VDOT to Talk I-66 in Arlington — VDOT officials are expected to provide some specifics about their plan to upgrade I-66 inside the Beltway during a meeting with the Arlington Transportation Commission. That meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the County Board Room at 2100 Clarendon Blvd. VDOT is said to be considering converting a portion of I-66 into HOT lanes. The agency has yet to reveal whether it will push for additional lanes inside the Beltway as well. [InsideNova]
Arlington Prosecutor Takes Morrissey Case — Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos will be the lead prosecutor in the latest criminal case against Del. Joe Morrissey, who is currently serving a work-release jail sentence after pleading guilty to having sex with a 17-year-old. [Washington Post]
Cops: Don’t Drive Drunk After the Big Game — Arlington County Police are reminding residents not to drive drunk after the Super Bowl on Sunday. For those planning on downing a few brewskies, ACPD recommends designating a driver, calling a cab or taking public transit. “Don’t want to attend the Detention Center’s #SuperBowlXLIX viewing party? Plan ahead by designating a #SoberRide home,” the department said via Twitter. [Arlington County, Twitter]
Energy Journey Game This Weekend — Call it the Super Bowl of local government-sponsored, energy-themed, life-sized board games. This weekend, Arlington County is holding the latest installment of its “Energy Journey Game,” an interactive life-size board game that tests your “energy IQ.” It’s taking place at Wakefield High School starting at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. [Arlington County]
A Visit to Pentagon City’s DEA Museum — The Capitol Hill publication Roll Call has a gonzo journalism account of one reporter’s trip to the DEA Museum in Pentagon City. From the article’s prelude: “And suddenly, there was a terrible mall all around us and the sky was full of what looked like squat office buildings — all glass and concrete and blocking out the sunlight — and the sound of the Metro, which ran underneath the Pentagon City Mall and the Pentagon Centre and the Drug Enforcement Agency Museum at 700 Army Navy Drive in Arlington, Va.” [Roll Call]
Flickr pool photo by ksrjghkegkdhgkk
The incident happened around 10:15 p.m. Police say 60-year-old John Dawson, of Clinton, Md., was turning left onto 15th Street S. from S. Eads Street when he struck a pole.
Dawson was transported to George Washington University hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The Arlington County Police Department’s critical accident team responded to the scene. Investigators are still trying to determine if Dawson’s death was caused by the crash or was the result of a medical emergency that occurred just before the crash, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
After pushing its decision back two months, the Arlington County Board this weekend will consider a plan to redevelop a vacant office building at 400 Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City into apartments.
Bethesda-based developer LCOR has proposed turning the former Department of Defense Inspector General office, also known as the “Paperclip building,” into a 200-foot tall, 20-story apartment complex with 453 residential units. County staff and the Arlington Planning Commission are recommending the Board approve the redevelopment at its meeting this Saturday.
The new apartment complex will consist of twin residential towers on a common platform.
LCOR is planning on making the north tower, with unobstructed views of the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery, a condominium building and making the apartments in the south tower, fronting 11th Street S., rental units.
The existing office building has three levels of underground parking beneath it, which LCOR plans to keep and build two levels of parking above ground, as part of the platform beneath the residential towers. On top of the platform, the developers is planning to have 11,000 square feet of recreational space, including a 4-foot deep pool and areas for grilling.
The redevelopment plan comes with some street changes, including removing Old South Eads Street from the street grid and turning it into a pedestrian walk. The plan also reinstates part of 11th Street S.
An adjacent county-owned “Teardrop Parcel” of land was formerly the planned site of the operations and maintenance yard for the now-cancelled Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar system. This redevelopment will not affect the parcel, but it’s now being kept clear to potentially be included in future redevelopment of either this location or the recently approved PenPlace office complex, according to the staff report.
In exchange for added density, LCOR has agreed to provide the equivalent of $6.6 million in community benefits, including 15 dedicated affordable housing units in the building, $1.1 million to the Crystal City Open Space fund and $1 million to the Army Navy Drive Complete Streets project. LCOR would also donate $91,000 toward the county’s utility undergrounding project, $75,000 to the county’s Public Art Fund and contribute to improving the traffic signal at the intersection of Army Navy Drive and S. Eads Street.
The FBI is asking for the public’s help in identifying a man who tried to rob the Pentagon City Rite Aid and numerous other Virginia pharmacies.
Investigators believe the man who tried to rob the Rite Aid at 1301 S. Joyce Street on Friday, Oct. 10 is the same man who tried to rob pharmacies in Newport News, Henrico County, Mechanicsville, Fredericksburg, Williamsburg, Woodbridge and Hampton between July and November.
The suspect typically displays a handgun and demands the powerful prescription pain reliever Oxycodone, before fleeing in a light-colored Dodge Nitro SUV. He’s also accused of taking Percocet pills and cash.
The man was unsuccessful in the Pentagon City robbery, thanks to the pharmacist shielding himself behind protective glass.
The suspect is described as a black male, between 5’6″-6’0″ and between 150-200 lbs. In each robbery he has hidden his face with a white cloth.
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $15,000 for information that leads to the suspect’s arrest and conviction. Tipsters can contact the FBI at 804-261-1044 or [email protected]
Around 7:45 p.m. on Monday, in the area of the Pentagon City mall, a witness told police that he saw a physical altercation between a man and a woman. Police searched the area and found the people in question, who turned out to be a prostitute and her john.
According to a crime report, the pair had “brief sexual encounter” at another location, then traveled to Pentagon City and “stole items from several area businesses.” The witness, police say, had actually seen the aftermath of a fight between the man and the woman over one of the stolen items.
“When the male subject demanded one of the stolen items, a verbal argument ensued which escalated into a physical confrontation with the male subject pushing the female to the ground then unsuccessfully attempting to take her purse, where some of the stolen items were hidden,” said police.
Both suspects were arrested. The woman was wanted on an out-of-state warrant. while the man was charged with attempted robbery. Other charges may be pending.
Dozens of protesters made their voices heard in Pentagon City this afternoon in response to the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri.
The demonstrators arrived via Metro around 2:30 p.m., after marching thorough the streets of Georgetown to protest the Nov. 24 decision not to charge Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. They held signs with slogans like “No Justice, No Profit,” “Black Lives Matter” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.”
The protesters marched through the Pentagon Centre shopping center, held a “die in” in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall food court, marched through Macy’s, and later exited the mall and blocked traffic on S. Hayes Street.
Arlington County Police described the protests as “peaceful” and closed some roads in the area. Some stores closed during the protest, which was timed to coincide with the post-Thanksgiving shopping period.
— J. E. Robinson (@curlyheadRED) November 29, 2014
Pentagon city mall y'all pic.twitter.com/XoCjwnEbAc
— mark essex (@madblackstudent) November 29, 2014
— Lnonblonde (@Lnonblonde) November 29, 2014
— Adam D (@AD_Renaissance) November 29, 2014
— ClinicEscort (@ClinicEscort) November 29, 2014
(Updated at 6:00 p.m.) The Doubletree hotel at 300 Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City was evacuated this afternoon due to a large gas leak.
The gas leak was said to be in the hotel’s parking garage. Firefighters at the scene reported strong odor of natural gas inside and outside the hotel. Guests and employees were evacuated from the hotel.
An Arlington County hazmat team and Washington Gas crews responded to the scene. Police shut down down Army Navy Drive between Eads and 12th Streets to accommodate the large emergency response.
Firefighters and gas company crews managed to shut off the gas after about an hour. Army Navy Drive reopened just after 5:30, and people are being allowed back into the hotel.
No injuries have been reported.
Update on 11/6/14 — Board consideration of this apartment building has been delayed until December.
The Arlington County Board is slated to consider a 453-unit apartment building that’s proposed to replace a vacant Pentagon City office building this month.
on Nov. 15 is scheduled to vote on a site plan for a new apartment complex at 400 Army Navy Drive. Bethesda-based developer LCOR has proposed a 20-story building with two towers on one, three-story platform, located east of the planned PenPlace development and west of the Crystal City DoubleTree hotel.
County staff have suggested a number of community benefits from the developer, in exchange for the extra zoning density needed for the project. Among them: affordable housing, public art, park and utility fund contributions; streetscape improvements; and LEED Gold certification. Also, Arlington is considering using of a county-owned parcel in front of the property for a streetcar operations and maintenance facility, but would like the developer to spruce it up in the interim.
The apartment building will replace an aging office building that was formerly home to the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office.
The man entered the store just past 8:00 p.m. and brandished a gun at the pharmacist, demanding prescription medications. The pharmacist was able to shield himself behind protective glass, foiling the robbery attempt.
The suspect took off on foot before police arrived.
“The suspect is described as a white or Hispanic male in his twenties, approximately 5’8″ tall and 160 lbs,” according to a crime report. “He was wearing a black long sleeve sweater, blue jeans and a white and orange baseball hat at the time of the incident.”
Bonefish Grill (1101 S. Joyce Street) is now open on Pentagon Row.
After a few “soft opening” days, the seafood restaurant opened to the general public Monday night. Today (Tuesday) is its first full day in business, with lunch and dinner service. While there are other Bonefish Grills in Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland, the new Pentagon City location is the only one inside the Beltway.
The restaurant has a total of 216 seats, with 16 on a sidewalk patio and 54 at the bar. In addition to a newly-revamped menu — with wood-grilled fresh fish and steak along with signature dishes like the Bang Bang Shrimp appetizer — Bonefish offers 45 wines, 15 bottled beers and four draft beers.
Founded in Florida in 2001, Bonefish Grill is now owned by Bloomin’ Brands, the owner of Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Most of its nearly 200 locations are in the south and eastern United States, although it has recently been expanding to the western U.S. as well.
S. Hayes Street in Pentagon City has new, protected lanes for cyclists, the first of their kind in Arlington County.
Between 15th Street S. and S. Fern Street, bike lanes are now between parking spots and the curb, giving cyclists a buffer, in the form of parked cars, from vehicular traffic on the four-lane road.
The protected lanes — on both sides of the road — are part of a pilot project that includes pedestrian and bicycle improvements along the half-mile stretch of road that runs from 15th Street to S. Eads Street, according to county Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
“The S. Hayes Street project is the first installation of a protected bicycle lane in Arlington County,” Baxter said in an email. “It is a part of a large effort to install connected and safe bicycle and multimodal facilities throughout the county and specifically in the Crystal City-Pentagon City area. The County continually uses opportunities in its paving program to better utilize space within the existing right of way to accommodate safer pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular activities.”
Baxter said Hayes Street was slated for re-paving, and county staff decided that the paving presented an opportunity to try the protected lane. Data has been, and will be, collected to measure usage and safety improvements between the buffered lane and the standard bike lanes in other areas of the county.
Although Hayes Street’s new bike lanes are the first in the county, more are coming, and all in Crystal City and Pentagon City. Protected bike lanes have been approved for Army Navy Drive between S. Joyce and 12th Streets and S. Clark Street between 12th and 15th Streets. The county is also in the process of community outreach for a redesigned S. Eads Street that would included some form of protected bike lanes.
The exact site for the stand has yet to be announced, but BikeArlington expects it to be near the Pentagon City Metro station.
The County installed two other stands — one near the Clarendon Metro station and one near the Ballston Metro station — in the spring. Crystal City BID installed a similar stand near the Crystal City Water Park last year.
The stands house tools allowing cyclists to make quick fixes or adjustments, like filling tires with air or tightening loose bolts. BikeArlington program manager Chris Eatough noted the stands are designed to be durable for weathering the outdoors as well as being fairly theft-proof.
“The Fixit Stands have been well received and we see lots of people using them,” said Eatough.
Although Eatough doesn’t yet have a date for the installation of the new stand in Pentagon City, he said it should be soon. The stand already has been purchased and BikeArlington just has to finish working out the installation details.
Att’y General to Consider Streetcar Referendum — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) will be asked by Del. Patrick Hope (D) to weigh in on whether Arlington County has the legal authority to hold an advisory referendum on the Columbia Pike streetcar project. County officials say they don’t have the authority, and without General Assembly approval can only use a referendum for a general obligation bond issue. [InsideNova]
County Fair Adds Pentagon City Shuttle — The Arlington County Fair this year is adding a new shuttle option. In addition to shuttles from the Arlington Career Center, Ballston Metro and the I-66 parking garage, a shuttle will now run every 30 minutes from the Pentagon City Metro station. The fair runs from Aug. 6-10. [Arlington County Fair]
Falls Church, Arlington Treasurers Are Friends — Carla de la Pava and Jody Acosta, the new interim treasurers of Arlington County and Falls Church, are lifelong friends who grew up together in Alexandria. [Falls Church News-Press]
Rand Paul Makes News at Arlington Event — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) made some headlines after speaking at the Young Americans for Liberty convention in Rosslyn last night. Paul told the libertarian group that he will no longer appear on MSNBC until the network apologizes for “lousy lies” about his position on the Civil Rights Act. [CNN]
Half-Priced Cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory — The Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Clarendon (and others around the country) are offering half-priced slices of cheesecake for the second day in a row today in honor of National Cheesecake Day. The restaurant chain this week got some unwelcome attention with several “Xtreme Eating awards” for its calorie-laden meals. One slice of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake alone has 1,500 calories. [Cheesecake Factory, Fox News]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
The Arlington County Board has approved a concept for two acres of open place on the planned PenPlace development in Pentagon City.
The plan calls for three open spaces: two small parks along planned 10th and 12th Street S. connections between S. Fern and Eads Streets and a “Central Green” in the middle of the large development. The Central Green is designed to allow for events like outdoor movies and concerts, according to the space’s designer, and will include a cafe in the northeast corner.
The concept was presented to the County Board during its Thursday meeting last week after three community meetings. The PenPlace development was approved by the County Board last September, with the condition that a concept for the open space be brought back within a year.
The PenPlace development, when completed, is planned to have five buildings, each between 16 and 22 stories tall, that include 1.8 million square feet of office space and a 300-room hotel. It will be adjacent to a planned streetcar station on 12th Street.
As part of the approval, the developer, Vornado/Charles E. Smith, agreed to build about two acres of public space as a component of the community benefit package required for bonus density.
“I think the overarching goal here, that we’ve shared with the public, is to create a vibrant urban space in the heart of Pentagon City,” said Hallie Boyce, a design partner with Olin Landscape Architects, which designed the open space, “that will not only allow people to enjoy the great outdoors but also to enjoy each other’s company, and to really create a sense of community here in Pentagon City.”
In addition, Vornado plans to include up to 20,000 square feet of community-oriented space in the building at the corner of the planned 10th Street and S. Eads Street intersection. According to Vornado’s presentation to the County Board, the space could be used for educational use or a university, a business incubator, a library or community center, or large entertainment use, such as a bowling alley, movie theater or performance venue.
The concept was submitted and approved as a “base case,” which will now operate as a guiding principle for when the buildings come back before the Board for a full site plan approval. According to Vornado Senior Vice President and Director of Development Mitch Bonanno, there is still no timeline for any construction.
PenPlace was met with numerous resident objections when it first came before the County Board last year. Four speakers came to Thursday’s meeting in protest of a provision that allows Vornado additional density on the site, saying they felt they were caught unaware after the community meetings. The base case includes a provision that, if the open space costs more than the staff’s estimate of $2.65 million, Vornado is entitled to added density.
“The citizen participants were under the mistaken impression that the outdoor space improvements were part of the extremely generous deal Vornado already got,” Pentagon City resident Elizabeth Wirick said. “Those who took part in the workshops feel betrayed. This is a concept, not a plan, we don’t have any data on how much it’s going to cost other than staff estimates, and with regards to staff estimates, I’ll keep it short. Two words: aquatics center.”
(Vornado agreed to partially fund the proposed Long Bridge Park aquatics center project as part of PenPlace’s initial phased development approval. The aquatics center is now stalled after construction bids came in well above staff estimates.)
The motion passed just before midnight, 3-1, with Board member John Vihstadt dissenting and Board member Libby Garvey absent.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan is recommending the Board approves a $1.83 million contract, with a $183,000 contingency, to replace the park’s six tennis courts, two tennis practice courts and two basketball courts. The money will also fund a new, junior half basketball court, new fencing, new “dark sky” lights for the courts and accessible parking improvements.
The improvements are part of the county’s ongoing effort to completely renovate the recreation facilities at Virginia Highlands (1600 S. Hayes Street), which are some of the busiest recreation areas in the county. Within the last 10 years, the synthetic turf field, playground, restrooms, athletic field lighting and spraygrounds have all been either renovated or constructed.
In addition to new tennis courts — which will replace existing courts that were recently resurfaced — the renovations call for new covered waiting areas outside the courts, along with a drinking fountain and an “information kiosk.”
The junior basketball court will replace the tennis practice courts to the south of the six tennis courts. The court was requested during public input meetings last fall. The community lamented that there was no basketball space to be used specifically by young children.
The basketball courts will be relocated to the north of the current courts.
“Several community members expressed concerns about the proximity of the existing basketball courts relative to the playground area,” county staff said in a report, explaining the relocation.
The remaining park features — the diamond field turf, picnic shelter, gazebo, petanque courts, and front plaza area — are proposed for renovation in 2016.
File photo (top). Image (bottom) via Arlington County.