Arlington, VA

A week after devastating flash flooding, the lights are coming back on for some affected businesses in Arlington.

SER Restaurant in Ballston, which was inundated by water coming through the ceiling during the Flash Flood Emergency, is planning to reopen at 5 p.m. today (Monday), co-owner Christiana Campos told ARLnow.

The reopening comes after the local community rallied to raise more than $10,000 for SER in a GoFundMe campaign. SER says the donations are being used to help fund needed repairs while the owners work through the insurance claim process.

“Thanks to our hard working staff, our construction crew who have been working around the clock to fix the damage and thanks to the humbling outpouring of support from the community, we are so thrilled to being opening today,” Campos told ARLnow. “The power of this community is truly incredible.”

In Westover, where floodwaters destroyed merchandise and knocked out power, the two hardest-hit businesses — Westover Market and Beer Garden, and Ayers Variety and Hardware — first reopened in a limited fashion on Wednesday. Over the weekend, Westover Market announced it was back on utility power and off generators.

“Finally! Regular hours going forward!” the store exclaimed on Facebook. “Limited fresh produce [and] meats have been delivered! Every day we’ll inch closer to 100%. Thanks so much for all the incredible support! We need it! And please send support and prayers to the other businesses affected by the storm!”

A GoFundMe campaign for the Westover merchants has raised more than $67,500.

Also in Westover, the weekly farmers market was held over the weekend, thanks to quick repairs to 18th Street N., which was damaged by the flooding. On Saturday, the director of the company that organizes the market wrote the following letter to Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz, lauding the dedicated repair crews.

Mr. Schwartz —

I was notified late this afternoon that the emergency street repairs on 18th Street N. have been completed. Our nonprofit organization is very grateful for the County’s quick response to address the street damage caused by the torrential rain last Monday morning…

This section of the roadway serves on Sunday mornings as a key part of the Westover Farmers Market. We have been in contact with vendors all week regarding whether the Westover Farmers Market could take place, given the roadway damage caused by the storm. This evening I was able to send them an “all clear” message. So tomorrow morning’s market should run without a hitch. […]

Please send our thanks to the personnel in the Department of Environmental Services and to the contractors who assist them for a job well and quickly done. The neighbors who shop each week at this farmers market will benefit from their outstanding efforts this week.

Rob Swennes, Executive Director
Field to Table, Inc.

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(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) Residents hit hard by floods across Arlington are worrying about how to pay the repair costs.

Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz declared a state of emergency two days after Monday’s flash floods wrecked homes and destroyed businesses. The County Board now needs to approve the emergency declaration, which could pave the way for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) aid.

For several residents in Westover, flood waters reached several feet high in their homes, destroying wood floors and appliances as well as cars and finished basements. Residents are still totaling the cost of the damages, but the majority said their homeowner’s insurance isn’t covering it — and most do not have flood insurance.

‘It happened very fast’

When ARLnow visited the Westover neighborhood Wednesday afternoon, mud still caked the pavement and friends and families were carrying out furniture to the county’s waiting trash truck.

“It happened very fast,” said neighbor Melinda Root. “I looked at my door and it was like looking at a weird aquarium.”

Root said at around 9 a.m. Monday, brown water rushed into the first floor of her house after rising outside, pouring up from the floorboards and in from the doors.

The inundation lasted about an hour, filling the basement to the ceiling and rising almost three feet on the first floor where it destroyed the carpet, kitchen appliances, as well as photographs and clothing. Outside, the water rose several feet high and flooded the engine of her car.

“The first thing I thought of was my cat,” Root said of her 13-year old friendly feline Chloe.

Root’s husband John DeMarce was at work when the storm hit, and was able to get Dominion Energy to cut the power to the house. When he arrived back in Westover, the floods had damaged thousands of dollars worth of tools in his woodworking shop in the basement and contaminated the carpet throughout the first floor.

“I’ve thrown away hundreds of books and CDs,” said DeMarce. Since then, he’s been ripping up the carpet himself and worries that the floor is now a mold risk, too.

He and his wife said they were very grateful to friends who are giving them a place to stay and are trying to clean 14 loads of laundry for them to save some of their clothes.

“We’re all in these same boat,’ said Root. “But that’s kind of a weird thing to say about a flood.”

Across the street, Athena Burkett, her husband Kenny Puk, and their friends were carrying away all her furniture to the curb after the water rose two feet inside her house and filled her basement.

Silt caked the hardwood floors in the first floor, and a light smell of sewage still pervades on Wednesday afternoon in the home even with the windows open and several fans running for days.

“It so much better than it was,” she said.

Burkett says she tried to come back to house Monday morning when she heard about the flooding but couldn’t drive through the river that filled her street.

“I stood right there up on that hill and watched as it happened,” she said of the top of the street.

The currents were so strong they lifted her shed and moved it almost two feet into her neighbor’s yard, half-crushing a floating chair that Kenny Puk jokes is now “the wicked witch of the west Adirondack chair” or “Excalibur.” Her family’s car is also totaled. A group of friends set up a cleaning shop in the backyard to salvage some metal shelves from the house.

Now plastic lines the second floor staircase inside the house to where she’s stored the few pieces of furniture that survived. The plastic is held down with neat stacks of books that with waterlogged covers. Storm water ruined the rest of her furniture, most of her appliances — and her wedding album.

“Yeah. I’m kind of in shock,” said Burkett, who’s only owned the house for two years.

Like Root and DeMarce, Burkett also lost her HVAC system, hot water heater, washer and dryer, and car to the floods. Both sets of neighbors said their homes are uninhabitable right now.

And as for homeowners insurance? “We’re getting nothing,” Burkett said.

“There were produce boxes from Westover Market in peoples’ front yards,” said another neighbor, Nicole Bender. “The path of the river cut across several yards and broke through fences along the way.”

Bender hadn’t seen anyone form the county checking on the clean-up efforts until Wednesday morning. “I don’t think they realized the level of damage,” she said.

Carpet scraps and personal effects lined 14th Street N. in Westover — one of the hardest-hit areas of the county — and for Wayne Blankenship, that includes her 30-year collection of hundreds of signed vinyl records. He spread racks of records on bed slats in his front yard under the hot sun, but Blankenship isn’t sure they’re salvageable.

He’s also worried about the hardwood on the first floor, which is starting to buckle after flood waters rose 6 inches in the home and filled his finished basement in “thirty seconds.” The rise was so forceful it exploded an egress window in the basement, and ripped two basement doors in half.

The power stayed on even though the circuit breaker was underwater, and Blankenship says he’s grateful that he didn’t get electrocuted when wading through the water. He’s also thankful for friends who’ve given them a place to stay and helped rip out drywall in the basement.

“There is humanity,” he laughs. “It does exist.”

Blankenship bought pumps from Home Depot to help his neighbors clear out their own floodwater. Others banded together to buy wagons full of food for each other or loan a hand with ripping out drywall.

Blankenship has lived on the street for 23 years with his husband Maxwell Tourgersen, with whom he recently celebrated his 35 anniversary. Together the two recently spent $30,000 renovating their basement.

“We just got the house the way we wanted it!” Blankenship lamented.

He estimates it will cost at least that, plus $18,000 for a new water heater and furnace, to do it again. Upstairs, he thinks it will cost $26,000 just to repair the kitchen. Like Beckett, he didn’t have flood insurance and his homeowner’s insurance isn’t paying a dime.

“This is going to be all out of pocket,” he said.

‘Too Early to Tell’

The Arlington County Fire Department responded to at least 25 swift water rescue calls on Monday as commuters were trapped on roads turned to rivers. All told, the floods caused an estimated $3.5 million in damage to county-owned infrastructure alone. Private donations have also poured in for Westover businesses swamped with stormwater.

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(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) One day after a GoFundMe campaign launched to support Westover stores hit by Monday’s flooding, the fundraiser has passed its initial aim of $25,000 and has moved towards a new $100,000 goal.

Flash floods on Monday left stores on the north side of the 5800 block of Washington Blvd ankle-deep in water, with basements filled to the ceiling with water. Kristy Peterkin, a manager at Ayers Variety & Hardware, estimated the storm caused at least $100,000 in damages to the merchandise. Days after the storm, power still hasn’t been restored and most of the stores on the block remain closed.

As of 3:45 p.m., the GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $34,000 to help Ayers and Westover Market and Beer Garden, two stores that were particularly hard hit by the flooding.

According to the GoFundMe page:

Part of the Westover Shopping Center — Ayers Hardware, the Westover Beer Garden and other shops — was deluged. The businesses’s main levels and storage basements were inundated with water. These businesses are the heart and soul of the Westover community. I am hoping neighborhood residents and folks across Arlington County will contribute to this campaign to help the businesses cover cleanup costs, property repair costs, inventory damage costs and associated loss-of-business costs.

In the comments, donors shared their stories of shopping at Ayers or dining at Westover Market.

“The Beer Garden and Westover folks always took care of us, so let’s take care of them in their time of need,” one donor said.

The shops in Westover Village are still a long way from recovered. Power to the block was routed through the basements of Ayers and Westover Market, which means the flooding has left the entire row of businesses without power.

Ayers is half-lit by power running through a generator in the back. Lights are on at Westover Market but an employee at the store said they were still closed. The Italian Store, the spot furthest east and at the highest elevation on the block, is running on generator power.

Peterkin said nearby cafes and restaurants have been chipping in to make meals for the hardest-hit businesses. It’s been just one part of what Peterkin said was an amazing community response to their crisis.

Peterkin said Ayers was not in any way involved with creating or running the GoFundMe, and said the store would leave the distribution of the funds raised to the person who organized the campaign, noting that it was started after one of the store’s longtime customers who came in and asked permission to launch the fundraiser.

A comment on the GoFundMe said that the store would not be taking financial contributions, but Peterkin made it clear that was not the case. Others who didn’t want to support the store through GoFundMe have come by and dropped off a contribution in person.

“We’ll take all the help we can get,” Peterkin said.

People have volunteered to come and help clean, but growing risk of mold and mildew has meant anyone journeying down into the waterlogged basement needs a breathing mask in addition to a flashlight.

“An injury lawsuit would really be the last straw,” Peterkin said.

Even as they work to get the store back into working order, Peterkin said palettes of new merchandise ordered before the flood are still arriving, but with nowhere to put them with the basement out of commission.

Ayers faces at least $100,000 in losses just from damaged merchandise in the flooded basement, Peterkin said, adding that there will be additional expenses to repair the basement. The store is not protected by flood insurance.

“We didn’t think we’d need it in Arlington,” Peterkin said.

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Update at 11:05 a.m. — Most businesses along the north side of Washington Blvd in Westover are still closed following Monday’s flooding. Ayers hardware is open in a limited capacity. 

Earlier: This morning’s storms and flooding has left stores along the north side of Washington Blvd in Westover Village without power — and some facing extensive damages.

Businesses along the 5800 block of Washington Blvd, from Westover Market (5863 Washington Blvd) to The Italian Store (5837 Washington Blvd), were closed as of 2 p.m. All of the properties were without power and several were flooded.

Westover Market and the Ayers Variety & Hardware at the west end of the block were at two of the lowest points of the slope. At Westover Market and Beer Garden, workers moved tables and soaked beer crates out of the store and into the rain, occasionally with the assistance of people passing by.

“I came down to get a keg and stuff was just floating away,” said Joseph Turner, a manager at Westover Market. “We’re trying to clean and open as soon as possible, but there needs to be fire department and health inspections.”

Turner watched as people carried out soaked boxes from the store and set them into stacks of rubbish.

“I’m just speechless,” Turner said.

Video posted earlier today shows the market flooded and fast-moving water rushing through the outdoor beer garden, damaging the fence and sweeping away picnic tables.

At Ayers Variety & Hardware, water in the storefront was ankle deep, but the real damage took place below — the basement, where the business stores merchandise, was completely flooded. Kristy Peterkin, a manager at the store and daughter of owner Ronald Kaplan, said that staff had been running generators to pump water out of the basement — but then the power cut out.

“We’ve seen nothing like this since 1977,” Peterkin said. “This is catastrophic.”

Peterkin said employees haven’t been able to access the basement to examine the impact but estimated that there would be at least $100,000 in damages.

The Forest Inn, Toby’s Ice Cream, and Rite Aid were all closed and empty. The post office west and slightly uphill from Westover Market was still accepting drop-offs as of 2 p.m., but said they would soon be closing.

At Pete’s Barber Shop, the staff cleared away waterlogged mats but were otherwise sitting around, waiting for power to come back.

The Italian Store on the end has no basement and fared a little better than its neighbors. Owner Rob Tramonte said they were working with contractors to get a generator running, to allow the business to open again soon or at least keep the food from spoiling. Tramonte noted that his Lyon Village location remains open, despite flooding at the nearby intersection of Lee Highway and N. Kirkwood Road.

Jeremy Slayton, a communications specialist for Dominion Energy, said power was estimated to be back on by tonight, though it’s unclear whether power will be able to be restored before the floodwaters could be pumped out. Store owners said they were told it could be a week before utilities are back online.

Ashley Hopko contributed to this story

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Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.

By Cheryl W. Moore

(Updated at 9 a.m.) Several years ago, my then 13-year-old son announced that he had been hit by a car on Washington Blvd. in Westover. He quickly added that he wasn’t hurt; a car had lightly tapped him when he was riding his bike. That memory came back to me when I heard that Arlington County is collaborating with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) on repaving a portion of Washington Blvd in the Westover neighborhood near where I live.

A lot has happened in the years since my son’s incident. New retail establishments have made Westover a magnet for more visitors, and there are more walkers, drivers and cyclists on Washington Blvd. Reed Elementary School will undoubtedly add to the congestion when it opens in 2021.

All of these factors raise the likelihood of accidents involving pedestrians, cars and bicycles. Last fall, a woman was struck by a car while she was in a crosswalk, resulting in serious injuries. That accident spurred many calls for improvements on this busy street.

While Arlington County takes safety concerns seriously, staff also know that Arlington residents want to be involved in decisions affecting their neighborhoods before they are set in stone (or in this case, asphalt). The challenge is how much and what kind of public engagement, for which kinds of projects, will be most effective. County staff say they are trying to be clearer about expectations for community involvement.

The Westover repaving project is one example of how county staff are trying to engage the community more effectively. When staff learned that Washington Blvd was going to be repaved between N. McKinley Road and N. Frederick Street, they saw an opportunity to improve lane striping, replace crosswalks and add bike lanes. A routine repaving project might generally involve communicating with the community. However, the Department of Environmental Services (DES) staff determined that this project required a higher level of involvement, due to multiple uses of Westover Shopping Center and the project’s potential to change the character of the road.

Community members had feedback opportunities at two open houses at the Westover Library, a “pop-up” at the Westover farmers market, and via an online survey (which garnered 900 responses). Not surprisingly, the main concern was for greater safety, including better visibility of pedestrian crossings.

Three different proposals included such elements as high-visibility crosswalks, bike lanes on one or both sides of the street, back-in parking and reducing the number of parking spaces. From the final plan submitted to VDOT, it’s clear that community feedback had an impact. For example, the back-in parking concept was not favored by a majority of the community, so it was eliminated. It was also decided to include a bike lane only on the eastbound side of the street.

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(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) Washington Blvd is about to get a bit of a makeover as it runs between Bluemont and Westover, and county officials are looking for some input on potential changes for the area.

VDOT is planning on repaving the road between its intersection with N. Frederick Street and N. McKinley Road later this summer.

As part of that process, workers expect they’ll remove the brick crosswalks and median in the Westover area, as the road runs between N. McKinley Road and N. Longfellow Street. The county is currently working to replace all of its so-called “brick pavers” across Arlington in favor of crosswalks that are both easier to maintain and a bit more visible at night.

Accordingly, the county is looking to accept feedback on what sort of road features could replace those and make the area a bit safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Officials are holding an open house tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Westover Branch Library (1644 North McKinley Road) from 6-7:30 p.m. to accept suggestions.

The county is hoping to make it a bit easier to access the library, the nearby Post Office and the area’s popular businesses, like the Westover Beer Garden and the Italian Store.

“The county is considering several re-striping options, including high visibility crosswalks, bike treatments, and a limited change option,” staff wrote on the county’s website.

That should come as good news for some neighbors concerned about pedestrian safety in the area, especially after a driver struck an elderly woman with a car in a Westover crosswalk in November.

The county is also examining some potential improvements as the road runs between Westover and East Falls Church, including some new bike lanes, additional pedestrian crossings and clearer markings for existing crossings.

Officials are also planning on holding a “pop-up” engagement session at the Westover Farmer’s Market in the library plaza Sunday (March 3) if you can’t make this week’s meeting. Starting later this week, the county will also accept online comments through the end of March on its website.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Roads ‘Looking Good’ After Light Snow — Per Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: snow removal crews are “reviewing school routes, especially bridges and County sidewalks, with @APSVirginia on a 2-hour delayed opening. Roadways looking good, treated as needed, but go slow and remove snow from vehicles before pulling out.” [Twitter]

Gov’t Closures Today and Monday — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Jan. 21, 2019 for Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s birthday. NOTE: Commonwealth of Virginia offices (including Courts & DMVs)  will be closed Friday Jan. 18, 2019 for Lee-Jackson Day.” [Arlington County]

Amazon Incentives Clear First Richmond Hurdle — “A powerful General Assembly committee has passed and forwarded to the full state Senate legislation that would grant Amazon up to $750 million in financial incentives for locating a secondary headquarters in Arlington and Alexandria.” [InsideNova]

Who Said This? — A “big D.C. developer” reportedly called Crystal City “Ballston with lipstick,” which is more flattering than what an executive for Crystal City’s biggest property owner said about the community earlier this week. For its part, Crystal City is continuing to bask in the afterglow of its big Amazon win and this week’s announcement that PBS will be keeping its headquarters in the neighborhood. [Twitter]

Famers Market Offers Shutdown Discounts — The Westover Farmers Market, held on Sundays at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. McKinley Road, is offering discounts of 10-25 percent for furloughed federal employees and contractors until the government shutdown ends.

Arlington Family’s Furlough Story — An Arlington couple who both work for the federal government and are missing paychecks during the shutdown is more fortunate than many, given that they have savings with which to keep paying the bills. But it has meant cutting back on discretionary spending and things like child care and retirement contributions. [MarketWatch]

Arlington Man Arrested for ‘Ruckus’ in Ohio — “A man from Arlington, Virginia is facing charges in Youngstown after police say he created a ruckus at the downtown DoubleTree and threatened police… officers say he kept threatening them saying, ‘You guys are going to be sorry, and you’re going to regret this. I will find you when I get out.'” [WKBN]

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A woman was struck by a car and suffered serious injuries as she crossed the street in Westover earlier this month, convincing neighbors of the urgent need for safety improvements in the area.

County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow that a pedestrian was in the middle of a crosswalk along the 5900 block of Washington Boulevard around 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 10, when a vehicle ran into her. The area is home popular businesses like the Westover Beer Garden and the Italian Store.

Savage says the woman was “transported to an area hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.” Police also issued a warning summons to the driver “for failure to yield the pedestrian right-of-way,” but otherwise didn’t pursue criminal charges.

Stephanie Gordon, who lives right behind the scene of the incident on N. Lancaster Street, says she remembers seeing the immediate aftermath of the crash. She subsequently learned that the woman who was struck is one of her neighbors: Virginia Fairbrother, a 30-year Westover resident.

Fortunately, Gordon says she’s since heard that Fairbrother has been released from the hospital and is recovering from her injuries. But the crash only underscores her conviction that the Westover area desperately needs some traffic and pedestrian safety changes.

“Westover is a bit of a valley, so cars can pick up speed either way as they’re driving,” Gordon said. “I feel bad for both drivers and pedestrians, because I don’t think drivers, even if they want to stop, are aware of a crosswalk there. A lot of times cars just speed through and won’t even see you.”

Gordon says her father, another Westover resident, brought some of these concerns to the county more than a year ago, but the neighborhood still hasn’t seen many changes.

She’d much rather see more reflective crosswalks installed on Washington Boulevard, or perhaps improvements to the “dinky little signs” marking the pedestrian crossings. The county is currently planning on some improvements as the road runs between Westover and East Falls Church, including some new bike lanes, additional pedestrian crossings and clearer markings for existing crossings. Transportation officials have spent the past year collecting traffic data on the area, with plans to implement those in the coming months.

Gordon would also be in favor of the county dropping the speed limit to 25 miles per hour down from the current 30, and hopes that this latest crash will spur Arlington officials to examine that possibility in particular.

“My neighbors and I have been saying for a while that it was just a matter of time before someone was hit by a car crossing Washington Blvd,” Gordon said. “It’s just crazy that it’s so fast, when people are frequently walking across the street.”

Photo via Google Maps

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Arlingtonians can get a glimpse into the past with a photo exhibit currently on display at Westover Branch Library.

The historic photo montage documents houses and buildings in Arlington before their demolition and the structures that replaced them, spanning 40 years. The photos are showcased in window frames preserved from the demolished houses depicted.

The “Windows to the Past: Arlington, Then and Now” exhibit by Tom Dickinson will be on display until Jan. 5 at 1644 N. McKinley Road, Suite 3.

Dickinson, a historian, photographer and historic preservation advocate, told ARLnow that his exhibit combines his passion for photography and historic preservation.

When he moved to Arlington in 1978, he said he was shocked by the constant demolition of older homes and commercial buildings, so he’s been snapping and collecting pictures of houses fated for demolition and then what replaced them.

Dickinson said he finds out about the houses from online archives of demolition permits that developers have to apply for, word-of-mouth and his own observations. One indicator he looks for is a dangling power line, which has to get cut from the telephone pole before a demolition.

The exhibit, which is funded by the Arlington Arts Grant Program, includes photos of Lustron prefabricated enameled steel houses which were developed after World War II, and Certigrade homes, which are made from cedar wood. The original houses in the “before” pictures were built between the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Dickinson got permission from the developers to salvage windows from the houses. His appreciation for the craftsmanship of windows began after he took a workshop on window construction about 15 years ago.

“These are the windows through which who knows how many thousands of eyes peered out through this glass to the world around them, and the light that illuminated their lives came in,” he said. “It’s the last sort of symbolic artifact from these houses.”

While Dickinson acknowledges that some people see new developments as a progress, Dickinson has a “two-prong lament for the loss of affordable housing and of historic structures.”

Some houses in Arlington are better off torn down, he said. “A lot of these places that were torn down were houses that were not distinguished in any way, just average and inexpensive [ones] that served their purpose and came to the end of their life,” he said. “But still that comes with a cost, environmentally, in terms of the energy for demolition, transporting debris and filling up landfill space. There’s an environmental penalty.”

Dickinson insists that the greenest houses are the ones that are already built.

On the heels of Amazon’s announcement that it will set up its second headquarters in Crystal City, Dickinson said he expects to see fewer “less expensive” houses as housing demand skyrockets, along with increasing congestion on the highways and Metro. “It’s the Manhattanization of Arlington.”

Dickinson isn’t holding his breath for Arlington County to put the brakes on developments. “They’re going to do everything they need to do to make Amazon happy and help them find housing for people,” he said.

“This change is inevitable — it’s going to happen for good or for bad,” Dickinson said, adding that in 40 years from now, he expects Arlington to look completely different from its appearance today.

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Morning Notes

New Elementary School at Reed Site Approved — “The Arlington County Board today approved a new elementary school for up to 732 students at the Reed site, 1644 N. McKinley Road, in the Westover neighborhood. The Board voted unanimously to approve a use permit amendment for Arlington Public Schools to renovate and expand the existing Reed School/Westover Library to create a neighborhood elementary school.” [Arlington County]

Here’s Where Amazon is Coming, Exactly — Amazon will be leasing office space at three JBG Smith buildings in Crystal City: 241 18th Street S., 1800 S. Bell Street and 1770 Crystal Drive. Amazon also agreed to buy two JBG-owned land parcels in Pentagon City that are approved for development: PenPlace and the remaining portion of Metropolitan Park. [Washington Business Journal]

County Board Discusses Legislative Priorities — “A highlight of the County’s package is a call for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution that was proposed by Congress in 1972. Both the Arlington League of Women Voters, and the Arlington Civic Federation have called on the General Assembly to ratify the ERA.” [Arlington County]

Arlington Projects Win at NAIOP Awards — Nine of the 29 real estate development projects lauded at the Best of NAIOP Northern Virginia Awards on Nov. 15 were Arlington projects. [NAIOP]

Neighborhood Conservation Projects Funded — “The Arlington County Board today approved $2.9 million in Neighborhood Conservation bond funds for projects in Cherrydale and Arlington Forest… The $1.84 million Cherrydale project will improve N. Monroe Street, between 17th Street North and 19th Street North… The $1.08 million Arlington Forest project will make improvements to Edison Park.” [Arlington County]

How DIRT Chose Ballston — “DIRT co-founders @jlatulip and @jamcdaniel visited many parts of D.C. and the greater DMV area before deciding to open in Ballston. ‘We noticed very quickly that this was a special community, one that we could call home and grow with. We love the energy of the neighborhood — Ballston is a young, active community, which fits DIRT perfectly.'” [Instagram]

Verizon FiOS Outage — Verizon’s FiOS service suffered a major outage in the D.C. area yesterday. [Twitter, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Construction could soon get started on the new elementary school planned for the Reed School site in Westover, as the project looks set to earn the county’s approval this weekend.

The County Board is set to vote Saturday (Nov. 17) on a few zoning and easement tweaks for the property, located at 1644 N. McKinley Road. Arlington Public Schools is hoping to open the building in time for the 2021-2022 school year, and it will serve at least 732 students in all.

The school system’s plans call for the demolition of part of the existing school on the site, in order to allow for the construction of a new “two and four story school building, containing approximately 112,919 square feet, on the northeast side of the existing building,” according to a staff report prepared for the Board.

The School Board signed off on designs for the $55 million project back in August, and the plans have since earned the endorsement of the Planning Commission as well.

The lone change county planners are recommending is an alteration of a walking path to connect the school to Washington Blvd.

Originally, the path would run through an existing parking lot, up a small slope. But the slope was large enough to prompt some concerns about its accessibility for pedestrians with disabilities.

Accordingly, planners are recommending an alternative design to run the path parallel to the parking lot instead. To do so, the school system will have to cut back on nine parking spaces in the lot (bringing its total down to 133 spaces) in order to keep costs for the project down, a key concern for the School Board.

Both county staff and planners are recommending that the County Board adopt these plans, including the path alteration.

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