Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Dorsey’s Bankruptcy Case Dismissed — “Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey, whose ethical and financial difficulties have tangled him in a web of false statements over the past year, fraudulently misrepresented his assets while filing for bankruptcy, a federal court ruled Friday… It was ‘an act of overt misrepresentation,’ [bankruptcy trustee] Thomas P. Gorman told the court at a hearing on Thursday, and ‘misconduct . . . so over the line’ that punishment was warranted.” [Washington Post]

Holiday Shopping Safety Tips — “ACPD wants you to have a happy and safe holiday season. While many are choosing to shop online this year, those shopping in-store are encouraged to be mindful of these safety tips.” [Twitter]

Event for Military Families Today — “An annual Winter Wonderland for Military Families hosted by a former NFL player and his wife will look very different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Derrick Dockery and his wife Emma will hold a drive-thru version of the event that provides toys and holiday cheer to military kids and families on Dec. 7 at a parking lot in Arlington, Virginia through their nonprofit, Yellow Ribbons United.” [Radio.com]

Santa Visit Still on This Weekend — “Santa Claus has paid a visit to the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department every year for over a century and he’s not going let the coronavirus pandemic force him to break that streak. In the interest of public safety, the jolly old elf will be meeting children outside this year in the parking lot of Cherrydale Baptist Church, which is located at 3910 Lorcom Lane.” [Patch]

More on CaBi Station at DCA — “Arlington County, Virginia, has installed a Capital Bikeshare station at Reagan National Airport, making it the first major metropolitan airport in the U.S. with a dock-based shared bike program. It is the 99th Capital Bikeshare dock installed in Arlington County.” [WTOP]

Gunston Coordinator Honored — “Shantha Smith, an education coordinator at Gunston Middle School, has been named a recipient of the 2020 Mary Peake Award for Excellence in Education by the state government. Awards were presented Dec. 3 in Richmond, and were named after a pioneering African-American educator.” [InsideNova]

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At this point, your inbox is probably flooded with Cyber Monday deals from stores you haven’t ordered from in at least three years — 30% off here, 50% off there.

But instead of getting distracted by the *best* and *lowest* prices from these national chains, we want to highlight a few local businesses that we love, and happen to be current advertisers or partners.

You can shop these businesses online today and throughout the entire holiday season.

Know of other deals at local businesses? Let us know in the comments.

Even if none of the above have what you’re looking for, we hope you’ll consider shopping local over the next few weeks.

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The Arlington County Police Department’s annual holiday toy drive returns tonight, and after a tough year.

The sixth annual Fill The Cruiser toy drive will help make the holiday season merry for vulnerable kids, police say. New health protocols, including contactless drop-offs, are intended to make sure the event can continue safely as coronavirus cases rise.

“This year, with families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for donations may be greater than ever and your generosity helps ensure the holidays are bright for some of our most vulnerable community members — children in need,” notes an ACPD release.

The fundraiser begins tonight (Nov. 20) at the Lee Harrison Shopping Center from 6 to 8 p.m. Three additional events will be held over the next couple of weeks.

According to ACPD:

Officers will collect new, unwrapped toys for children ages newborn to 17 at the following locations:

  • Friday, November 20, 2020, from 6 to 8 p.m. — Lee Harrison Shopping Center — 2425 N. Harrison Street
  • Monday, November 23, 2020, from 5 to 7 p.m. — Ballston Quarter — 4238 Wilson Boulevard — A cruiser will be located between Ted’s Bulletin and True Food Kitchen
  • Tuesday December 1, 2020, from 5 to 7 p.m. — Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church — 830 23rd Street S.
  • Wednesday, December 2, 2020, from 5 to 7 p.m. — Arlington Assembly of God — 4501 N. Pershing Drive

Upon arrival, participants should stay in their vehicle until they reach the unloading areas, where officers will be on hand to remove donations from their vehicle. A separate area will be available for those arriving by bike or foot.

Due to COVID-19 considerations, we will only be accepting toys at these predetermined dates and locations.

Toy Distribution

Toys will be distributed by the Police Department to community organizations throughout the month of December. Due to the ongoing pandemic, ACPD will not host pop-up distribution events in the community.

File photo

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From themed attractions to hydroponic farms, locals have dreamed up novel ways to revitalize Crystal City Shops (1750 Crystal Dr), an underground mall.

The shops, which rely largely on foot traffic from Crystal City office workers, have been struggling during the pandemic. But with Amazon’s arrival spurring new development, some local groups have been brainstorming a new future for the half-mile corridor.

Last week, the best ideas were proclaimed winners of the “Underground Challenge,” developed by Livability 22202, a group that includes the Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands and Crystal City civic associations.

“The Underground Challenge was organized to spur creative thinking about the Crystal City Underground and its future with the change and new development now happening in Crystal City and National Landing,” said Livability 22202’s press release. The group said that subterranean shops are “much loved by local residents.”

The challenge was sponsored by JBG Smith, which owns the shopping center, and the National Landing Business Improvement District, which serves the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods. The three groups founded a working group to liven up the sparse hallways.

People submitted creative writing pieces, videos or business plans to revitalize the buildings, corridors and plazas that were built a half-century ago.

“Entrants celebrated their fondness for the underground, pointed out its quirks and features, and proposed new ideas for its future,” said the press release.

These ideas included libraries, museums, urban farms or spaces for kid-friendly STEM activities.

Patricia Heath’s “Underground Energy” won first place in the “Write Underground” category:

“There are myriad issues to be addressed, and I don’t have all the answers (and likely don’t know all the challenges),” Heath wrote. “What I do know is this: the Water Park may be the outdoor personification of our Crystal City urban village, but the Underground is its beating heart and circulatory system, literally and figuratively.”

Runners-up in the creative writing category included Neena Gupta’s “In Search of a Protagonist” and Matthew Mercado’s “Dr. Mercado’s Diagnosis.”

Kari Klaus won the video category with a vision of a Las Vegas-inspired Underground.

Videos from the runners-up Emma Benson and Eric Cassell offered “fond — and satirical — commentary on the existing Underground experience.”

Business plan category winner Matt McKinstry suggested the “Under Grange,” a network of indoor hydroponic farms and agri-tech startups that grow vegetables, greens and herbs, and support cheesemaking and beekeeping, to supply local restaurants.

Runners-up included Michael Hong, who suggested a Museum of Science Fiction and venues for live music, and John Chapin, who imagined security-related businesses settling into the Underground.

“The community’s robust level of engagement in the ‘Underground Challenge’ truly reflects their passion for great places and appetite for continuous reinvention,” said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, the president and executive director of the National Landing BID, in a statement. “National Landing is fortunate to have such a committed community of residents focused on positive efforts that will improve the neighborhood for all.”

The contest’s judges included Robert Siegel, former co-host of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered; Arlington videographer Eric Courtney; and Arlington authors Rick Hodges and Kim O’Connell.

Livability 22202 said it plans to share ideas from the Challenge in future discussions about the underground.

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The Arlington County Board appears likely to consider a tax on plastic shopping bags later this year.

At the Board’s Saturday meeting, a volunteer from the group EcoAction Arlington spoke in favor of a five-cent tax on plastic bags, similar to that which has been implemented in D.C. and other cities, during the public comment period.

In response, Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz noted that state authorization for such a tax — a five cent tax on plastic bags from grocery stores, convenience stores and drugstores — was recently signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam, but will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2021. In the meantime, county staff are “working on” a proposal to bring to the Board in the fall, he said.

“We look forward to having a conversation,” Schwartz said.

The volunteer, Whitney Beer-Kerr, said that a per-bag tax helps to cut down on such bags — which take centuries to decompose — winding up in waterways and landfills. Revenue from the tax can also be used on a variety of environmental initiatives.

On the other hand, a key alternative to plastic grocery bags — reusable shopping bags — are being discouraged by stores for employee health reasons during the pandemic. And Schwartz said that charging extra money for plastic bags could raise “equity questions.”

Paper bags, however, remain a viable and more environmentally-friendly alternative, County Board member Katie Cristol said during the meeting.

What do you think?

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The owner of a pair of major commercial developments in Arlington is applying for permits that would allow on-the-go alcohol consumption within each shopping center.

Federal Realty Investment Trust is applying for a new “commercial lifestyle center” permit for the Village at Shirlington and Pentagon Row, on behalf of the merchant association for each shopping center.

If approved by Virginia ABC, it would allow shoppers and diners to take their alcoholic beverages to go, for consumption in the centers’ common areas. A change to the law allowing it, sponsored by local state Sen. Barbara Favola, took effect earlier this month.

“Following the implementation of a new state law on July 1, 2020, FRIT submitted commercial lifestyle center ABC license applications for the Village at Shirlington and Pentagon Row on Friday, July 10,” Dan Corwin, Director, Asset Management — Mixed Use for Federal Realty Investment Trust, told ARLnow this morning.

“The applications would allow people of legal drinking age visiting the Village at Shirlington and Pentagon Row to consume alcohol purchased from Shirlington’s and Pentagon Row’s ABC licensees in common areas managed and maintained by Federal Realty,” he said.

Property owner JBG Smith applied for the the same permit for its shopping centers in the Crystal City area, near Amazon’s HQ2, last year.

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In case you forgot, Friday is Valentine’s Day. Wait, before you make a panicked purchase on Amazon and hit “next day shipping,” a market is scheduled this Friday in Crystal City to rescue last-minute shoppers.

The Valentine’s Market is scheduled to run from 4-8 p.m. at The Grounds (1102 S. Eads Street) with a variety of local vendors. If gift-giving isn’t really your style, an event listing said there will also be plenty of activities to turn it into a date night:

Leave your Valentine’s Day shopping to the last minute again, or just looking for a nice outing that doesn’t involve a quiet restaurant? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the Valentine’s Market at The Grounds!

Join us at The Grounds in Crystal City for wine & beer tastings and shopping from local crafts and treat vendors. There will also be a cash bar and food trucks, powered by Curbside Kitchen, so you can make an evening of it!

The Facebook page noted that the beer tastings will be offered by Caboose Brewing Company and the wine will be offered by Crystal City Wine Shop.

According to the website, vendors at the event include:

The website also says Arlington County’s Vision Zero program will be in attendance, in case your partner is a transportation policy wonk.

Photo via Agents in Style/Facebook

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If state Sen. Scott Surovell’s (D-36) bill passes the Virginia legislature, businesses in Arlington could be on the line for recovering shopping carts people have taken but not returned.

Senate Bill 631 would make it so that the cost of removal, including disposal, of an abandoned shopping cart will be charged to the cart’s owner. The ordinance originally applied just to Fairfax County, but Surovell said Arlington and Alexandria asked to be included in the new legislation.

Surovell told the state Senate’s Local Government Committee that his frustration was borne out of years of personally pulling shopping carts out of a creek in Fairfax.

“These carts often end up in drainage ditches and when it rains they end up going in the creek,” Surovell said. “I’ve taken 230 shopping carts out of the creek myself.”

Abandoned shopping carts have been a plague on areas of Arlington, particularly the Pentagon City area, so prevalent they inspired Twitter accounts that have obsessively documented abandoned scooters around the area for the past several years.

The bill was reported from the Local Government Committee on a narrow 8-7 vote, where it faced pushback both on the dais and from public speakers. Parker Slaybaugh, executive director of the very newly formed nonprofit Virginia Food Industry Association, said the bill would make shopping carts the only stolen property where the victim of the theft is charged for its recovery.

That criticism was a recurring theme of opposition to the bill.

“If somebody steals your property, then abandon that, I don’t think you should be charged to have to go retrieve that property,” said State Sen. Bill DeSteph (R-82th District). “Businesses already paid to purchase it, [then] somebody stole it. The right thing to do would be to charge someone who stole it.”

DeSteph compared the proposal to requiring someone whose vehicle is stolen to retrieve the vehicle or pay for it to be recovered.

“It’s one of the points people raise every year and it’s totally wrong,” Surovell fired back. “To prove someone guilty of petty larceny [you] have to show intent to permanently deprive someone of something. The reason you don’t see these people charged with crimes is because it’s not a crime.”

Surovell said the legislation included a section that would allow localities to make it a civil infraction to take the carts from the business owner, though a police officer speaking at the meeting who claimed to have arrested someone for stealing a shopping cart disagreed with Surovell’s statement that it wasn’t a crime.

Sarah Taylor, Alexandria’s legislative director, said the city had asked to join the ordinance to give them another “tool in a toolbox” to encourage businesses to better manage their carts, such as geofencing.

Surovell also noted that at ALDI, customers put a quarter in to get the cart, get a quarter back when it is returned.

“It’s not about punishing the victim,” Surovell argued. “Retailers could take steps to keep this from happening, they just choose not to do it.”

https://twitter.com/CartChaos22202/status/1160961457388949505

Photo (top) via Scott Surovell/Twitter

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

The stuff we consume — from snacks to knick-knacks — are responsible for up to 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and between 50 and 80 percent of total land, material and water use.

New Zealand recently started a Gen Less campaign and this touching video has all the feels. It is a campaign focused on less = more. Gen Less is a decision to start getting more out of life by using less energy. It’s the first generation anyone can join, regardless of age. Interesting food for thought this holiday season.

Buildings and transportation often get the most focus when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That said, 60-80 percent of the impacts on the planet come from household consumption. If we change our consumption habits, this would have a drastic effect on our environmental footprint as well.

As you swing into the holiday buying season, here are the Rethink Energy Team’s top shopping picks:

Massage or Spa Gift Certificates: Giving the gift of self-care is one of the most thoughtful. Consider a gift certificate for a massage, facial, manicure or other relaxing treatment. Particularly after the rush of the holiday season, any means of stress relief is likely to be a very welcome gift!

Yoga or Workout Classes/Membership: Help your loved ones explore a new class or buy them a month at a gym they already belong to. Buy a punch card to a yoga class, golf lessons or tennis lessons. Even better, sign up for classes together!

A Class to Learn Something New: Turning interests into skills feels good, and whether the person on your list is interested in cooking, knitting, writing, ballroom dancing or juggling, there’s probably a class available to learn more about it.

Go Homemade: Whether or not you consider yourself crafty, you can make a variety or relatively simple homemade items to give as gifts. Everyone appreciates a creative homemade gift, and the possibilities are endless.

The Gift of Time: The gift of time is not only one of the most meaningful gifts, but it can be one of the most helpful. Everyone could use additional help in some area of their life — whether it’s a house cleaning, organizing, cleaning up the lawn or a special project.

Movie or Restaurant Gift Certificates: If gift cards are on your shopping list, consider local restaurants and movies. Dinner and a movie will always be a timeless gift.

Arlington’s Secret Santa Program: You can make the holiday season a little happier for some of Arlington’s most vulnerable residents by taking part in the Department of Human Services’ Secret Santa Program.

Start a Savings Account: For anyone with children in your family, consider starting a savings account. Instead of spending money on gifts, put a few dollars into a savings account to give them when they graduate high school.

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Up to three new businesses are set to replace the long-vacant Cardinal Bank building at the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center.

According to the shopping center’s developer A.J. Dwoskin & Associates, the bank’s demolition began earlier this week, and the new building will be “going up as quickly as possible.”

The company is early in its efforts to lease the 4,312 square feet of available space and “[does] not have any signed leases yet.”

“Depending on what deals come our way, we could have up to three new businesses,” said A.J. Dwoskin Marketing Director Lindsay Gilbert.

A county building permit submitted by A.J. Dwoskin at the bank’s current address (5335 Lee Hwy) details the building’s demolition, and adds that “the proposed building will be a 3,476 square foot restaurant space with a maximum of 125 seats.” The company would not comment on the permit or its mention of a restaurant.

Per signage at the construction site, the “retail pad building delivery” is expected in the first three months of 2020, but Gilbert said she does not expect any businesses operating in the spaces until later in the year.

“We’re particularly excited about the demolition, as that always creates a little neighborhood buzz,” Gilbert said.

In addition, the developer is also currently looking to lease two spaces in the lower levels of the busy shopping center, which houses a Harris Teeter store and restaurants like Peter Chang.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Loves Tito’s — The top-grossing liquor brand at Virginia ABC stores in Arlington, and most of Northern Virginia, is Tito’s Handmade Vodka. [Virginia Mercury]

More on Lee Highway Planning Process — “In the new year, the professional team will begin guiding the community in laying out a plan for the [Lee Highway] corridor’s next 30 years. Arlington is known for extensive and very slow community engagement, and the planning process will probably take at least two more years. The push for a more progressive, inclusive, sustainable US Route 29 must be perseverant.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Local ‘Passport’ for Small Biz Saturday — “One Page Books is partnering with thirteen other local businesses for Small Business Saturday. Pick up a Small Business Saturday Shopping ‘Passport‘ at any of the participating businesses, including Covet, Two the Moon, Lemon Lane and Trade Roots.” [WAMU]

Reminder: Mall Hours and Promotions — Arlington’s two malls have special Black Friday hours and promotions today. [ARLnow]

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