Morning Notes

Baby Boy for Cristol — Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol gave birth to her first child, a baby boy, this past weekend. She plans to call in to Saturday’s County Board meeting and participate in the crucial Amazon incentive package vote. [Twitter]

Building Plans for Temporary Amazon Office — JBG Smith “submitted plans March 7 to make common area improvements throughout the 12-story, 221,000-square-foot [office building at] 1800 S. Bell St., to be leased in full by Amazon.” [Washington Business Journal]

County May Change Building Plan Practices — “Arlington officials are considering ending same-day viewing at the Department of Community Planning, Housing & Development after a Washington Business Journal reporter asked to view a permit for a building Amazon.com Inc. is expected to lease, said Ben Aiken, director of constituent services in the county manager’s office.” [Washington Business Journal]

VRE Plans Moving Forward — “Virginia Railway Express is moving forward with plans to build an expanded Crystal City Station, a key step needed to expand and improve service. The VRE Operations Board is due to vote Friday to allow contracting to move forward for engineering work based on the already approved concept design.” [WTOP]

New Leases in Rosslyn — Earlier this week Monday Properties announced the signing of three lease deals at 1100 Wilson Boulevard, one half of its Rosslyn twin towers. The firms leasing new space are The Health Management Academy and Trilogy Federal LLC, while WJLA owner Sinclair Broadcasting is expanding its existing space. [Monday Properties]

Extensive Road Closures Saturday — Expect a number of road closures in Courthouse, Rosslyn and near the Pentagon Saturday morning for the annual Four Courts Four Miler. [Arlington County]

Nearby: Gentrification Fears in Arlandria — “Concern of rising rents and gentrification have always been present in the Arlandria neighborhood, which sits between South Glebe and West Glebe roads and ends at Potomac Yard. Amazon.com Inc.’s plan to move to nearby Arlington has only intensified those worries.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Plans to Guide Transformation of Rosslyn’s Streets Taking Shape, With Another Open House Set Tomorrow

Plans are coming together for a major transformation of Rosslyn’s streets, as county officials advance a series of proposals designed to someday make the neighborhood a bit more friendly to cyclists and pedestrians.

The county is holding a public meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) to unveil a newly revised design for the future of Rosslyn’s street network. Known as the “Core of Rosslyn” study, planners have been working since 2017 to finalize a redesign of the neighborhood that comports with the “Rosslyn Sector Plan” the County Board adopted in 2015.

Some of the proposed changes, revealed in detail last fall, are quite substantial.

Perhaps the largest one is the removal of the Fort Myer Drive tunnel under Wilson Blvd, transforming it into a traditional at-grade, signalized intersection. The county could also follow through on long-contemplated plans of building a car-free, “pedestrian corridor” running from 18th Street N.’s intersection with N. Oak Street to N. Kent Street, replacing the Rosslyn skywalk system to make the Metro station more accessible.

Another major change included in previous proposals was the conversion of N. Fort Myer Drive, N. Lynn Street and N. Moore Street into two-way streets. But officials are now rolling out a revised set of plans that would keep the latter two streets as one-way roads, after hearing feedback from the community on the study.

Planners have indeed seen Lynn Street as a particularly challenging option for opening up to two-way traffic. Though officials expect the change would make things a bit less confusing for drivers, it would also force the county to find new access points to the G.W. Parkway, I-66 and the Key Bridge.

Other proposed changes include 14 new or improved crosswalks for pedestrians, and more than 1.3 miles of new protected bike lanes. Those are largely set to run along Fort Myer Drive, N. Moore Street and N. Nash Street, and are designed to ease bike connections to the Key Bridge and the Mt. Vernon and Custis Trails.

The public meeting on the “Core of Rosslyn” plans is set for the Observation Deck at CEB Tower (1800 N. Lynn Street), located on the 31st floor of the massive office building, tomorrow from 4-7 p.m.

The county hopes to have final results of the study ready for consideration sometime this summer.

File photo

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Morning Notes

USPS Decides to Relocate Rosslyn Post Office — “The U.S. Postal Service will relocate the Rosslyn Station Post Office, located at 1101 Wilson Blvd, to a yet-to-be-determined location as close as reasonably possible to the current site.” [USPS]

Netherlands Carillon to Go Quiet, Temporarily — “Bells that have been ringing high atop an Arlington hill for nearly 60 years will soon go temporarily silent as they embark on a journey thousands of miles long… The 50 bells will be taken down by crane and sent by ship to a foundry in the Netherlands, where they will be cleaned and retuned.” [WJLA]

New Memorial Bridge Lane Closures — “Work is moving ahead on the Arlington Memorial Bridge, which means that the overnight traffic pattern will change to accommodate construction lanes. Starting on Monday, March 11, the National Park Service will reduce the number of lanes that drivers can access from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m.” [WTOP]

Ballston Tech Company Acquired — “Comcast today announced it has acquired BluVector, a company that uses advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide cybersecurity protection to companies and government agencies.” [BluVector]

‘Pizza With Police’ Event Planned — “Pizza with the Police, similar to the popular Coffee with a Cop series, is an informal event designed for Arlington’s residential and business communities to meet and interact with members of the police department, ask questions, discuss their public safety concerns and get to know their neighbors.” [Arlington County]

Amazon VP Tweets from Crystal City — “Delicious lunch at Federico Ristorante Italiano in #CrystalCity! It was fun to hang out with @FreddieFlamingo and see one of the great local restaurants that the future #AmazonHQ2 employees will be able to enjoy very soon!” [Twitter]

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Rosslyn Set to See New Pedestrian Safety Improvements at Busy Road Crossings

Rosslyn is set to see a few more pedestrian safety improvement over the course of the next year or so.

The neighborhood’s Business Improvement District, which advocates for Rosslyn businesses by collecting a small property tax, is planning a variety of short-term fixes to make the bustling streets a bit safer for walkers.

In plans delivered to the County Board Saturday (Feb. 23), the BID says it hopes to use some of its tax revenue to work with county police on the fixes, as part of a broader initiative to make the area more walkable. County officials have even contemplated the more drastic step of make certain roads in Rosslyn “car-free,” though they have yet to settle on a precise strategy for the neighborhood beyond some guiding principles.

In the short term, the BID plans to build new “crash-grade planters to help delineate safer pedestrian crossings” at several intersections. Many of the roads crossing Wilson Blvd are often the site of robust crowds in the morning and evening rush hours.

The BID also hopes to expand some of its “wayfinding” efforts “that will eventually encompass not only pedestrian signs, but also traffic signage” to better brand each section of Rosslyn. The BID has already done some work in that department, setting up area maps, and even rolling out efforts to improve green space in the area, including the county’s first “parklet.”

In the long term, the BID plans to continue to work on efforts to someday convert streets like N. Fort Myer Drive, N. Lynn Street and N. Kent Street into two-way roads, though those changes are still a ways off.

Other, more ambitious efforts could someday remove the Fort Myer Drive tunnel under Wilson Blvd, or replace the existing Rosslyn skywalk system in favor of an all-pedestrian and cycling corridor leading up to the area’s Metro station. Some new developments in the area could help spur progress on the latter effort.

But all of these changes won’t be on the way until the new fiscal year, according to the BID’s proposal. The group is also asking the Board to hold its tax rate on local businesses level at $.078, though ever-rising real estate values will send the BID an extra $166,000 in revenue from a year ago.

Photo via Rosslyn BID

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Popular Arlington Restaurateur Mike Cordero Plans New Taco Restaurant in Rosslyn

One of Arlington’s busiest restaurateurs is bringing a new fast-casual taco joint to Rosslyn.

Chef Mike Cordero plans to open “Taco Rock” in a space at 1501 Wilson Blvd, he announced today (Thursday). He’s targeting a May opening date for the new restaurant, taking the place of the long-shuttered Spinfire Pizza.

Cordero, the co-owner of popular Arlington bars from The G.O.A.T. to Don Tito, is backing the business in partnership with his sons, Nick and Anthony.

In a news release, Cordero’s company promises that the new eatery will feature “affordable, gourmet tacos” served on homemade, blue corn tortillas. Per the release, specialty taco options will include:

  • The Figgy Piggy — Slow roasted pork with sweet and savory fig glaze
  • Bourbon BBQ Short Rib — Short ribs with caramelized onions and crispy fried onions
  • Pork Belly Banh Mi — Grilled pork belly, Vietnamese slaw and cilantro
  • Ya Mon Caribbean Jerk Chicken — Grilled chicken, cabbage, jerk sauce topped with a mango pico de gallo
  • TNT — Fresh blue fin tuna seared with seaweed and cucumber wasabi sauce
  • Land & Sea — Skirt steak and beer-battered shrimp with caramelized onions and horseradish sauce

The menu will include breakfast offerings, homemade ice cream and stuffed churros as well.

Cordero also expects to offer “an extensive tequila bar,” with specialty cocktails and Mexican beers on tap too. The roughly 2,500-square-foot space will include an 18-stool bar and room for about 50 diners.

“Taco Rock offers the best of both worlds – upscale, out-of-the-box tacos without hurting your wallet,” Mike Cordero wrote in a statement. “We anticipate the Rosslyn community will deem Taco Rock as the go-to spot for a quick bite or the place to hang out and grab a tequila or beer.”

The restaurant will be Cordero’s ninth across the Northern Virginia area, and his first fast-casual establishment. It will sit adjacent to a Roti location and across the street from the neighborhood’s Target.

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Here’s Where You Can Pick Up Girl Scout Cookies Around Arlington

If you’ve got a hankering for samoas, thin mints and tagalongs these days, you’re in luck — it’s officially Girl Scout cookie season around Arlington.

Local troops have begun setting up booths around the county, with proceeds of the annual sale set to benefit the local Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital and fund a variety of trips and programs for kids around Arlington.

Booths are generally set up at Metro stations, grocery stores and other popular spots in the county.

Here’s a look at some of the main spots to get your cookie fix over the next few weeks:

  • Ace Hardware (2001 Clarendon Blvd): Saturday (March 2): 12-4 p.m. Sunday (March 3): 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Ballston Metro station (901 N. Stuart Street): Weekdays, 3:30-7 p.m., weekends 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street): Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays, 12:45-5 p.m.
  • Central Place Plaza Rosslyn (1800 N. Lynn Street): Thursdays and Fridays: 4-7:30 p.m.
  • Crystal City Metro station (1750 S. Clark Street): Weekdays, 3-7 p.m., weekends 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Courthouse Metro station (2100 Wilson Blvd): Weekdays, 3:30-7 p.m., weekends 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Deloitte Rosslyn (1919 North Lynn Street): Thursday (Feb. 28): 11:30-1 p.m.
  • East Falls Church Metro station (2000 Sycamore Street): Weekdays, 3:30-7 p.m.
  • Giant Food (2501 9th Road S.): Fridays: 4-8 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Giant Food (2901 S. Glebe Road): Fridays: 4-8 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Giant Food (3115 Lee Highway): Fridays: 4-8 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Giant Food (3450 Washington Blvd): Fridays: 4-8 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Market Common Clarendon (2800 Clarendon Blvd): Saturday (March 2): 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday (March 3): 1-5 p.m. March 9: 12-3 p.m.
  • Marymount University (2816 N. Dinwiddie Street): Wednesday (Feb. 27), 4:30-7:30 p.m.
  • MedStar Capitals Iceplex (627 N. Glebe Road): Saturday (March 2): 9:30-2 p.m. Sunday (March 3): 1-6 p.m.
  • Mt. Olive Baptist Church (1601 13th Road S.): Sundays: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Pentagon City Metro station (1200 S. Hayes Street): Weekdays, 3:30-7 p.m., weekends 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Safeway (2500 Harrison Street): Fridays: 4-8 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Safeway (3717 Lee Highway): Fridays: 4-8 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Safeway (1525 Wilson Boulevard): Sundays: 1-6 p.m.
  • Safeway (5101 Wilson Boulevard): Fridays: 4-8 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Westover Market (5863 Washington Blvd.): Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Photo via Girl Scouts of the United States of America

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Tech Company Yext Plans Major Rosslyn Expansion, Bringing 500 Jobs to the County

A New York-based tech company just announced a major new expansion in Rosslyn, with plans to bring 500 jobs to the county over the next five years.

Yext rolled out plans yesterday (Thursday) to lease a 42,500-square-foot office space at 1101 Wilson Boulevard. The company will occupy the top three floors of the building, and will help slash the office vacancy rate in Rosslyn, a persistent problem over the last few years.

Yext produces data management software for companies looking to manage their online presence, helping brands as large as T-Mobile and Ben and Jerry’s track and upload location information to directories across the web.

Company founder and CEO Howard Lerman, a Virginia native himself, says the move will help fuel his firm’s ongoing expansion efforts in the D.C. metro area, which he hailed in a statement as a budding tech hub now that Amazon is coming to the county.

“Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia are emerging as one of the country’s major hubs for tech talent, which was a key factor in our decision to expand in the area,” Lerman wrote. “Our new office will be a key foothold as we continue our global growth.”

Yext plans to offer an open floor plan, fully stocked kitchens and free meals to all employees at the space. The company also hopes to put up a sign displaying its name on the building, once the home of the county’s Artisphere, to adorn Rosslyn’s skyline.

Rosslyn has seen quite a few economic development victories in recent months, highlighted by Nestle bringing its American headquarters to the neighborhood last year. The tech consulting firm Accenture recently added an office in the area as well, and the We Companies recently opened a new coworking space in the neighborhood.

Rendering courtesy of Yext

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Students at Rosslyn’s Argosy University Left Without Federal Aid Cash, As School Faces Financial Woes

Many students at Argosy University’s Rosslyn campus are now stuck in limbo, waiting anxiously for the financially struggling school to release federal financial aid cash they desperately need.

Argosy’s parent company, Dream Center Education Holdings, has been in serious financial trouble ever since it starting working to acquire Argosy, the Art Institutes and South University. It recently entered into receivership, essentially declaring bankruptcy, and has now run into problems with federal loan money.

The U.S. Department of Education recently revealed that it sent millions in aid cash to DCEH, but Argosy failed to turn over any money left over after students’ tuition is covered. In all, that worked out to about $13 million, which students usually rely on to cover living expenses.

Federal officials say they aren’t sure what DCEH has done with the money, and could cut off all of Argosy’s access to federal aid cash going forward.

DCEH would not say when it might send the aid money along to students, but it did confirm that students at the Rosslyn campus (located at 1550 Wilson Blvd) have been affected by the discrepancy.

“We are working day and night to secure the release of funds from the Department of Education owed to students of Argosy University for federal financial aid,” Mark Dottore, the court-appointed receiver for DCEH wrote in a statement to ARLnow. “These are funds that both belong to these students and, in many cases, are critical to them.”

Dottore was also adamant that the Argosy campus in Rosslyn will remain open and “there are no plans to close the campus.” DCEH recently shut down all of its Art Institute locations, including the Rosslyn campus, in July, and officials in other states have warned Argosy students to prepare for imminent closures of the campuses.

“The university remains committed to providing our students with a quality education that makes an impact in their lives and the lives of others,” Dottore said.

But that leaves many students, including the roughly 500 students attending the Rosslyn campus, a bit stuck while Argosy gets its affairs in order. The Education Department says it plans to cancel student debts for the current spring semester, but anyone relying on the loan money to afford rent or other living expenses will be out of luck.

One concerned mother, who declined to use her name given the sensitivity of the matter, says her son, Joshua, is waiting on $9,000 from Argosy to afford the basics like rent and food. He enrolled in the Rosslyn’s campus doctoral program for psychology last fall, and is relying on a loan from his parents just to stay afloat.

She points out that her son left a full-time job to pursue a degree from Argosy, as do many students attending the school, and doesn’t feel he has much time left to wait before trying to return to the workforce.

“Argosy and its administration have strung him and all the students along with false hope and empty promises,” she wrote in an email. “He trusted the program and the school. He aspires to have a career as a psychologist so he can help others and those in the DMV community who suffer mental health issues. We have no idea what to do… and many are in the same boat.”

Dottore is set to report more details on DCEH’s finances in the coming days, but he’s already said he suspects that Argosy used the loan cash to cover staff salaries instead of sending it to students. If that’s the case, federal officials could revoke all of Argosy’s access to loan funds, which could force the university to shut down.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Another Food Hall Coming to Rosslyn — “Two local hospitality ventures have already announced plans for food halls in Rosslyn, and now a third food hall-type venue is being floated for the Arlington neighborhood. Even weirder? All three are on the same block of North Moore Street, the street where the Rosslyn Metro station is located.” [Washington Business Journal]

HQ2 Boosting Real Estate Market — “Real-estate professionals from across the local area already are seeing spring-level interest among prospective buyers, raising hopes for a solid start to the year. ‘The Amazon HQ2 announcement, plus favorable interest rates and a relatively mild winter, have all contributed to bringing the buyers out early this year,’ Northern Virginia Association of Realtors president Christine Richardson said.” [InsideNova]

Local Healthcare Firm Makes Acquisition — “Arlington-based Advantia Health LLC has acquired Illinois-based OB-GYN practice Heartland Women’s Healthcare in a deal that nearly doubled the local group’s size overnight.” [Washington Business Journal]

‘Coffee with a Cop’ Next Week — “The Arlington County Police Department, in partnership with the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is hosting its next Coffee with a Cop event on February 26, providing the public with an opportunity to meet and interact with the department’s Community Outreach Teams.” [Arlington County]

More Ballston Road Closures Planned — Additional road closures are planned along Wilson Blvd near the mall this weekend for continued work on the new Ballston pedestrian bridge. [Twitter]

‘Tree Action Group’ No Fan of Bike Trails — The Arlington Tree Action Group, a vocal local activist organization that often speaks out against plans to cut down trees, is apparently no big fan of bike trails. In response to a photo of a dog in front of the Eden Center after Wednesday’s snow, the group wrote on Twitter: “To [sic] bad the County doesn’t care how icy the sidewalks are as long as the bike trails and the other trendy County thoroughfares are clear.” The Eden Center, however, is in the City of Falls Church. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Neighborhood Spotlight: Get a Breathtaking View of D.C. From the Observation Deck in Rosslyn

https://www.facebook.com/kerishullteam/videos/365106244344780/?v=365106244344780

This content was written and sponsored by The Keri Shull Team, Arlington’s top producing residential real estate team.

In this video, Cassidy Ginivan from the Keri Shull Team takes us up to the Observation Deck in Rosslyn.

After passing through the box office just across the street from the Rosslyn Metro, you’re ushered into a glass elevator that starts up — and up, and up, an even longer ride than the Rosslyn escalator — as the streets shrink below you.

Soon you’re hundreds of feet above the rooftop patios of Arlington, the clouds look closer and you’re at eye level with blue sky through floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

A dark blue, geometrically fascinating ceiling glimmers with constellation-style lights overhead. As you walk the perimeter, your 360-degree view of Arlington, D.C. and surrounding land is punctuated by touch panel displays — “Windows into History” — where you can get hands-on with fascinating facts about historic figures and famous landmarks.

This is the Observation Deck.

The Observation Deck is just across the street from the Rosslyn Metro stop and 400 vertical feet above. It’s a space full of sleek glass and gleaming metal where you can gaze out of floor-to-ceiling windows for a sweeping view of D.C. and Arlington.

It’s fun to pick out familiar landmarks, from Courthouse to the National Mall… and it will make you wonder yet again why your commute, which looks so small from above, has to take so long.

Things To Do Above the Skyline

The Observation Deck’s aerodynamic-looking interior is as beautiful as the view itself, and there are lots of fun things to do here.

Don’t miss the Instagram experience, where you can get amazing photos above the skyline with perfect natural lighting. Hover D.C., an immersive flyover experience, allows you to see and feel what it’s like to hover over the city with actual birds-eye footage of the nation’s capital, even restricted airspace. See the rooftops pass beneath your feet as the wind blows in your face.

There’s now a new lounge bar on the 32nd floor — called “The View” — pouring Champagne and displaying photos from local photographers. For a chance to get noticed and have your photo shared on screens in the champagne bar, tag your own photo from the Observation Deck or surrounding D.C. area with the hashtag #TheViewofDC on any social platform.

Events include Sunrise yoga every month, the Revolutionary Rivalry event on March 9th to prepare for the George Mason versus George Washington basketball game and many other events announced via @theviewofdc on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

What are some other good spots for a scenic view in Arlington? Let us know in the comments.

If anyone you know is looking to buy or sell a home in the DMV, contact the Keri Shull Team today!

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Morning Notes

Update on Key Bridge Marriott Development — The Los Angeles-based developers that bought the 5.5-acre Key Bridge Marriott property in Rosslyn plan to extensively renovate the hotel, which is the second Marriott ever and the oldest currently in operation. Also planned: additional development on the site according to its zoning, which would allow more hotel rooms plus up to 660,000 square feet of office space and 630 residential units. [Washington Business Journal]

Holiday Closures Monday — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries and facilities will be closed on Monday, February 18, 2019, for George Washington Day. Trash and recycling pickups will operate on a normal schedule for Monday customers.” [Arlington County]

Roads Treated But Snow Depleted — Arlington County has been pre-treating major roads and hills with brine in anticipation of snow this weekend, but chances of accumulating snow have rapidly dwindled. [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]

Black History Figures of Arlington — “Columbia Pike and South Arlington have been called home by several African American trailblazers, activists, and organizations that work toward the noble goals of equality and freedom for all,” including James “Uncle Jim” Parks, Dr. Charles Richard Drew, Evelyn Reid Syphax and Dr. Talmadge T. Williams. [CPRO]

Local Crossing Guard Honored — “Jamestown Elementary School crossing guard Kathy Patterson has been recognized by the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program as one of Virginia’s Most Outstanding Crossing Guards for 2018-19.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Quote of the Day — From New York Times senior economic correspondent Neil Irwin: “The Amazon HQ2 stunt started with notions that the company might single-handedly turn a city like Pittsburgh or Raleigh, or even Detroit, into a major tech hub, and ended with filling in a bunch of vacant office buildings next to National Airport.” [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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D.C. Man Sentenced to 28 Years Behind Bars After Sexually Assaulting Woman in Rosslyn

A D.C. man will now spend nearly 30 years behind bars after he posed as a maintenance worker and then sexually assaulted a woman in Rosslyn.

Arlington County Circuit Court Judge Louise DiMatteo sentenced 25-year-old Richard Allen Lowe to 28 years in prison on Friday (Feb. 8). Lowe previously pleaded guilty to charges of unlawful wounding, abduction, burglary and sexual penetration back in August.

“The defendant preyed upon his victim’s sense of safety by posing as someone she should trust in her own home,” Police Chief Jay Farr wrote in a statement. “While nothing can completely restore her sense of security, our community is safer today because of the significant sentences imposed by the court on a violent offender.”

Prosecutors say Lowe entered an apartment building on the 1500 block of Key Boulevard around 9:45 a.m. on May 7, 2017, where he began knocking doors and claiming to be a maintenance worker.

When one woman opened her door, Lowe pushed past her into the apartment and sexually assaulted her before fleeing the scene. Detectives then relied on a “review of crime scene evidence, witness interviews and laboratory results” to identify Lowe as a subject, according to a news release.

Police then arrested Lowe in D.C. last February, and he pleaded guilty soon afterward.

“The sentence handed down by Judge Louise DiMatteo takes a dangerous predator off the streets and puts public safety front and center,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos wrote in a statement. “The defendant was brought to justice by the dogged work of Arlington County detectives who worked painstakingly to identity Lowe and link him to his crimes.”

Photo courtesy of Arlington Police

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BREAKING: Lynn Street Closed After Explosion Heard in Rosslyn

Update at 5:05 p.m. — Dominion has confirmed to authorities that the loud boom was caused by a malfunctioning underground transformer. Due to redundancies in Rosslyn’s electrical system, power has been restored to buildings affected by the outage, according to scanner traffic. Road closures are expected to be lifted soon.

Earlier: Arlington County Police have closed N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn to traffic and pedestrians after an explosion was heard in the area.

Initial reports suggest the explosion might be electrical in nature. 911 callers reported hearing a very loud boom, then seeing smoke and dislodged manhole covers near the Cosi restaurant at the corner of Lynn and 19th streets.

A Dominion power outage map reports an outage in the Rosslyn area. Officers escorted Dominion’s vehicles through Arlington to the scene to hasten their response. As of 5 p.m., police were still awaiting the assessment of Dominion crews before reopening the roadway.

Additional firefighters were sent to Rosslyn after the initial dispatch for reports of stuck elevators and smoke coming from the top of a building, both of which are likely related to the power outage.

No injuries have been reported, a police spokeswoman said. Metro said the explosion was not related to Metrorail service, though Metrobus service is affected by the road closure.

Drivers should expect major traffic impacts in the area with much of Rosslyn’s main outbound thoroughfare closed during the evening rush hour.

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Rosslyn ‘Microbusiness’ Sees Both Rewards and Challenges With Small Size

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

All That Yazz, a relatively new, Rosslyn-based soap business has managed to capture the sights, sounds and, most of all, smells of workspaces in Arlington.

An offering of the small business is the “Executive Soap,” named for the contractors, consultants and government workers who make Arlington, Arlington.

“It smells like power. It smells like corporate power. Which is ironic because it is a homemade soap,” said Yasmine Bandali-Alvarado, owner of All That Yazz.

It captures that whiff of air in the wake of a coworker passing your desk to take care of something, she said.

But the one-woman, two-year-old operation has few things in common with the high-rise offices around it.

With microbusinesses come micro budgets. Plus, artists like her have challenges in running a business because they have to put a damper on their creative side in favor of thinking strategy, profit and the bottom line, she said. 

“It’s good to be creative, but then, how do you sell it; how do you advertise it; how do you know what people are looking for?” she said. “Without that business side, it’s just a piece of art.”

All that Yazz offers 18 soaps, most of which are vegan, but some are made with goat and even camel milk.

“It’s a very luxurious soap — the camel’s milk is a notch above the goat’s milk,” Bandali-Alvarado said.

All the soaps are environmentally friendly; they’re free of palm oil, which has come under fire from conservationists because its production can negatively impact local ecosystems, she said.

Farmers burn harvested palm trees to plant new ones, creating smoke and contributing to global warming, Bandali-Alvarado said. Wildlife living in palm tree plantations is driven out, sometimes into the hands of poachers. Bandali-Alvarado was raised in Kenya, giving her an especially deep appreciation of the issue.

“This is really a big part of why I am so passionate about the soaps,” she said. “It’s a much deeper issue and it offers the consumer an alternative.”

Like many such businesses, All That Yazz relies on local festivals to reach customers. There are enough events in Arlington, but the organizers should focus more on the microbusiness vendors, she said.

Bandali-Alvarado’s friend Tineshia Willett, the owner of custom head wrap microbusiness, The Nicole Renee Collection, said she’s had similar experiences with festivals in the D.C. metro area.

“The majority of them are disorganized. To me, they just want the money (from the vendors),” said Willett, a Crystal City resident. “The person who is organizing it is late and it’s their cousin, their momma — the baby — running it.”

Even before they reach an event, there’s a problem, the women said. The owner has to first earn back the vendor fee and the cost of production before turning a profit, Bandali-Alvarado said.

Mary-Claire Burick, president of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID) said a hallmark of the organization is its business engagement program, which connects businesses and helps with marketing even for small businesses like All That Yazz.

“Organizations like ours are critical, especially for small businesses,” Burick said. It offers some 200 events a year and access to its marketing channels.

“Networking is just key,” Bandali-Alvarado said. “You rely on referrals (because) usually the cost of advertising is too high.”

Photos of soap and Yasmine Bandali-Alvarado courtesy of All That Yazz

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Morning Notes

Student Population Predicted to Keep Rising — “Arlington school officials say they now anticipate the total student population to rise an additional 24 percent by 2028, and the latest round of projections has raised fears the school system could fall further behind in its efforts to keep up with elementary-school enrollment.” [InsideNova]

Amazon to First Come to Rosslyn? — “Amazon.com Inc. is said to be in talks to take some or all of the planned WeWork co-working space set to open in Rosslyn later this year as it plots its longer term growth at National Landing,” reports the Washington Business Journal. ARLnow has also heard from a commercial real estate source that Amazon will station its initial Arlington “HQ2” employees at the Rosslyn WeWork, while its temporary space in Crystal City is built out, but we have been able to confirm the rumor. [Washington Business Journal]

Local Elm Tree Honored — An American elm tree on S. Randolph Street “has become the first elm tree to be named a specimen tree in Arlington County.” [Arlington County]

Police Outreach Meeting Postponed — “Due to projected inclement weather, the North Outreach Team Quarterly Meeting scheduled for… January 29, has been postponed. Event details on the rescheduled meeting will be provided at a later time.” [Twitter]

Patient Stops By Fire Station to Thank Rescuers — “Andrew stopped by Fire Station 10 to show his gratitude after being extricated from his overturned Jeep last week on Route 110. Andrew was released from the hospital one day after the accident with no life threatening injuries.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Landmark Mall Development Update — “There are several years until any major construction activity occurs at Landmark Mall, but Alexandria and the mall’s owner are homing in now on the parameters that will guide the nearly 6 million-square-foot redevelopment… Buildings could rise as high as 250 feet, per one recommendation.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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