Police Warn of Jury Duty Scam — The Arlington County Police Department is again warning about a jury duty telephone scam targeting Arlington residents. The fraud involves a caller claiming to be a law enforcement officer and claiming that the call recipient failed to appear for jury duty. The scammer then demands the payment of a fine over the phone. [Arlington County]
Plow Plows Into Bus — Updated at 2 p.m. — One lane of Lee Highway was blocked for a period of time during last night’s evening rush hour after a minor accident involving an VDOT snow plow and an ART bus. [Twitter]
Vihstadt Speaks Out Against Gondola — County Board member John Vihstadt is not a fan of the potential gondola from Rosslyn to Georgetown. “Now is not the time to spend upwards of $90 million on a Disney-like gondola to Georgetown while current modes of public transit need significant new investment,” Vihstadt said earlier this week. [InsideNova]
Crystal House Renovated — Crystal House is a big apartment complex in Crystal City that has been around for a long time. Chances are, someone you know has lived there at one point or another. The 825-unit complex recently completed the first phase of a major renovation project and is showing it off via video and press release. [PR Newswire, YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Shirlington smoothie stop Robeks has closed, apparently to get an interior upgrade.
The windows of the store at 4115 Campbell Avenue have been papered over, and a sign on one of the windows says the store is closed for remodeling.
The newly-remodeled store will reopen tomorrow (Thursday), the sign says.
Teardown Business Booming — Arlington is one of the Northern Virginia areas that continue to see significant home teardown rates following the recession. The high land values make it more economical for many builders to tear down old homes and construct new ones rather than renovating existing structures. [Wall Street Journal]
Tech Company Moving to Arlington — Online stock video business VideoBlocks says it is moving from its long-time home in Reston to Arlington in 2017. The tech company’s growth is making the current 7,500-square-foot space too cramped, so the goal is to find an approximately 20,000-square-foot space in Arlington. [DC Inno]
Ninja Moves Prompt Police Call — Police responded to Paisano’s on N. Pershing Drive yesterday afternoon for a report of a man performing “ninja moves” outside the restaurant. There were no reports of anyone being harmed or of any arrests. [Twitter]
Free NYE Metro Rides — Metrorail and Metrobus rides will be free after midnight on New Year’s Eve (Saturday), courtesy of a sponsor: Miller Lite. Metro will stay open until 3:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day (Sunday). [WMATA]
Free Cab Rides Through Sunday — SoberRide will continue its seasonal free taxi service through Sunday. Users can call 1-800-200-TAXI for a free ride home, up to a $30 fare.
County Facilities Closed Monday — Like the federal the government, Arlington County will close its facilities on Monday in observance of Sunday’s holiday. Parking meters will not be enforced but trash and recycling collection will continue as usual.
(Updated at 3 p.m.) Arlington County is moving forward with construction plans for Stratford Park.
The current park has picnic tables, a youth baseball/softball field (which has also been used by adult team sports), two lighted tennis courts, a rectangular field and a lighted basketball court.
The new park, which is in the final design stages and is expected to go out to bid in the first quarter of 2017, will include upgraded fields, courts, landscaping and site furnishings.
Among the planned changes: the new diamond field will be fenced in, with dugouts, batting cages and bleachers added.
While the fence around a soon-to-be-upgraded diamond field in Bluemont Park prompted a neighborhood outcry this fall, since largely resolved by removing portions of the fence, thus far there has been little public protest about the Stratford Park fence.
Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said the field’s primary purpose will be to host organized baseball and softball activities, though other uses will be allowed when the field is not otherwise being used.
“The approved plan does include fence around the diamond field, as the field will primarily be used for diamond sports (permit takes priority),” she told ARLnow.com, via email. “The fence entrances will always be open to allow people access to the area when the field is not in use.”
The parks department sent an email to residents who live near the park last month, updating them on the project’s progress. An excerpt of that email, detailing some of the changes, is below.
Construction of the park upgrades is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2017 and wrap up within the first three months of 2018. The overall design, management and construction budget is $1.7 million.
In early 2015, the County worked with the community to develop a concept plan for the site. The concept plan is a tool to inform the County, APS and the community on how new school access routes and other changes to the school site within the park boundary could impact the plan for park improvements. DPR worked closely with APS in order to coordinate pedestrian accessibility from the park to the school. In addition, a restroom facility will be provided at the school for park users. DPR may make some minor changes to the concept as final costs for the improvements are determined in order to ensure the project remains within budget.
The approved project scope includes replacing and bringing existing features to current standards and adding new amenities to the park. Below is a breakdown of each one.
Existing to be Replaced:
- Tennis Courts
- Basketball Court
- Court Lighting
- Diamond Field
- Players Benches
- Fencing (split rail)
- Stairs and Walkways
- Trash Receptacles
- Trees and Shrubs
New to the Park:
- Drinking Fountain
- Pedestrian Lighting
- Batting Cages
- Outfield Fence
- Retaining Walls
- 50/70 Intermediate (50/70) Diamond Field Layout with Irrigation
- Additional Trash Receptacles and Seating
- Picnic Area
- Storm Water Management Facility
- Additional Landscaping
The DMV office on Four Mile Run Drive closed Thursday night and is not expected to reopen until Jan. 9.
“Upgrades to the office include four additional service windows and a new countertop design that will allow for a more efficient customer flow and minimize customer wait times,” the department said in a press release (below).
The Arlington DMV Customer Service Center (CSC), located at 4150 South Four Mile Run Drive, will temporarily close at 5 p.m. on December 1 for an interior renovation. The CSC is expected to reopen January 9 at 8 a.m. Upgrades to the office include four additional service windows and a new countertop design that will allow for a more efficient customer flow and minimize customer wait times.
During the renovation, customers are encouraged to conduct transactions online at dmvNOW.com. More than 40 transactions are available online including vehicle and driver’s license renewals, address changes, license plate purchases, and reinstatement fee payments.
Customers who need to conduct in-person transactions can visit the new Arlington DMV Metro at Virginia Square, located at 3434 Washington Blvd., accessible via Metrorail Orange and Silver lines at Virgina Square-GMU, Metrobus 38B or ART 52. Limited paid parking is available in the area. Customers may also visit the Alexandria Customer Service Center at 2681 Mill Road. Vehicle-related transactions such as a registration renewals, title issuances or replacements, and license plate purchases, can be conducted at the Arlington DMV Select at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard; Lorton DMV Select at 8210 Cinderbed Road; or Fairfax City Select 10455 Armstrong Street.
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the park’s playground and volleyball court, located at 1021 N. Quincy Street near Arlington Central Library and Washington-Lee High School, is scheduled to take place Saturday from 1-2 p.m.
The revamped park features a “universal design” playground — Arlington’s first — with a play environment that’s accessible for users of all ages and physical abilities. Among the amenities are swings, picnic tables, a slide, a “climbing tree” and other play equipment.
The sand volleyball court, located adjacent to the playground, was created with adult after-work sports leagues in mind.
Though the ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for this weekend, the playground and the volleyball court are currently open to the public. Despite some earlier rain, at least a dozen kids and caretakers were taking advantage of the playground and its picnic shelter when ARLnow.com visited Wednesday afternoon.
The Sweetgreen at 4075 Wilson Blvd in Ballston is closed for renovations.
New equipment was being brought into the restaurant Friday night when ARLnow.com stopped by. A sign on the door of the trendy salad shop directed customers to nearby locations in Clarendon and elsewhere.
“We’re refreshing our Ballston location so we can’t do our thing for a few weeks,” the sign said.
David Black Convicted, Sentenced for Wife’s Murder — An Arlington County jury this week found Arlington Ridge resident David Black guilty of murdering his wife. Bonnie Delgado Black was found stabbed to death in her home, which was just blocks from her estranged husband’s house, on April 17, 2015. Yesterday the jury recommended that Black serve two life sentences. [NBC 4, WTOP]
County Board Ditches New Year’s Day Meeting — Eschewing a long-standing tradition of holding its first meeting of the year on New Year’s Day, the Arlington County Board yesterday voted unanimously to hold its 2017 organizational meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3. “We still will start our year off with the community, but without forcing employees to give up their personal and family time on a holiday,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey. [Arlington County]
Retail Space for WeWork in Crystal City — The County Board on Saturday voted to convert 440 square feet of the WeWork and WeLive building in Crystal City to ground floor retail space, at the request of WeWork. No word yet on what kind of a retailer may be moving in. [Arlington County]
More on Park Protests — “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark has tackled the dual controversies of the baseball field fence in Bluemont Park (the Board acted on that yesterday, article coming soon) and the proposed Williamsburg Middle School athletic field lights. Clark concluded: “Popular sports for kids, peaceful green parks: competing Arlington virtues.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Evolent Health Stock Soars — As of 10 a.m. the share price for Ballston-based Evolent Health is up more than 12 percent today and nearly 70 percent for the year. The tech firm reported a narrower-than-expected loss and higher-than-expected revenue in the third quarter of 2016. [CNBC, Yahoo]
Board Approves Loan for Apartment Renovations — The Culpepper Garden affordable apartment complex for low-income seniors will receive needed renovations thanks to a $9.9 million loan from Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund. The County Board unanimously approved the loan yesterday. The renovations are expected to begin in the spring and will require tenants to temporarily move to other units on site while their units are renovated. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Ari P.
The Clarendon Apple Store (2700 Clarendon Blvd) has reopened after nearly six months of renovations.
The updated look isn’t too radical departure from the previous design. MacBooks, iPads and iPhones are still arranged on large tables for customer to try out; purchases are still made with the assistance of iPhone-toting employees rather than at registers.
One thing noticeably absent: any sign of an Apple logo near the entrance.
The Pentagon City mall Apple Store is up next for a redesign. The store closed on Sunday for several months of renovations.
Board Funds Westover Apartment Purchase — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $10.9 million loan that will allow the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to purchase 68 affordable but aging apartment units in the Westover neighborhood. Separately, an effort to designate Westover as a protected historic district, with the goal of preserving other affordable apartments, is continuing. Arlington’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board will hold a key meeting on the topic in November. [Arlington County, InsideNova]
Outreach Planned for Bluemont Baseball Project — Following a raft of complaints and letters from nearby residents, county officials will be holding a community meeting Oct. 5 to discuss an approved contract to renovate one of the baseball fields at Bluemont Park. County Board members on Saturday chastised county staff for inadequate neighborhood outreach on the project prior to its July approval by the Board. [InsideNova]
Aurora Hills Community Center Upgrades OKed — As expected, the County Board has approved a $555,800 contract to upgrade the interior of the Aurora Hills Senior Center and Library. Separately, the Board also approved a $2.7 million utility undergrounding project for the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road, which is slated for future streetscape improvements. [Arlington County]
Rodney Hunt Fighting Mansion Eviction — Once a wealthy information technology executive, Rodney Hunt was recently released from a jail sentence on drug charges and is now fighting the foreclosure auction sale of his $24 million mansion on Chain Bridge Road in Arlington. Over the past few months the sprawling home has been used to host “mansion parties,” one of which resulted in a drive-by shooting in McLean. [Washington Post]
High School Boundary Changes Coming Soon — Arlington Public Schools will be hosting a series of public outreach events next month as part of a boundary “refinement” process for the county’s high schools. The usually-contentious process of adjusting school boundaries will this time determine which students attend Arlington’s three comprehensive high schools: Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown. The changes will not affect current high school students. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Local CVS Accused of Selling Expired Shakes — A CVS store on Columbia Pike is being accused of selling nutritional shakes that expired a year ago and made an elderly woman sick last month. In response to a TV station’s outreach, CVS promised to work with the store to make sure that it’s removing expired products from shelves. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The Arlington County Board is expected to approve $555,000 in interior upgrades to the Aurora Hills Community Center and Library at its meeting this weekend.
The low-slung building, located at 735 18th Street S., near Pentagon City, houses both a library and a senior center. In explaining the need for upgrades, county staff said the center is “an aging facility.”
“The proposed renovation includes demolition of existing and construction of new office, storage rooms, kitchen, new ADA bathrooms, receptionist desk, circulation desk, new floor finishes, additional electrical and mechanical system upgrade,” county staff wrote. “The work will also include the restoration or repair of ceilings and walls in areas that are impacted by this interior renovation.”
Some programs at Aurora Hills will be moved to the Gunston Community Center during construction. The renovations were originally set to take place a bit later than currently scheduled, but were “accelerated” by the County Board, staff say.
The county staff report hints that the Aurora Hills center may eventually be torn down to make way for a new elementary school.
“The site was also identified during the Arlington Public Schools’ South Arlington Working Group process as a possible site for redevelopment in conjunction with Schools;” says the report. “The proposed improvements will provide operational and program value for a number of years until such time that the County and Schools choose to pursue a redevelopment.”
Arlington won’t be temporarily without an Apple Store, after all.
In an email sent to local customers this afternoon, Apple said its Clarendon store, which has been under renovation since April, will reopen this weekend. A grand reopening is planned for Saturday, Sept. 24 starting at 10 a.m.
“You’ll love what we’ve done with the place,” the iPhone maker said in the email and on the store’s website.
“There’s a lot more to see at your new Apple Store in Arlington,” the email continued. “Stop by on September 24 to take a look at what’s changed and try the latest Apple products, including iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2.”
Some exterior work was still underway outside the store today.
The Apple Store in the Pentagon City mall is scheduled to close for renovations starting this coming Sunday, Sept. 25.
Hat tip to Chaz P.
Vornado Reveals Big Plans for Crystal City — Vornado, the preeminent property owner in Crystal City, has filed preliminary plans to overhaul a number of its properties in the community. The plans include big changes to the Shops at 1750 retail space, near the entrance to the Crystal City Metro station, and a new multiplex cinema. [Washington Business Journal]
Lyft to Open Regional HQ in Crystal City — Ride hailing app company Lyft is planning to invest $350,000 to open a new regional headquarters in Crystal City, creating 32 jobs locally. “Lyft is thrilled to open our new office in the emerging innovation center of Crystal City,” said Steve Taylor, the company’s general manager for the D.C. area. “We’re extremely pleased by the warm welcome we have received from Governor McAuliffe, and state and county officials.” [Washington Post]
Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Attack on Law Firm Partner — Alecia Schmuhl has pleaded guilty in the vicious 2014 attack on Leo Fisher and his wife Susan Duncan. Prosecutors say Schmuhl and her husband took the couple hostage, slit Fisher’s throat and stabbed Duncan as part of a revenge plot after she was fired by Fisher from the Arlington-based firm of Bean Kinney & Korman. Fisher and Duncan survived the attack. [Washington Post]
Nominations Open for James B. Hunter Award — Arlington County is accepting nominees for the 2016 James B. Hunter Award. The award, named after a former Arlington County Board member, “goes to individuals, community groups, non-profit organizations and business establishments that promote cultural diversity and equal rights for all residents.” [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Billy Buck
Bin 1700, a restaurant and lounge inside the Crystal Gateway Marriott (1700 Jefferson Davis Hwy) in Crystal City, is currently undergoing renovations.
Numerous workers could be seen working inside the demolished and under-construction space Thursday afternoon.
It’s unclear what exactly will be replacing the restaurant, though county permits indicate that the work is part of a larger interior renovation of the hotel’s lobby, common areas, hallways and rooms.
Bin 1700’s only two Yelp reviews describe a fairly middle-of-the-road restaurant that primarily served hotel guests.
For years, visitors to our country’s most recognizable military monument have had but one nearby option should they need to use the restroom: a line of green porta-potties.
The porta-potties near the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington might be convenient, but they were also “unsightly and they smelled,” says Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.). Plus, they presented big challenges for disabled veterans visiting the memorial.
Luckily, the local philanthropist David Rubenstein stepped up last year with a pledge of $5.4 million to rehab the monument, the lighting and the landscaping around the 62-year-old monument, colloquially known as the Iwo Jima memorial. Rubenstein’s gift will now also fund permanent restrooms.
A bill sponsored by Beyer passed last week, authorizing the construction of the restrooms. The bill had bipartisan support, although its passage came a year after Rubenstein’s donation was first announced and it was made necessary by a provision that stemmed from a debate over the location of the Air Force Memorial 14 years ago.
“It’s a small victory but it moves us in the right direction,” Beyer said.
Amid congressional gridlock on important issues like the budget, immigration and gun safety, Beyer said there is still plenty of work getting done in Congress — provided the work is politically uncontroversial.
“There are places where we really can’t get things done,” said Beyer. “But those are all places where there are significant philosophical differences between Democrats and Republicans. On things where there is consensus, we can actually move pretty quickly.”
But the fact that this pretty obvious improvement is getting done mostly because a billionaire ponied up for it may make a larger point about the current state of American governance and budget priorities.
“We’re fortunate to have the David Rubensteins of the world,” said Beyer, “but it is sad that we can’t free up more money for investments in public infrastructure.”
Beyer cited figures that suggest the U.S. is $3 trillion behind on needed infrastructure work due to deferred maintenance. The U.S. Park Service alone has $11 billion in infrastructure needs, including the funding still needed for repairs to Memorial Bridge.
For needs not deemed essential enough to receive taxpayer funding, private donations may be the only way to get it done in the near term.
“Until we get our arms around entitlement reform, finding ways to grow our discretionary resources for things like infrastructure, we’re going to be dependent on good folks like David Rubenstein,” Beyer said.
Though Beyer said he had not seen a timetable yet, he expects that the Iwo Jima improvements will take at least 12-18 months to complete.
“Arlington is a wonderful place to live — it gets all these awards for best suburb or best small city — and hopefully getting rid of the porta-potties at the Iwo Jima memorial will be another small step in improving the livability of Arlington.”
Photo (below) via Google Maps