Controversial renovations to a baseball field at Bluemont Park are now over, as that area of the park reopened last week and is set to celebrate Saturday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The project at the 601 N. Manchester Street park brought a full replacement of one of its baseball fields, as well as the installation of a connector on the Four Mile Run Trail to N. Manchester Street and Ashlawn Elementary School.
The renovated field got new sod, irrigation, site circulation, fencing, backstops, bleachers, furniture, signage, ADA accessibility improvements and drainage. It officially reopened for use on Friday, June 30.
Neighbors fought against the plan to renovate the baseball field, and met with youth baseball and softball boosters last year for a county-organized “listening session” so each side could have its say. Those in favor of the plan said it would make the field more playable and help keep up with demand as the number of children playing youth baseball continues to rise.
Residents raised concerns about the field being fenced in, and a compromise was reached as the county agreed to remove about 20 percent of the fencing. County Manager Mark Schwartz added at the time that Arlington must reconsider its public outreach on such projects, after opponents said that they were blindsided by the plan.
Saturday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony will include a presentation of colors by the Arlington County Joint Honor Guard and the singing of the National Anthem as well as remarks by County Board members and the community. It begins at 11 a.m.
The Woodbury Park apartment complex in Courthouse will celebrate the end of its revamp with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. today.
The community, which includes 204 affordable and 160 market-rate apartments at 2306 11th Street N, underwent a two-year renovation. It has been owned by regional affordable housing agency AHC since 1987.
Construction crews restored and updated the property’s mix of red and blonde brick masonry, gabled and flat roofing and porticoes at its entrances.
The seven brick buildings also received repairs and new paint, along with new roofs, windows and plantings. The courtyard also was re-bricked. Inside, the apartments received new kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and electrical systems.
And what was once under-utilized space has been turned into a leasing office and a community center, which includes an exercise room and gathering area with a large TV, game table and seating.
The renovation came from various funding sources including Historic Tax Credits, and did not require use of Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund.
Woodbury Park was built in the 1940s, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
Photo via AHC, Inc.
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.
(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held this past Thursday for The Springs, a new affordable apartment complex in the Buckingham area near Ballston.
The 104-unit building, at the corner of Carlin Springs Road and N. Thomas Street, was developed by the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.
Among those in attendance for the ceremony were Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, County Board member Jay Fisette, County Manager Mark Schwartz, APAH Board Chair John Milliken and APAH President and CEO Nina Janopaul.
“The Springs will provide 47 units for low and very low income households earning less than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI); 51 units for households earning below 60% AMI, and 6 market rate units,” APAH said in a press release. “Sixty-three apartments will be two-bedroom and 22 apartments will be three-bedroom to accommodate families.”
The Springs is located about a half-mile from the Ballston Metro station.
Arlington dignitaries were on hand for a ribbon cutting and champagne ceremony at the new 168-room Hyatt Place hotel in Courthouse Thursday afternoon.
In addition to rooms with modern furnishings and comfy beds, the hotel, at 2401 Wilson Blvd, features a 24-hour gym, 24-hour meal service, free hotel-wide WiFi and a “coffee to cocktails bar.”
There’s also a curated art collection in the lobby and a newly-unveiled original sculpture — of a stylized, blue high heel shoe that doubles as a bench — outside, at the corner of Wilson and N. Adams Street.
At the ceremony, officials lauded the hotel as an economic asset for Arlington that was built with the support of local residents, thanks to a focus on public outreach by developer Schupp Companies.
The Crystal City Shops shopping center at 2100 Crystal Drive hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning for one of its newest tenants: an Arlington Public Library branch.
The temporary, pop-up library is located near TechShop, a high-tech workshop that’s popular with startups, students, hobbyists and tinkerers. Dubbed “The Connection,” the compact, one-room library has adopted a tech and tinkerer theme, with free WiFi internet, books about coding, puzzles and games for rent, and gadgets like GoPro cameras and iPads for online magazines.
There will be weekly programs like book clubs, a lecture series, storytelling for children and strategy gaming, according to the library.
“The Connection is a temporary pop-up project designed to integrate the Library into the daily lives of Arlington residents,” the library said in a media advisory. “The pop-up library will serve residents east of Route 1, which runs through Crystal City and poses a physical barrier to access for many people to the nearest community library.”
That nearest library — Aurora Hills, near Pentagon City — is also slated for interior renovations.
Today’s ribbon cutting was scheduled for 10 a.m. and, wasting no time for pomp and circumstance, the ribbon was cut at right 10:01 a.m. Attendees included local residents, representatives from property owner Vornado, Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz, Arlington Public Library director Diane Kresh and other county officials.
The pop-up library is expected to be open at least until next summer, though it could remain open beyond that if it receives additional funding in next year’s budget. It is currently scheduled to be open 38 hours per week, Tuesday through Saturday.
All of the ramps, lanes and bridges for the interchanges of Route 50, N. Courthouse Road and 10th Street N. are open and finished.
Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette, Del. Patrick Hope and local and state transportation officials were on hand to cut the ribbon on the $39 million project that has been more than a decade in the making.
“My first County Board meeting in January 1998, in the first Board packet, the design of this interchange was in that packet,” Fisette said. “Really good things take time and partnerships. Hopefully we will continue to get these types of outcomes.”
The new interchange includes two new bridges at Courthouse Road and 10th Street, each with LED-lit metal grillwork displays, although the LED lights aren’t ready to be turned on yet. It includes a left-exit from eastbound Route 50 onto N. Courthouse Road, and turning lanes from westbound Route 50 that are separated from the three lanes of fast-moving traffic.
“Everyone who drives on Arlington Blvd every single day is going to have a much better experience,” Hope said.
In addition to the new traffic patterns and LED lights, the sides of the new highway have custom-designed concrete panels. The grillwork and panels were both designed by artist Vicki Scuri. The LED lights and landscaping along the highway are the only two components of the project that are not yet finished.
The project also included new bicycle and pedestrian paths along either side of the highway, with striping for two-way travel, between N. Pershing Drive and Courthouse Road on the westbound side, and Pershing and N. Rolfe Street on the eastbound side.
“This project represents the values we hold in Arlington. it’s about safety, it’s about travel choices,” Arlington Director of Transportation Dennis Leach said. “What an incredible difference this is if you are walking or biking.”
(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Officials cut a ceremonial ribbon in Crystal City this morning to celebrate the Arlington launch of the mobile parking app Parkmobile.
At the ceremony in front of Charlie Chiang’s Restaurant, county Director of Transportation Dennis Leach and Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette spoke about Parkmobile’s partnership with the county and the convenience Parkmobile will bring to residents. Parkmobile debuted in Crystal City on July 18 and in Shirlington July 17.
“People are not shy about embracing new things here,” Leach said. “I believe we’ve had 1,500 transactions so far this week in Arlington.”
Parkmobile’s mobile parking apps are available with iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry smartphones. The county said it plans to bring Parkmobile to Arlington’s other corridors in phases, with Pentagon City in the fall, and Ballston and Clarendon by the winter. By spring 2015, Courthouse, Rosslyn, Columbia Pike and the rest of Arlington’s 5,329 metered spots are planned to have Parkmobile.
“It’s all about making it easier,” Leach told ARLnow.com this morning. “I take transit, I walk and I bike almost everywhere, but I can appreciate it for all the residents, workers and visitors who may need to drive. If I were to drive, this is a great app.”
All drivers need in order to register is a smartphone, a credit card and their license plate number, although paying at traditional meters or pay-and-display meters is still an option. Parkmobile has been in use in the District since 2010.
“Over the last 10, 20, 30 years there has been quite an amazing metamorphosis and transition here in Arlington,” Fisette said. “You have a seamless system between the District of Columbia and Arlington with a single app, just like you can take your Capital Bikeshare across the river.”
Fisette said that Parkmobile is important for Arlington and its place in the regional economy. Parkmobile became available city-wide in D.C. in 2011 and collects 56 percent of the District’s parking revenue, according to Parkmobile CEO Cherie Fuzzell. Through mists of rain at the ribbon cutting, Fuzzell and Crystal City Business Improvement District President Angela Fox also spoke of the app’s benefits.
“Parkmobile is a great solution not only for consumers, but also for the county,” Fuzzell said. “They have had a 20 percent increase in their parking revenue. Why? Because people pay if you make it easier to pay.”
Fox said Parkmobile is a perfect service to have in Crystal City because it’s in keeping with the area’s focus on accessible transportation.
“We have this original neighborhood that’s metro oriented with an airport you can walk to,” Fox said. “Anything that builds on that base of accessibility, we get excited about.”
Arlington County, which rarely misses an opportunity for a ribbon cutting event, will be holding one this week to kick off the county’s first pay-by-cell parking system.
Arlington will be rolling out the smartphone parking app Parkmobile over the next year — with the service first available to pay for street parking in Shirlington and Crystal City starting later this month.
The service will be expanded to Pentagon City this fall, Ballston and Clarendon this winter, and the rest of the county in the spring.
(Parkmobile is also currently used for pay-by-cell parking in the District of Columbia.)
The county will be holding a ribbon cutting to mark Arlington’s Parkmobile launch on Thursday, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., in front of Charlie Chiang’s Restaurant in Crystal City (320 23rd Street S.).
Those expected to help wield the giant pair of scissors include County Board Chair Jay Fisette, Arlington Director of Transportation Dennis Leach, Crystal City BID President and CEO Angela Fox, and Parkmobile CEO Cherie Fuzzell.
(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) Comedian Bill Cosby joined Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette and other local notables in helping to open the new Ben’s Chili Bowl in Rosslyn this morning.
Cosby’s jokes and antics drew laughs from the large crowd of media and spectators that gathered to see the ribbon cutting for the iconic U Street eatery’s first stand-alone, brick-and-mortar expansion. Other attendees and speakers included the Ali family, which owns the restaurant; the ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago, late founder Ben Ali’s home country; WPGC DJ Shack Nd Pack; and Rosslyn BID President Mary-Claire Burick.
Cosby joked that as an aging Navy veteran, he was glad to have a Ben’s Chili Bowl near Arlington National Cemetery.
“The reason why this establishment has decided to open here is for me,” he said. “I’m 76-and-a-half years old. I’m going to have my 77th birthday in July… I spent four years in the Navy, which means I am eligible for a military funeral. Now, my can ghost make the trip here instead of flying over to U Street.”
“Over in that cemetery there is no cholesterol,” he continued. “There are no triglycerides. Eat as many as you like. Double down on the cheese and fries. A lot of people may not go to heaven, because this is heaven.”
Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette presented Cosby and Virginia Ali, Ben’s widow, with keys to Arlington. Cosby quipped that he would use it to get out of parking tickets.
“Whoa, who put me on stage after Bill Cosby?” Fisette said, to which Cosby shot back: “your mother did.”
“Thanks for choosing Arlington… for your second spot,” Fisette said. “As I’ve always said, chili for breakfast, chili for lunch, chili for dinner and a half smoke for dessert.”
Customers flooded into the the restaurant following the ribbon cutting, leaving a large crowd outside the doors, waiting to get in. Hundreds showed up to the Colonial Village Shopping Center parking lot to see Cosby speak and get some of the first tastes of chili, half smokes, hamburgers and milkshakes after standing outside in near-freezing temperatures.
The restaurant is located at 1725 Wilson Blvd, in the former Ray’s Hell Burger space. It’s owned and operated by three sons, Nizam, Kamal and Sage, and one daughter, Vida. The family said during the ribbon cutting that the restaurant plans to stay open until 4:30 a.m.
“The chili will sober you up,” Cosby said of Ben’s likely late night customers.
It’s been about a year and a half in the making, but today marked the ribbon cutting for the newly revamped Clarendon Central Park.
County Board members Mary Hynes and Jay Fisette joined county employees for the ceremony, including many from the Department of Environmental Services and the Department of Parks and Recreation directly involved in planning the renovations. Hynes was one of the speakers and thanked all the people involved, from planners to construction workers, for bringing the idea to fruition.
“It addresses so many different goals,” Hynes said. “That great collaboration has led to this amazing space, which will be well used by not only the people who live nearby, but all of the people who come and enjoy our restaurants and the other amenities that Clarendon offers. It’s going to, I think, be a great addition to this neighborhood for many, many years to come.”
Improvements to the park and Metro plaza include new bike shelters, landscaping, irrigation, tables and chairs, lighting and ADA-compliant pavers. The plaza was designed to have more open space for events, such as the farmers market, and for easier pedestrian access to the Metro.
In May of 2012, the County Board approved a contract for the first phase of the project, worth more than $760,000. Workers completed the first phase — the eastern portion ending near the Clarendon Metro elevator — last December, and an additional $197,000 was requested at that time to complete the rest of the park.
County officials believe the hard work and long process involved in this project are worth the end result: an improved “gateway to Clarendon” that thousands of people pass through each day.
“This has been a little bit of a long, torturous journey,” said Dennis Leach with the Department of Environmental Services. “But I think the result is pretty phenomenal.”