Arlington, VA

A vacant storefront under the Penrose Square Apartments on Columbia Pike (2501 9th Road S.) is currently bulking up for a transformation into an F45 gym.

F45 is a gym franchise that started in Australia and has been expanding throughout the D.C. region, with recently-opened locations in Ballston and Tysons. The new gym is underneath the Giant grocery store on the second floor of the complex, sandwiched between a barber shop and a dry cleaner.

Trip O’Connell is the very enthusiastic managing partner of the Penrose F45. He also manages the U Street F45, which opened a little over a year ago.

“We were the first location in D.C.,” O’Connell said. “It’s been going great. We have a lot of people in the area who liked the vibe and wanted more.”

O’Connell said he turned his attention across the Potomac, where there were already successful F45 gyms like the one at Pentagon Row.

“Finding locations is tough,” O’Connell said. “There’s a lot of new builds going on in Maryland and D.C. and Virginia, but those locations always jack rents up.”

O’Connell said that he was lucky to find the space in Penrose that had previously been occupied by 9round Fitness, a boxing-oriented gym. Currently, O’Connell and his partner are in California getting final approvals from the F45 HQ, but if things go smoothly he hopes to start a pre-marketing campaign on May 15.

“We’re hoping to start running people through test classes,” said O’Connell. “If that goes smoothly, we’re looking at an opening mid-June.”

The plan is to offer first-time visitors a two-week free trial on which they can take as many classes as they want. After that, membership is $55 per week for unlimited access to the gym or $45 for those purchasing membership for those signing up to the gym early on.

It can sound like a steep price, especially with the $10 per month Planet Fitness moving in nearby at Pentagon Row, but O’Connell said the program offers a specialized workout routine.

“The F45 program speaks for itself,” said O’Connell. “Everyone’s heard about high-intensity interval training. F45 breaks new ground on how that applies to a workout. You’re coming to a new gym every day and it’s the same room, but a different set-up.”

O’Connell said the free trial gives people a chance to experience the program first-hand and get hooked.

“We want people to come in and try it,” said O’Connell. “You can’t describe the feeling of doing it with 36 other people — getting through the pain of the workout, and then it’s over. Unless you get people in the door to experience that, it can’t be described.”

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The county is moving forward with long-held plans to narrow lanes and widen sidewalks on Columbia Pike near the Penrose neighborhood, but not everyone is on board.

County staff presented an updated version of the plan last week to the Penrose Neighborhood Association. It calls for narrowing the lefthand travel lanes on the Pike east of S. Wayne Street down to 10 feet, and narrowing the righthand lanes, next to the sidewalk, to 11 feet.

The project is slated for the section of the Pike between S. Garfield Street and S. Quinn Street, staff told ARLnow, and the total Columbia Pike right-of-way width is expected to remain 56 feet width.

It’s also part of a years-long plan to improve the Pike and add more room for pedestrians and bicyclists. However, attendees at the meeting said they fear tighter lanes could mean trickier turning and more accidents for cars.

“The goal of the project is to make Columbia Pike a safer, more accessible route for all users by creating a balance between pedestrian, bicycle, transit and vehicle spaces,” said county transportation spokesman Eric Balliet in an email Monday.

Even after the presentation by the county, some local residents remained skeptical.

“No satisfactory or convincing reason was offered by the county regarding the plan to reduce the lane size,” said one man. “It is quite concerning that a main hub such as Columbia Pike is expected to suffer significant lane reductions that will likely create traffic backups and accidents.”

“At the meeting we discussed many scenarios, like could a school bus pass a garbage truck, could a Giant delivery truck make the turn into Adams Street, could an 18 wheeler pass a bus on the left,” Penrose Association President Maria “Pete” Durgan said, adding that county staff agreed to look into the questions.

Bailliet said the plan is based on “urban street design guidelines from the National Association of City Transportation Officials,” which “recommend that lanes should not be greater than 11 feet as they may cause unintended speeding and assume valuable right of way at the expense of other modes.”

Bailliet says the new lane widths have also already been rolled out in other parts of the Pike, including on the sections between:

  • Four Mile Run and S. Wakefield Street
  • S. Oakland Street and S. Garfield Street
  • Washington Blvd and Columbia Pike interchange

The plan was listed in the the bike component of the county’s Master Transportation Plan, which the County Board updated last week. In it, the county said it intends to build “wide multi-use trails, or wide sidewalks, along at least one side of Columbia Pike in the areas east of S. Wayne Street and west of Four Mile Run” for bikes and pedestrians to share.

“It is tackling a tough question,” the Penrose Neighborhood Association’s website said of the revised lanes. “With only a limited amount of right-of-way, how should that space be allocated? Turn lanes? Street Trees? Wider sidewalks? Bike lanes?”

The reason to widen the sidewalks, Bailliet said, was in part to allow a more vibrant and business-friendly streetscape, but also partially to provide a way for cyclists to connect with the designated bike boulevards that run parallel the Pike.

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(Updated at 12:22 a.m.) Arlington County is set to celebrate the opening of a new section of the Washington Blvd Bike Trail today (Nov. 30).

The event will take place from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. along the new bike trail on the east side of Towers Park (801 S. Scott Street). Capital Bikeshare bikes will be available for attendees to try out the trail after remarks from the speakers.

Construction on the trail began in January. Work zipped along over the last few months to complete it before the end of fall.

The new 10-foot-wide trail runs between Towers Park and 2nd Street S. in Penrose, to provide more seamless access for cyclists and pedestrians to a previously constructed trail between Arlington Blvd and Walter Reed Drive.

This story has been updated

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Journey Yoga is shutting down after more than a decade in business in Penrose.

The studio, located at 2501 9th Road S. in a shopping center just off Columbia Pike, announced that it will close today (Friday) in an email to its members.

“I love the community of Journey Yoga and I am honored to have been your teacher and the teacher of many of your teachers,” owner Sarah Lynn wrote in the email. “It is time for my journey to continue in a new direction. It’s been 11 amazing years, two locations, international and regional retreats, teacher trainings, workshops and special events.”

Lynn added in the email that YogaWorks, a regional chain with a location near Virginia Square, plans to honor any unused class passes from Journey Yoga attendees. Lynn herself also plans to teach some classes at the YogaWorks studio, adding “I respect YogaWorks immensely and hope you can find a home there.”

Journey Yoga plans to sell off its props and furniture in the coming days, and Lynn invited anyone looking to bid the studio farewell to drop by between 5-7:30 p.m. tonight.

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Windows were smashed and airbags stolen from around 10 cars in the Penrose neighborhood last week.

Police say the thefts occurred overnight. There is no description available of the suspect or suspects.

More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2018-09130067/09130079, 700 block of S. Courthouse Road/2800 block of 8th Street S. At approximately 6:20 a.m. on September 13, police responded to the report of a destruction of property to a vehicle. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 10:00 p.m. on September 12 and 6:00 a.m. on September 13, the windows of approximately ten vehicles were smashed and airbags stolen. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

Additional highlights from this week’s crime report, including some we’ve already reported, are below.

GRAND LARCENY (significant), 2018-09150139, 1100 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 12:11 p.m. on September 15, police responded to the report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that two suspects entered a business, selected multiple pieces of merchandise, concealed them on their persons and exited the store. A lookout was broadcast, and Suspect One was observed exiting the mall. The suspect ignored commands by officers to stop and a brief foot pursuit ensued before he was taken into custody without incident. Suspect Two was located by officers inside the Pentagon City Metro. He was stopped and taken into custody without incident. Anthony Adams, 27, of Clinton, Md., was arrested and charged with Conspiracy to Commit Larceny, Grand Larceny: Shoplifting, Identity Theft and Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance. He was held on no bond. Kenneth Burley, 30, of Washington, D.C., was arrested and charged with Conspiracy to Commit Larceny and Grand Larceny: Shoplifting. He was held on no bond.

ELUDING, 2018-09120075, 900 block of Army Navy Drive. At approximately 9:50 a.m. on September 12, an officer on routine patrol observed a vehicle with illegal window tint and attempted a traffic stop by activating their emergency equipment. A routine check indicated that the registered owner of the suspect vehicle was wanted for a felony probation violation. The suspect did not stop and fled the area at a high rate of speed. Shortly after, the Emergency Communications Center was notified of a hit and run accident that occurred when the suspect vehicle traveled northbound in the southbound HOV lanes of I-395 and struck one vehicle causing significant damage but no injuries were reported. United States Park Police officers located the disabled suspect vehicle in the 900 block of Ohio Drive SW, Washington D.C. and took two passengers into custody. The driver fled the scene on foot, a perimeter was established and following a search that was aided by United States Park Police Helicopter, the suspect was taken into custody. Dennis Chase, 26, of Washington D.C., was arrested and charged with felony eluding, felony hit and run, abduction and the outstanding warrant for felony probation violation was served. Damion Courtney, 31, was taken into custody on an outstanding United States Marshal Service warrant for parole violation.

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Arlington police have arrested a Maryland man and two teens in connection with a series of car thefts in Penrose.

Police say they apprehended Malique Harden, 18, and two other juveniles early Tuesday morning (Aug. 14) after they broke into at least four vehicles in the vicinity of the 200 block of S. Adams Street.

Harden is now charged with grand larceny, tampering with a vehicle, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and marijuana possession. The two teens are also facing similar charges, though the department did not release their names.

Police add that they managed to arrest the three suspects after a man saw them rummaging through his vehicle. When the man approached them, they fled, but police managed to arrest them nearby shortly afterward.

Harden is now set for an Oct. 3 hearing in Arlington General District Court on his charges.

Full details from a county crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (APPREHENSION), 2018-08140005, 200 block of S. Adams Street. At approximately 12:30 a.m. on August 14, police responded to the report of vehicle tampering in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was inside his residence when he observed two suspects inside his vehicle. When the victim exited his residence and approached the vehicle, he observed three suspects flee on foot. A lookout was broadcast based upon the description provided by the victim and responding officers located the three individuals in the area matching the suspect descriptions. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the suspects entered approximately three additional vehicles in the area and stole items of value. Malique Harden, 18, of Suitland, Md.,  was arrested and charged with Grand Larceny, Tampering with a Vehicle (x2), Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor (x2) and Possession of Marijuana. Petitions were sought for Tampering with a Vehicle, Possession of Marijuana and Grand Larceny for the two juvenile suspects.

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Work is speeding ahead on a new bike trail running alongside Washington Blvd as it meets I-395, with construction set to wrap up this fall.

The county has spent close to a year constructing a new 10-foot-wide trail as the road runs between Towers Park (801 S. Scott Street) and 2nd Street S. in Penrose, in a bid to provide more seamless access for cyclists and pedestrians to a previously constructed trail between Arlington Blvd and Walter Reed Drive.

Over the course of the last month, the county says workers have finished “two sections of retaining wall” and the “installation of the abutments for the bridge over the Doctor’s Run stream,” as well as the construction of some storm drains.

Now, work will shift onto property owned by the U.S. Navy at 701 S. Courthouse Road, just near Towers Park, as workers install the trail’s stone and asphalt base.

The county hopes to have work wrapped up by sometime in the “late fall.” In the meantime, some construction will continue along Washington Blvd. More details from the county’s website:

  • Work hours are Monday through Friday, 9 am to 3 pm.
  • Night work is expected throughout the project and will take place between 10 pm and 5 am (these hours will occasionally be extended).
  • Partial lane closures will be in place at night, reducing traffic on Washington Boulevard to one lane in the southbound direction. There will be no impacts to northbound traffic.
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(Updated at 1:20 p.m.) A trash truck caught fire near the Syphax Education Center in Penrose early this afternoon.

Police and firefighters are on the scene, along 2nd Street S. at S. Wayne Street.

The Waste Management truck’s driver dumped its contents onto the roadway after the fire started, according to police on the scene. A hazmat team subsequently managed to contain the spill, and Waste Management will be arranging a clean-up effort, according to scanner traffic.

Police expect 2nd Street S. to be closed in both directions for the next few hours. Fire marshals are currently investigating how the fire started.

This is at least the second trash truck fire in Arlington so far this year.

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A home in the Penrose neighborhood has gotten in the holiday spirit by letting people pick up a sweater from its front gate.

The house, at the intersection of S. Fillmore Street and 2nd Street S., has a sign in English and Spanish offering a sweater for anyone who is cold.

“Are you cold? This sweater is for you,” the sign reads. “It is free. Pass it on when you don’t need it any more. Leave hanger and pins.”

A reader emailed to say that it appeared the offer has been taken up by passersby “a few times” since they started it a few weeks ago.

And on the home’s porch, a chalkboard offers passers by the chance to write what they are thankful for. Responses so far were “the internet,” “my daughters” and “flowers.”

There was no answer at the door of the house when an ARLnow reporter knocked on Monday morning.

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Anyone in the Penrose neighborhood can now pick up a book or fix their bike at a new tiny wooden library.

The “Little Free Library and Bike Repair Station” is at the corner of 8th Street S. and S. Courthouse Road, two blocks from Columbia Pike.

The handcrafted station is open for people to take and donate books at any time. When a reporter stopped by early Wednesday morning, a graphic novel and children’s book joined other paperbacks inside.

It also has a bike pump, metric Allen keys and a crescent wrench for bicyclists to carry out any running repairs on their bikes.

It is not the first Little Free Library to pop up in Arlington, but does appear to be the first to offer bike repairs at the same place.

Transportation Commission member and Penrose resident Chris Slatt was the brains behind the project.

“My friend’s two daughters wanted to build a Little Free Library, but that’s tough for them since they live in an apartment building so they came over and we built it together and installed it at the end of my lawn,” Slatt told ARLnow. “I wanted to add a bike spin to it — the various ‘bike fix stations’ that the County has installed inspired me to add the tools.”

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STAR, Arlington’s bus service for disabled residents, will move to a new call center on Columbia Pike after County Board approval of the plan at its meeting Saturday.

Specialized Transit for Arlington Residents will move to 2301 Columbia Pike, Suite 120, near Penrose Square, after the Board agreed to rent the property from the landlord.

STAR’s existing call center is located at 2300 9th Street S. in the same neighborhood. Its lease on the property expired on June 30, and while it can be renewed on a monthly basis, the landlord plans to redevelop the office building and no longer wanted a long-term tenant.

In a report on the project, county staff noted various positives for the move.

“It is accessible and near a major transit stop with weekend service,” staff wrote. “Because it has its own separately-powered HVAC system, the call center can operate on weekends without incurring the cost of heating and cooling the entire floor. This will yield significant savings for the County in comparison with conventional office space.”

STAR is a paratransit branch of the ART bus system and provides transportation options to the disabled and handicapped who are unable to use public transportation. Those who ride with STAR call ahead to make reservations to be picked up from their home. STAR then routes the ride to pick up other residents who use the system along the way.

The Board will rent 2,337 square foot property for an initial period of 10.5 years (126 months), with a base rent of $4,944.70 per month. That rent will be free for the first six months. Staff estimate it will take three months for the office to be built out and readied to be the call center, during which time STAR will stay in its current location.

The total cost of construction for the new property is estimated at $300,000, part of which will be paid for by the landlord.

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