Arlington, VA

Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools are asking residents to share their thoughts about the Arlington County Trades Center, near Shirlington, as the county prepares to address longstanding space issues.

The online survey asks county residents questions about how close they live to the Trades Center, whether noise from the county-owned industrial site bothers them, asks for their feedback on services offered at the lot, as well as what residents would like to change.

Many county departments stored equipment and operated maintenance facilities on the 38-acre site since the 1950s.  However, the “siting of operations and offices developed when space was abundant. Now, room for growth is limited given the developed surrounding area, while service levels have increased in size and complexity” according to the county’s announcement about the survey

Residents will be able to fill out the survey until Thursday, April 4.

Currently the grounds are home to a bevy of county vehicles and offices including:

  • Arlington Public Schools (APS) buses and vehicles
  • Firefighting training site
  • Animal Welfare League of Arlington
  • Police impound lot
  • Solid Waste and Traffic Engineering offices
  • Road salt storage

The county has discussed ideas to free up space at Trades Center for years, particularly for APS which added 40 buses to its fleet between 2011 and 2016 as enrollment continues to grow.

County staff warned that overcrowding was “impacting service delivery” for APS buses and other vehicles in a 2016 presentation.

Last June the County Board approved a five-year agreement letting APS park maintenance vehicles and staff’s personal vehicles at the county’s “Buck site” property at 1425 N. Quincy Street in Virginia Square instead of the Trades Center. In May, the Board also greenlit a plan allowing APS to park its “white fleet” of special vans and buses at Buck site.

But shifting some APS parking to the Buck site was “not a long-term vision” to solve the chronic crowding at the Trades Center, Board Chair Christian Dorsey said after the 2018 vote.

The county has hired Canadian-based engineering consulting firm Stantec for help surveying Arlington residents and county employees to find that solution.

The Board is scheduled to present potential solutions publicly this summer, and following a several-month review period, is scheduled to present their final plan this fall.

Photo via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

Rabid Raccoon in Tara-Leeway Heights — “On Wednesday, February 13, 2019, a raccoon was reported in the area of 1500 block of N. Greenbrier Street acting lethargic. The raccoon was captured and removed from the community. It was later found to be carrying rabies.” [Twitter, AWLA]

Crash Knocks Out Traffic Signals — Traffic signals at at least three intersections in the Clarendon area were rendered inoperable over the weekend due to electrical transformer damage following a single-vehicle crash at Wilson Boulevard and 10th Street N. Power to the signals was reported to have been restored Monday night. [Arlington County, Twitter]

Second Amazon Bill Advances in State Legislature — “On the same day that Amazon’s plan to move 25,000 workers into a distressed area of New York City was imploding, the Virginia General Assembly gave the online giant another in a series of welcome-to-the-commonwealth valentines.” [InsideNova]

Hitt’s Home for SaleNow-convicted fraudster Todd Hitt has listed his north Arlington home for sale for $1.75 million. However, the home’s back deck is currently the subject of a Board of Zoning Appeals case. [Washington Business Journal, Arlington County]

Booz Allen Staying in Crystal City — “Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. will remain in Crystal City, inking a lease extension and expansion for its space at 1550 Crystal Drive, building owner JBG Smith Properties announced Thursday. The lease, which commences in September, brings Booz Allen’s space at 1550 Crystal to 84,000 square feet, about 10,000 square feet more than it currently occupies.” [Washington Business Journal]

Take Our Reader Survey — Once a year, we ask readers to take a couple of minutes to weigh in on the future of ARLnow. This year, we’re asking about ideas for new emails, features, approaches and events. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated. [SurveyMonkey]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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With work kicking off on the long-awaited, hotly debated Long Bridge Park aquatics and fitness center, Arlington officials are looking for some feedback on what programs and services they should offer at the new facility.

After years of wrangling over the exact design and cost of the facility, county leaders expect the $60 million project will include a 50-meter pool, room for diving at a variety of heights, and a family pool, complete with elements including “a lazy river, splash pad for tots, basketball, volleyball, lap lanes and a water slide.” The project will also include a new fitness center, billed as the largest one operated by the county, and an expansion of the adjacent park and its walkways.

However, a working group is still trying to get a sense for how Arlingtonians expect to use the space, and what programs staffers should offer at the facility. The county even released a new survey this week to help inform that group’s work.

Its areas of focus include questions on what days of the week and times of day residents envision attending the aquatics center, and queries about what sort of membership options the county should offer for people looking to use the center on a regular basis.

The survey also asks respondents for their opinions on what sort of equipment the county should offer in its fitness center — with options ranging from free weights to cardio machines — and what classes it should convene at both the pool and fitness center. Potential classes could focus on Crossfit, yoga, martial arts, scuba diving, lifeguard certification and a host of other areas.

The questionnaire also includes space for people to weigh in on exactly which features they want to see at the family-focused “leisure pool,” and seeks to gauge interest on aquatic activities like diving and water polo.

The working group is set to deliver its recommendations to the County Board by spring 2019. The county held a formal groundbreaking ceremony for the project back in July, and workers are currently in the process of clearing the site. The county hopes to open the center by 2021.

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Morning Notes

Vida Fitness Coming to Rosslyn Development — “Vida Fitness has signed a lease for 27,000 square feet at The Highlands in Rosslyn… The Highlands is a 1.2-million-square-foot mixed-use development from D.C.-based developer Penzance. The project’s groundbreaking [was Wednesday] and the first phase is slated for completion in the second quarter of 2021.” [Commercial Observer, Twitter]

Naked Man at Va. Square Metro Station — A naked man walked into the Virginia Square Metro station during yesterday evening’s rush hour. Police quickly responded, took the man into custody and requested medics to the scene to evaluate him for a possible drug overdose. [Twitter]

Survey: Road Improvements Wanted — “The public has an improving view of the Arlington government’s commitment to care of local roads, but there continues to be significant room for improvement, according to an updated customer-satisfaction survey. Only 55 percent of residents surveyed believe county roads are in satisfactory condition, while 23 percent are unsatisfied with the local government’s efforts and 23 percent are on the fence.” [InsideNova]

Stabbing on Patrick Henry Drive — A person was stabbed along the 3000 block of Patrick Henry Drive near the Arlington border last night. The victim’s injuries were reported to be life threatening, according to Fairfax County Police, which used its helicopter in an attempt to find the suspect. [WJLA, Twitter]

No Lottery Jackpot, But… — A $10,000 Mega Millions lottery ticket was sold at a 7-Eleven store in South Arlington. A single ticket in South Carolina matched all the numbers for the $1.6 billion jackpot in Tuesday’s drawing. [InsideNova]

Nearby: McLean Islamic Center Vs. Zoning Restrictions — The McLean Islamic Center is challenging county-imposed restrictions on worship and parking, which limit attendance “to mitigate the MIC’s impact on the surrounding neighborhood.” [Tysons Reporter] 

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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Morning Notes

GMU Arlington Building Renamed — “Founders Hall, one of two major academic buildings on George Mason University’s Arlington Campus, was officially renamed Van Metre Hall after Mason’s Board of Visitors approved the change at its Oct. 10 meeting. The board’s action recognizes the generosity of the Van Metre Companies, a major regional builder that donated 37 acres in Ashburn, Virginia, to the George Mason University Foundation.” [George Mason University]

Overturned Vehicle on Washington Blvd — Near the tail end of yesterday morning’s rush hour a vehicle flipped on its roof along Washington Blvd, between Route 50 and Clarendon. The westbound lanes of Washington Blvd were blocked for a period of time. One person suffered minor injuries. [Twitter]

County Ranks High for Resident Satisfaction — “According to Arlington’s recent Community Satisfaction Survey, 88 percent of residents surveyed are satisfied with the overall quality of County services, 38 percentage points above the national average… Arlington also rated significantly above the national average for overall quality of life — 86 percent compared with 75 percent.” [Arlington County]

Local Credit Union Merger — “Arlington Community Federal Credit Union (ACFCU) announced today the merger of ACFCU with the Queen of Peace Arlington Federal Credit Union (QPAFCU). The combined asset size is $325 million, with nearly 22,500 members.” The Queen of Peace Arlington FCU is located in a church in the northeast corner of the Nauck neighborhood, near the back entrance to Army Navy Country Club. [CUInsight]

Venture-Funded Company Moving to Rosslyn — “FELA, the financial education and literacy company, today announced its rebrand to LifeCents. The name LifeCents is also the company’s health and wellness app that inspires and empowers people to improve their financial health and well-being… The team will move to Rosslyn, VA, at the beginning of next year to accommodate its continued growth.” [BusinessWire via Potomac Tech Wire]

Arlington Has Nightlife Advantage Over Tysons — Despite worries about competition from Tysons among local economic development boosters, the Fairfax County community doesn’t yet have Arlington’s nighttime vibrancy. Said one Tysons bar owner: “A lot of people leave here. They’re done with their job at 6:30 or 7 p.m. and they go home. They don’t come back. If they want to go out, they go to Arlington.” [Tysons Reporter]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Morning Notes

Arlington Youth Soccer Team Wins Nat’l Tourney — The Arlington Soccer Association’s U16 Boys team won the US Youth Soccer National Championship in Frisco, Texas over the weekend. The big win “is the first USYS Championship in the club’s history” and “caps off Arlington’s most successful year in its almost 50-year history with the U14 Girls team also advancing to the National Championships,” according to the association. [PDF, US Youth Soccer]

Officials Prep for Decal Decision — “If County Board members in September decide to kill off Arlington tax decals that have been a fixture on local windshields for a half-century, the two elected officials who will be tasked with implementing the decision say they can make it happen. The question that still hangs in the air, though, is whether eliminating the decal will make it more likely scofflaws will get away with cheating the tax man.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Theaters: A Tourist Attraction? — Arlington’s theater scene “is bigger and better than ever,” according to Arlington’s tourism promotion agency. [Stay Arlington]

Survey: Keep ANC Open to Burials As Long As Possible — “The vast majority of respondents to a Department of Defense survey favor keeping Arlington National Cemetery operational for as long as possible, even if it means tightening up on those who are deemed eligible for burial there.” [InsideNova]

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As remaining burial plots become more scarce, Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) has released a second public survey regarding its future.

If current burial eligibility policies remain in place, the cemetery will reach full capacity in 23 years, according to cemetery officials. In the first survey, conducted July of 2017, 93 percent of respondents said keeping that keeping ANC’s hallowed grounds open to burials long into the future was important to them.

The second survey specifically asks which veterans or active military members should be qualified for a burial, including questions relating to the eligibility of those with Purple Hearts, prisoners of war, elected officials once on active duty, and World War II veterans.

Results from the first survey showed that many respondents felt that eligibility should be given to those killed in action or on operational missions, Medal of Honor and other high award recipients, and former prisoners of war.

Current eligibility is currently more flexible, including prisoners of war and retired veterans who had served at least one day of active duty.

The survey notes that another cemetery expansion is expected to add additional burial plots, but it is not a long-term solution.

“The next possible expansion, into the area south of the cemetery (the Southern Expansion; around 40 acres) will add about 10-15 years of life to the cemetery – closing the cemetery to new burials by the mid-2050’s,” the survey says. “This does not achieve the objective or the desire of previous survey respondents to keep ANC open for new burials well into the future.”

In 2014, ANC began its $82 million “Millennium Project” to expand into an undeveloped land parcel adjacent to Fort Myer.

File photo

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(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) It’s not cheap to live in one of the best places for millennials.

That’s according to figures from the Economic Policy Institute, which has come out with an interactive calculator to determine how much it costs individuals and families to comfortably live in Arlington and other U.S. counties.

For a couple with two children in Arlington, it costs about $9,493 per month to live comfortably, according to EPI, or just over $113,915 per year.

The highest monthly costs were attributed to housing, at an average of $2,040 per month — for a “modest” but “sanitary” two-bedroom apartment — but childcare costs in the county were just behind it at $1,801 per month.

Couples without children can make a lot less while still living comfortably in Arlington. Annual pay of $67,840 is what it takes for two people to live here comfortably, without kids, childcare costs and the requisite additional bedrooms.

Single Arlingtonians, though, have to make $56,221 annually to live comfortably — only $11,619 less than a couple does.

Across the Potomac, a D.C. family with two kids needs to bring in $123,975 a year, according to the EPI analysis, while the same family in Manassas City can get by comfortably on $96,314.

Notably, EPI’s methodology didn’t mention any consideration for student loans. There is, however, is a category for “other necessities.”

File photo. Hat tip to James Breiling.

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Arlington Cultural Affairs plans on surveying artists within a 50-mile radius of the county as part of a proposal to bring affordable artist housing to Arlington.

feasibility study said that such a survey would “definitively reveal whether a market for artist housing exists and whether an affordable housing-funded model… would be considered affordable by prospective, income-qualifying tenants.”

The survey will ask artists to “express their interest” in the affordable housing project and detail their “current and future needs in a live/work space,” according to an event page for a presentation and question and answer session which will kick off the “Arts Market” survey.

That presentation, on Thursday (March 22) from 6-8 p.m. at the Arlington Arts Center, will precede a reception where artists can take the survey and mingle.

The survey is expected to cost between $30,000 and $42,500 and would be paid for by the nonprofit Arlington Foundation for Arts and Innovation, which also paid for the preliminary feasibility study.

Artspace, the national arts non-profit based in Minneapolis, Minn., that is collaborating with Arlington Cultural Affairs, has so far led four focus groups to discuss area artist housing needs, according to the study.

The feasibility found that “affordable housing and live/work space was expressed as a need, particularly in the context of anticipated rising rents and the increasing lack of affordable for-sale housing” and cited community feedback that there wasn’t a central artistic gathering place.

That study pointed out four potential neighborhoods for the project — Virginia Square, Columbia Pike, Crystal City, and the Four Mile Run Valley — but specifically noted that central Rosslyn didn’t make sense for the project because of the density and traffic congestion.

Artspace has already finished two projects in the area, in Washington and in Mount Rainier, Md., and is set to launch another in Silver Spring, Md., later this year.

“It is clear that area jurisdictions are finding that communities are strengthened and made vibrant by a strong arts presence,” wrote Jim Byers, the Arlington Cultural Affairs marketing director, in an email to ARLnow.com.

“The Arts Market Survey is the next step towards determining how Arlington might best leverage the creative energies that exist in our region and encourage still more artists to make their home here.”

File photo

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Morning Notes

Golf Course Tax Bill Passes — A bill that would provide a massive tax break to two Arlington country clubs has passed the Virginia General Assembly. The bill, if signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam (D), would cost Arlington $1.5 million or more in tax revenue. [Washington Post]

Military Couple Fights Wife’s Deportation — The wife of a retired Army special forces veteran was to face deportation in an Arlington-based immigration court next week, but the Dept. of Homeland Security is now offering to drop the proceedings. Prior to the reversal, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) called said via social media: “Military families should not be targeted like this. It’s unconscionable.” [Military Times, Twitter]

Cherry Blossom Bloom Prediction — The National Park Service expects peak bloom for the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms to take place March 17-20. [PoPville]

Beyer’s GOP Challenger — “The Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D) used a Feb. 28 meeting of the Arlington County Republican Committee to introduce himself to the county’s GOP rank-and-file. ‘I look forward to the campaign,’ said Thomas Oh… an Army veteran and currently a contractor in Falls Church.” [InsideNova]

Marymount Joins New Conference — Marymount University in Arlington and five other schools have formed the new Atlantic East Conference within NCAA Division III. [Marymount University, Twitter]

County Seeking Budget Feedback — Arlington County is seeking feedback on its proposed budget. The online survey asks residents to weigh in on various priorities, including county employee raises, economic development, Metro funding, school funding, infrastructure investment and affordable housing. [SurveyMonkey]

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(Updated at 4 p.m.) Rosslyn residents are a bit happier with the neighborhood than they were last year, but they’d still like a new grocery store.

The results from the Rosslyn Business Improvement District survey, conducted in December 2017, were released earlier this month and point to a growing desire for healthy food options.

“Better grocery stores came up as the top desire for residents and the second for those who live in, work in, and/or visit Rosslyn,” the report said.

Currently, an aging Safeway and a newer Target Express are the main grocery options.

However, Rosslyn residents might be getting a new grocery store at some point in the near future, noted a Rosslyn BID rep, if an approved Monday Properties development at 1401 Wilson Boulevard moves forward. Plans are currently is on hold and a grocery tenant has not been announced for the location.

The survey also found that neighborhood negativity was down slightly, but there were areas with room for improvement.

Fewer residents expressed negative feelings about shopping options — down from 64 percent to 58 percent. Agreement that longer hours would get people to spend more time in Rosslyn dropped by three percent to 52 percent. Just over half of respondents noted that longer or later restaurant or shopping hours of operation would encourage them to linger in Rosslyn.

Survey takers said healthier food and more sit-down restaurants would be a welcome addition.

“Whether with food or retail, the overall consensus is a strong desire for more and better options, with local options playing an underlying theme,” said the survey results. “For dining, the public is unsatisfied with the limited sit-down dining options and desires more diverse and full-service restaurants. Additionally, a desire for healthy food options (including vegan, vegetarian, and organic) emerged in both dining and grocery options.”

Overall satisfaction with Rosslyn as a place to work went up from 87 percent to 91 percent.

“We see an overwhelmingly positive shift in perception from 2016 to 2017,” said Maureen Goldman, Rosslyn BID marketing and communications director. She said she was pleasantly surprised by the survey results and that the company would be capitalizing on the sentiment shift to make Rosslyn more of a destination.

“Perception change is a long game, it isn’t something that happens overnight,” she said.

Respondents were able to write-in the first words that came to mind when thinking about Rosslyn. The BID didn’t provide exact word count figures, but the group created a word bubble visualizing the word size corresponding with the frequency of the response.

The largest word on the chart was “convenient,” followed by “accessible,” “corporate,” and “clean.” Fewer respondents appeared to use words like “walkable,” “nice,” “food,” or “beautiful” to identify Rosslyn.

“Boring” was no longer within the top ten words used to describe the neighborhood.

Photo via Google Maps

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