Board Funds Westover Apartment Purchase — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $10.9 million loan that will allow the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to purchase 68 affordable but aging apartment units in the Westover neighborhood. Separately, an effort to designate Westover as a protected historic district, with the goal of preserving other affordable apartments, is continuing. Arlington’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board will hold a key meeting on the topic in November. [Arlington County, InsideNova]
Outreach Planned for Bluemont Baseball Project — Following a raft of complaints and letters from nearby residents, county officials will be holding a community meeting Oct. 5 to discuss an approved contract to renovate one of the baseball fields at Bluemont Park. County Board members on Saturday chastised county staff for inadequate neighborhood outreach on the project prior to its July approval by the Board. [InsideNova]
Aurora Hills Community Center Upgrades OKed — As expected, the County Board has approved a $555,800 contract to upgrade the interior of the Aurora Hills Senior Center and Library. Separately, the Board also approved a $2.7 million utility undergrounding project for the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road, which is slated for future streetscape improvements. [Arlington County]
Rodney Hunt Fighting Mansion Eviction — Once a wealthy information technology executive, Rodney Hunt was recently released from a jail sentence on drug charges and is now fighting the foreclosure auction sale of his $24 million mansion on Chain Bridge Road in Arlington. Over the past few months the sprawling home has been used to host “mansion parties,” one of which resulted in a drive-by shooting in McLean. [Washington Post]
High School Boundary Changes Coming Soon — Arlington Public Schools will be hosting a series of public outreach events next month as part of a boundary “refinement” process for the county’s high schools. The usually-contentious process of adjusting school boundaries will this time determine which students attend Arlington’s three comprehensive high schools: Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown. The changes will not affect current high school students. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Local CVS Accused of Selling Expired Shakes — A CVS store on Columbia Pike is being accused of selling nutritional shakes that expired a year ago and made an elderly woman sick last month. In response to a TV station’s outreach, CVS promised to work with the store to make sure that it’s removing expired products from shelves. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The Arlington County Board is set to consider a plan to lend about $11 million to a nonprofit organization looking to save affordable garden apartments in Westover.
The Board is scheduled to vote Saturday on the eight-figure loan from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund. The financing would allow the nonprofit Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to buy eight apartment buildings in the neighborhood, according to the county. The purchase would account for 68 affordable units — all but four are one bedroom units — at an average acquisition cost of about $215,000 per unit.
“The Westover neighborhood in North Arlington has a substantial inventory of market and committed affordable apartments,” APAH says on its website. “But many have been eliminated, or are at threat of elimination.”
The vote comes as Westover comes to grips with the redevelopment of some area properties, including an aging garden apartment building that are being replaced with luxury townhouses.
The Arlington Green Party is lobbying for a local historic designation in an effort to make it harder to tear down Westover buildings or renovate them. Already, much of the neighborhood — which was developed between 1938 and 1948 — is a national historic district.
The Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development, which advocates for an equitable distribution of affordable housing across the country, is supporting the proposal.
“CARD hopes that this acquisition [by APAH] will enable families the opportunity to live in Westover and enjoy its excellent schools and amenities,” Kay Langenbeck, chair of the group’s housing committee, wrote in a letter to the Board.
The total estimated cost of acquiring and renovating the apartments is $27.2 million, according to the county staff report. The project will be completed in three phases.
Photo via Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing
A group of residents want to have Westover designated a local historic district.
Most of Westover — which was developed between 1938 and 1948 — is currently designated as a national historic district, but that hasn’t prevented redevelopment of some properties, most recently an aging garden apartment building that’s being torn down and replaced by townhouses.
The Arlington Green Party is pushing for a local historic designation, which would impose restrictions on tear-downs and renovations.
“This action occurs because developers have demolished about a dozen historic apartment buildings in Westover to build luxury townhouses,” wrote the Green Party’s John Reeder. “In the process, many old trees and green space was destroyed as well as over 60 moderate income rental apartments. These apartment buildings were built in 1940, and have housed moderate income renters in Westover for the past 75 years.”
“With local historic designation, building owners [would] be required to maintain the current building, and could not demolish it unless it was offered for sale for one year to another property owner who would maintain the building,” Reeder explained.
This summer Arlington County officials have participated in community meetings, explaining the process and what it would mean for the community. Cynthia Liccese-Torres, coordinator of Arlington County’s historic preservation program, says the county has not yet taken a stance on the designation.
“The local historic district designation process for Westover is still only in the very beginning stages,” she said. “The County did not initiate this designation request, but since a formal request was received on June 23 the County staff will facilitate the public process as detailed in Section 11.3.4 of the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance.”
Some in the neighborhood are not convinced of the virtue of a local historic designation. A anonymously-distributed flyer that recently wound up on Westover doorsteps warned of a loss of property rights with a historic designation.
“You and all future owners will permanently lose the right to change the exterior of your property, including demolishing it to build a new dream home,” the flyer said, calling a historic designation “a discriminatory action” and encouraging residents to petition the county to call off the process.
Liccese-Torres said a local historic designation does not preclude all changes to homes.
As we explained at the meeting, developing design guidelines will be a collaborative process with the community and involve many conversations with owners about what types of changes they would like to manage in their neighborhood. It does not mean that 1940s-era materials would be the only ones allowed to be used, nor does it mean that homes and buildings could never be changed. Rather, the design guidelines and the design review process itself help ensure that certain types of exterior changes respect the architectural character of what’s already there. Design guidelines are not one-size-fits-all but crafted to address the particular characteristics of each district and the desires of the property owners. We will rely on community input to help shape the draft guidelines.
Arlington’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) is expected to hold a public hearing on the Westover historic designation this fall. If the board votes to move the designation request forward, a study would officially begin. Ultimately, it will be up to the Arlington County Board as to whether to approve the request, its proposed design guidelines and the historic district boundaries.
“Overall, from start to finish, the local designation process will take many months to complete, including the updated architectural survey, continuous outreach with the property owners and community, and multiple public hearings with the HALRB, Planning Commission, and County Board,” Liccese-Torres said.
Photos by Jackie Friedman
A plan to put a 16-bike Capital Bikeshare station at Westover Library has been delayed, according to Arlington County.
The bike rental service delayed installing the Westover Library station because construction crews are using the site as a staging area while they renovate the Westover Branch Library’s windows, according to Arlington County spokesman Peter Golkin.
“Instead, we’ll be installing this station at Westover Park over the next month and installing at the Library in the fall when construction is supposed to be completed,” a Bikeshare representative said in a statement Golkin shared with ARLnow.com.
Three Capital Bikeshare stations are planned for Westover, according to county staff. In addition to the Westover Libary and Westover Park stations, another hub is slated to be installed at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Patrick Henry in 2018.
Historic Designation May Not Stop Westover Redevelopment — It’s probably too late to start the process of designating a soon-to-be-redeveloped garden apartment complex in Westover as a local historic district, county officials said in response to residents who want to stop the development. By state law the county can’t stop a by-right development, so the only option for preserving the garden apartments would be for the county to buy the property, said County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac. [InsideNova]
Zara Now Open in Pentagon City Mall — The fashion retailer Zara is now open in the expanded portion of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall. [Patch]
Continued Kudos for W-L Soccer — After winning the state title, the Washington-Lee High School boys soccer team has since been recognized by the Arlington County Board, the School Board and has received a raft of media interest. [InsideNova]
Wardian Wins Crazy Trophy at Crazy Race — Arlington’s resident elite ultramarathoner Michael Wardian has won the Great New York City 100 Mile Running Exposition and the very unique trophy that goes along with it. [Instagram]
Arlington’s Street Names, Explained — In a post that was just republished, after originally appearing in 2009, urbanist blog Greater Greater Washington explains the complex but mostly logical system for naming streets in Arlington. [Greater Greater Washington]
Photo courtesy Melissa P.
Shark Tank Casting in Crystal City — ABC’s “Shark Tank” is holding a casting call today at the 1776 incubator in Crystal City. “Applicants will have roughly 90 seconds to make their initial pitches to casting producers, with about three minutes for a Q&A portion.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Man Is Suspected Serial Bank Robber — Police have identified a serial bank robbery suspect who was arrested Friday in Falls Church as 42-year-old Arlington resident Amin Huie. Police say Huie is the “Forever Loyal Bandit” who has robbed seven banks since 2014, including a Capital One Bank on Columbia Pike last year. [Fairfax County PD, WJLA]
More on Garvey’s Win — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey’s “unorthodox, controversial” strategy of appealing to non-Democrats in the Democratic primary is “likely to alter future campaigns,” writes Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey, in an analysis of Garvey’s decisive primary win last night. [InsideNova]
Repairs to Westover Branch Library — Work to repair water damage and install new windows at the Westover Branch Library will take place from mid-July to late September. The library will remain open during that time. [Arlington Public Library]
County Touts Increase in Trail Usage — “After a week of single tracking along the Orange/Silver Line between Ballston and East Falls Church, automated counters in the County’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor show an increase of between 70 and 90 percent in bike ridership from the same period last year. Capital BikeShare use in Arlington is up between 20 and 50 percent.” [Arlington County]
(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) The Reed School building in Westover may be tapped as the site of a new elementary school.
Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy has included a $45-63 million renovation of the building, to create a new 725-seat elementary school, in his proposed FY 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The school would help to alleviate what’s currently projected to be — without further building — a 1,387 elementary seat deficit countywide.
The Reed School building currently houses The Children’s School, a co-op child care center for APS employees, and the Integration Station, a program for Pre-K children with disabilities that allows them to integrate with The Children’s School students. The Westover Branch Library is also located in the building but is not expected to be displaced by the new school.
Some Westover residents are organizing on Facebook to speak out against the plan at the School Board’s public CIP hearing, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 19. They say APS is planning a choice elementary school for the site — and thus would be busing in students from around the county. While seeming to accept the inevitability of changes to the Reed site, one of the few APS-owned pieces of land suitable for a new school, residents say they would prefer any new facility be a neighborhood school, open to local students.
Some residents have suggested that the newly county-purchased Buck site, across from Washington-Lee High School could instead be a good location for a choice school.
In 2014, more than 1,000 people signed an online petition opposing a proposal to move the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program to the Reed site. At the time, APS staff described Reed as “underutilized.” Ultimately, the Wilson School site in Rosslyn was selected as H-B Woodlawn’s future home.
Dr. Murphy’s CIP identifies Rosslyn-Ballston corridor elementary capacity and countywide high school capacity as APS’ most pressing capacity problems.
The CIP also includes:
- Two 200-seat elementary school additions
- Two minor modification projects to add new 60 seats apiece to Gunston and Kenmore middle schools
- Modifications to add 300 seats apiece to Wakefield and Yorktown high schools
- A 600-seat facility for the Arlington Tech secondary program
If the CIP is approved by the School Board, work on the new Westover elementary school could start as soon as 2017.
New Capital Bikeshare station are coming to Washington-Lee High School and to the Westover Library.
Use permits for both are on this weekend’s Arlington County Board agenda. The stations will include docks for 16 bikes.
“The proposed Capital Bikeshare station provides convenient access to users, complies with the clear sidewalk width requirements and will not cause an undue adverse impact to adjacent streets or neighborhoods,” said a county staff report.
Police say the residents of the home on 16th Street N. confronted the man, which caused him to run off.
From the Arlington County Police crime report:
BREAKING & ENTERING, 151007069, 5800 block of N. 16th Street. At approximately 8:35 p.m. on October 7, an unknown subject was seen attempting to gain access to a shed in the backyard of a residence. The residents confronted the subject causing him to flee. The suspect is described as a white male in his twenties, approximately 5’6″ tall and weighing 150 lbs. He was wearing a black long sleeve shirt, black pants, and was carrying a big black bag.
Last week’s full Arlington crime report, after the jump.
The Italian Store opened its new Westover Village location to large crowds of hungry fans Monday.
The store, at 5837 Washington Blvd, represents an expansion for the company in more ways than one. At 6,000 square feet, the new store is more than twice the size of the original, beloved Italian Store in Lyon Village.
The Westover location features an espresso coffee bar, a gelato station, a sandwich counter, a pizza station and retail shelves of wine, pasta and sauce. There’s also a small private dining room in the back, an outdoor cafe area and a dedicated customer parking lot. Owner Robert Tramonte termed it an “Italian Store on steroids.”
Customers at the store Monday evening seemed unperturbed by the long lines and upbeat about the opening.
“We’re really excited about it,” said Amy Penchuk, who walked 10 minutes from her home to visit the new store. “I grew up in New York so I was used to getting great Italian food, and this makes me feel at home. It’s about as good as it gets around here.”
Tramonte enlisted his entire family to try to serve customers as quickly as possible.
His sons, Michael, Vincent and Joseph, were all working alongside him Monday night. Also working: Tramonte’s wife, Laura, who was celebrating her birthday.
Michael, a newly-minted college grad who’s managing the front of the store, said that despite continued delays and challenges, his dad was determined to open on his mom’s birthday.
“It’s her birthday present,” the elder Tramonte said, with a smile, when asked about the date. In the end, it paid off: Tramonte said the first day of business exceeded even his optimistic expectations.
Despite a weekend where neighbors came by and were served free pizza, The Italian Store isn’t opening in Westover for another two weeks.
Owner Robert Tramonte said the two soft openings were meant as a “thank you” to the neighborhood– and a chance to break in the new pizza ovens — but the store, at 5837 Washington Blvd, is far from fully stocked. Many of the shelves are still bare, waiting for deliveries from Italy.
“People were so excited this weekend, I don’t want to say I couldn’t believe it, but I almost couldn’t believe it,” Tramonte told ARLnow.com this morning. “The sidewalk was like a boardwalk, there were so many people out there.”
The second location of the popular Lyon Village shop has been in the works since December 2013, when Tramonte announced he was taking over the former 7-Eleven space and turning it into an “Italian Store on steroids.” The wait has been long because of construction and permitting delays, but Tramonte said it was all positive responses this weekend.
“The thing I surprised me was a lot of people were thanking me,” he said. “I said, ‘What are you thanking me for?’ Maybe I’m hitting Westover at the perfect time. They felt this was maybe the little push they needed. They felt like the Italian Store kind of raised the neighborhood up a notch.”
The interior of the new store is warmly lit, with wood shelving and brick walls. There are three separate stations where customers can get sandwiches and individual pizza slices, pizza pies and Illy espresso. Construction project manager Leon MacMullen, giving a reporter a tour this morning, said everything was designed to keep people moving freely throughout the store, which is 6,000 square feet.
“When people come in, you want them to know it’s the Italian Store,” MacMullen said.
The artwork on the wall is vintage Barilla advertisements from Italy. A refurbished, antique meat slicer is by the checkout counter, ready to slice prosciutto and other high-end, cured meats “as thin as paper.” In the back, there’s a separate room for wine tastings, outfitted with a “secret enclave” that can be used to store wine.
Tramonte’s son Michael, freshly graduated from Gonzaga University — the alma mater of NBA legend John Stockton, Robert’s brother-in-law — will manage the front, market part of the store, while restaurant veteran John Koltisko will be running the back of the house. Michael Tramonte spent his last semester in college living in Florence, and is hoping to use that experience to give the store an even more authentic feel.
Tramonte is still hiring, and applicants can stop by the location to inquire about positions. When the store opens, it will allow for seating on the patio, with the potential for more outside seating along Washington Blvd.
Next Saturday, neighborhoods like Clarendon, Bluemont, Westover and Barcroft are each holding events intended to bring neighbors together and celebrate their immediate surrounding area.
In Clarendon, county officials will gather to celebrate the now-upscale neighborhood’s time in the post-Vietnam War 1970s and 1980s when it was known as “Little Saigon” for its high population of Vietnamese immigrants. At 1:30 p.m., former Little Saigon residents and historians will narrate a tour of the area, displaying historic and still-standing businesses from the era.
The whole event, called Echoes of Little Saigon will run from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., and will include displays of Vietnamese art and Lemongrass food truck, a frequent Arlington visitor during lunch hours, will provide the country’s cuisine.
Below is a list of the neighborhood day events from other areas of the county, via the Department of Parks and Recreation (all events are on Saturday, May 9).
- Bluemont: Bluemont Park (601 N. Manchester Street), 9:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. The annual Walk for the Animals fundraiser for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington is back for Neighborhood Day. The 20th anniversary walk has already raised more than $50,000, and this year will include its first “pet festival.” The festival will include vendors, food trucks, photos with pets, adoptable shelter dogs available to play and more.
- Westover: Westover Branch Library (1644 N. McKinley Road), 3:00-5:00 p.m. A “family fun afternoon” with activities that include face painting.
- Penrose: Penrose Park (2200 6th Street S), 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. The south Arlington is hosting “Family Fitness day,” holding activities for nutritional and fitness awareness, a moon bounce and fitness classes for all ages.
- Yorktown: Chestnut Hills Park (2807 N. Harrison Street), 11:30 a.m. Celebrate the ribbon-cutting on the renovated playground with neighbors. FitArlington will be on hand promoting its new website and fitness initiative. Children can participate in the free scavenger hunt for prizes.
- Barcroft: Barcroft Elementary School (625 S. Wakefield Street), 4:00-6:00 p.m. The Barcroft Elementary Spring Fair is intended to be an early evening of pure fun, with activities likea bounce house, games and a cake walk, all for prizes.
- Old Glebe: Gulf Branch Nature Center (3608 N. Military Road), 10:00-11:30 a.m. The north Arlington nature center will join the neighborhood to “welcome back hummingbirds.” Each family will make its own feeders as the birds with the fastest wings in the world migrate back to the county. Register online.
- Glencarlyn: Long Branch Nature Center (625 S. Carlin Springs Road), 7:00-8:00 p.m. The nature center will host families in the amphitheater for a campfire discussion about snakes. Games, songs and s’mores will all be in abundance.
Sephora Coming to Clarendon — Skincare and cosmetics retailer Sephora has signed a lease at Market Common Clarendon. The company plans to open a store at the shopping center later this year. [Washington Business Journal]
Contractor Causes Flood in Rosslyn — A contractor on a backhoe caused a mini flood on Wilson Blvd yesterday afternoon, after striking a fire hydrant line. The incident also caused several hours of water service disruptions in the area. It’s at least the second time in the past few months that someone at the construction site hit a water line and caused flooding. [WJLA]
New Website for Rep. Beyer — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) launched a newly redesigned website this week. The site features a background image of Rosslyn and the Potomac River. [U.S. House of Representatives]
Village Sweet Bakery Opens — Village Sweet, a new bakery in Westover, opened for business on Tuesday. Owner Dawn Hart decided to open the brick-and-mortar store as an expansion of Monster Cookie Co., her online, customized sugar cookie business. The bakery is located at 5872 Washington Blvd, next to Lost Dog Cafe. [Facebook, Washington Post]
McAuliffe Signs Auditor Bill — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed Del. Patrick Hope’s bill that will allow the Arlington County Board to hire an independent auditor. The bill will become law in July. Board members Jay Fisette, Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt say they support the hiring of an independent auditor. Board member Walter Tejada, who’s retiring at the end of the year, has expressed reservations about the position. [InsideNova]
Signature Casts Wesley Taylor — Shirlington’s Signature Theatre has cast Wesley Taylor — who has held prominent roles on NBC’s “Smash” and Broadway’s “Rock of Ages” — in its upcoming production of “Cabaret.” The show will run from May 12 to June 28. [Associated Press]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Same-Sex Marriage Stats in Arlington — One in nine marriage license applications in Arlington — 11 percent of the total — have been from same-sex couples since October, according to Circuit Court Clerk Paul Ferguson. The first legal same-sex marriage in Arlington took place on Oct. 6, 2014. [InsideNova]
Disease False Alarm at Lubber Run — County officials were informed last week that two children in a preschool program at Lubber Run Community Center had been diagnosed with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. In response, parents of children in the preschool and a daycare program at the center were notified, toys and surfaces in facility were disinfected, and toys that could not be disinfected were thrown away. Within a day, however, county officials say they were told that the diagnosis was wrong and that the children did not, in fact, have the disease.
Sweet Leaf Now Open in Ballston — The Sweet Leaf Cafe at 650 N. Quincy Street in Ballston opened last week. The cafe is open Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and on Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., according to owner Arita Matini.
Storytime with Caps Player at Library — Washington Capitals forward Eric Fehr stopped by the Westover Branch Library Monday night for a reading of his new children’s book, The Bulliest Dozer. Fehr signed books, hockey sticks and at least one library card. [Arlington Public Library]
The much-anticipated opening of The Italian Store‘s location in Westover has been pushed back again.
Owner Robert Tramonte told ARLnow.com today that delays in getting utilities installed in the 75-year-old building — water, gas, electric and Verizon FiOS — have been the cause of the delay. Now, he hopes the 6,000-square-foot location on Washington Blvd opens this spring.
“There is no competition for those companies,” Tramonte wrote in an email, “so they schedule as they see fit.”
When Tramonte announced that a second location of his popular grocery/takeout restaurant business would take over the Westover 7-Eleven in December 2013, he planned to open May 2014. Permitting issues held up the start of construction until the summer, when Tramonte said he hoped to be open before the holidays.
Construction was in full swing on the interior when ARLnow.com looked in on the shop this morning. When the new store does open, it will feature a seating area for customers to eat and drink, an expanded grocery section and an Illy espresso bar. Last August, Tramonte described his plans for the location as “The Italian Store on steroids.”