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The Old Bike Shop in Lyon Park is closing next month after a decade in business.

Owner Lawrence Behery told ARLnow that he’s shuttering the used bike repair and sales shop on N. Pershing Drive because of a decline in business and family health challenges.

While Behery said he doesn’t know the exact date of the closure yet, he expects it to happen at the end of February. Additionally, the shop is now only open three days a week from Friday through Sunday. The Old Bike Shop first opened in 2013.

It’s been a bumpy road for Behery and the Old Bike Shop over the last two years.

The pandemic was “crazy” for the bike business and sales were good at first, Behery said, but then his mom was diagnosed with cancer and business began to decline. Last year was particularly tough with sales dropping to the point where the shop “cost me money.” Then, his mom suffered a stroke and Behery became her caretaker.

“Learning to do that with the business not doing so well… it was really tough,” he said. “I really love serving the community, but it’s a delicate balance. I’m trying to fight the fight, but I have both hands tied behind my back and I’m just a little guy.”

Another reason for the closure is the soaring costs related to warehousing and storage. Behery said that storage unit prices have “skyrocketed” leaving him making tough decisions about what parts and inventory to have on hand.

Rent at 2647 N. Pershing Drive, however, has stayed consistent, something that has allowed the shop to survive as long as it has. Behery called his landlord “fair” and a “very decent human being.”

Over the last several days, ARLnow has received notes from readers and loyal customers, asking about how the community could help to keep the shop around. Behery said while that’s a very kind sentiment, he needs to take a step back to help his loved one.

“This is hard for me because I love it, but can’t digest it all… running a business and taking care of mom,” he said. “I just want one hand free. I can’t concentrate on everything.”

He does hope that someday he’ll be able to return to selling and repairing bikes for the Arlington community. As Behery put it, now is the time to take care of his family so that he can come back stronger in the future.

But he’ll always have the memories and is thankful for the community support.

“It feels like that little shop is sorta like a neighborhood bar… I’ve seen kids grow up, from their first bike to the one they take to college,” Behery said. “I have had gratitude to this community since day one.”

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Arlington County planners say designs for the Days Inn redevelopment on Route 50 don’t pay sufficient homage to the motel’s mid-century modern bones.

Applicant and owner Nayan Patel — doing business as Arlington Boulevard LLC — proposes to replace the 128-unit, 2-story motel across the street from the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall with apartments and 3,000 square feet of retail.

Possible community benefits include a slow-speed, shared-use drive that provides a pedestrian and cycling connection to the Arlington Blvd Trail, protected bike lanes and on-site committed affordable housing units. Residents of the the 251-unit, 8-story building at 2201 Arlington Blvd will have access to an off-leash dog run.

The Arva Apartments will borrow its name from the 67-year-old building’s original name, the Arva Motor Hotel — a portmanteau of Arlington, Virginia. It will feature reconstructions of the hotel’s triangular sign and glassy lobby exterior.

But the county says the project designers, STUDIOS Architects, can do more to emphasize this history.

The Pershing Drive General Land Use Plan study, a 2021 document that outlines the community’s vision for this site, says architectural features should honor the motel’s mid-century design or the history of the adjacent Washington-Lee Apartments. It also says the developer should incorporate the existing triangular sign and the two-story, glassy lobby at the corner of Pershing Drive and Arlington Blvd.

The motel was formerly the Arva Motor Hotel, a portmanteau of Arlington, Virginia

“While the proposal incorporates a recreated sign and a lobby area that resembles the original lobby, the structures themselves are not actually preserved,” county planner Peter Schulz said in a presentation. “Staff also believes that the architecture above the ground level does not do enough to honor either the mid-century design of the existing motel or the historic Washington-Lee apartments.”

STUDIOS Architecture Principal Ashton Allan said in a presentation that the designs embrace the Moderne and mid-century modern styles and blends them with other styles in Lyon Park to do something new.

“As we set out to add our design to this collection, we wanted to draw inspiration from history, but also make our own statement in this chorus of voices,” he said.

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Arlington’s own chainsaw art competitor has completed his latest carving.

Local chainsaw artist Andrew Mallon recently unveiled his newest work of art on the front lawn of a home in the Ashton Heights neighborhood.

The work, near the intersection of Pershing Drive and N. Monroe Street, is entitled “Sunshine and Moonlight — The Oak at Pershing and Monroe.” It depicts a rising sun and moon with an Art Deco motif.

It came out to be sort of a stately, subdued representation,” Jim Roberts, who commissioned Mallon to do the piece for his home that he’s lived in for 44 years, told ARLnow. “It’s just a beautiful piece of artwork.”

Mallon can currently be seen on the Discovery reality TV competition show “A Cut Above,” going against some of the world’s best chainsaw artists. He has made it through the first five weeks and even won a wood bug carving event that aired earlier in October. The next episode airs on Sunday. The entire competition series is 12 weeks, so more than half of the episodes remain.

While Mallon is chainsawing wood every week for a national audience, this particular project was extra special for him. That’s because he grew up in the Ashton Heights neighborhood and has known the Roberts family for decades.

“We knew him when he was a seven or eight-year-old and on the [Fort Myer] swim team with our girls. At the time, he sorta viewed Andrew as family,” said Roberts. “This was our opportunity to give him a chance to show off his artwork.”

The idea came when Roberts and his wife, Marilyn, had a 12-foot oak tree in the front yard of their house that needed to be taken down due to safety reasons. While they regretted needing to take the tree down, they also saw it as an opportunity.

They contacted Mallon and collaborated with him to come up with the concept of “Sunshine and Moonlight.” For the artist, as well, this project held additional meaning.

“It’s always a pleasure doing for people I know. Any time, I get to be back in my hometown neighborhood, it’s just a blessing,” Mallon told ARLnow. “To be able to fill that neighborhood with my work where I grew up and used to run around and play, it really means a lot to me.”

“Sunshine and Moonlight” in Ashton Heights (photo courtesy of Jim Roberts)

It took him about five days of work to complete the carving and, for a lot of it, he had an audience. People came “dozens at a time,” said Roberts, to watch the artist work. Both Mallon and Roberts didn’t mind it, though. It gave the homeowner a chance to meet and catch up with neighbors, while Mallon says he’s used to it and “really enjoys” a crowd.

“It brought the neighborhood together,” said Roberts.

Roberts loved watching the artist work as well, particularly when he got into carving the sun’s and moon’s details. But he did worry about the noise and mess.

“It was extremely loud and I had to apologize to my neighbors,” he said. “But they understood and appreciated [the artwork].”

There was also a lot of sawdust and the couple had to hire a landscaper to remove “hundreds of pounds” of sawdust and wood.

But the final product came out great, according to everyone. Roberts calls the work a “masterpiece” and a “tribute to the neighborhood.” Mallon said he thought it turned out “spectacular.”

As for Mallon’s run on “A Cut Above,” he can’t share much due to the show still being in the middle of the competition series. He did say that one of the biggest challenges was quickly coming up with something unique and creative for each competition. When he’s working on an individual project, there’s often more time to work through a design and not the added pressure of needing to finish in a set period of time.

Also, being away from home was tough. He has young children and most of his work is in the region, so it’s rare he has to be away from home for long. Mallon does recommend to keep watching the show because it “has some twists to it.”

Roberts hopes that “Sunshine and Moonlight” become an Ashton Heights landmark and part of his legacy — as well as Mallon’s.

Said Roberts, “We wanted it to be something that he could be proud of and something that he would want all of his neighbors, former neighbors, and everybody to see.”

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Firefighters battled a fire inside an apartment in the Buckingham neighborhood Saturday night.

The fire broke out around 8 p.m. in a garden apartment building along the 4300 block of N. Pershing Drive. As of 9 p.m. the fire was out, but firefighters were still working to ventilate smoke from the building.

Pershing Drive was blocked in both directions as a result of the large emergency response.

So far there have been no reports of injuries.


 

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(Updated at 11 a.m.) The Arlington County Board is set vote this Saturday, March 20 on a nearly $1 million project to improve the intersection at N. Pershing Drive and Washington Blvd.

The busy intersection in Lyon Park lacks accessible curb ramps and has narrow sidewalks, long crossings and outdated bus stops, per the county manager’s report, creating a harrowing experience for many pedestrians and cyclists.

Concerns about the intersection were first brought up in May 2018. Four other nearby intersections along N. Pershing Drive were approved for “Complete Streets” pedestrian safety upgrades last year.

The requested $987,270 for the newest project will improve safety and accessibility at the Pershing and Washington intersection by expanding sidewalks and updating curb ramps to better comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the county says. It also shortens crossings.

Designs were completed last summer.

If approved, construction is expected to start early this summer according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesperson Eric Balliet.

More details about the timeline will come after the county’s approval and a contractor is onboard, Balliet notes in an email to ARLnow. The project is being funded by grants from the Virginia Department of Transportation, Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, as well as funds from the county’s Capital Projects Fund.

Ardent Company is being recommended as the construction company by county staff, after the firm came in as the lowest bidder out of six.

Ardent has worked with the county on numerous projects, including the Green Valley Town Square project, the Ballston Metro station’s bus bays, and pedestrian improvements in Crystal City.

Photo via Arlington County

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The Arlington County Board is set to vote this weekend on a $1.4 million construction contract for improvements to N. Pershing Drive.

The project calls for “Complete Streets” safety upgrades at four intersections — three in Lyon Park, near the Lyon Park Community Center, and one in Ashton Heights.

“The project will install curb extensions, bus stop improvements, ADA compliant sidewalks and curb ramps, high-visibility crosswalks and a signal upgrade at the intersection of North Fillmore Street,” a county staff report says. “The project also proposes a bioretention system at the intersection of North Pershing Drive and North Oakland Street. Bioretention is one of the County’s tools to mitigate the water quality impacts from existing development.”

The work is intended to improve safety for all users of the moderately section of busy road, between Washington Blvd and N. Glebe Road.

“Pershing Drive is categorized as an urban minor arterial and serves thousands of automobile trips each day,” the county said on its website. “Pershing Drive also supports bus service (ART & WMATA) and many bicyclists and pedestrians.”

“Pershing Drive is currently marked by many challenging intersections with long crossing distances, non ADA-compliant curb ramps and missing crosswalks,” the website adds. “The Pershing Drive right-of-way is variable and very narrow… meaning little space is available for accommodating multimodal improvements.”

County staff note that the project will not include any flood mitigation efforts:

County staff have reviewed the project location from the perspective of flood risk and found that the project area does not currently experience significant flooding. This area is not identified as a priority location for installing storm infrastructure to reduce the likelihood of flooding, and as a result, storm sewer upgrades are not included in this project.

The four intersections set for construction in late 2020, after the contract is approved, are:

  • Pershing and N. Fillmore Street
  • Pershing and N. Garfield Street
  • Pershing and N. Highland Street
  • Pershing and N. Oakland Street

Arlington County has been working to obtain easements from property owners to facilitate the upgraded sidewalks and other project features. That work is now complete, though the county was not able to obtain easements for upgrades at N. Oxford Street, which was to be the fifth intersection but was subsequently removed from the project.

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(Updated at 2:44 p.m.) The county could soon take a step forward in its plan for road improvements along N. Pershing Drive, pending Board approval.

The Arlington County Board will review requests for several easements at an intersection in the Lyon Park neighborhood as part of the county’s N. Pershing Drive Street Improvements Project, which aims to add bike shadows and more safety measures for pedestrians along the road.

The easements are centered around the tricky intersection of N. Pershing Drive, 5th Street N., and N. Garfield Street. The county will use the easements to extend curbs, add grass along curbs and in a median, paint two new additional crosswalks in the intersection, and add a bus stop, according to a copy of its plans online.

The county began discussing the Pershing Drive project with neighbors in Lyon Park in 2016, per a recent staff report to the Board, and began piloting the program in October 2018.

Now the County Board is set to vote on approving the purchase of several easements that would allow the county to install sidewalks and curbs during the Board meeting this Saturday, July 13.

The three sets of easements are for roadside properties at:

  • the Lyon Park Community Center
  • a home near the intersection of Pershing and N. Garfield Street
  • a home near the intersection of Pershing and 5th Street N.

Arlington is offering to pay $23,000 for the two easements at the private Lyon Park Community Center (420 N. Fillmore Street), which will allow work on the sidewalk, curb, gutter, traffic signal, and utilities. The amount is based on the property’s deed value and the 800 square feet of space that the county will use.

The county is also seeking to pay homeowners on the corner of N. Garfield Street and Pershing Drive $7,300 for an 82 square foot easement on the curbside of their property.

Arlington is offering a third set of homeowners on the corner of Pershing and 5th Street N. $1,218 for 21 square foot area of their property.

Staff noted the payments to homeowners were “discounted” because “the interest sought is a sidewalk and utilities easement, and not a fee interest.”

The roadwork is located just blocks away another planned project at the Henry Clay Park where officials hope to add new swings, benches, and trees.

Images via Arlington County

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A crash at the intersection of N. Pershing Drive and Route 50 is causing significant backups.

The crash was reported around 5:45 p.m. As of 6 p.m., all westbound lanes of Route 50 (Arlington Blvd) were blocked and traffic was backing up past Courthouse.

So far there have been no reports of serious injuries.

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Arlington County is working on some modest improvements to the Arlington Boulevard Trail in Lyon Park, renewing hopes among cycling advocates that the trail will someday provide a fully contiguous alternative to Route 50.

The county is currently planning a series of changes on the trail as it runs near Arlington Boulevard’s intersection with N. Pershing Drive, near the Day’s Inn hotel in the area. Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services says it hopes to complete the following alterations sometime this fall:

  • Construction of a new, ADA-accessible curb ramp at the corner of N. Pershing Drive and Wainwright Road (the frontage street between Arlington Blvd and the Days Inn hotel)
  • Addition of on-street markings along the eastern portion of Wainwright Road to separate trail users from motorized traffic.
  • Removal of parking on the eastern portion of Wainwright Road.
  • Connection of the Wainwright Road on-street trail to the existing Arlington Boulevard Trail as it approaches 2nd St N.

The county envisions the new curb ramp connecting the trail to the new on-street trail along Wainwright Road, which will then connect to the rest of Arlington Boulevard trail running past the Washington and Lee Apartments.

“Arlington County expects that the markings/bollards used to delineate the trail along Wainwright Road will be short-term,” the county wrote in a NextDoor post. “Given the availability of funding, Arlington County plans to build out a curb separated trail adjacent to Wainwright Road to further increase the safety of this portion of the trail.”

The cycling advocacy blog WashCycle noted that these changes come a few months after Washington Gas replaced a pipeline in the area, leading to the repaving of the trail and the removal of some bollards nearby.

The blog hailed these latest proposed changes, noting that the trail is currently “discontinuous and below standard” and referred back to the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s proposal to someday add three miles worth of trail along Arlington Boulevard as evidence of the trail’s potential for growth.

“The boulevard trails, like the ABT, MacArthur Boulevard Trail and the planned or under-construction South Capital and Washington Boulevard Trails, don’t get quite the coverage that the rail or stream trails get; but they’re [arguably] more important for transportation as they go right through the areas where people live and work,” WashCycle wrote. “The ABT has a long history and, as WABA points out, plenty of potential. It can, or already does, connect to eight trails including Rock Creek, Mt Vernon, W&OD and Cross County. As proposed by WABA, it could be a real backbone for Arlington County biking. It would be great to see this once again become a must-see trail.”

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Arlington is gearing up to test some protected bike lanes and pedestrian safety features along a heavily trafficked stretch of N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park.

The county plans to install the new “safety and accessibility improvements” on the road between Washington Blvd and N. Barton Street in the coming weeks, as part of some previously scheduled summer paving work in the area. Mainly, the construction will focus on adding protected bike lanes alongside some new landscaping designed to better separate cars from pedestrians.

Transportation planners have been studying the road for potential improvements since last summer, over concerns that Pershing can be challenging for cyclists and pedestrians alike along the road as it leads up to Route 50. While the county hopes to eventually make the changes permanent, Arlington’s gloomy financial picture means that officials will merely be testing out the new features over the next few years as “a cost-effective opportunity to implement improvements early,” according to the county’s website.

Workers also plan to relocate the Capital Bikeshare station in the area once the paving work gets going. The station currently sits along 7th Street N., but the county is planning to move it up the block a bit to where the road intersects with Washington Blvd, adjacent to a gas station in the area.

County transportation spokesman Eric Balliet says that work will likely start sometime in September, noting “we don’t have an exact timeframe yet.”

Someday, the county plans to add pedestrian safety and bus stop accessibility improvements at intersections all along Pershing as it runs to meet N. Glebe Road. However, those projects are on hold until the county can come up with a bit more funding.

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The Spring Mill Bread Company is expected to open its doors on Pershing Drive on Saturday.

The bakery’s owner tells ARLnow.com that final preparations are underway and the aroma of freshly-baked bread should begin wafting from the 2209 N. Pershing Drive location in Lyon Park tomorrow.

Spring Mill sells fresh-baked breads, baked treats and soups and sandwiches, in addition to coffee and sodas. It has existing locations on Capitol Hill, in suburban Maryland and in Pennsylvania.

Spring Mill joins a number of existing businesses on the block, including Paisano’s Pizza, Bonchon and Streets Market.

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