Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

GMU to Expand Va. Square Campus — “George Mason University wants to transform its Arlington campus into an ‘innovation district’ as it kicks off an Amazon-inspired overhaul… Mason expects to use the expansion to add 3,000 to 4,000 graduate students to the campus by 2024.” [Washington Business Journal]

Man Arrested For Assaulting Police in Ballston — “At approximately 8:32 p.m. on September 11, police were dispatched the report of a disorderly subject inside a restaurant who had allegedly been throwing items and threatening staff. Upon police arrival, the business staff requested the subject be banned from the property. While speaking with the subject, he threatened an officer and took a defensive stance. While placing him under arrest, the subject became combative, kicked and spit at the officers.” [Arlington County]

Home Inventory Tight in Arlington — “New listings in Arlington declined 16.5% in August compared with last year, said Chris Finnegan, vice president at Bright MLS. The median sale price for all home types in the 22202 ZIP code, where Amazon is building and staffing up HQ2, was $749,000 in August. It’s a 23% jump since the company made its HQ2 announcement in November 2018.” [Washington Business Journal, InsideNova]

Coffee Beanery Open in Va. Square — Coffee Beanery, a coffee chain with locations across the northeast, has opened a new location at 3444 Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square. [Facebook]

Tech Company Picks Arlington for U.S. HQ — ” Varjo, the technology leader in industrial-grade VR/XR headsets, today announced the opening of its U.S. headquarters… in Arlington, Virginia, located just outside of Washington D.C.” [Varjo via Potomac Tech Wire]

Potomac Kempo Now Open — Martial arts studio Potomac Kempo yesterday held a grand opening ceremony for its fifth location, at 3650 S. Glebe Road, in the Potomac Yard area. The studio started holding classes on Aug. 31, we’re told. [Facebook]

Video: USS Arlington Crew Welcomed at Fire Station — “Crew members from the USS Arlington were welcomed at Arlington’s Fire Station 5 before running in the The Arlington Police, Fire & Sheriff 9/11 Memorial Race. The USS Arlington honors the 184 victims and the thousands of emergency, fire and rescue personnel of Arlington County and localities in the National Capital Region who provided critical emergency assistance after the attack on 9/11.” [YouTube]

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A small plot on Wilson Blvd bisected by a gravel trail will be reopening as a park with paved central walkway.

The Oakland Park project is centered around plans to bring the park in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and adding overall enhancements to the green space at 3705 Wilson Blvd.

“Design elements include all-new site furnishings, decorative paving, wood decking, native plantings and new park signage,” the county said on the project website. “A highlight in the park will be a public art piece created by Foon Sham.”

Earlier this week, workers were laying some of the final bricks in the walkway, though other work remains to be done across the park.

Construction at the park is on schedule, and Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said the project should be open by the end of the year.

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An office building in Virginia Square has been evacuated after a reported chemical spill in the building.

Firefighters — including hazmat teams and medics — responded to the Ballston Gateway building at 3865 Wilson Blvd around 1:45 p.m., for a report of up to 20 people suffering medical symptoms after a coolant tower leaked chemicals into the building’s penthouse.

The building was evacuated amid a large fire department response, which is currently blocking at least one westbound lane of Wilson Blvd.

Some office workers on lower floors of the building have since been let back in. First responders on the scene radioed fire dispatch to report only a couple of people with minor symptoms, including eye irritation and nausea. There’s no word yet on which chemical might have leaked.

Thus far there has been no report of anyone being taken to the hospital.

The office building is home to a number of companies, including high-profile Arlington startup ThreatConnect.

Vernon Miles contributed to this report

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An Arlington couple has gifted $1.5 million to an affordable housing project county officials hope will help veterans.

Ron and Frances Terwilliger donated to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to help fund the redevelopment of Virginia Square’s American Legion Post 139. The aging building is slated to be demolished and rebuilt into a 160-unit, seven-story affordable housing building with a preference for veteran tenants.

Ron Terwilliger grew up in South Arlington and attended Barcroft Elementary School and Wakefield High School before joining the Navy and attending Harvard Business School. Terwilliger retired as CEO from the housing developer Trammell Crow Residential in 2008, and has since donated millions to housing causes like Habitat for Humanity, as well as Navy developments in Annapolis.

“As a child, my father worked two jobs to make sure that we had a safe, stable home right here in Arlington,” said Terwilliger in a statement.

“His sacrifices gave Bruce and I the chance to attend good schools and pursue our dreams,” he said of his brother and his upbringing. “Today, the high cost of housing puts that dream out of reach for too many families. Projects like this are essential to helping people of all incomes and backgrounds continue to call Arlington home.”

The Terwilliger Family Foundation is an Atlanta-based nonprofit which has donated around half a million dollars every year since 2011 to medical charities and other causes, according to filings shared by ProPublica.

The nonprofit’s million-dollar-donation to the American Legion Post is the largest private contribution to APAH yet, officials said today (Monday.) APAH CEO Nina Janopaul said the organization was “honored” to receive the donation and will name the new building after Ron Terwilliger’s parents, Lucille and Bruce Terwilliger.

“The redevelopment of Legion Post 139 into the Lucille and Bruce Terwilliger Place is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, and could serve as a model for other Legion posts interested in responding to the changing needs of the communities they serve,” said Janopaul.

The County Board approved the project in February, noting it was an opportunity to aid the county’s dwindling affordable housing stock. Since then, APAH and Virginia Housing Trust Fund have agreed to loan a combined $13,700,000 to the project.

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The former Atrium Cafe (901 N. Nelson Street), adjacent to the Virginia Square Metro station entrance, is being converted into a new Asian eatery called Pike Kitchen.

The Pike Kitchen in Rockville, Md. is a food hall-type venue with a variety of cuisine options, like bibimbap and bubble tea. From the signs outside the Virginia Square location, the new Arlington eatery seems to share a similar concept.

Signs on the wall say the new location will carry Monster Tea, which offers bubble tea; Bowl Play, which offers Korean bibimbap and poké bowls; and Pike Chicken and Beer, which presumably offers chicken and beer.

The manager of the restaurant said a soft opening for Pike Kitchen is tentatively planned for Saturday, though some final details are still being decided, with a full opening set for some time within the next week.

The restaurant is currently hiring staff, with applicants asked to text 571-229-7467 or email [email protected].

H/t to @btj

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A portion of N. Quincy Street is slated for a makeover this summer with new pavement and a bike lane.

Officials aim to repave the stretch of N. Quincy Street between the I-66 overpass and Fairfax Drive, near Washington-Liberty High School, and potentially approve one of three designs for a new bike lane that could eliminate parking spaces.

Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services polled residents about the three bike lane designs in a recent survey. The department will host an open house about the project on Tuesday, July 9, from 6-7:30 p.m., at Washington-Liberty (1301 N. Stafford Street).

The three bike lane configurations the department is considering are:

  • Concept A: A buffered bike lane along both sides of N. Quincy Street in the northern section close to I-66. Adding the lane would eliminate 22 parking spaces along Quincy near the Buck site entrance where several single family homes sit.
  • Concept B: A buffered bike lane that runs in the middle of N. Quincy Street, which removes only 10 parking spaces in the northern section close to I-66.
  • Concept C: A buffered bike lane along the entire street, which would remove 42 parking spaces on the northern section of the street and 31 spaces on the south section.

“It’s almost like a mix and match,” DES Project Planner Christine Sherman told ARLnow. “Concept A shows parking on a block [of N. Quincy Street], concept B shows parking on a different block. Concept C shows the highest level of bike protection.”

All three concepts also add a crosswalk at the intersection of Quincy and 11th Street N. and at the entrance of the Buck property.

Sherman said DES will weigh the survey responses against engineering recommendations about safety and hopes to start the paving work later this summer.

DES tweeted about the (now closed) project survey last week, along with a reference to presidential candidate and meme-machine Marianne Williamson.

The  recently-updated bike element portion of the county’s master transportation plan proposes N. Quincy Street become part of a north-south bike corridor.

The bike element proposes several miles of bike lanes “wherever feasible” on N. Quincy Street to provide safer passage through Ballston and Virginia Square, and to connect the Arlington Forest and Chain Bridge areas.

“We have buffered and expanded bike lanes to the north of this segment and have protected bike lanes to the south,” said Sherman. “It’s an opportunity we see to create the north-south connection in the county.”

The work is also part of a larger streetscape project along Quincy Street, with repaving already completed in the sections between the I-66 overpass and Lee Highway, and between George Mason Drive and Fairfax Drive.

In August, the county finished a new bike lane on N. Quincy Street connecting the Quincy corridor to the Custis Trail. Two months before that, the county also converted parking on 5th Road N. between Quincy and N. Pollard Street to back-in, angle style parking.

Image 1, 3-5 via Arlington County, image 2 via Google Maps

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Coffee Beanery, a coffee chain with locations across the northeast, is coming to Virginia Square sometime over the next few months.

“The store in Arlington is currently scheduled to open in either late July or mid-August,” a representative of the company said on Facebook.

Coffee Beanery will replace Pulp Juice and Smoothie Bar, which closed in November.

Coffee Beanery “originals” include caramel, fudge, and mocha-flavored coffees. The chain offers a variety of coffees and teas, as well as sandwiches, wraps and salads. Locals missing the fruit smoothie joint may be happy to hear the chain offers assorted fruit smoothie flavors.

The representative said the store will be open from 5 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 5:30 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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A suspect is in custody after a man was stabbed in the Virginia Square area Monday morning.

The incident happened near the intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Pollard Street, a block from Arlington Central Library. Initial reports suggest a man was stabbed in the arm, suffering a non-life-threatening injury.

The victim was transported to a local hospital via ambulance. A suspect could be seen in police custody near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Pollard Street, as officers nearby examined what appeared to be a pocket knife.

Pollard Street was closed to traffic as police conducted an investigation.

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Morning Notes

Police Nab Sex Assault Suspect — “Following a tip from a member of the public, the suspect has been identified as Wondimagegn Azemach, 19, of Riverdale, Maryland. He has been charged with Abduction with Intent to Defile and Sexual Battery.” [Arlington County]

Fire at Ambar in Clarendon — A small fire temporarily closed Ambar restaurant in Clarendon during prime brunching time on Saturday. [Twitter, Twitter]

Board Approves Va. Square Development — “The Arlington County Board today approved a plan to replace aging commercial buildings on the northwest corner of Washington Boulevard and Kirkwood Road, in the Ballston-Virginia Square neighborhood, with a seven-story apartment building that will include 16 affordable units and achieve LEED Silver energy efficiency.” [Arlington County]

GW Parkway Sinkhole Work Continues — “The repairs to a crumbling section of the George Washington Parkway between Turkey Run Park and the Capital Beltway are now expected to continue through most of the summer. The long-term repairs to a failed drainage inlet will keep at least one right lane on the parkway closed for 10 weeks once the contractor is ready for work, the National Park Service said Friday. Engineers have determined that a 60 year old brick drainage structure buried deep under the parkway needs to be replaced.” [WTOP, Press Release]

Fire Victim Identified — The person killed in an apartment fire in the Ashton Heights neighborhood last week “has been identified as Brian Green, 50, of Arlington. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.” [Arlington County]

Football Team Joins Arlington Chamber — “Welcome new member @Redskins! We are thrilled to have you as part of our membership at the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.” [Twitter]

County Kicks Off Census Effort — Arlington County and its Complete Count Committee (CCC) are gearing up for the 2020 Census – working toward the goal of counting every Arlingtonian… It’s not too early to get acquainted with the Census and what to expect next year.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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A new arts space, paid for in-part by Arlington County and run by George Mason University, is coming to Virginia Square.

The Latitude Arts Space is an art installation planned for the southeast corner of Latitude Apartments (3601-2625 N. Fairfax Drive). The site will be operated by the GMU College of Visual and Performing Arts.

The County Board is scheduled to vote this weekend on a $150,000 grant to partially fund interior construction at the project as part of the consent agenda. A county staff report said the goal of this and similar projects is to provide active, publicly accessible spaces that can be flexible in their programming with limited financial commitments from Arlington County.

When the site plan for Latitude Apartments was approved by the Arlington County Board in 2013, it included a provision for an arts space. The goal of the provision was to fulfill goals in the Virginia Square Sector Plan. The Latitude Apartments project was completed in 2016, after which Arlington Economic Development staff worked to help find a new tenant.

“The proposed grant is critical to realizing the opportunity to occupy the Latitude Arts Space with an active and appropriate use that Mason will be able to deliver,” the staff report said. “The grant funds from Arlington County to Mason will be used to offset costs of interior construction of the space and are essential in removing a hurdle for Mason to absorb this previously unbudgeted expense.”

The grant funding only accounts for 25-30 percent of the total interior construction costs, the rest of which will be covered by the property owner and the university.

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Development may be surging around the Ball Family Burial Grounds on N. Kirkwood Street, but the fate of the historic site remains uncertain.

The gravesite of the family who is the namesake for Ballston is located in the middle of Virginia Square’s newest development hub, which includes plans to rebuild the YMCA and repurpose American Legion Post 139 as mixed residential buildings.

The Arlington County Board is also set to vote Saturday to approve a third project in the area: a long-standing application by Eleventh Street Development LLC to redevelop the 1.726 acre site located at 1122 N. Kirkwood Road at Washington Boulevard, currently a mix of one-story retail and office uses, into a new 255-unit multifamily residential building.

But when it comes to the plan for the cemetery — which is adjacent to the new development —  the county is at an impasse, according to Richard Woodruff, chairman of the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB). The county can’t legally access the land to maintain it or take actions to preserve it because it was deeded to the heirs of John Ball who founded it in the 1700s.

The problem? No one knows who those heirs are.

During a Thursday visit to the grounds, Woodruff pointed out how wild strawberries have overgrown the gravesites’ grass and a secret Samaritan has been mowing the plot.

“It’s sort of now a mystery as to who maintains it,” he said.

However, other site maintenance issues are piling up. Broken branches rest on the dozen mossy grave stones piled in the far corner of the burial ground where the grass grows higher and trash accumulates.

HALRB and the Arlington Planning Commission have asked the county to hire a genealogist to locate the Ball family heirs. They added that the county should also create a fund to maintain the land and study what could be buried in the cemetery because people have moved the graves over time.

These recommendations are not included in the list of actions for the Board members to review this weekend.

A staff report to the Board notes that one of the project’s goals is to “preserve, respect and enhance the historic integrity” of the gravesite. But aside from asking developers to follow protocols if they find artifacts or human remains during construction, the document is short on specifics.

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