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Morning Notes

Twilight at Washington Golf and Country Club (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Ballston Building to Be Renovated — “Arlington’s Monday Properties has made two new office building acquisitions as it banks on workers across the market returning to their offices in the coming months. The commercial property owner and developer has purchased the former home of CACI International’s headquarters, Three Ballston Plaza at 1100 N. Glebe Rd. — for $118 million. The 330,000-square-foot property, one of the most prominent in Ballston, will get a Gensler-designed renovation to help it compete in the modern commercial office environment.” [Washington Business Journal]

Rescued Dog Seeking New Home — “[Several] weeks ago, a young, mixed breed dog was rescued after being trapped between two fences alongside I-395. Since then, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, which renamed the dog “Benito,” has been helping him feel happier and more confident. ‘We were unable to find Benito’s owner, so he’s looking for a new family to call his own.'” [Patch]

Local Shops Offer ‘Passport’ — “On Small Business Saturday 2021, November 27th, Arlington and Falls Church shoppers will get a chance to participate in a shopping ‘Passport’ program to discover unique shops, find deals, keep their shopping dollars local and be eligible to win prizes. Led by One More Page Books, the Passport enables shoppers who are looking to participate in the national #shoplocal effort to easily discover small businesses near them.” [Press Release]

MLK Contest for Students Now Open — “Arlington Public Schools students are invited to take part in the annual ‘Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Literary and Visual Contest.’ Entries are due by 5 p.m. Thu, Dec. 16.” [Arlington Public Schools]

VFW Post in Va. Square Profiled — “7News’ Ashlie Rodriguez discovered a little-known secret, tucked away in Arlington, Virginia, where hundreds of veterans gather, swap stories, share memories, and find a place of refuge. Here’s a look inside the John Lyon VFW Post 3150.” [WJLA]

State Tax Coffers Are Overflowing — “Virginia budget officials say they’ve never seen anything like it — more than $13 billion in additional state revenues this year and in the next two fiscal years. The House Appropriations Committee projects a $3.5 billion increase in revenue above the current forecast in the fiscal year that began July 1, based on higher pending forecasts of state income tax and other revenues in the pair of budgets that Gov. Ralph Northam will present to the General Assembly next month.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

It’s Thursday — Today will start off sunny and warm, with a high near 73, before a rainy evening. Southwest wind 7 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Sunrise at 6:54 a.m. and sunset at 4:52 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, breezy and cooler, with a high near 50. Northwest wind 10 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. [Weather.gov]

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Power outages in N. Arlington at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 15, 2021 (map via Dominion)

(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Around 3,400 homes and businesses are in the dark in Arlington as a result of a widespread power outage.

Portions of Courthouse, Clarendon and Virginia Square are without power, while a Dominion outage map previously showed a big swath of the residential neighborhoods to the north — extending into McLean — also affected. At the outage’s peak, nearly 5,500 homes and businesses were without power.

Traffic signals are dark at some of the busy intersections along the Orange Line corridor, according to scanner traffic.

On its website Dominion lists an early power restoration estimate of 6-9 p.m.

Reports of the outage came around the same time as the Arlington County Fire Department was dispatched to a report of a blown transformer. The fire department has also been responding to reports of smoke from buildings in the area, potentially linked to generators starting up.

At least one apartment building, Virginia Square Tower at 3444 Fairfax Drive, suffered a reported electrical fire, according to an email shared with ARLnow.

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Developer and construction company Skanska announced it will be breaking ground on a nine-story office building in the Virginia Square area this fall.

The site, at 3901 N. Fairfax Drive, is an undeveloped parcel near Quincy Park currently operating as a temporary parking lot. Skanska intends to build an office building with ground-floor retail and a public plaza.

Construction work, including mobilization and site prep, will begin later this month, a spokeswoman said. Excavation and drilling activities will begin in early October. Skanska expects to finish the project in 2023.

Breaking ground will be the first action the site has seen in nearly a decade. It used to be home to a funeral home that was demolished to make way for a development. The project languished until the property was purchased by Skanska in 2019.

“Our proximity to Ballston’s vibrant urban community, a variety of transit options, and Arlington’s concentrated talent pool will make the office building an exciting and attractive business environment,” said Mark Carroll, the executive vice president of Skanska.

Once completed, 3901 Fairfax will have 191,000 square feet of office space, as well as 10,000 square feet of retail space and an 8,000-square foot public plaza.

“Designed in collaboration with Arlington County and the surrounding community, the plaza design differentiates 3901 from other mixed-use office developments in the region by prioritizing access to outdoor green space, community engagement and programming,” the company said.

Tenants will have access to a rooftop conference center that can fit 100 people and will feature a catering kitchen and expansive rooftop deck. There will be private outdoor space on certain floors, a ground-level fitness center and three levels of below-grade parking with electric car charging stations.

The project is targeting LEED Gold and WiredScore certifications, related to sustainability and digital connectivity, respectively. According to Skanska, the project became the first in the D.C. area to be recognized by the International WELL Building Institute for its focus on health and well-being.

“Our team’s vision is to bring a new caliber of office space into a post-COVID world that is committed to meeting and exceeding the highest health, safety, and sustainability standards,” Carroll said.

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Morning Notes

New Rosslyn Food Hall Now Open — “Assembly, the area’s latest food hall, located above the Rosslyn Metro stop in Arlington, hopes to entice you by taking a something-for-everyone approach, including plenty of healthy-ish options. Their lineup includes Great Lake Diner; Charo’s vegetarian tacos; Asian street food stall Beng Beng; GiGi’s salads, smoothies, and grain bowls; Big Day Coffee; sandwich joint Sammy Pickles; modern-minded bodega PNTRY; and Fog Point, a 40-seat sit-down oysters and seafood restaurant with a separate entrance.” [DCist]

Abduction Suspect Arrested in Va. Square — “The victim was inside a business when the suspect approached and attempted to engage her in conversation. The suspect then left the business, but remained seated outside. When the victim left the business, the suspect followed her into a neighboring building and onto an elevator, where he again attempted to engage her in conversation, advanced towards her, grabbed her waist and touched her buttocks. The victim attempted to step away but the suspect prevented her from exiting the elevator.” [ACPD]

Courthouse ‘DMV Select’ Office Reopening — “‘DMV Select’ services operated by the Arlington Commissioner of Revenue’s office in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles will reopen Sept. 7 after an 18-month COVID shutdown. The office will operate by appointment Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center, 2100 Clarendon Blvd.” [Sun Gazette]

How Ashton Heights was Sold — “‘Build Your Love Nest in Ashton Heights, Virginia,’ read the ad in the Evening Star a century ago. ‘$500 cash will finance your home; $20 will reserve your lot.’ Exclusive sales agents at the D.C.-based (all female) Kay-Alger Co. were luring federal employees to join the automobile generation’s embrace of suburbanization, to ‘get away from the crowded city and enjoy the freedom of a most picturesque surrounding.'” [Falls Church News-Press]

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Arlington firefighters conducted a rescue operation this morning in Virginia Square after someone fell seriously ill at a construction site.

The incident happened this morning around 8 a.m., near the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Kirkwood Road, where a seven-story residential building is being constructed.

According to the fire department, the stricken individual was removed from the construction site and rushed to a local hospital in critical condition. No additional details were given about the nature of the medical emergency.

Washington Blvd was blocked in both directions as a result of the emergency response.

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American Legion Post 85 in Virginia Square is getting a new mural.

The post at 919 N. Kansas Street — not to be confused with the nearby, under-construction Post 139 two blocks away — commissioned the work from Falls Church artist Mary Tjeng, who was busy painting when ARLnow stopped by Thursday afternoon.

The mural depicts Gen. Billy Mitchell, the post’s namesake and the “father of the U.S. Air Force.”

Mitchell “is one of the most famous and most controversial figures in the history of American airpower,” says an old website for the Legion post. “So great was his impact on the Army Air Service and its successor organizations that the effect is still being felt. During Mitchell’s meteoric military career, he charted new paths, set new standards, and influenced key leaders for decades to come.”

“Mitchell was twenty years ahead of his time when he put forth his detailed vision of a hazardous future,” the website says of the general, who served in World War I and died in 1936 after retiring to a farm in Middleburg. “He is also the only individual after whom a type of American military aircraft, the B-25 Mitchell, is named.”

The mural, which recently received some attention from National Defense magazine’s Twitter account, will adorn an exterior wall that’s partially visible from Wilson Blvd.

Jay Westcott contributed to this report

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Facing high rates of pandemic-era apartment vacancies, Dittmar Company is looking to recoup its losses through short-term rentals.

The Tysons-based developer and property management group is asking the Arlington County Board for permission to convert up to 75 furnished apartment units in three Arlington buildings into flexible hotel rooms.

Randolph Towers in Ballston, Courtland Towers in Courthouse and Virginia Square Towers in Virginia Square will each have 25 units available as short-term rentals under the proposal.

These “Flexible Units,” which comprise less than 5% of the total units in each building, may be rented for short-term stays of fewer than 30 days or long-term stays of more than 30 days. Dittmar will require a minimum length of stay of at least three consecutive nights, and the units cannot be rented for more than 90 nights in a calendar year, according to a county staff report.

Currently, the furnished units are “rented by foreign embassies, corporations, universities, medical facilities, and other tenants desiring long term residential stays,” Nicholas Cumings, Dittmar’s legal representative, wrote in a letter to the county this spring.

They are “typically vacant for three months out of the year and require significant operational costs (i.e. provision of utilities, furniture, housekeeping facilities and housekeeping personnel, etc.),” said Cumings, an attorney with the land use firm of Walsh Colucci.

The new arrangement would allow Dittmar to offset the losses from when such furnished units are vacant, Cumings said. The conversions would be in effect for up to five years.

County Manager Mark Schwartz recommends the County Board approve the request during its meeting on Saturday. The County Board previously heard the requests in May and, following staff recommendation, deferred them to allow for more conversations and analysis, county staff wrote.

“Concerns have been raised by the community and Planning Commission regarding the potential impacts on housing affordability and the absence of County policy on temporary conversions of residential to hotel use,” the staff report said. “Since the Flexible Units may be rented by any individual seeking either a long- or short-term furnished stay, staff expects the temporary conversions to have limited, if any impact on the broader housing supply or rental rates.”

One resident told ARLnow he thinks this arrangement will lead to a spike in travelers in the building.

“Although they claim now to rent furnished units to institutional partners (like universities or embassies), I worry that Dittmar will seek to rent them on a day-to-day basis,” the resident said. “This will ruin the nature of communities that are primarily for long-term tenants. When we finally get through the pandemic and people can travel more freely, I worry that these buildings will become prime destinations for countless travelers.”

In his letter, Cumings wrote that Dittmar “has no desire to operate as a hotel and seeks the ability to rent their existing furnished units for short-term stays in order to offset the cost of vacancies throughout the year.”

The rental units will be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units, mostly located on the lower floors, “with some premium furnished units located on the penthouse floors,” he said.

The County Board will be meeting in-person on the third floor of county government headquarters, at 2100 Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse. It resumed in-person meetings in June after switching to virtual meetings last year due to the pandemic.

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A new event in the Virginia Square area, Cars & Coffee, will kick off on Saturday with live music, classic cars and free doughnuts and coffee.

This weekend, Good Company Doughnuts & Cafe will provide the treats and drinks while blues performer and Ballston local Memphis Gold will provide the entertainment.

Cars & Coffee will take place in the parking lot of 3901 Fairfax Drive and is being co-hosted by the Ballston Business Improvement District and Skanska Commercial Development. The free event will take place every other Saturday from 8-11 a.m. through Aug. 7.

Local car enthusiasts can register online to display their cars for the show.

Skanska purchased the Fairfax Drive parking lot space in 2019 to convert it into a public plaza and office building. Although the project near Arlington Central Library has been plagued with delays, the company plans to break ground there in the near future.

“At Skanska, we create spaces built to serve communities,” said Mark Carroll, Executive Vice President for Skanska USA Commercial Development’s local office. “We’re looking forward to starting that journey even before we put shovels in the ground here in Ballston.”

Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone shared Carroll’s sentiment, saying she hopes the event will bring people out into the community and allow them to get to know their neighbors.

“It’s encouraging and exciting to see people coming out, supporting local music, local businesses and just generally being a community again,” Leone said. “We have a strong network here in Ballston and we support each other immensely. It’s amazing to see it happening in real-time with events like Cars & Coffee.”

Photos courtesy of Ballston BID

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A man is facing charges after police say he fired an air gun at a bird yesterday morning in the Virginia Square area.

Police responded to the area of Wilson Blvd and N. Kenmore Street just before 8 a.m. Tuesday for reports of a man with a gun. Officers arrived and were told by a witness that the man fired an air gun “in the direction of a bird,” according to an Arlington County Police Department crime report.

The suspect, 69-year-old Ytiyti Ytity, was allegedly in possession of three air guns, which were taken by police. He was released on a court summons.

Ytity is no stranger to local police blotters, with arrest records stretching from California to Florida.

More from ACPD:

WEAPONS VIOLATION, 2021-06220034, Wilson Boulevard at N. Kenmore Street. At approximately 7:52 a.m. on June 22, police were dispatched to the report of a person with a gun. Upon arrival, it was determined that the witness observed the suspect allegedly pull an air gun out of his backpack and discharge it in the direction of a bird. Arriving officers located the suspect, he was positively identified and three air guns were recovered. Ytiyti Ytity, 69, of No Fixed Address, was charged with Discharging an Air Gun in Public and released on a summons.

Arlington’s pickleball players, eager to see the sport grow, will soon have more courts to play on.

The YMCA Arlington Tennis & Squash Center, at 3400 13th Street N. in the Virginia Square area, is repainting three tennis courts to make room for six pickleball courts. This change is part of an effort to meet the growing demand for facilities as the sport gains popularity.

“In the D.C. region, pickleball is exploding,” said Carlo Impeduglia, Associate Director of Racquets at the Y in Arlington.

He attributes the local and nationwide surge in interest in pickleball and other racquet sports to people searching for social sports where players can stay distanced during the pandemic.

The new courts at the Y facility will feature blended lines and changeable nets so players can choose either tennis or pickleball, Impeduglia said. Currently, the tennis courts have pickleball lines taped on.

Members will be able to reserve courts and participate in drop-in play, instructional clinics, socials and special events, he said. More permanent courts could be added in the future, too.

The changes come as the YMCA (3422 13th Street N.) seeks to upgrade its facilities in Arlington, replacing the Y as well as tennis and squash center with a seven-story tall apartment building and three-story tall facility that has a swimming pool and tennis and pickleball courts.

At the regional level, the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington is jumping on the craze and opening pickleball courts throughout the D.C. area. Other new courts can be found at the Y’s locations in Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Silver Spring.

“The response to pickleball has been overwhelming by our membership,” said Pamela Curran, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. “Pickleball is the perfect pandemic sport since people can still socially distance and get great exercise both outdoors and indoors at an extremely affordable price.”

Adrie Custer, the moderator of the Facebook group Pickleball Friends of Arlington, Virginia, said she has also seen a surge in interest. The group was founded in 2016 and today has more than 430 members — but nearly 200 of those members joined in the last year, she said.

“Once someone actually plays pickleball, they are hooked,” she said. “We expect our numbers to keep climbing. I believe it’s true that pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America. It is a game that can be played enjoyably at many skill levels and by people of all ages.”

Players typically are 50 years of age and older, but Impeduglia said he has seen and heard of kids as young as 4 and seniors as old as 90 hitting the courts.

“It’s really all ages, all levels,” he said. “The sport has no boundaries.”

Nationally, the sport grew 21.3% to 4.2 million players in 2020, according to the USA Pickleball Association.

Arlington County Parks and Recreation provides indoor as well as outdoor courts for the sport, and classes are available for young players, too.

The county has added pickleball lines to multiple courts over the last few years and noticed an increase in overall use in parks amid the pandemic.

“The pandemic has not seemed to slow its growth,” county parks department spokeswoman Susan Kalish said of the sport. “It’s definitely popular in Arlington and the region in general.”

Photo via Lauren Bryan/Flickr

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(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) A new boozy barbershop is under construction in Ballston, setting up a coming battle between a growing national chain and a homegrown, expanding local shop.

Scissors & Scotch is currently under construction on the 4000 block of Fairfax Drive, about halfway between the Ballston and Virginia Square Metro stations.

The shop, on the ground floor of the recently-constructed J Sol apartment tower, will offer customers haircuts, straight razor shaves, and hair removal services, in addition to alcoholic drinks, as the name suggests. The Kansas City-founded chain has an existing location in D.C.’s Navy Yard neighborhood, and another planned at Union Market.

Scissors & Scotch is not the only upscale barbershop in the area, however.

Bearded Goat Barber opened in 2019 at 4201 Wilson Blvd, several blocks away, and will soon offer customers a complimentary beer or cold brew coffee with their haircut. The barbershop is in the process of applying for a new type of Virginia ABC permit that allows licensees to serve limited quantities of free alcohol.

“We are applying so that we can get a market license which would allow for a complimentary beer for each customer upon every visit,” Bearded Goat partner Scott Parker tells ARLnow.

Bearded Goat has been expanding since opening its inaugural Ballston location. It recently opened in Navy Yard and is now expanding to Shirlington.

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