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The Village at Shirlington is hosting its annual holiday event “Light Up the Village” (Photo courtesy of Federal Realty Investment Trust)

The lights are being turned back on in Shirlington for its annual holiday event next week.

Shirlington’s “Light Up the Village” is set for Thursday, Dec. 1 from 6-8:30 p.m.

Like previous years, the holiday event will include a Christmas tree lighting, horse-drawn carriage rides, selfies with Santa, and a holiday market featuring local makers. There will also be strolling entertainment, face painting, and balloon twisting.

Additionally, students from Bishop O’Connell High School and Shirlington-based Signature Theatre are both scheduled to perform holiday music.

The schedule with times is below:

  • 6:00 pm Holiday Musical Performance by Signature Theatre
  • 6:30 pm Tree Lighting celebration
  • 6:40 pm Horse and Carriage Rides
  • 7:00 pm Photos with Santa (located at Hardwood Artisans)
  • Live Holiday Music Performance by Bishop O’Connell High School
  • FREE Face Painting and Balloon Twisting
  • Strolling Entertainment
  • Merchant specials and promotions

The event is free. It first started about 20 years ago.

Attendees will continue to be able to “sip and stroll,” as has been the case since 2020.

Food items and donations to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) will also be accepted at the event.

The Village of Shirlington, which is owned by Bethesda-based Federal Realty Investment Trust has had a slew of business openings in recent months with more likely on the way.

Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls and Diament Jewelry opened at the shopping center over the summer. Greek restaurant Our Mom Eugenia is looking to open soon, while Jeni’s Ice Cream is still setting up shop in a space formerly occupied by a Thai rolled ice cream business.

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Shirlington-based Signature Theatre has announced a slew of new shows and events as part of a season-long tribute to Stephen Sondheim.

Earlier this week, the well-known local theater on Campbell Avenue released its show schedule for the upcoming season. It will feature a season-long tribute to the American musical icon Stephen Sondheim, who died last November.

The theater has produced 31 Sondheim productions in its history, more than any other theater in North America, per a press release from Signature.

So Many Possibilities: A Season of Sondheim” will include three all-new productions from Signature of Sondheim classics: “Into the Woods,” “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” and “Pacific Overtures,” a rarely-produced musical due to the need for specific casting and production demands.

The addition of three more shows will bring the total of Sondheim shows performed at Signature to 34, a press release notes.

As the American theater that has produced and championed more of Sondheim’s work than any other, Signature Theatre is proud to present So Many Possibilities in honor of his memory and in celebration of his unparalleled contribution to the American musical theater canon,” Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner said.

Along with three new fully produced musicals, there will also be a number of other events celebrating the lyricist. That includes book signings, sing-alongs, and a collective effort to sing (or speak) every lyric of every Sondheim song called “Sharing Sondheim.”

Signature Theatre opened in Shirlington nearly three decades ago, converting an old auto garage into a theater. In 2007, the theater moved about a quarter of a mile away into a $16 million space that was built in partnership with the county. Signature won the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2009.

Signature Theatre’s show and event schedule through July 2023, from the press release, is below.

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Two design concepts have emerged for a temporary outdoor arts space where Inner Ear Studios, the epicenter of the D.C. punk scene, used to be.

Last year, Arlington County acquired two parcels of land — 2700 S. Nelson Street and 2701 S. Oakland Street — and the warehouse that sits on it, which housed Inner Ear, a Ben & Jerry’s catering outfit and, temporarily, part of Arlington Food Assistance Center, while its main building was under renovation.

Shortly after the acquisition, Arlington County began making plans to raze it and build an outdoor entertainment space as part of an effort to implement an arts and industry district in Green Valley.

Dealing with the optics of demolishing a famed recording studio to build an arts and industry district, the arts division argues the space responds to community needs and makes art more accessible.

“Arlington County is prioritizing a community-based vision that is reflective of local needs and ideas for public arts programming,” per a recent report.

So this spring and summer, Arlington Arts and a placemaking and public arts firm Graham Projects engaged with nearly 400 people, nearly half of whom live or work nearby in Green Valley, Shirlington and elsewhere, through in-person and virtual events, as well as an online engagement page.

Participants shared their feedback on colors, themes, local history and programming, which formed the basis of the two designs. Generally, they envisioned an open space with natural landscaping and plantings, murals and temporary sculpture installations.

Respondents suggested creating a space that could host open-mic nights, art classes, festivals, kids performances, movie nights, partnerships with schools and community arts programs, and food-related programming to dovetail off the work of nearby Arlington Food Assistance Center, per the report.

Some requested multicultural programming and an emphasis on ethnically and racially diverse artists to highlight the same diversity in Green Valley. Others suggested a new recording studio to pay homage to Inner Ear Studios, which has returned to founder Don Zientara’s basement in Arlington Heights.

In short, as one resident said, the open space should be “a place to create music and art, and not just another performance venue or theater stage.”

Another resident urged the county not to “replicate things that are already available to the community within Jennie Dean Park.”

After going over the feedback, Graham Projects came up with two designs, dubbed the “Grid” or the “Glade.” Both feature:

  • a large event space
  • a small performance area
  • a temporary public arts space
  • a makerspace
  • natural berm seating and built seating

The “Grid” design features community tables while the “Glade” has some pergolas covering community tables.

A pergola, left, amd community tables, right (via Arlington County)

But not everyone wants to see these features take over the open space.

One had concerns that portable art would be stolen, while some others said the county should consider adding parking for visitors to and staff at the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

“‘Pave paradise’ and please, please, please, put up a parking lot,” one said.

People can provide their feedback on these designs through Monday, Nov. 21.

Demolition could start in late 2022 or early 2023, according to a county webpage for the project.

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Shirlington frozen dessert fans are getting the cold shoulder.

Frozen yogurt spot Yogi Castle at 4014 Campbell Ave appears to have closed a couple of months ago, with the interior now cleaned out and the awning removed. What’s left is an outline of a sign that once read “Yogiberry,” which was the business name prior to Yogi Castle.

ARLnow hasn’t been able to reach the business owners to confirm exactly when and why it closed. Property owner Federal Realty Investment Trust also was not able to provide details about the shop’s departure from the Village of Shirlington.

Yogiberry first opened in 2010, replacing Maggie Moo’s ice cream.

For a moment, it appeared that Shirlington was not going to have to wait long for a new frozen dessert spot.

Back in April, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream announced that it was moving into a space just down the street from Yogi Castle at 4150 Campbell Avenue. It’s replacing a Thai rolled ice cream spot, which closed late last year.

While Jeni’s stickers plaster the storefront’s windows, it remains unclear when the scoop shop might open.

There is no estimated date or timeline for the Shirlington store’s opening, a Jeni’s spokesperson tells ARLnow in an email. The location is not listed yet on the company’s main site, and interior construction appeared to still be in the early stages a couple of weeks ago.

The Ohio-based ice cream company currently has shops in Bethesda, D.C., Alexandria, and Tysons, which opened in the spring of last year.

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The annual Shucktoberfest oyster and craft beer festival is returning to Shirlington this weekend, complete with a number of road closures.

The 5th annual event is taking place in Shirlington from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday. It will feature local breweries, food and oyster tents and local vendors, and is being billed as family- and dog-friendly.

Tickets to the event, organized by Shirlington restaurant Copperwood Tavern, are $46 for those 21+ and include a beer tasting mug and tickets redeemable for beer and oysters.

Arlington County police will be shutting down some main streets in Shirlington to make way for the festival.

From an ACPD press release:

The 5th annual Shucktoberfest in the Shirlington Village will take place on Saturday, October 22, 2022 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Arlington County Police Department will conduct the following road closures from approximately 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. in order to accommodate the event:

  • Campbell Avenue, from S. Quincy Street to S. Arlington Mill Drive
  • S. Randolph Street, from S. Arlington Mill Drive to 2800 S. Randolph Street

The public should expect to see an increased police presence in the area, and motorists are urged to follow law enforcement direction, be mindful of closures, and remain alert for increased pedestrian traffic. Additionally, vehicles will not be allowed to enter or exit the covered Harris Teeter parking structure on Campbell Avenue. Harris Teeter customers can access the parking garage via the alternative entrance behind the store.

Attendees are encouraged to use multimodal transportation services, as parking in the area will be limited around the event. In addition, street parking in the area will be restricted and motorists should be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs. Illegally parked vehicles in violation of the posted signage may be ticketed or towed. If your vehicle is towed from a public street, call the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222.

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The Village at Shirlington (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A man was arrested over the weekend after allegedly walking down a busy street in Shirlington while exposing himself.

Police were called to the 4000 block of Campbell Avenue around 7:20 a.m. Sunday.

“Upon arrival, officers made contact with the suspect and took him into custody without incident,” Arlington County police said in a crime report. “The investigation determined the suspect was allegedly in the roadway exposing himself. The suspect was transported to an area hospital for medical evaluation.”

The 24-year-old man was released on a summons.

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The logo for ‘It’s Academic’ (via YouTube)

After 61 years with D.C.’s local NBC station, the teen quiz show “It’s Academic” has a new broadcast home: WETA-TV in Arlington.

And the inaugural episode on the public TV station will feature a team of three Arlington students from Washington-Liberty High School, who will face teams from Herndon High School and W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax County.

As early as fall 2024, the show could be produced at the local PBS station’s headquarters in Shirlington, at 3939 Campbell Ave, which are currently being renovated. But for now — due to the pandemic — students are participating via Zoom.

For Senior Vice President and General Manager Miguel Monteverde, Jr., bringing the show to WETA was an obvious decision.

“It was a no-brainer,” he tells ARLnow. “There’s no show more local than one that features… 240 of frankly some of our brightest kids, our future leaders, in an education themed quiz show.”

The last few years have been rocky for the independently produced show, which has aired on WRC-TV (NBC 4) since it started in 1961 and holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for the longest-running TV quiz show.

“It’s Academic” was previously filmed in WRC-TV’s historic Studio A in upper Northwest D.C., near the American University campus, until renovations started on that building. The show then bounced around filming locations while still airing on NBC 4.

Then, the show lost its longtime sponsor Giant, which decided to focus on food-related philanthropy. Finally, the pandemic hit, and filming pivoted to Zoom.

Major funding for the show is now provided by McLean-based MITRE. And now, having a new broadcaster — and eventually a new filming location — provides “It’s Academic” with even more security, Monteverde says.

“I’m glad that all the stars were aligned and that we could work out a deal and keep that show going and bring it to the WETA audience,” he said.

For now, kids will still use Zoom to appear on the show, but as early as the spring, the show could be in-person at a yet-undetermined location.

“The kids are just as smart on Zoom as they are in the studio, but they’re eager for the show to be in the studio,” Monteverde said. “You’ve got the parents and family members in the seats, the team mascot. Schools will bring cheer squads. It’s a more visually interesting, festive experience.”

Washington-Liberty High School students on an episode of “It’s Academic” that premiered April 30, 2022 (via YouTube)

Although renovations to the WETA building could be finished next year, the studio won’t be ready for filming “It’s Academic” until the 2024-25 school year, he said.

“When we’re able to finally get the show in the new WETA studios in a couple of years, it will start to look a little different,” he said. “It’ll still be the quiz show format, but it’ll be in a new studio, so we have an opportunity to give it a fresh look.”

Monteverde approached the producers of “It’s Academic” about switching homes to add to the station’s stock of local shows. He says WETA is investing in local programming to distinguish itself from streaming services and cable television.

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Street scene from Clarendon Day 2017 (file photo)

A number of in-person events are back in Arlington this weekend after extended pandemic-related hiatuses. With those, though, comes road closures.

Clarendon Day is returning this Saturday (Sept. 24) for the first time since 2019. One of Arlington’s largest street festivals, the event will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and include music, food, vendors, and art.

There will be road closures throughout the neighborhood, including large swaths of Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd. The closures will begin in the middle of the night, around 3 a.m., and go as late as 10 p.m.

The closures include:

  • Wilson Boulevard, from N. Highland Street to Washington Boulevard
  • Clarendon Boulevard, from Washington Boulevard to N. Garfield Street
  • N. Highland Street, from 11th Street N. to Wilson Boulevard
  • N. Herndon Street, from Wilson Boulevard to alleyway behind CVS
  • N. Hudson Street, from Wilson Boulevard to alleyway behind CVS
  • Southbound N. Highland Street, from N. Hartford Street to Wilson Boulevard
Clarendon Day 2022 road closures (image via ACPD)

The Prio Bangla Multicultural Street Fair is also making its comeback after a pandemic hiatus, taking place on Saturday (Sept. 24) in the Arlington Heights neighborhood between Columbia Pike and the Arlington Career Center. The annual festival has been going on for about a decade.

There’s only one road closure related to this event and that’s 9th Street S. from S. Highland Street to S. Walter Reed Drive. The closure will be from 6 a.m. Saturday until midnight on Sunday (Sept. 25).

There are also two events in the Shirlington and Green Valley neighborhoods this weekend.

Beckett’s Celtic Festival is also set for Saturday in the Village of Shirlington. Campbell Avenue from S. Randolph Street to 28th Street S. (the alleyway near the Harris Teeter) will be closed from 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Finally, Valley Fest is taking place near Four Mile Run Drive on Sunday. The beer-centric event, organized by New District Brewery, did take place last year. The festival is set to begin around noon and go until 5 p.m.

S. Oakland Street, from S. Four Mile Run Drive to S. Nelson Street, will be closed to traffic from 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on Sunday to accommodate the event.

Valley Fest 2022 road closures (image via ACPD)

Arlington County police are cautioning that roads may be congested with vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the areas around these events, asking drivers to “remain alert.”

Parking will be restricted and there will be a larger police presence in the area, according to ACPD.

“Street parking near the events may be restricted. Motorists should be on the lookout for temporary ‘No Parking’ signs. Illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed or towed,” said a press release. “If your vehicle is towed from a public street, call the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222.”

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Sunset over Park Shirlington (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

A proposed apartment renovation project in Shirlington could receive an additional $2.6 million in loans from the county.

Tomorrow (Saturday), the Arlington County Board is set to review a proposal increasing the size of an existing loan from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) for renovations to the Park Shirlington Apartments, a 1950s-era, garden-style complex with 293 units along 31st Street S., on the edge of the Fairlington neighborhood.

The loan under consideration would bring the total amount Arlington is lending to the property owner, Standard Communities, to $31.9 million. This number includes a $22.8 million loan approved last summer, an existing $6 million loan used to assist Standard Communities with the purchase of the property in 2017, and a more than half-million dollar deposit.

The owner intends to set the renovated units aside as committed affordable units to people making 60% of the area median income (AMI) for 75 years.

Pending County Board approval, renovations could begin this fall and be completed in 2024.

The “extensive” planned work includes new kitchens and bathrooms, new boilers and chillers, rooftop solar panels, a new community building with a fitness center, hallway upgrades and exterior work, according to a draft report outlining the project.

The current leasing office will be converted into a two-bedroom apartment, and the leasing and management office will move to the new community building.

Renovations will take approximately three weeks per unit, and approximately 10 units will be under renovation at a time.

Park Shirlington Apartments is nearly at-capacity, with only two vacant apartments as of March, according to a report outlining the renovation and relocation process.

Standard Communities says it’s taking several steps to minimize disruptions for tenants who stay and to assist tenants who earn too much to remain.

“Residents will be allowed to remain at the property during renovations,” said Erika Moore, a spokeswoman for the Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development. “Residents would temporarily relocate from their current unit, with all of their furniture and belongings, into a vacant ‘hospitality’ unit, which would be comparable to their current apartment.”

Standard Communities will provide residents with boxes and packing materials and a renovation coordinator will “schedule, coordinate, and supervise the moving of their packed belongings and furniture from their home to the hospitality unit and then back again using a licensed, bonded and insured professional moving company,” Moore said.

The owner will also arrange for packing and unpacking assistance for elderly residents and residents with disabilities, as well as “any other reasonable accommodation requests,” she added.

But an estimated 40 households will have to relocate, as they earn over 60% of the AMI. For an individual, that’s $59,820 a year.

A family of four living on 60% AMI ($85,380) and living in a 3-bedroom apartment would still meet the federal government’s definition of “rent burdened,” paying slightly more than 30% of their income on rent.

They will receive four-month notices and moving cost assistance, according to the relocation report.

Under the new threshold, rents would be $1,602 for a 1-bedroom, $1,921 for a 2-bedroom and $2,220 for a 3-bedroom apartment.

Arlington County was initially planning to buy and build up part of the property with a partner developer, Washington Business Journal previously reported, but that plan was eventually scrapped.

The county assisted Standard Communities with the acquisition in 2017 to prevent market-rate developers from taking it over, according to the draft county report. The owner then converted the complex to committed affordable housing for people making up to 80% AMI.

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(Updated, 8:50 p.m.) The company behind several Arlington bars is launching a membership service that aims to position its portfolio as a casual social club, of sorts.

The D.C.-based hospitality group Tin Shop — which owns Pentagon City’s Highline RxR, Quincy Hall in Ballston, the soon-to-open Astro Beer Hall in Shirlington, and seven other D.C. area food-and-drink spots — is starting the “Tin Shop Social Club,” a $39.99/mo service providing drinks and food to members.

The aim is to give regulars (and would-be regulars) a deal that keeps them coming back.

At Highline and Astro Beer Hall, for example, members are able to get a daily free beer while at Quincy Hall there’s a buy one pizza slice, get one free deal.

There will also be “additional perks,” like monthly happy hours, members-only lines, and, eventually, early access to tickets at a new D.C. concert hall.

“We thought long and hard while our doors were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic about how to create a community to bring back a sense of togetherness and unite people,” Tin Shop co-founder Peter Bayne tells ARLnow. “Essentially, we created this membership to bring our customers together from our various spaces across D.C. and Virginia — aiming to create a real sense of community.”

The goal is to amass 10,000 members and to have weekly member events at each of the spaces, notes Bayne.

Subscriptions have become somewhat of a restaurant industry trend. Locally, Arlington-based Lebanese Taverna launched a membership program late last year.

The popularity of such programs was part of Tin Shop’s thinking in launching their own.

“Clubs and memberships are what people want to be a part of. People want to meet like-minded individuals and join groups where they can meet up and have a good time,” says Bayne.

She calls Tin Shop’s program “the DMV’s new not-so-stuffy, country club social club.”

Tin Shop has recently grown its presence in Arlington. While Highline opened in Crystal City back in 2015, Quincy Hall served its first slices this past spring. The new Astro Beer Hall in Shirlington remains slated to open sometime this fall in the former Capitol City Brewing space.

For Tin Shop, a successful membership program means creating a community of regulars that are grabbing a beer at Highline together one day and a slice at Quincy Hall the next.

“Success looks like a large membership base that can come together weekly at any of our venues and get to know each other,” says Baybe. “What are bars if not a place to come together and have a good time? Meet new friends, maybe a new date? We feel as though this membership can help drive this point across — and ultimately build a network for individuals.”

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The W&OD Trail in Green Valley on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority is looking to expand the W&OD Trail in Arlington, potentially by 2027.

The organization, also known as NOVA Parks, released its five-year strategic plan on Tuesday. The plan includes proposed upgrades to Arlington’s section of the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail, including the addition of a dual-use trail.

Sometimes called “the skinniest park in Virginia,” the old railroad-turned-trail actually starts in Arlington, with mile marker zero in Green Valley near the intersection of S. Four Mile Run Drive and Shirlington Road. It extends about five miles running northwest through the county to Benjamin Banneker Park, continuing into Falls Church, and beyond.

About 2 to 3 million people use the trail each year.

NOVA Parks says it is aiming to “design and expand the capacity of the W&OD Trail in congested urban areas” including the Arlington section of the trail. That could mean a widening of the trail.

The design work for this expansion is expected to be completed within the next two years, per the plan. The work will be done in collaboration with the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.

Plans will also be developed for sections of dual trail along the W&OD in Arlington, like what was completed in Falls Church last fall. Dual trails allow for separate pathways for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The idea was first brought up at the Falls Church ribbon-cutting in October 2021 and was embraced by many who bike, run and walk on the trail, which can get crowded during peak usage times.

There was some opposition to expanding the trail, however, including from current County Board candidate Audrey Clement, who decried a “massive uprooting of vegetation” and runoff from additional paved surfaces.

The expanded W&OD Trail, with separate cycling and walking paths, in Falls Church (courtesy of NOVA Parks)

NOVA Parks Executive Director Paul Gilbert told ARLnow in an email that there’s grant money available to design something in Arlington that is similar to what’s now in Falls Church.

“The goal would be to do like we did in Falls Church and, where possible separate cyclists from walkers with parallel paths,” Gilbert said. “There may be areas where we just have room to make the single existing trail a little wider and other areas where users can have separate paths.”

In terms of when this might be built, that’s not clear with design work still needing to be completed. The hope is to bring those designs back to the community for feedback by 2024 and begin construction “when permits are approved.”

Overall, NOVA Parks is pledging to spend more than $6 million on creating and improving trails across the region over the next 5 years.

As the only regional park authority in Virginia, NOVA Parks encompasses 34 parks and manages 12,335 acres of land in six Northern Virginia jurisdictions, including Alexandria, the City of Fairfax, Falls Church, Fairfax County, Loudoun, and Arlington.

The strategic plan also promises a number of improvements, big-ticket projects, and expansion of Northern Virginia parkland over the next half-decade.

NOVA Parks is committing to planting 50,000 more trees, restoring native plantings to at least ten new areas, reducing parks’ carbon footprint by 2%, and expanding solar energy to three additional parks, all by 2027. The plan is also to start introducing electrical vehicles and mowers into its fleet by 2024.

Additionally, there are several big money items on the agenda. NOVA Parks is looking to acquire at least five new properties by 2027, as well as build a W&OD Trail Visitors Center.

The center is likely to be built in Loudoun County, Gilbert told ARLnow, near where a trail maintenance facility is currently located.

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