Arlington, VA

You have until 10 p.m. today to get your pizza and pasta at Alto Fumo (2909 Wilson Blvd) in Clarendon, then the restaurant goes dark for two months.

A manager at Alto Fumo said the restaurant will be closed for two months for extensive remodeling and renovation, then will reopen in March.

Temporary closures around Arlington have a way of becoming permanent, but the manager insisted the restaurant plans to reopen in the spring.

This is not the first time a pizza shop at the location has temporarily closed. The location was once Faccia Luna, but rebranded to Alto Fumo after a closure in 2017. The manager said some other changes could be in the works for the restaurant, but for now, “it will stay a little surprise.”

Staff photo by Vernon Miles

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

Arlington’s real estate market is very tight. Ask Eli‘s posts shed light on this with his analytical insights. Because of this short supply of housing, more and more Arlingtonians are staying in their homes and renovating or expanding them to accommodate growing families.

Have you been thinking about a home renovation, expansion or new construction in 2020?

350 Arlingtonians have already used Green Home Choice, a FREE County program, to help you make your renovations, additions and new home projects healthier and more sustainable.

When buying a car, fuel efficiency and a comfortable ride are central considerations. Given the investment you make when renovating or building a new home, comfort and efficiency should be equally if not more important.

On average, a Green Home Choice home uses 50% less energy than Arlington homes of the same size and saves between $600 and $1600 per year on utility bills.

Green Home Choice also helps homeowners renovate their kitchens and bathrooms in a more sustainable way and offers a certification for participation.

Whether you are a homeowner, developer, architect or builder, Green Home Choice can help you rethink your next construction project to enhance the quality, value and overall sustainability of your home.

For more information about the program, visit the Green Home Choice Website at www.greenhomechoice.us or contact [email protected].

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(Updated at 10:20 a.m.) Arlington is kicking off a renovation project for the upper fields at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

Officials have begun the design phase for the “TJ Upper Field Turf Conversion,” which will transform the sports field — which is also the side of the annual Arlington County Fair — from existing natural grass to synthetic turf.

In addition, other items up for consideration in the project include “new spectator seating, signage, athletic equipment, site furnishings, [and] pathways,” as well as landscaping to remove invasive plants and to improve stormwater management.

The design phase of the project is set to wrap up during the first quarter of 2020, with construction projected to run from the third quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2021.

Last year, the middle school’s lower field received new synthetic turf as part of the county’s Synthetic Turf Program. The upcoming changes to the upper field were recommended in the Public Spaces Master Plan, and approved by the County Board in the FY 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).

A public meeting to discuss the project is scheduled for next week on Wednesday, December 18 at 7 p.m. in the Thomas Jefferson Community & Fitness Center (3501 2nd Street S.).

Photo via Arlington County 

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(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) Arlington County has kicked off the renovation project for Gunston Park‘s “bubble.”

Officials have started the design phase of the Gunston Bubble Renovation Project, with the goal of eventually having a more “energy efficient and reliable” facility. The project is expected to start construction in the second quarter of 2020 and be completed by the third quarter, in time for next winter season.

The bubble is an all-weather, heated and covered athletic field that Arlington County describes as “a unique indoor turf facility available to rent for sports training and parties.”

“A lot has changed in building technology since the old bubble was completed,” said project architect Aaron Wohler. “The existing bubble structure is air-supported and needs to be constantly monitored and inflated. It gets hot during the summer, so much so that we limit summer hours.”

The new structure will be frame-supported, according to Wohler, with LED lighting and ceiling fans, windows, vents, and doors available to keep it cool during the hotter months.

Funding for the $1.3 million project was included in the county’s most recent Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). About $1 million will come from bonds.

The county will host an open house at the Gunston Community Center for community members to learn more about the project on Thursday, December 17 at 6:30 p.m.

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Arlington was almost poised to get rid of a “redundant” regulation for contractors this past weekend.

The Arlington County Board was slated to consider revising a chapter of county code related to home improvement regulations during its meeting this past Saturday, November 16. Specifically, members were scheduled to vote on nixing a requirement for home improvement contractors to match county regulations with state regulations.

In Virginia, contractors paid more than $1,000 for a project must seek either a class A, B, or C license based on the scale of their projects. If a contractor is seeking project that pays under $10,000 they can apply for a class C license, while projects up to $120,000 require a Class B license, and more expensive projects require a Class A license. Officials said because Virginia didn’t previously require contractors to sit for an Class C exam, Arlington decided to administer its own to verify their qualifications.

“However, as of December 1, 2012, all contractors seeking a license from the state Board of Contractors are required to take an examination in their specialty, for all classes (A, B & C),” said county spokeswoman Erika Moore. “Because the Board of Contractors is already administering a test to ensure these individuals are qualified, having the County administer another test is redundant and not cost efficient.”

In an email to ARLnow on Friday, Moore added that the county has only administered one test since 2012, which cost the county “the time it takes staff to process the required paperwork to administer and review that test and then to issue the license.”

However, the proposal to nix the exam — which was originally a part of the Board’s consent agenda — was later removed from the meeting agenda later last week.

Moore told ARLnow that staff removed the item from the agenda because “the report [to the Board] was not completed in time for posting of the consent agenda 72 hours prior to the County Board meeting.”

When asked, she did not answer when the item is expected to return to the dais.

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The Arlington County Board will soon vote on whether to spend over $700,000 upgrading the County Manager’s Office.

Member are scheduled to vote on the proposed renovation to the third floor office suite in the Bozman building (2100 Clarendon Blvd) during their meeting this Saturday, November 16.

If members vote to approve the project, the county will award $631,535 to Manassas-based Juniper Construction Company, Inc, plus an additional $126,307 for unanticipated costs.

A staff report to the Board indicates that the contract would fund upgrades to:

  • Create a “joint reception area” for the County Manager and County Board offices as well as a new “huddle room”
  • Several “open office concept work spaces” for staffers
  • Renovated conference rooms on the 3rd floor
  • “New finishes” in the offices and hallway

As of today (Thursday), the item is listed on the Board’s consent agenda, a place usually reserved for issues members expect to pass without debate.

The work is funded by a tenant improvement allowance negotiated as part of the county’s lease renewal and is part of a larger project to renovate the local government headquarters.

“The total project budget for the Bozman Government Center Renovation Project is $23.5M with the 3rd Floor CMO Suite renovation at $757,842.17,” the report notes.

Recently, the Board approved a multimillion dollar contract to replace the heating system at the county’s jail and courthouse building.

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The Arlington County Board could advance an extensive redesign of Jennie Dean Park during its meeting this weekend.

The Board is scheduled to vote to add dedicated green space to the Shirlington-area park and approve a $15.5 million construction contact during its meeting this Saturday, November 16.

County staff recommends awarding the contract to D.C.-based construction firm MCN Build, Inc., which was also tapped to work on Fire Station 8, per a report to the Board.

The park was first built in 1949 and features two tennis courts, baseball and softball diamonds, a basketball court, a playground, and a picnic area. After a series of public meetings, the county decided to relocate one of the baseball fields near S. Nelson Street, install a bathroom near Four Mile Run Drive, and build basketball and tennis courts near a WETA production facility.

As part of the renovations, the County Board is now considering removing a stretch of 27th Street S. from S. Nelson Street to Shirlington Road “for incorporation into the expanded Jennie Dean Park” per county staffers. The removal of the section of road is not expected to impede access to the WETA building, which serves as the production studio for PBS Newshour.

In addition to vacating the stretch of road, members will also vote on whether to rezone some “service industry” parcels of land to the north of the park as “public” — a move that could add 1.96 acres to the park which would make room for the planned youth baseball diamond, among other amenities.

The design process for the park proved somewhat controversial, with a local civic association calling one proposed design a “non-starter.” The park sits within the boundaries of the Green Valley neighborhood.

County officials are scheduled to discuss the final renovation designs next Thursday, November 21 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Charles Drew Community Center, and on Saturday, November 23 from 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Shirlington Branch Library.

Construction on the project is due to start by early 2020.

Earlier this year, officials asked residents to share their memories of the park with the Brooklyn-based artist selected to design the public art portion of the project.

The park project is part of larger goals to revitalize the Four Mile Run Valley area and emphasize more storm protections for the floodprone area.

Images via Google Maps and Arlington County

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(Updated at 1 a.m.) Sawatdee Thai (2250 Clarendon Blvd) has temporarily closed for renovations.

Today (Friday) was the first day in seven years it closed its doors to sit-down customers other than for holidays and weather emergencies, a representative from the restaurant told ARLnow. The renovations are expected to upgrade the restaurant’s interior.

Sawatdee anticipates re-opening in four weeks, per a sign on the front door.

In the meantime, the kitchen will remain open for takeout and delivery orders. Customers placing takeout orders are instructed to enter the restaurant through the back door.

The restaurant applied for a building permit for the 112-seat dining area in September, per county records.

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The Lyon Park neighborhood’s Henry Clay Park is due for a makeover — starting this week.

Construction crews from the Falls Church-based firm Pivot Construction LLC are scheduled to start work on the park at 3011 7th Street N. today (Monday), per county officials.

The work comes three months after the Arlington County Board awarded the company a $1.4 million contract to re-do the basketball court, the playground, the picnic shelter, fences, and landscaping, among other upgrades.

“We are doing it!” read the county’s latest announcement. “Construction will begin on the Henry Clay Park renovations the week of October 21.”

Arlington expects the renovation work to continue until the end of 2020, and that ongoing construction may limit street parking.

Kentucky politician and one-time Arlington duelist Henry Clay is the namesake for the one-acre park.

Image 1 via Yelp, Images 2-3 via Arlington County

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The Arlington County Board may soon move forward on the plan to redevelop the Fire Station 8.

The County Board is scheduled to vote on awarding several contracts for the project to replace the Hall’s Hill fire station with a new, 15,000-square-foot facility during their meeting next Tuesday, October 22.

The station, located at 4845 Lee Highway, has been slated for a facelift for years, with the Board approving a $1.1 million contract to begin the design and planning process this past winter.

Next week, members will consider awarding a contract for the design of the temporary station used while Station 8 is under construction to Reston architecture firm LeMay Erickson Wilcox — the same firm tapped for designing the permanent Fire Station 8.

On Tuesday, Board members will also vote on awarding another contract to D.C.-based construction MCN Build, Inc. to build the new station. The exact amount of the contract has not yet been posted on the county website.

Plans for building the temporary station called for knocking down two homes at 2211 and 2215 N. Culpeper Street — demolition work that began last fall. The homes have been earmarked for use as a staging station area for the first responders since the county purchased the land for $1.6 million three years ago.

This year, the station celebrated its 100th anniversary, marking the legacy of the station which was the firehouse in segregated Arlington serving the historically African-American Hall’s Hill neighborhood — which itself was walled off from a neighboring, white neighborhood until the 1960s.

Originally, the fire department asked to relocate the new station further north to keep response times low in residential portions of far northern Arlington. However, the Board voted to keep the new station on the same site in 2016 in anticipation of more development along Lee Highway, pleasing the retired first responders who had worked at Station 8.

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We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: remodeling sucks!

With the holidays right around the corner, there is no better time to start that long-awaited bathroom or kitchen upgrade before holiday stress sets in.

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