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‘Heavy Fire Damage’ at Virginia Square Office Building

A two-alarm fire scorched the top floor of a small office building in Virginia Square tonight (Tuesday).

A passerby called 911 just after 7:45 p.m. to report flames and smoke coming from the building at 933 N. Kenmore Street. The blaze was extinguished thanks to an “aggressive attack” by firefighters, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Ben O’Bryant, but not before causing “heavy fire damage on the fourth floor.”

Smoke and water damage was also reported on the third and second floors. No injuries were reported. The Fire Marshal’s Office is now investigating the cause.

The office, across from the George Mason University Arlington campus, houses a number of small businesses, including an insurance agent and a massage therapy center. A web search found two businesses on the fourth floor of the building: an immigration law office and long-time conservative political magazine The American Spectator.

More photos and video via social media below, after the jump.

Map via Google Maps. Video courtesy Arash Tafakor.

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March 19: A Conversation with Martina Navratilova at Mercatus Center

Martina Navratilova — record-setting tennis player, communist defector, author, and activist — will join Tyler Cowen at George Mason University’s Arlington campus for a wide-ranging dialogue as part of the Mercatus Center’s Conversations with Tyler series. The conversation is free of charge and open to the public.

Click here to register

Born in Prague, Martina Navratilova began playing tennis at 7 years old and won her first singles title in Orlando, Florida, 10 years later.

As her tennis career ramped up outside the borders of Czechoslovakia, officials in her native country began pressuring her to “behave,” warning her that she would not be granted travel visas if she continued fraternizing with tennis players from other countries or becoming too “Americanized.”

Navratilova, a teenager at the time, began to feel a threat to her tennis aspirations and took the most courageous action of her career.  At the age of 18, she defected to the United States, leaving behind her family and native country to pursue her dreams.

Navratilova’s sacrifice paid off. Despite backlash from being one of the first professional athletes to come out as gay, she won the Wimbledon women’s singles title a record nine times.

In all, Navratilova has won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles (an all-time record) and 10 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles; in total, she has won 59 Grand Slam titles.  She continues to play at all the Grand Slams where she takes part in the legends doubles.

A dedicated activist, Navratilova believes that speaking out about political and social issues is a way to give back to the country that gave her so much. While she has involved herself with many charities and causes, she has been especially outspoken about issues that hit closest to home: communism and gay rights.

Navratilova’s activism and depth of thinking make her a prime candidate for the Conversations with Tyler series, which featured basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 2016.

In the series, George Mason economist Tyler Cowen talks to some of today’s most underrated thinkers about everything and anything. More recent guests include Malcolm Gladwell, Larry Summers, and Atul Gawande.

Click here to register for the conversation with Martina Navratilova

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Bicyclist Injured, Driver Cited After ‘Dooring’

A bicyclist was taken to a local hospital with minor injuries on Tuesday (March 6) after being struck by an open car door.

The incident occurred near the relatively busy Virginia Square intersection of N. Fairfax Drive and N. Pollard Street at about 6:40 p.m. The bicyclist was riding in the bike lane when they were “doored,” according to an Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman.

Police were dispatched to the scene, and the driver was cited with opening a door into traffic. The fairly uncommon citation has only been issued one other time in the past twelve months by ACPD.

A Virginia law passed in 2016 requiring “drivers to wait for a reasonable opportunity to open vehicle doors on the side adjacent to moving traffic.” The citation is punishable by a fine of no more than $50.

It’s possible that dooring may eventually be a thing of the past thanks to new technology. Recently developed car tech aims to improve bicyclist safety through an anti-dooring mechanism that would identify incoming bicyclists and lock the doors.

Photos via Google Maps

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Free ARLnow.com Frisbees Available at Pups & Pints Thursday

Latitude Apartments (3601 Fairfax Drive) is hosting an event for pets and their owners tomorrow (Thursday) and ARLnow is bringing some dog-friendly freebie frisbees.

The new Virginia Square apartment building is hosting “Pups & Pints” in its lobby, with snacks, drinks and a puppy photo booth.

ARLnow.com is co-hosting the free event, which will be held from 6-8 p.m.

The Latitude is a pet-friendly apartment community, offering studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. Features include a dog spa and a rooftop deck with an expansive view.

Latitude Apartments is an ARLnow.com sponsor.

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Darna Restaurant and Lounge Closed By County

(Updated at 11:45 a.m) Darna Restaurant and Lounge in Virginia Square has been ordered temporarily closed by the county building inspector.

A recent inspection of the nightclub at 946 N. Jackson Street “revealed that there were numerous violations of the Building, Fire, Zoning and Environmental Health codes, affecting the health, safety and welfare of the public,” according to county staff.

A bright orange sticker on the door of the lounge warns that “this structure is unfit for habitation.” A separate sign says “Darna Lounge will be closed for repairs to our sprinkler system.”

Detour Coffee, on the first floor of the building, was open as of Monday morning.

The Arlington County Board is expected to review Darna’s live entertainment and dancing permit at its upcoming February meeting, a month ahead of schedule. Among the likely topics of conversation are the building inspection findings and complaints about noise.

“During the last County Board review in October 2017, staff received correspondence from a neighboring citizen with concerns about loud music during and after the hours of live entertainment and dancing,” a county staff report notes. “Several calls to the police for noise and other complaints were identified during the last County Board review.”

Darna has been open for about six years, and has since expanded, adding an open air patio on the second floor.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt

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Here’s Where You Can Buy Girl Scout Cookies in Arlington This Month

Girl Scout cookie season is upon us, and there will be plenty of booths throughout Arlington where residents can get their sweet fix.

The net revenue raised from Girl Scout cookies funds the organization’s local council and troops, which in turn is used for trips or donated to community projects or causes.

According to the Girl Scouts website, booth sales in Arlington will kick off this coming Friday, Feb. 16. Below are some of the times and places places you can grab some Girl Scout cookies this month.

  • Four Sisters Grill (3035 Clarendon Blvd.)

    • Feb. 16 — 4-7 p.m.
  • Giant Food (3450 Washington Blvd.)

    • Feb. 16 — 4-8 p.m.
    • Feb. 17 — 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Feb. 18 — 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Feb. 23 — 4-8 p.m.
    • Feb. 24 — 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Feb. 25 — 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Giant Food (3115 Lee Highway)

    • Feb. 17 — 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Feb. 18 — 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Feb. 24 — 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Feb. 25 — 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Giant Food (2901 S. Glebe Road)

    • Feb. 16 — 4-8 p.m.
    • Feb. 17 — 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Feb. 18 — 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Feb. 23 — 4-8 p.m.
    • Feb. 24 — 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Feb. 25 — 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Giant Food (2501 9th Road S.)

    • Feb. 16 — 4-8 p.m.
    • Feb. 17 — 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Feb. 18 — 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Feb. 23 — 4-8 p.m.
    • Feb. 24 — 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Feb. 25 — 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Key Elementary School  (2300 Key Blvd.)

    • Feb. 16 — 3-6 p.m.
  • Courthouse Metro Station (2100 Wilson Blvd.)

    • Feb. 16 — 3:30-7:30 p.m.
    • Feb. 19 — 3:30-7:30 p.m.
    • Feb. 20 — 3:30-7:30 p.m.
    • Feb. 21 — 3:30-7:30 p.m.
    • Feb. 22 — 3:30-7:30 p.m.
    • Feb. 23 — 3:30-7:30 p.m.
    • Feb. 24 — 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
    • Feb. 26 — 3:30-7:30 p.m.
    • Feb. 27 — 3:30-7:30 p.m.
    • Feb. 28 — 3:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Virginia Square-GMU Metro Station (3600 Fairfax Drive)

    • Feb. 16 — 4-7 p.m.
    • Feb. 23 — 4-7 p.m.
  • Pentagon Center Mall (1201 S. Hayes Street)

    • Feb. 16 — 4-7:30 p.m.
    • Feb. 17 — 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
    • Feb. 18 — 1-6 p.m.
    • Feb. 23 — 4-7:30 p.m.
    • Feb. 24 — 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
    • Feb. 25 — 1-6 p.m.
  • Ace Hardware (2001 Clarendon Blvd.)

    • Feb. 17 — 12-4 p.m.
    • Feb. 18 — 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
    • Feb. 24 — 12-4 p.m.
    • Feb. 25 — 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Central Library (1015 N. Quincy St.)

    • Feb. 17 — 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Feb. 18 — 12:45-5 p.m.
    • Feb. 24 — 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Feb. 25 — 12:45-5 p.m.
  • Meridian (1401 N. Taft St.)

    • Feb. 17 — 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Nice Cream (2831 Clarendon Blvd.)

    • Feb. 17 — 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Delancey at Shirlington Village (4220 Campbell Ave.)

    • Feb. 17 — 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Io Piazza Apartments (2727 S. Quincy St.)

    • Feb. 17 — 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • The Whitmore (4301 Columbia Pike)

    • Feb. 16 — 4:30-7 p.m.
  • Goodwill Industries  (10 S. Glebe Road)

    • Feb. 17 — 12-6 p.m.
    • Feb. 24 — 12-6 p.m.
  • Market Common (2801 Clarendon Blvd.)

    • Feb. 24 — 2:30-6 p.m.
    • Feb. 25 — 1-5 p.m.
  • The Citizen at Shirlington Village  (3000 S. Randolph St.)

    • Feb. 24 — 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Photo via Girl Scouts of the United States of America

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Funeral Home Site Set to Remain Parking Lot for CarPool Construction Workers

(Updated 8:25 a.m. January 25) A now-demolished funeral home in Virginia Square is set for continued use as a parking lot for crews working on redeveloping the former CarPool site.

The Arlington County Board will consider an extension on the approval of the site plan at 3901 Fairfax Drive, and its interim use for parking, until February 2021.

Construction crews working on the CarPool project use the site as parking while building work is ongoing on a 22-story luxury high rise, which will have up to 330 residential units, 264 underground parking spaces and ground-floor retail.

The Board approved the project in 2012 on the site of the old Arlington Funeral Home.  It was first used as a temporary parking lot the following year after the building’s demolition.

In its place, a 10-story building with three levels of underground parking is planned. It would include office space and ground floor retail. It had been the planned location of a 150-seat black box theater, but that plan was nixed last year.

In a report on the planned extension, county staff said that developer BDC Crimson LLC has promised that development will be underway by 2021, “once financing is finalized to permit construction.”

Staff recommended the Board approve the extension.

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Longtime Outdoor Store Casual Adventure Has New Location ‘In Mind’

The ongoing uncertainty over the future of Virginia Square outdoor store Casual Adventure could be close to resolution, according to its owner.

Owner Eric Stern told ARLnow that after receiving several extensions on its lease at 3451 Washington Blvd, the company is now close to signing a lease on a new location. Stern declined to go into specifics, but said there could be more progress in the near future.

He added that television commercials noting Casual Adventure’s lease extension are correct, but he did not say for how much longer it will last. The long-time outdoor retailer had been set to close last spring after 61 years in business. It first announced its closure last April.

“We’re still in the process of getting it all signed and sealed,” Stern said. “We have a location in mind and a backup if it falls through.”

The store continues to be open as normal, with its winter stock marked down by as much as 70 percent off regular price. A sign also indicates that Casual Adventure is looking to hire new staff.

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Jen’s Kitchen Closing Today in Virginia Square

A deli and grocery store in Virginia Square will close today (Friday), but is expected to reopen next month.

A sign on the front door of Jen’s Kitchen (901 N. Nelson Street) said all its grocery items including beer and wine must go, with everything half-price.

But Jen’s is set to reopen in late January under new management, the sign reads.

The store between Starbucks and a dry cleaners, on the first floor of the Virginia Square Apartments and just feet from the neighborhood’s Metro station, sells hot food and fresh salad as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner.

It opened in 2015, replacing the former Metro Cafe and Gourmet.

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Free Christmas Trees at Lions Club Lot

If you’ve procrastinated on picking up a Christmas tree for your home, you’re in luck: at least one lot in Arlington is now giving trees away for free.

The Arlington South Lions Club, which this year moved its lot from the under-construction Food Lion site along Columbia Pike to American Legion Post 139 in Virginia Square, is trying to make sure its trees don’t go to waste.

“Since there are still many trees and only three days until Christmas, the Arlington South Lions Club will give a tree for FREE to anyone who wants one and stops by at 3445 Washington Blvd today, 4-7 p.m. and tomorrow, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” Peter Golkin, who has been helping with the sale, tells ARLnow. “Financial donations to the Lions Club will gladly be accepted but are not necessary.”

As of Dec. 18, the Lions Club said it still had over 500 Fraser Fir trees still waiting for a home.

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

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Extreme Pizza Expanding into Virginia Square

A national pizza chain is adding another location in Arlington, this time in Virginia Square.

Extreme Pizza is set to move into 3444 Fairfax Drive, according to permits filed with the county and its website. It already has a location in Arlington at 1419 S. Fern Street in Pentagon City, which opened in 2013.

The fast-casual eatery offers customizable pizzas as well as some signature offerings with names like “Ghost Wave,” “Wham, Bam, Thank You Mammoth” and “Poultry Geist.” The menu also includes calzones, sub sandwiches, salads, sides and desserts.

It will be the fifth Virginia location for Extreme Pizza, and the second inside the Beltway. The other Virginia locations are in Vienna, Henrico and Richmond, while it has stores in nine other states.

Photos via Craig W.

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District Camera & Imaging Store Coming to Virginia Square

A camera store already in Burke and D.C. plans to open a new flagship location in Virginia Square.

District Camera & Imaging will move into the first floor of the ARC condo building at 3409 Wilson Blvd. An employee who answered the phone at the Burke store confirmed it will be its third location, and not replace the existing ones.

The employee said District Camera is targeting a February or March opening in Arlington, and that with a big space, they have big plans.

“We’re going to make it our flagship store,” he said. “It’s a broader and bigger space, so we’re going to try and use it to display more inventory.”

District Camera currently sells all manner of photography equipment, including cameras, accessories, tripods and batteries. It also offers equipment rentals, printing facilities and classes on photography skills.

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Jumping Joeys Children’s Gym Closed in Virginia Square

(Updated at 4 p.m.) One of the last remaining businesses has departed the Buck property in Virginia Square, ahead of potential redevelopment of the site.

The Jumping Joeys children’s gym closed its doors at 1425 N. Quincy Street, across from Washington-Lee High School, on Sunday, November 12, according to a post on its website. It was part of the “Quincy Street Technology Center,” which included gyms and an Arlington Public Schools building and is zoned for light industrial use.

Still open in Falls Church, Jumping Joeys lets children bounce on soft play equipment, and is available for “Open Bounce” sessions open to the general public as well as for private parties and events.

That followed another closure in late August, when the NOVA MMA/CrossFit Arlington gym in the same building shuttered.

It sets the stage for the long-discussed redevelopment of the Buck property, a conversation that the county’s Joint Facilities Advisory Commission continued earlier this year.

Last month, Arlington County sold $34 million in revenue bonds to fund the purchase of the Buck property.

The deadline for the final payment of $27 million for the property was yesterday (November 20). A county spokeswoman said the county closed on the transaction as planned.

The Buck property could could allow for a building to be used by Arlington Public Schools, as well as provide space for the Office of Emergency Management and other public safety agencies, while some offer bus parking for both APS and Arlington Transit (ART).

One business remains at the site: Dynamic Gymnastics. It received an extension to its lease, which will terminate on May 31, 2018.

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Morning Notes

County HQ to Be Named After Bozman — “The Arlington County Board today voted unanimously to name the County Office Building at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard for Ellen M. Bozman, the six-time Board Chair who served on the Board through some of Arlington’s most transformative years, and who died in 2009.” [Arlington County]

Blue, Yellow Line Service Disruption — Metrorail service on the Blue and Yellow lines was suspended earlier this morning due to “fire department activity” at the Pentagon station. Arlington County Fire Department units investigated the incident and turned the scene back over to Metro around 6 a.m. Service has since been restored. [Twitter, Twitter, Fox 5]

County Board Sets Stage for Va. Square Redevelopment — The Arlington County Board on Saturday took a first step towards the redevelopment of several properties at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. Kirkwood Road. New apartments and upgrades to the YMCA have been proposed for the site. The Board approved a General Land Use Plan Study and Concept Plan that will “serve as a long-range planning guide for potential redevelopment.” [Arlington County]

Arlingtonian Among Rhodes Scholars — Arlington native Matthew Chun, a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been named one of 32 Rhodes scholars in the U.S. Chun, who is also captain of the school’s wrestling team, is one of two Virginians among the latest group of Rhodes scholars. [Associated Press, MIT News]

Juvenile Hospitalized After Nauck Hit and Run — An individual under the age of 18 was reportedly struck by a car on the 2400 block of Shirlington Road, in the Nauck area, over the weekend. The car’s driver drove off after hitting the juvenile, who suffered non-life threatening injuries. [WJLA]

Nestle Lease Lauded in Commercial RE Awards — The lease of 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn to serve as Nestle’s new U.S. headquarters was given the “Award of Excellence” in the Real Estate Transaction category at the 2017 NAIOP Northern Virginia commercial real estate awards. It was among six Arlington-related winners at the awards ceremony, including the new Marymount University Ballston Center development. [NAIOP]

Flickr pool photo by Chris Guyton

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Detour Coffee Co. Open in Virginia Square

A new coffee shop opened last month in Virginia Square.

Detour Coffee Co. is located at 946 N. Jackson Street, in the same building as the Darna Restaurant and Lounge, next to a Jiffy Lube.

On its website, Detour said it is owned by the same group that owns Darna. According to posts from its Facebook account, it opened late last month.

“Detour Coffee Co. combines tradition and innovation to create a delicious product that leaves customers satisfied every time,” it reads. “Located just blocks from the Clarendon Metro Station, our local coffee shop prides itself on maintaining the highest quality of product and service — all of our drinks are hand-crafted and pastries are made in-house from scratch.”

Detour serves various types of coffee including drip, espresso, chai and iced. It also has hot chocolate, and hot and iced tea, as well as sandwiches, pastries, empanadas and other food items. It is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.

It is located about two blocks from local independent coffee shop stalwart Northside Social.

Photos 1-5 via Facebook, photo No. 6 via Google Maps.

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