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
The Apple Store in the Pentagon City mall has announced that it will be closing for renovations starting on Sunday, Sept. 25.
“We’re making the Apple Store you love even lovelier,” the announcement says.
Meanwhile, the Clarendon Apple Store remains closed due to renovations and no reopening date has been announced. The renovations may have been hampered by a large electrical fire at the Market Common Clarendon shopping center.
The new iPhone 7 launches this coming Friday, Sept. 16, leaving only 9 days to get one before the Pentagon City store shuts its doors. Other Apple Store locations in the D.C. area include Georgetown, Tysons Corner and Bethesda.
Update at 9:30 a.m. — A number of readers have said that they’ve received emails or had conversations with employees at other Apple stores indicating that the Clarendon store will reopen on or around Sept. 24. The store’s website and phone number still does not list an opening date, and no opening date was posted on the store’s exterior on Monday.
The Harris Teeter at the Lee-Harrison shopping center is currently being remodeled.
The supermarket is adding a full-service wine bar, an expanded salad bar, a “cheese island” with hot pizza options, American and Asian hot bars, a breakfast bar and more.
Harris Teeter sent the following email to customers this week, discussing its plans for the store.
Dear Valued e-VIC Member,
Our records indicate that you shop at our Lee & Harrison location. We are currently in the process of ongoing renovations at this store, and we appreciate your continued patience as we work to bring new and exciting features to your Harris Teeter. While we understand that this transition presents some inconveniences, we wanted to take the time to familiarize you with what amenities we are adding to enhance your shopping experience.
In the upcoming months, expect to see a full service wine bar, an expanded seafood department, an extended salad bar, more LaBrea bread options, a more extensive cheese island with hot pizza, and American and Asian hot bars for you to enjoy. We appreciate your patience during this remodel, and as always, thank you for shopping at your Harris Teeter!
During the remodel, our hours of operation will be as follows:
Monday – Thursday: 7 am – 10 pm
Friday – Saturday: Open at 7 am Friday, then open 24 hours
Sunday: Close at 10 pm
If you have any questions or concerns about the remodel process, please visit the
Hat tip to Chris Slatt
(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) Heavy demolition is underway at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, as portions of the old Ballston Common Mall are demolished to make way for the renovated Ballston Quarter shopping center and apartment tower.
Demolition crews from Celtic Demolition are at work tearing down the corner of the building that contained one of the mall’s main entrances and the former Macy’s furniture store. Crews are hosing down the debris with water to reduce dust.
One tipster who works across the street from the mall, at the National Science Foundation, said yesterday — after demolition started — that the close proximity of the demolition to moving traffic was concerning.
“You have to see the way they are demolishing the Ballston Mall,” the tipster said. “It is such a recipe for disaster. The debris is falling onto [the street] as cars and buses are driving by.”
The extensive renovation project is expected to wrap up in 2018.
After nearly two months of renovations, the Pacers Running Store in Clarendon reopened last week.
The store’s interior was totally revamped to offer a “shopping experience” similar to the new Pacers stores in the District, on 14th Street and in Navy Yard. The new space is more open, more organized and features more natural light.
Pacers is located at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, across from the Metro station. The store moved to an ancillary space along N. Highland Street during construction, offering a scaled-down selection of running shoes, apparel, nutrition and accessories.
Even with the renovated space open, Pacers is still adding product displays and making some finishing touches to the store.
An open field next to Abingdon Elementary School in Fairlington is now being used by the school’s relocatable classroom trailers, ahead of an expansion and renovation of the school.
The trailers were recently relocated to the field, next to a playground and on top of a paved loop that’s often used by those learning to ride a bike. About a dozen trees around the field have also been cut down.
According to a construction bidding document, part of the field will also soon be used as a temporary parking lot.
The changes are connected to the expansion and renovation of Abingdon, which was approved last year and is expected to wrap up in 2017.
“The relocatable classrooms have been moved onto the site in preparation for the upcoming construction project,” said Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia. “The existing field will be used for relocatable classrooms and temporary classrooms and then restored at the end of the construction project.”
“In accordance with the approved Use Permit and as agreed upon by the County, some trees were removed prior to the start of construction, prior to April 1 and before birds and animals start nesting in them,” Bellavia added.
The original District Taco at 5723 Lee Highway reopened at 11 a.m. this morning, after closing last month for renovations.
The restaurant doesn’t look all too different than it did before the renovations. We’re told much of the work focused on the kitchen; if anything, District Taco has been a victim of its own popularity in the form of out-the-door lines during the lunch and dinner rushes.
District Taco will be hosting raffles and giveaways today in celebration of its reopening, founder and CEO Osiris Hoil tells ARLnow.com.
The Burger King on Columbia Pike is getting a makeover.
Located at 3627 Columbia Pike, Burger King’s realm was looking a bit less-than-regal as of late. Over the past few days, however, workers have spruced up the interior.
More remodeling — including exterior changes — appears to be in the works.
During the interior renovation, the restaurant’s dining room was closed but its drive-thru remained open.
Hat tip to John Fontain
In two weeks, the always-busy Apple Store in Clarendon (2700 Clarendon Blvd) will close for renovations.
The store will be closed starting Sunday, April 3, according to a sign in the store. An employee was unable to say how long the renovations would take.
That means that customers will only have a couple of days to get a new Apple iPhone SE at the store before it closes. The new smaller, cheaper iPhone was unveiled by the company today.
Update at 9:55 a.m. — Various readers report being told by Apple Store employees that the renovations would take about 6 months to complete.
Arlington County is preparing to update and add new features to the park next to the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street).
Fairlington Park currently has exercise equipment, an exercise path, an athletic field, a playground, a gazebo and a small amphitheater.
The county says the scope of the upcoming park project will include “design and reconstruction of the playground, exercise equipment, circuit trail, picnic area, site circulation, site furnishings, fencing, stormwater management and landscaping.”
Before creating an initial design, the county is gathering community input, including via an online survey, which is active through April 15.
The survey asks a number of specific questions about exercise equipment, including: “would you like to be able to do a total-body workout in the park for strength and cardio fitness using equipment that’s similar to indoor fitness equipment?”