership, is scheduled for Sept. 30 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Penrose Square outdoor plaza, located at 2501 9th Road S.

Attendees can have their pets sit for complimentary pet portraits and participate in a pet costume contest, hosted by the Arlington Animal Hospital in honor of its 85th anniversary. Those interested in portraits must sign up in advance.

There will be a DJ and a “water bar” where pets can sample water. At 1 p.m., Pastor Ashley Goff of Arlington Presbyterian Church will perform a pet blessing.

Pet owners can also connect with local pet service providers and vendors, such as veterinarians, trainers, pet-sitters, boarders, dog walkers and groomers.

For those interested in pet adoption, representatives from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington will be available to inform people about animals in need of homes.

A few weeks later, a Columbia Pike wellness festival showcasing local wellness purveyors will be held in the same location on Saturday, Oct. 14 from noon to 4 p.m.

Photo (1) via Columbia Pike Partnership/Facebook

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Illegally parked cars along S. Barton Street and 9th Road S. (screenshot via Twitter/@ArlingtonAF)

Some neighbors and nearby businesses are fed up with drivers illegally parking near the Penrose Square Starbucks.

They say improperly parked cars are leading to traffic jams and a loss of business, while blocking a public space and causing safety hazards.

Recent posts on social media have highlighted traffic jams near the intersection of S. Barton Street and 9th Road S., along Columbia Pike. The posts show several parked cars with hazard lights on, partially blocking traffic on the pedestrian-oriented roadway that connects the Pike and a parking garage for the retail center.

It’s also happening near Penrose Square, a park that features outdoor seating and dining as well as a splash pad for children, as Twitter user @ArlingtonAF points out.

There are currently only a couple legal parking spots along S. Barton Street due to a number being replaced by a Capital Bikeshare docking station a few years back. But a public parking garage is just around the corner.

Cars running stop signs and pulling unsafe driving maneuvers are also common along that short stretch of road, according to the pseudonymous Twitter account.

Neighbor and president of the advocacy group Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County Chris Slatt agrees that this has become a problem at Penrose Square.

Slatt told ARLnow that illegally parked cars have become an “extremely common” thing ever since Starbucks opened at that location in 2015. Drivers who park illegally can restrict traffic flow, block pedestrian access, and get in the way of bike lanes.

“We didn’t see these issues much with the previous tenant,” he wrote in an email.

Starbucks’ next-door neighbor also some complaints. Zak Mancini, the owner of Mancini de Paris Salon, told ARLnow that he sometimes sees three or four cars lined up in the middle of the street with no one in them. All the drivers, he said, are in Starbucks, picking up orders.

Mancini said cars are sometimes blocked from turning onto S. Barton Street from the Pike by those illegally parked in the middle of the street. When that happens, the honking starts.

“It’s a big mess, especially on weekends,” he said. “[Customers] come to me pissed off, saying they are going to find a new salon because of the noise and honking.”

Columbia Pike and S. Barton Street (via Google Maps)

Mancini said he’s seen disputes nearly turn into fistfights and has had to call the police a few times. Slatt believes that the county needs to do something about this.

“Arlington should also strongly consider increasing the fine for illegal parking,” said Slatt, who also chairs the Arlington County Transportation Commission.

What also really concerns him is the persistent running of a stop sign and unsafe driving seen at the intersection of S. Barton Street and 9th Road S., particularly due to the proximity to a splash pad.

“This is dangerous, especially in large vehicles like pickup trucks and SUVs which tend to pitch struck pedestrians under the vehicle rather than onto the hood, which tends to happen with sedans,” Slatt said.

“This is especially egregious given the direct adjacency to a park filled with happy but unpredictable children,” he continued. “We desperately need Arlington County PD to prioritize enforcing laws that are supposed to prevent unsafe behavior like this.”

The Arlington County Police Department confirmed to ARLnow that the section of S. Barton Street in question is indeed a public roadway and, therefore, enforcement is the responsibility of ACPD. Spokesperson Ashley Savage said that police patrol the area and ask the community to report any transportation safety issues.

“ACPD has previously conducted parking enforcement in the area and educated the businesses and patrons along S. Barton about the parking restrictions,” Savage wrote. “As time and resources permit, ACPD will continue to conduct random rotating enforcement and education in the area with the goal of compliance even when police are not present. Community members can report ongoing transportation safety concerns to police using our online form.”

ARLnow has reached out to Starbucks media relations staff for comment but has yet to hear back as of publication.

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A new Spanish tapas restaurant has opened on Columbia Pike, filling the void left by a well-liked Mexican restaurant.

Sabores started serving “Spanish tapas with a Latin flair” this past weekend at 2401 Columbia Pike, co-owner Alex López told ARLnow. It’s in the large storefront at the corner of S. Adams Street where Taqueria el Poblano was for about a decade before closing last year.

For the moment, Sabores is only serving dinner but will extend to lunch and “hopefully” breakfast soon as well.

This is López’s first restaurant, having opened the eatery with two long-time co-workers, Carlos Olarte and Ernesto Valenzuela. They all previously worked together at a Brazilian steakhouse in Fairfax as well as Jaleo in Crystal City, which was owned by José Andrés but closed in 2021.

“We loved the concept of sharing plates and gathering with family,” López said about how the famed chef inspired them to open their own restaurant. “We want to make sure people are having a good time.”

He and his partners made the decision to open their own restaurant last year and found this space in the Penrose neighborhood.

“We are excited about the neighborhood. South Arlington has a lot of potential and we want to invest in it,” López said.

He noted how much help and support they got from the Columbia Pike Partnership, which assisted the new owners in navigating the county permitting process. López also said that the space’s previous tenants also helped with the switch and were “great” to them.

López is Colombian with his partners from other South American countries. The menu at Sabores reflects that with “cuisine [from] the different regions of Spain and the diversity of dishes of all Latin American countries,” per the restaurant’s website.

He’s learned a lot as a first-time restaurant owner, but already feels supported by the neighborhood.

“Things don’t go your way all the time, but you got to keep pushing and trying,” López said. “Luckily, we are in this community and have gotten a lot of help.”

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An outdoor concert in Long Bridge Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The Arlington County Board will be considering whether to allow alcohol sales during special events at Long Bridge Park and Penrose Square next month.

On Saturday, the Board approved public hearings on the change at these two public parks located, respectively, near Crystal City and along Columbia Pike.

“These sites were selected for this expansion because both are designed as event venues, which is referenced in their master plans, and both already host a variety of successful special events,” per a county report. “Additionally, it is anticipated that Penrose Square will be expanded in the near future, which will enhance its ability to host special events.”

The proposal has support from a majority of people who responded to a county survey this fall, although many respondents articulated public safety concerns.

“Many supported this change, and some felt the County should explore further expansion of the sale and consumption of alcohol and other concessions in County parks than what is currently proposed,” the report said. “Commenters opposed to the change cited concerns regarding the increased noise, potential damage to park property, unruly behavior, and a negative impact to the public’s safety and ability to enjoy parks.”

The county says much of the negative feedback had to do with issues that the process for hosting a special event is designed to mitigate.

If approved, alcohol will be limited to sales at special events only during designated dates and times. Special events already require a permit, and organizers would need a separate ABC permit that provides “a controlled and delineated area for the sale and consumption of alcohol.”

Some wanted to see alcohol sales in more parks, such as Virginia Highlands Park and Lubber Run Park, provided that the rules were properly enforced. Others wanted more non-alcoholic options at events where alcohol is allowed.

Alcohol sales during approved special events are allowed at Fort C. F. Smith Park in the Woodmont neighborhood, Clarendon Central Park and Gateway Park in Rosslyn.

The Board is expected to vote on adopting the changes during its meeting on Saturday, Jan. 21.

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An outdoor concert in Long Bridge Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Events at Long Bridge Park and Penrose Square could get boozier.

Arlington County is considering amending ordinances to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages during special events at these two public parks located, respectively, near Crystal City and on Columbia Pike.

Currently, county code allows alcohol at approved special events at Fort C. F. Smith Park in the Woodmont neighborhood, Clarendon Central Park and Gateway Park in Rosslyn. But amid support from some residents and the National Landing Business Improvement District to expand approved locations, the county is conducting a public outreach effort.

Locals can share if they think allowing drinking during special events at these parks is “a great idea, a bad idea or something in the middle.” The survey, originally set to close last week, is now open through Sunday, Nov. 6.

“Both of these sites were designed to be event venues and currently host a variety of events where alcohol would be a complement, including concerts, movie nights and festivals. In fact, both locations have closed off streets or easements nearby for their events to include alcohol,” says county staff member Adam Segel-Moss, in a video (below)explaining the proposed policy change.

The survey — which has been advertised online and on at least one sandwich board sign on Columbia Pike — asks respondents if there are any other locations staff should consider in the future. People can also share their experiences at special events they have attended at the three parks where alcohol sales are allowed.

“The county is going to take this change slowly, and in stages,” Segel-Moss said. “To be clear, we are not proposing alcohol in all parks every day at any time.”

If the change were to go through, special events organizers would have to request a permit to serve alcohol. Police review is required for special event permits requesting to serve alcohol, and the county can choose to require a police presence at the event, per the video.

The National Landing BID expressed its enthusiastic support for the change in a recent email promoting the survey.

“Having the ability to serve beer and wine during County-approved special events at Long Bridge Park (just like Gateway Park does currently in Rosslyn) is critical to our success in bringing diverse entertainment options to our district,” the BID said.

This ability would help the BID “bring world-class programming and major events to Long Bridge Park, including a signature event for the National Cherry Blossom Festival,” the email said.

A few years ago, Arlington asked locals what they thought of alcohol sales in public spaces, in general, when the county was updating its Public Spaces Master Plan.

“Nearly 60% of survey respondents indicated that they would be supportive of the sale of food and beverages, at least on a temporary basis, in parks and public spaces,” according to the plan. “This rises to over 60% when asked about the sale of food and beverages in the County’s high-density corridors or certain designated parks and plazas.”

Given the support, the updated parks plan recommends the allowing alcohol sales at more parks.

This change to county code could go to the Arlington County Board for review in January, Segel-Moss said.

Survey respondents on allowing concessions in Arlington parks (via Arlington County)
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Taqueria el Poblano at Penrose Square (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

It appears there’s already a new tenant set to move into the Penrose Square space that Taqueria el Poblano will be vacating.

A digital brochure recently disseminated by the commercial real estate agency KLNB advertises Sabores, a South American restaurant, as a new edition to Penrose Square. This new eatery looks to be the one moving into the space that will be vacated by Taqueria el Poblano when it closes down its Columbia Pike location at the end of August.

The brochure features two illustrated maps that both show Sabores occupying the space at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Adams Street.

Map showing Sabores moving into Penrose Square (image via screenshot/KLNB)

Beyond that, not much else is known. ARLnow has reached out to both KLNB and BM Smith, which owns the space, for more information about when Sabores could open and who the new restaurant’s ownership might be.

A KLNB representative declined to provide further details and BM Smith has yet to respond to multiple inquiries.

A Google search for Sabores, which translates to “flavors” in English, did not turn up any additional information about the opening.

Taqueria el Poblano announced in March it was closing its Columbia Pike location. After agreeing to a couple of lease extensions, the Southern California-inspired Mexican restaurant is now expected to serve its last margarita at the end of August.

Co-owner Thomas Stevens told ARLnow at the time the reason ownership was closing the Pike location was because of decreasing revenue and increasing rent. When the restaurant opened a decade ago, it was one of the first tenants at the then-newly-revitalized Penrose Square.

The other two Taqueria el Poblano locations, at Lee-Harrison Shopping Center and the original in Del Ray, are both remaining open.

Currently, Penrose Square has eleven businesses. The last change at the development was earlier this year when Takohachi Japanese Restaurant moved into a space which was formerly occupied by Josephine’s Italian Kitchen.

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The 12th annual Columbia Pike Movie Nights is set to begin on Friday, July 8.

The free summer outdoor movie series will run run through Saturday, August 27, according to its website. Similar to previous years, a film is scheduled to be shown on Friday and another on Saturday each week. All screenings are set to begin at sunset between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., according to the Columbia Pike Partnership, formerly CPRO, which organizes the series.

The movies scheduled for Fridays are expected to be shown at next to Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street). Those set for Saturdays are expected to be shown at Penrose Square (2503 9th Road S.).

The movies scheduled are set to be shown in English with Spanish subtitles, according to a press release. All are rated at or below PG-13 and come from genres such as animation, musicals, documentary and others.

The full list of movie screenings is listed below.

  • Friday, July 8: Soul
  • Saturday, July 9: Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  • Friday, July 15: Mulan
  • Saturday, July 16: Summer of Soul
  • Friday, July 22: Jungle Cruise
  • Saturday, July 23: The Way I See It
  • Friday, July 29: The Secret Life of Pets
  • Saturday, July 30: Respect
  • Friday, August 5: In The Heights
  • Saturday, August 6: Spiderman: No Way Home
  • Friday, August 12: Encanto
  • Saturday, August 13: Minari
  • Friday, August 19: The Princess & The Frog
  • Saturday, August 20: Hercules
  • Friday, August 26: West Side Story
  • Saturday, August 27: Cruella

Amazon and the Washington Forrest Foundation are underwriting the series. The Columbia Pike Partnership is still looking for local businesses to sponsor individual movie screenings, according to its website.

Parking is free at both locations and audience members are welcome to bring their own chairs or blankets for seating. Leashed pets are also allowed, according to the event’s website. However, alcohol is prohibited.

In case of bad weather, the partnership is expected to post updates on its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, as well as the event’s website. Such updates are set to be posted at 3:30 p.m. on the day of each screening.

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Takohachi Japanese Restaurant at Penrose Square is planning to finally open within the week, owner Tsutomu Nakano tells ARLnow.

Back in July, the four-year-old sushi restaurant was forced to close its location at Westmont Shopping Center on Columbia Pike due to the shopping center’s impending redevelopment. However, plans were in place for the restaurant to move up the Pike to Penrose Square with a hoped-for opening date in September.

But the restaurant still wasn’t open in November, due to supply chain issues and delays in getting county permits.

While the Takohachi is finally readying itself to start serving in January, hiring employees has continued to be a challenge (something that’s been the case across the region and country). Nakano says he’s still looking to hire, particularly servers.

Takohachi Japanese Restaurant is known for its sushi, tempura, and Japanese food. The interior of the new space is quite a bit larger than the previous iteration, with a wooden bar in the middle with sectioned-off seating areas to the left and right.

Nakano, who is the chef and owner, moved to America from Japan about two decades ago and opened his first restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland. In 2017, he opened Takohachi at Westmont Shopping Center. However, only two years later, the Arlington County Board approved a redevelopment plan that included a six-story mixed-use building with 250 apartments and 22,500 square feet of retail space.

The sushi restaurant and a number of other longtime businesses there have since closed. The shopping center is now rubble, demolished earlier in 2021.

Takohachi did get a reprieve, thanks in part to the Columbia Pike Partnership, which assisted the restaurant’s move a few blocks away to 2501 Columbia Pike.

It’s been more than two years since that space was occupied, with the last tenant being Josephine’s Italian Kitchen. Prior to that, Marble & Rye and Red Rocks were in the location. None of the three restaurants made it more than three years there, though.

Nakano says the reason he wanted to continue to keep Takohachi on Columbia Pike is because of the “regulars” who helped support the business over the years.

Along with this new Arlington location, Nakano also owns another Takohachi in Centreville which opened a few months ago.

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Takohachi Japanese Restaurant sign at Penrose Square (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Takohachi Japanese Restaurant is planning to reopen along Columbia Pike, albeit at a different shopping center.

The restaurant expects to open within the next month at Penrose Square, the owner tells ARLnow, provided it can secure the proper county permits in time.

The sushi restaurant was one of the last holdouts at Westmont Shopping Center prior to the development’s demolition to make way for a six-story mixed-use building. It there in early July, but it was reported at that time that Takohachi was set to move into the space formerly occupied by Josephine’s Italian Kitchen, below the Giant supermarket.

That space in the Columbia Pike development hasn’t been occupied in more than two years and has been somewhat of a revolving door in terms of tenants. Prior to Josephine’s, Marble & Rye and Red Rocks had been in the space. Both eateries closed without making it two years in that location.

The newly-renamed Columbia Pike Partnership helped Takohachi make its move down the Pike.

“Columbia Pike Partnership has been actively engaged with Takohachi, the owner, their representatives, BM Smith, and the County in effort to welcome Takohachi to its updated location on Columbia Pike,” writes CPP spokesperson Andrea Avendano to ARLnow. “We are glad to assist Takohachi in continuing to call Columbia Pike home.”

Initially, Takohachi was expected to open earlier this fall, but supply chain issues (recently, a common refrain) and securing proper permits pushed the timeline by a few months.

While the sushi restaurant has found a new home after exiting Westmont Shopping Center, Mom’s Pizza hasn’t. The pizza and Greek restaurant was on the Pike for more than three decades before being ousted due to the redevelopment. The owners of Mom’s are currently selling a few of their more popular dishes online, but told ARLnow back in March they had no plans to retire and wanted to revive the restaurant elsewhere.

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Takohachi Japanese Restaurant, one of the last holdouts at the soon-to-be redeveloped Westmont Shopping Center, closed over the weekend, but will be reopening just down Columbia Pike.

The Japanese and sushi restaurant’s last day of service was this past Saturday (July 3), confirmed the owner, Nakano, to ARLnow.

However, Nakano also said he’s going to reopen his business at Penrose Square in the space formerly occupied by Josephine’s Italian Kitchen (and before that Marble & Rye and RedRocks), near the Giant grocery store. That space hasn’t been occupied for more than two years.

He expects to open his restaurant there in early September.

ARLnow reached out to the developer BM Smith for further details, but has yet to hear back as of publication.

Takohachi Japanese Restaurant is one of the last businesses still open at Westmont Shopping Center. Mom’s Pizza closed earlier this summer after more than three decades there. Boston Market closed last May as did Papa John’s earlier this year (the chain pizza place moved across the street).

In September 2019, the Arlington County Board approved the aging shopping center’s redevelopment. Described as an “extreme makeover,” it will include 22,500 square feet of new retail space with 250 market rate apartments built above. A small-format grocery store could be one of the new retail options. Parking will be pushed underground, into a two-floor parking garage.

Demolition of the shopping center is expected to happen very soon, with construction expected to start late this year and project completion in 2024.

ARLnow has reached out to the property management company Polinger Company for an updated timeline but has yet to hear back.

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