Virginia Square restaurant Water & Wall (3811 Fairfax Drive) has closed its doors for good.
Water & Wall served its last dinner customers last night, the Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema said on his “Ask Tom” chat today.
A year ago, during an ARLnow.com-organized panel discussion on the local restaurant industry, Water & Wall owner and acclaimed chef Tim Ma was asked about keeping customers coming back after the initial excitement of a restaurant’s opening.
“Everybody was coming through the door on day one, two years later, it’s all about retention,” Ma said. “Staying relevant is probably the hardest thing. There are so many new restaurants opening, so many different areas coming back to life, staying relevant is hard.”
Changes for Former Department Store? — The future of the former Kann’s department store on Fairfax Drive, which later became a law school and then became part of George Mason University, is being discussed by GMU and county officials. An earlier plan to raze the aging building and construct a new one fell through. [InsideNova]
Mentors Honored at County Board — A pair of “Connect with Kids Champions” were honored for their mentorship work with Arlington youth at Tuesday’s County Board meeting. [Arlington County]
Va. Joining Immigration Lawsuit — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced yesterday that Virginia plans to join a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration. “You’ve made Virginia proud today,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) in response to the announcement. [Virginian-Pilot, Twitter]
House Hunters Home for Sale — A townhouse in Nauck that was previously featured on the HGTV show “House Hunters” is back on the market. The home at 2553 Kenmore Court, in the Shirlington Crescent community, is listed at $824,900. The couple featured on the show, TV news producers Allison and David Gracey, bought the home in 2010 for $672,781, records show. [Zillow]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
A D.C. restaurant known for steak frites and “secret sauce” might open a new location in Virginia Square.
But a tipster may have solved the mystery while touring an apartment building. Medium Rare is looking to open its restaurant in a retail space at the Latitude apartment development at 3601 Fairfax Drive, across from the Virginia Square Metro station, the tipster says he was told during the tour.
Though a visit to the apartment complex yesterday revealed little evidence that a new Medium Rare was on the way, the company seemed to confirm the opening in a brief correspondence.
When asked when a Virginia Square location might open, a representative for the eatery responded “likely early 2018.” The representative didn’t respond to additional requests for comment, however.
Medium Rare currently has two locations on Barracks Row and in Cleveland Park in the District.
Hat tip to Craig Wasilewsky
The call went out around 1:15 p.m., for smoke seen in or around the FDIC building at 1001 N. Monroe Street.
A full fire response was dispatched, but an investigation revealed only a minor smoke event, from a burned out fan motor.
Arcland Property Company, which owns a swath of industrial land near Shirlington, wants to swap those 3.5 acres for 2.3 acres of the 6.1 acre “Buck property” site across from W-L, which the county has an option to purchase for $30 million.
Arlington, which is already leasing a portion of the Shirlington property for parking, would get an even larger piece of property for its expanding ART bus fleet — it’s expected to grow from 65 to 90 vehicles by 2020 — and would save $4 million in lease payments.
Arcland would get the piece of the Buck property closest to N. Quincy Street, in the Virginia Square area, and would use it for a six-story, 150,000 square foot self-storage facility. (The company also developed the CubeSmart storage facility, which is located adjacent to I-395, next to the land it proposes to swap.)
Neighbors might object to the facility — they objected to a county proposal to use the Buck property for school bus parking — but the property is zoned for light industrial use and the facility could be built by right. The county says it will require tasteful building design as part of a deal.
“The land exchange agreement, if reached, would require high quality architecture from Arcland compatible with the surrounding neighborhood,” the county said in a press release. “The proposed facility must also comply with M-1 (light industrial) zoning regulations including set back and height restrictions, as would any use the County makes of the Shirlington site.”
Arcland only expects to use 1.2 acres of the Quincy Street property for the storage facility. The remaining 1.1 acres would be leased back to the county “at below market rate.”
“This is a rare opportunity for the County to secure land in Shirlington, zoned for light industrial use, that could accommodate our growing bus fleet,” County Manager Mark Schwartz said in a statement. “We have a critical need for support facilities, and must make smart, tough decisions about land to meet those needs. If the Board is interested in pursuing this proposal, I will work to shape an agreement with Arcland. I am confident that we can put facilities on these sites that will both serve our community’s needs and allow us to be a good neighbor.”
The deal will be discussed at next month’s Arlington County Board meeting. From the press release:
The proposed exchange, if approved, would take place after November 20, 2017, the date on which the County must exercise its option to purchase the N. Quincy Street site. The land exchange would involve no additional cost beyond the $30 million that the County has already agreed to pay for the N. Quincy Street site.
The Manager plans to seek the Board’s approval to pursue negotiations with Arcland at the Board’s December meeting. If the Board approves negotiations, any agreement that might be reached would come before the Board for consideration in 2017.
Update at 11 a.m. — Jim Todd, president of the Cherrydale Citizens Association, sent the following email to residents last night regarding the potential deal.
This is a complex issue and there are a lot of potential trade offs. On the plus side, the land swap would end the potential for the County to move the bus depot from Shirlington to the Buck property. But on the down side, it would also limit the County’s ability to use all of the Buck property for other, larger purposes (as the Buck property is also adjacent to Hayes Park, across the street from Washington-Lee High School, etc.).
This seems like its happening fast, but there is still plenty of time for us to better understand what’s going on, and to learn what other trade-offs and potential upsides and downsides there may be. I understand that the next step is for the County Board to talk about whether to further entertain this idea at its December 13 meeting. But I have been told that the Board will not be making a final decision at that meeting.
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the park’s playground and volleyball court, located at 1021 N. Quincy Street near Arlington Central Library and Washington-Lee High School, is scheduled to take place Saturday from 1-2 p.m.
The revamped park features a “universal design” playground — Arlington’s first — with a play environment that’s accessible for users of all ages and physical abilities. Among the amenities are swings, picnic tables, a slide, a “climbing tree” and other play equipment.
The sand volleyball court, located adjacent to the playground, was created with adult after-work sports leagues in mind.
Though the ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for this weekend, the playground and the volleyball court are currently open to the public. Despite some earlier rain, at least a dozen kids and caretakers were taking advantage of the playground and its picnic shelter when ARLnow.com visited Wednesday afternoon.
The Virginia Dept. of Motor Vehicles is getting ready to open its new Metro-accessible DMV location in Virginia Square.
The office, which will supplement the existing Arlington DMV location on Four Mile Run Drive, is set to open on
Monday, Nov. 7. (See update, below.)
Located on the ground floor of an office building at 3434 Washington Blvd, the office will offer all DMV services with the exception of road tests.
Update on 11/7/16 — The DMV is now not expected to open until Wednesday, Nov. 9. From the Virginia DMV’s Twitter account:
— VirginiaDMV (@VirginiaDMV) November 7, 2016
Here’s a public service announcement, inspired by this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report: if you’re driving a stolen car, the least you can do is refrain from driving it while drunk.
An Ohio woman was arrested near the Virginia Square Metro station early Monday morning for allegedly doing just that.
RECOVERED STOLEN AUTO, 161024006, 3700 block of N. Fairfax Drive. At approximately 2:32 a.m. on October 24, an officer conducted a routine traffic stop. Upon investigation, it was determined that the vehicle was reported stolen. Maureen Elizabeth Burke, 22, of Xenia, Ohio, was arrested and charged with grand larceny auto and driving while intoxicated. She is being held without bond.
The rest of the past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.
(Updated at 6:25 p.m.) Arlington County is in desperate need of more land for schools and for county government operations. But a plan to acquire an office park across the street from Washington-Lee High School and use it for school bus parking is meeting with community opposition.
The county is planning to spend $30 million acquiring the Quincy Street Technology Center, also known as the Buck property, a 6.1 acre office park zoned primarily for commercial and light industrial uses. Located adjacent to N. Quincy Street and I-66 in the Virginia Square area, the property also partially borders a residential neighborhood.
In a joint County Board-School Board work session earlier this month, Arlington County staff laid out the case for the moving the Arlington Public Schools school bus operations from the Trades Center near Shirlington to the Buck site.
The Buck property is in a central location, near the school administrative building and has the space to accommodate current APS bus parking needs, unlike the increasingly crowded Trades Center, where growth has exceeded capacity. (Thanks to rising enrollment, APS has added 40 new school buses in the past 5 years.)
The Buck property would at first be used for temporary bus parking, then would be considered for a permanent APS bus parking, operations and dispatch center, with a new vehicle wash and fueling station, according to the staff presentation. Other potential uses of the property include temporary overflow parking for Washington-Lee, police and fire reserve vehicle storage, APS office use and a permanent Office of Emergency Management and Emergency Operations Center facility.
In response, some nearby residents have created a petition against the bus proposal. The petition, entitled “The Buck Stops Here,” has more than 100 signatures.
Here’s what the petition says:
Again, Arlington County is barreling ahead with a project impacting a neighborhood without consulting nearby residents. This is a disturbing trend that demands a strong voice from Arlington citizens.
The county is proceeding with a plan to purchase the Buck tract on N. Quincy Street for $30 million (more than $6 million over the 2016 tax assessment) and redevelop the property for, no doubt, tens of millions more – all for a bus parking lot and repair facility.
We do not object to the redevelopment of this ideally-located tract but the placement of an industrial site directly adjoining an existing residential neighborhood is unprecedented in Arlington and bodes ominously for other neighborhoods.
They have proceeded without consulting the adjacent neighborhood and have kept Arlington citizens at-large in the dark about their planning. We have repeatedly asked for a seat in their discussions but have been denied at every turn.
It’s time for Arlington citizens to demand a return to the “Arlington Way” and stop the Buck tract before your neighborhood is next.
The petition, we’re told, is also “‘trending’ across nine Arlington neighborhoods” via Nextdoor, an online social network.
“This is sadly reminiscent of the recent instances of Arlington citizens rising up against the planning without consultation with the [H-B Woodlawn] relocation, the TJ parking lot, the Lee Hwy firehouse, and plopping a temporary firehouse on the green grass of Rhodeside Green Park, along with a growing number of other attempts at action without consulting neighborhoods,” Dennis Whitehead, a resident who lives near the Buck site, told ARLnow.com.
Despite the insistence that the county is “barreling ahead” with the project, the county’s acquisition of the Buck property may not close for another year, and the county says it’s committed to a community process prior to determining its permanent uses for the property.
The proposal may be discussed tonight (Tuesday) at a meeting in Courthouse. The public meeting, intended to review community input regarding a new joint county-schools facilities advisory committee that’s being planned, is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Navy League Building (2300 Wilson Blvd).
That committee, which will follow up on the Community Facilities Study that wrapped up around this time last year (but is still the subject of meetings), will also be considering uses for other county-owned or potentially county-owned properties, including:
- A 11.5 acre Virginia Hospital Center property along S. Carlin Springs Road, which could potentially be used for police and fire vehicle logistics, a new police impound lot, material staging and for the Office of Emergency Management/Emergency Operations Center.
- County-owned land at the intersection of 26th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive, across from Marymount University, which currently includes a park, a mulch pile and a salt dome. The park will be preserved but the county wants to replace the aging salt dome and use some of the land for snow clearing operations and material storage.
- Madison Community Center, though no specific additional uses were presented.
- Clarendon House, a vacant former rehabilitation center at the intersection of N. Irving Street and 10th Street N.
Another joint County Board-School Board meeting, on recommendations from the Community Facilities Study, is planned for Nov. 1 at 6 p.m.
The Staples store at 3804 Wilson Blvd in Virginia Square is slated for redevelopment, though the plans are still in the early stages.
Schupp Companies presented a plan to build a hotel on the site to the Ashton Heights Civic Association last month.
“My understanding is that the redevelopment would also replace the apartments on that side of N. Oakland [Street],” said a resident who was in attendance.
Ray Schupp said the exact details are still fluid and that his company will be working with residents to craft the plan.
“We have not decided exactly what we’ll do with the site,” Schupp told ARLnow.com. “We are exploring several options including a hotel. That being said we have been extremely pleased with the reception of the community to our new Hyatt hotel at Courthouse.”
“We will be working with the County staff and the neighbors on solutions to the Staples site,” Schupp continued. “Just as we developed a close relationship with Lyon Village homeowners and reached a win-win solution to the Courthouse site… we will work with the community and staff on this.”
Plans should begin to firm up within 3-4 months, said Schupp.
Members of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association were given an early look at two new developments planned for the community over the next few years.
The 40-year-old church, which is used by Grace for meetings but not for Sunday services, would be replaced by a seven-story condo building and a block of four-story townhouses. A series of townhomes and a private driveway is planned for the parking lot.
The developers described the project as “a relatively modest in-fill development” that’s in keeping with the “urban townhouse” neighborhood that surrounds it. The development, like the neighborhood, tapers from the towers of central Ballston to the south to the lower-density townhomes and condos to the north.
Officials from NVR said the plans are preliminary and have not yet been filed with the county.
Also at Monday’s civic association meeting, local developer Eleventh Street Development presented early plans for a new apartment building in Virginia Square.
The proposed six-story, 220-unit rental complex, at the intersection of Kirkwood Road and Washington Blvd, would replace the closed Sport & Health gym, the Slye Electronics building and an automotive business.
Developer Garrett Erdle, who previously helped to develop Penrose Square on Columbia Pike, told residents that the building is at least three years away, following “a structured and lengthy” regulatory process.
Before a site plan process for the building can start, the county and its Long Range Planning Committee is expected to discuss land use planning for the parcel and the area as a whole. The special General Land Use Plan study that the development will first go through is expected to take about a year.
Residents at the meeting expressed concerns about the height of the building, parking along their already-crowded streets and a potential lack of public green space in front of the building. The developer responded that the proposal for the building is in the very early stages and that they will take public feedback into account throughout the process.
(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) A reported standoff with an armed man near the Virginia Square Metro station ended peacefully this afternoon.
The standoff was said to be taking place in an apartment tower on the 900 block of N. Pollard Street. Police said the man was making threats and was in possession of multiple loaded firearms.
A police spokeswoman described it as a “fluid situation,” with officers “taking an abundance of caution for everyone’s safety.”
While police took defensive positions down the hall from the man’s apartment, he was spotted outside the Starbucks near the Metro station. As it turns out, the man had left his apartment prior to police arriving. Officers talked with the man, who was said to be calm and mostly cooperative.
At 4 p.m., police said the situation was “safely resolved” and the man was “being referred to County services.”
During the standoff Pollard Street was closed to traffic and police advised people to avoid the area. One nearby resident told us that heavily-armed officers had the apartment building “locked down.”
PD on scene 900 block of N. Pollard Street. Subject inside residence armed with weapon making threats. Expect police presence & avoid area.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) August 24, 2016
900 block of N. Pollard: incident safely resolved. Male individual being referred to County services. PD beginning to clear scene.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) August 24, 2016
Update at 6:55 p.m. — The leak has been stopped and ACFD units have now left the scene.
Arlington County firefighters are on the scene of a major gas leak in the Virginia Square area.
Initial reports suggest that construction crews at the Latitude Apartments site, on the 3600 block of Fairfax Drive, across from the Metro station, hit and severed a three-inch gas line.
Police were called to the scene to block traffic around the gas leak.
Anyone walking to or from the Virginia Square Metro station may see this curious sight just across Fairfax Drive from the station entrance.
The patio of an under construction apartment building is seemingly being built around a streetlight and traffic signal pole.
So what’s going on here, asks an ARLnow.com reader?
The photo shows the Latitude Apartments on the 3600 block of Fairfax Drive, first approved by the County Board in 2013 and expected to open later this summer, according to its website. County officials say the pole will eventually be moved at the developer’s expense.
“The pole is going to be relocated as part of the private developer’s site plan,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter. “The developer’s contractor chose to move the pole later on during construction.”
The man grabbed the woman’s underwear, then fled the scene. A police dog attempted to track the suspect down but lost his scent.
From an Arlington County Police crime report:
SEXUAL BATTERY, 160525052, 3800 block of N. Fairfax Drive. At approximately 10:45 p.m., a female victim was walking down the street when an unknown male subject reached his hand underneath her dress and grabbed her underwear. The subject fled the scene on foot and a K9 track in the area was negative. The subject is described at a black male, 20-30 years old, approximately 6ft tall with an average build.
Also Wednesday evening, a 19-year-old Arlington man was charged with being drunk in public, having a fake ID and attempting to bribe the officer who was taking him to jail.
ATTEMPT TO COMMIT BRIBERY OF A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, 160525042, 4900 block of N. Lee Highway. At approximately 5:27 p.m., officers were dispatched to the report of an intoxicated male subject. When the officers arrived, the subject provided them with a false identification. During transport to booking, the subject became agitated and offered to pay the officer to allow him to leave without charges. Ryan McNulty, 19, of Arlington VA was charged with Attempt to Commit Bribery, Possession of a Fictitious license (x2), Provide False ID to Avoid Arrest, Underage Consumption of Alcohol and Drunk in Public.