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by ARLnow.com April 3, 2017 at 10:10 am 0

(Updated at 10:30 a.m.) Casual Adventure, the long-time Virginia Square outdoor retailer that promises to “outfit you from Great Falls to Nepal,” is closing.

The store, at 3451 Washington Blvd, made the announcement this morning. The owners “received a reasonable offer for the sale of our building” and took it, they said.

E-commerce has made the bricks-and-mortar retail business increasingly difficult. “It’s no secret that the old retail model no longer works,” said Eric Stern, whose family has owned the store for 61 years.

Casual Adventure will be closed Monday and Tuesday and will reopen Wednesday to kick of its “End of an Era Sale,” featuring up to 50 percent off any remaining outdoor, tactical and sporting goods in stock. An exact closing date has not been announced.

The business may be revived, however, in a modified form later this year.

The family “has plans to reopen elsewhere in Northern Virginia in late summer or early fall, with a focus on corporate, league, military and government sales,” Arlington Magazine reported. A company rep wouldn’t comment on that report.

“We’ll share details with our loyal customer base and the Arlington community if it becomes necessary,” said Nathan Carroll. “For now we are squarely focused on selling all of our current inventory.”

The full announcement is below.

Dear Friends:

This business, which my great-grandfather Oscar founded over six decades ago, has been a source of great pride to our family over the years. Like all businesses, we’ve had to evolve: from our beginnings as a district grocery store, to an Army-Navy surplus store, to becoming the outdoor, tactical, and sporting goods store you know us to be today.

It’s no secret that the old retail model no longer works, so when we received a reasonable offer for the sale of our building, we decided the time was ripe to again switch gears, by closing our store and focusing our future business through the internet and beyond.

But first we commence the biggest sale in our 61-year history. Our END OF AN ERA SALE features our entire stock of clothing, outerwear, footwear, camping gear, travel accessories and sporting gear, with storewide reductions up to 50% off.

We’ll be closed all day Monday and Tuesday to reduce prices and prepare. Sale starts Wednesday, April 5th at 9:00am.

So whatever your outdoor needs, whether hiking, camping, adventure travel, or otherwise, we’ve got it all and it’s all on sale. Shop early before the word is out to the general public and buy “the good stuff” at liquidation prices.

It’s been our great joy to have served our local communities for so many years: but times change and for everyone the time comes to move forward. Along with our wonderfully talented and loyal staff, we thank you for your friendship and support and look forward to helping you find the perfect outfit and gear in this final sale.

Sincerely,

Eric Stern, on behalf of the Stern family

Photo via Facebook

by ARLnow.com March 6, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

A restaurant that can only rarely be seen serving customers is again closed for reported maintenance issues.

Pio Pio, located at 3300 Wilson Blvd between Clarendon and Virginia Square, has been closed “for at least a week,” according to a tipster. That’s despite a “help wanted” sign in the window.

A sign reading “today afternoon closed for maintenance” is posted on the door, as it was this past December when we first reported that Pio Pio was closed for an issue with the roof. It’s unclear if Pio Pio reopened at any point between then and now.

Reached at the restaurant’s phone number, a man who did not give his name said “I don’t know” when asked when Pio Pio would be reopening. “Someone will call you back,” the man said before hanging up.

Tipsters who’ve contacted ARLnow.com have expressed fascination with the “mysterious” business which, like the former Sam’s Corner before it, does not seem to keep regular hours.

Said one tipster:

The Pio Pio restaurant at the corner or Wilson and Jackson has been closed for at least a week. Interestingly, there’s a “help wanted”
sign in the window of the shuttered restaurant. The place rarely has had any customers, and often has a Hummer parked outside. And then there’s that man in a crazy chicken costume who used to stand outside scaring passers-by. Strange…

From another tipster:

… have you guys ever done any investigation as to the real story at Pio Pio? It would be funny if it weren’t so mysterious. There’s literally no one ever in there. They are closed during peak hours including Saturday afternoon and evening. Has to be some story there but I have never seen it told.

by Tim Regan February 21, 2017 at 5:00 pm 0

Pulp Juice and Smoothie opening soon(Updated at 6:58 p.m.) Virginia Square will soon have a new outpost for fruit smoothies, juices and wraps.

A Pulp Juice and Smoothie Bar is moving into the storefront at the Virginia Square Towers at 3444 Fairfax Drive. Signs advertising the new eatery went up recently.

A look through the Ohio-based company’s menu reveals a long list of smoothies in flavors such as “pulp fusion,” “peach beach” and “orange chill.” The cafe also sells wraps, which can be filled with ingredients like spicy turkey, tuna and peanut butter.

The business is slated to open within weeks, according Pulp Juice and Smoothie founder Tom Knepp.

“We are hoping to open in the first or second week of March,” he said. “We are just waiting on some of our proprietary products to get in.”

This is the first Pulp Juice and Smoothie in Virginia.

Photo by Buzz McClain

by ARLnow.com February 15, 2017 at 2:35 pm 0

Virginia Square restaurant Water & Wall (3811 Fairfax Drive) has closed its doors for good.

The restaurant, which opened in November 2013 and served “creative American cuisine,” announced the closing on Facebook today.

“After 3 1/2 years, we have decided to close Water & Wall,” said the Facebook post. “We hope you’ll visit us at Kyirisan and Chase the Submarine. We have loved being a part of your lives.”

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.”

The restaurant has previously launched limited-time, “pop-up” menus, offering new dishes for diners to try. It brought on a new chef in June.

by ARLnow.com February 1, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Birds and a plane (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

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

by Tim Regan January 24, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

A D.C. restaurant known for steak frites and “secret sauce” might open a new location in Virginia Square.

Last year, Medium Rare tweeted out a cryptic message that seemed to suggest a new location was in the works for Arlington. Where and when that new restaurant might open remained a mystery, though.

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

by ARLnow.com January 13, 2017 at 1:35 pm 0

Arlington County fire truckArlington County firefighters responded to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation offices in Virginia Square this afternoon for a report of smoke.

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.

by ARLnow.com November 30, 2016 at 10:40 am 0

Shirlington site for land swapArlington County is considering a land swap that would provide more land for ART bus parking and would allow a developer to build a self-storage facility across from Washington-Lee High School.

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.”

N. Quincy Street site for land swap

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.

by ARLnow.com November 17, 2016 at 10:40 am 0

Following a nearly $1.3 million improvement project, the new Quincy Park is ready for its big day.

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.

by ARLnow.com November 3, 2016 at 4:05 pm 0

Entrance of new Virginia Square DMV officeThe 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:

by ARLnow.com October 26, 2016 at 2:45 pm 0

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.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com October 25, 2016 at 6:00 pm 0

Arlington County joint facilities presentation

(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.

Arlington County joint facilities presentationDespite 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.

by ARLnow.com October 7, 2016 at 10:05 am 0

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.

by ARLnow.com September 27, 2016 at 10:20 am 0

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 first, from Reston-based developer NVR, would redevelop Grace Community Church and its surface parking lot at the intersection of 11th Street and N. Vermont Street in Ballston.

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.

by ARLnow.com August 24, 2016 at 3:05 pm 0

Police standoff in Virginia Square (courtesy photo)

(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.”

Courtesy photo

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