Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

School Shuffle Blowback Starts — “Alicia Rich, president of Key’s PTA, said she has been fielding texts and messages over WhatsApp from parents and staff members worried about the prospect of moving. ‘This issue is so huge for us,’ Rich said.
School system officials said they ‘urgently need’ the Key building as a neighborhood school because of the lack of space for students.” [Washington Post]

Arlington Office Market Improving — Arlington County landing Amazon HQ2, a selection announced one year ago this month, has helped move its office market in the right direction after years of struggles. The office vacancy rate in National Landing, the newly branded area comprising the Crystal City and Pentagon City neighborhoods, dropped from 19.6% in Q3 2018 to 16% as of Sept. 30, the lowest level since 2012, according to JLL.” [Bisnow]

Chamber Supports Keeping Dillon Rule — “Facing a possible Democratic majority in the General Assembly, @ArlVAChamber is standing firm in its support of the Dillon Rule. Why? A Dem majority could allow localities like Arlington to raise the minimum wage.” [Twitter, InsideNova]

Storms Don’t Deter Trick or Treaters — From a family that tracks the number of trick or treaters visiting their Arlington home: “Despite threatening weather and a tornado watch issued by the National Weather Service… 2019 was our second best year ever with 161 visitors, 13 goblins behind the all-time high of 174 visitors in 2016.” [Facebook]

ACPD Helps With Snakes, Too — “Sgt. Morrison proves he’s a jack of all trades! Yesterday he responded to a citizen assist call and helped safely relocate this snake.” [Twitter]

Opera Fans Plan Outreach Effort — “Reports of the demise of a certain musical genre are not just premature. They are just plain wrong, supporters say. ‘Clearly, opera is not a dying art – the music is still transcendent,’ said Paul Dolinsky, a board member of Opera Nova, which on Oct. 27 held its annual fund-raising brunch at Washington Golf & Country Club.” [InsideNova]

Local Teen Is Runner Up in Entrepreneurship Competition — “Ela Gokcigdem has good news to share about her ePearl noise-cancelling wireless earbuds. They were a big hit in the Big Apple… The 17-year-old senior at Wakefield High School in Arlington participated in the NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. More than two dozen competitors from around the country pitched their products to a panel of judges.” [WJLA]

Nearby: Road Closure Planned in Seven Corners — “The Wilson Boulevard (Route 613) bridge over Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) will be closed from 9 p.m. Monday night, Nov. 4 to 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, Nov. 5 for bridge deck work, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Eastbound Wilson Boulevard traffic will be detoured via Route 7, Patrick Henry Drive, Route 50 and the westbound Route 50 service road back to Wilson Boulevard.” [VDOT]

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Morning Notes

More on Seven Corners Death Investigation — “Detectives from our Major Crimes Bureau are investigating after a body was found… in the 6100 block of Arlington Boulevard in Falls Church. Officers found a 49-year-old Hispanic man lying unresponsive in an alley near the intersection of Arlington Boulevard and Patrick Henry Drive.” [Fairfax County Police]

D.C. Area Adds Fewer Jobs Than Expected — “The Washington region added 35,300 jobs in 2018 based on data released yesterday from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 16,800 fewer jobs than indicated by the preliminary releases.” [George Mason University]

Home Sales Continue Trend — “Year-over-year home sales across the Washington region have now tumbled each of the first two months of 2019, but the median sales price rose for the 29th consecutive month, according to new data, while inventory levels tightened slightly as the winter market segued into spring.” [InsideNova]

Dudley’s Opening at Last — Nearly four years after it was first announced that a new sports bar called Dudley’s Sport and Ale was coming to the former Bungalow space in Shirlington, the long-delayed sports bar is finally planning to open to the public on Friday. [Facebook]

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Morning Notes

Seven Corners Suspicious DeathUpdated at 10:25 a.m. — Fairfax County Police are investigating a “suspicious death” on the 6100 block of Arlington Blvd in Seven Corners, near the Arlington border. That block is home to the Willston Centre shopping center, a McDonald’s, a hotel and a number of commercial offices. [Twitter, Twitter]

What’s Up With the ‘Psychedelic Tower?’ — “You’ve probably seen the tower if you’ve ever driven across the 14th Street Bridge… It’s a hexagonal, granite structure that sits about a third of the way down the bridge, closer to the Virginia side. By day, it doesn’t look like much. But by night, its windows light up like a gigantic kaleidoscope.” [WAMU]

New Pike Library Remains a Goal — “Arlington government leaders haven’t given up their quest to add a new library branch on the western end of Columbia Pike. But unless an unbeatable opportunity presents itself, a new facility is not going to happen immediately.” [InsideNova]

Arts Cuts Highlighted in TV ReportProposed budget cuts to the county’s scene shop, costume shop and technical services provided to local theater companies “would really destroy the arts community,” advocates told NBC 4 in a segment that aired last night. [NBC Washington]

Nearby: Seven Corners Office Buildings Purchased — “BoundTrain Real Estate has purchased the two commercial office towers located at 6400 and 6402 Arlington Boulevard in Falls Church for more than $38 million. The two 13-story buildings in the Seven Corners commercial district include more than 410,000 square feet of commercial space.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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Morning Notes

Snow Likely Tonight — An inch or two of snow may fall overnight tonight. Snow is also possible Sunday. [Capital Weather Gang]

Clement Running for County Board Again — “She’s been a familiar name and face in local elections for nearly a decade, and Audrey Clement has made it onto the ballot again for 2019. Clement filed all requisite paperwork to run for County Board as an independent, Arlington election officials confirmed.” [InsideNova]

Lee Highway Revitalization Process Chugs Along — “Neighborhood activists… turned out Feb. 12 to execute ‘The Arlington Way’ and put in their two cents on how to create a theme for the multi-ingredient pudding that has characterized Lee Highway since it was so-named nearly a century ago.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Ballston Apartment Project Update — “Saul anticipates substantial completion of its massive North Glebe Road project by early 2020. The $275 million development will include 490 apartments and 60,000 square feet of retail — small-format Target included — across 2.8 acres.” [Washington Business Journal]

Dim Sum Restaurant Closes in Seven Corners — “Fortune is closed for good. Always an awkward space in the middle of the Home Depot parking lot, but I know it was a special spot for many.” [Twitter]

Lubber Run to Become Smoke-Free — Thanks to a change in state law, Lubber Run Amphitheater could be smoke-free by the end of the year. The state has until now prohibited Arlington County from being able to enforce a smoking ban at the venue. [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy David Ruckman

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(Update at 2:20 p.m.) Police are now investigating an incident where two people were shot and killed at a Seven Corners-area apartment complex as a murder-suicide.

Fairfax County Police say the incident happened just before noon today (Tuesday) along the 3100 block of S. Manchester Street, near the Arlington County line.

Investigators now believe a man struck a woman with an SUV, and shot her. He then shot and killed himself, police believe.

Detectives are now working to identify the people involved.

Police don’t believe there’s any threat to the public associated with the shooting, but are still advising people to avoid the area.

Photo via @FairfaxCountyPD

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Morning Notes

Major Crystal City Development Approved — “The Arlington County Board today approved a two-phase plan to redevelop a portion of Crystal Square, in the heart of Crystal City. The project will add 100,000 square feet of street-oriented retail businesses, including a new Alamo Drafthouse movie theater and a grocery store, to Crystal Drive, and upgrade an existing office building to ‘Class A’ office space.” [Arlington County]

Sunflower Restaurant Closed in Falls Church — Vegetarian restaurant Sunflower recently closed its location in Seven Corners. In its place, Bawadi Mediterranean restaurant has opened. Meanwhile, Sunflower has a location in Vienna that remains open. [Twitter]

HUD Grant to House Low-Income Arlingtonians — “The nearly $464,000 HUD Housing Choice Mainstream Voucher Grant is a specialized voucher program that will help non-elderly persons with disabilities who are transitioning out of institutional settings, at risk of institutionalization, homeless, or at risk of being homeless, rent housing in Arlington. The County’s Department of Human Services expects 40 Arlington residents to will be housed through the grant.” [Arlington County]

Another Arlington Money Diary — Another Arlington resident is the subject of a Refinery29 “money diary.” The latest profile subject is “an administrative assistant working in law who makes $57,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on candles for her daughter’s birthday cupcakes.” [Refinery29]

GW Unveils New Clubhouse at Barcroft Park — “[GW] Baseball’s first on-site clubhouse was unveiled at Tucker Field Saturday after more than a year of renovations. The Fassnacht Clubhouse and Training Facility is a 6,200-square-foot space that includes a locker room, coaches’ offices, a players lounge and an indoor turf training space. Each player received a customized locker, and the existing batting cages at the field were also enclosed, according to an athletics department release.” [GW Hatchet]

Fall Foliage Mostly MIA in Va. — “By the final third of October, fiery colors of fall are usually all over the place in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Not this year. While we are still at least a week or two from typical peak fall foliage in the immediate D.C. area, this year’s delay in autumn color is unlike anything in recent memory.” [Washington Post]

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Improvements are planned for a one-way bridge linking eastbound Route 50 to Wilson Boulevard in Seven Corners.

The bridge is blocks away from Arlington’s western border with Fairfax County.

A new concrete bridge deck, steel beams, and concrete end walls have been proposed for the bridge, which was built in 1958, as well as upgraded bridge railings.

A new sidewalk would be installed along the opposite side of the bridge’s existing sidewalk, which would be rehabbed.

A public information meeting with project displays and a presentation by Virginia Dept. of Transportation staff is planned for Tuesday (April 3) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Sleepy Hollow Elementary School (3333 Sleepy Hollow Road, Falls Church).

Public comments can be given at the meeting. Project financing comes from state and federal infrastructure funds.

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Morning Notes

Instant Runoff Bill Passes Committee — A bill that authorizes the Arlington County Board to use instant runoff voting for Board elections has passed a state committee. The legislation from Del. Patrick Hope (D) is intended to “encourage consensus candidates and eliminate the likelihood that a fringe contender could sneak through with 25 or 30 percent of the vote in a crowded field.” [InsideNova]

Foxcroft Heights Fire — Arlington County and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall firefighters battled heavy fire in a townhouse near the eastern end of Columbia Pike Saturday evening. No injuries were reported but the home sustained serious damage. [Twitter, Twitter]

Fire at Willston Centre — A fire broke out Saturday night at a store in the Willston Centre shopping center in Seven Corners. TV news reports said the fire started in the Steven’s Shop tuxedo shop. Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze. No one was injured. [Patch]

Community Foundation Gala Set — The Arlington Community Foundation will be holding its annual gala on Saturday, April 21 at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City. The theme for this year is “This Is Us.” The event will feature a performance by “Arlington’s own Amy Wilcox and her band from L.A.” [Arlington Community Foundation]

Pushback on Naming Gravelly for Nancy Reagan — The pushback to the pushback against naming Gravelly Point park for First Lady Nancy Reagan has arrived. Writes a conservative website: “Opposition to the name change is… mean-spirited, petty partisanship. Nancy Reagan deserves better.” [Daily Signal]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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A “high adventure” ropes course that allows users to swing at the same level as treetops is one of several improvements set for Upton Hill Regional Park.

The park (6060 Wilson Blvd) in Seven Corners, will add a ropes course near its pool. The courses typically have sections constructed in trees or made of utility poles, and are designed to be a challenging activity. The park already has batting cages, mini golf, pools and trails.

In a presentation to the Arlington County Board last month, executive director Paul Gilbert of the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority, which manages Upton Hill, said the “high adventure course” has been a priority of people surveyed in the park for two years.

“You’ll be able to go all the way up, essentially, to the tree line and get a stunning view out over Arlington from there,” he told the Board. “We’re really excited. We think this will be a signature feature, something that in Visit Arlington promotions, you’ll probably have pictures of people up there and the wonderful views.”

In addition, that area of the park near the existing swimming pool is set for a new building to handle ticket sales for the course and the batting cages, with a section of that new structure available to rent for private events. The area would also get new outdoor seating and 91 new parking spaces.

Meanwhile, the area of the park near its entrance from Wilson Blvd is also set for a revamp. Gilbert said NOVA Parks will add a “high-end” playground, renovate the bathroom building and add new trails, seating areas and game tables.

Gilbert added that the authority is looking to add more lighting, and build a new entrance off Wilson Blvd with a small parking lot at its base, with the current driveway changed for trail use.

“It will be a very dynamic, interesting area,” Gilbert said, noting the authority’s desire to make that part of the park “sort of more of an urban place to hang out.”

But the $3 million plan has already come in for criticism from some quarters. Local activist Suzanne Smith Sundberg said not enough has been done to assess the impact on the park’s trees, planning for transportation needs has been inadequate, and there is a lack of transparency in the way NOVA Parks collected its survey data.

“By adding a new driveway, with an additional curb cut on Wilson Blvd, plus nearly an acre of paved parking, NVRPA will degrade one of the few remaining natural areas in Arlington County,” she wrote.

She added that more should have been done to engage with those who live in the nearby buildings like the Patrick Henry Apartments and the Seven Corners Apartments, among others.

“Whereas I sympathize with NVRPA’s need to generate more revenue, monetizing scarce natural land by converting it into developed land (particularly in an area that is already heavily developed) seems like a very high price to pay for a questionable gain,” Sundberg wrote in a lengthy email provided to ARLnow.com. “Without more precise information, it is difficult to see how this project makes sense from an environmental or economic standpoint as currently envisioned.”

For his part, Gilbert said the project will not interrupt natural resources already in the park. The plan still needs approval from the Virginia Department of Transportation — which controls Wilson Blvd near the park — as well as site plan approval from the county.

Images 1-3 via NOVA Parks presentation.

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A report has shown that areas of wealth and disadvantage exist very close together in Arlington, sometimes just blocks away from each other.

The report by the Northern Virginia Health Foundation, entitled “Getting Ahead: The Uneven Opportunity Landscape in Northern Virginia,” identifies what it calls 15 “islands of disadvantage,” where people face multiple serious challenges.

Those challenges include the levels of pre-school enrollment, teens out of high school, whether people have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, the level of English spoken in a household, unemployment rate, child poverty rate, health insurance rate and more.

Of those “islands,” three are either wholly or partly in Arlington: one near the county’s border with Bailey’s Crossroads and Seven Corners; another along Columbia Pike in the Douglas Park neighborhood; and another in the area of Buckingham and Fort Myer.

The report also found that neighborhoods separated by one thoroughfare can have very different demographics, housing and poverty levels.

“A striking example was near Ballston Common [Mall, rebranded as Ballston Quarter], where residents in two census tracts on either side of North Glebe Road — tracts 1019 and 1020.01 — faced very different living conditions,” the report reads. “In census tract 1019, east of N. Glebe Road, 85 percent of adults had a Bachelor’s degree or higher education and the median household income exceeded $160,000 per year.

“Just west of N. Glebe Road, in tract 1020.01, 30 percent of teens ages 15-17 years were not enrolled in school, only 38 percent of adults had a Bachelor’s degree and 48 percent of the population was uninsured.”

It also found that life expectancy can vary by as much as 10 years across the county, “from 78 years in the Buckingham area to 88 years in parts of Rosslyn and Aurora Highlands.”

To help improve conditions, the report recommended better access to health care, education and affordable housing.

“In today’s knowledge economy, advancement requires better access to education — from preschool through college — and economic development to bring jobs with livable wages to disadvantaged areas,” it reads. “And it requires an investment in the infrastructure of neglected neighborhoods, to make the living environment healthier and safer, to provide transportation, and to improve public safety. What is good for our health is also good for the economy and will make Arlington County a stronger community for all of its residents.”

Courtesy image

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Power is out in parts of Seven Corners after a truck brought down power lines behind the Eden Center in Falls Church.

The incident happened around 2:30 p.m. in the rear of the shopping center. Two utility poles were snapped in half as a result of the collision.

At one point, nearly 2,500 Dominion customers were without power in the area, including in parts of Arlington County. As of 3:30 p.m. Dominion was no longer reporting any outages in Arlington.

The Arlington County Fire Department responded to the scene for sparking power lines and a spill of mineral oil from the transformers. ACFD has since turned over the scene to Dominion, which will be cleaning up the spill, according to scanner traffic.

Some traffic signals in Seven Corners may be affected by the outages, according to Fairfax County Police.

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