Arlington, VA

(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) Five arterial streets in Arlington are being considered as candidates for a Complete Streets overhaul.

The county’s Complete Streets program adds safety features to roadways that improve the experience of road users other than drivers, including pedestrians and cyclists. The changes are usually made in conjunction with repaving projects.

The streets that are up for a makeover later this year are:

  • Wilson Boulevard — N. Larrimore Street to McKinley Road (Dominion Hills/Boulevard Manor)
  • Potomac Avenue — S. Crystal Drive to Alexandria City Line (Potomac Yard)
  • Clarendon Boulevard — N. Nash Street to N. Oak Street (Clarendon-Courthouse/Radnor/Fort Myer Heights)
  • N. Lorcom Lane — Old Dominion Drive to N. Taylor Street
  • Military Road — Lorcom Lane to Old Dominion Drive

At an online open house scheduled for Monday, April 6, Arlington County staff members will reveal more details about the project and how community members can share their experiences.

The virtual public meeting is scheduled to run from 6:30-7:30 p.m. via Microsoft Teams Live Event. No account is needed to join.

Complete Streets upgrades may include “sidewalk expansion or obstruction elimination,” “curb ramp reconstruction,” “crosswalk and signal enhancements,” “pedestrian-scale lighting,” “improved access to transit stops” and bike lanes, per the county’s website.

Such changes have been implemented in other parts of Arlington, though they’ve also faced some public pushback from local residents concerned about traffic impacts. One Complete Streets project in neighboring Alexandria has become a legendarily contentious issue.

Photos via Google Maps

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It looks like shuttered Italian restaurant Alto Fumo (2909 Wilson Blvd) is being replaced by another Italian restaurant.

The restaurant closed earlier this month and, while at least one manager said the location was planning to reopen, the closure was permanent. Signs outside the building indicate that the new restaurant will offer options similar to Alto Fumo, however, and will open sometime this spring.

Alto Fumo itself was born in a similar situation when it replaced Italian restaurant Faccia Luna in 2017.

The restaurant windows are full of Italian iconography, the promise of “a modern Italian experience,” and a slogan “Italy is Coming.” The website listed on the banner does not currently exist.

The owner of a nearby store said the new restaurant was going to be an “upgraded” Italian restaurant with new ownership.

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Barry’s Clarendon — the first Virginia studio for international fitness chain Barry’s Bootcamp — is getting ready to open its location at 2825 Wilson Blvd next week.

The gym will open on Saturday, Jan. 25, according to a press release.

Barry’s describes itself as a “boutique lifestyle brand” with an “immersive and transformative full-body workout experience.” The L.A. Times once described the gym, which was founded in Los Angeles in 1998, as “one of the toughest workouts” in the city.

The Clarendon location, a 5,695 square foot space next to the Chase bank, is the second location in the D.C. area after one in Dupont Circle. While there’s no shortage of gyms around Arlington, Barry’s Clarendon will help fill the void left when Washington Sports Club closed last year nearby.

The location will have 23 treadmills and a capacity for 50 people to work out at one time, according to the press release. The location will also sell clothing like workout clothes and athleisure wear, along with smoothies and snacks.

Classes at the gym are $34 per session, though other types of packages and memberships are also available.

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A quick-service variant of the local Lebanese Taverna franchise, called LEBTAV, is now open in Ballston.

The new restaurant is at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Quincy Street in what was once Taylor Gourmet.

LEBTAV doesn’t have all the same full-service items as the two other Lebanese Taverna locations in Arlington, in Westover (5900 Washington Blvd) and Pentagon Row (1101 S. Joyce Street). The location offers sandwiches, like shawarma and falafel, and rice bowls for around $10.

The hours are not posted online, but other LEBTAV locations are open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. The new option will be a homegrown addition to the increasingly crowded Ballston lunch scene, which includes a CAVA restaurant down the street that has similar offerings and is frequently packed.

Other LEBTAV locations include Rockville, Silver Spring, and Farragut Square.

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(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) A cyclist was struck by a driver at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and 10th Street N., near Clarendon., Friday morning.

Initial reports suggest the cyclist had severe injuries, including head trauma. The crash was first radioed in around 10:30 a.m. by a police officer who was on a traffic stop nearby.

The bicycle could be seen under a black Jeep on the west side of the intersection, in front of the Speedway gas station. A bike rack with a PeopleForBikes sticker could be seen on the back of the Jeep.

The victim was rushed via ambulance to a local trauma center.

“The cyclist was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries,” Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed. “The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene. The investigation is ongoing.”

The intersection was partially closed by police but reopened as of 11:30 a.m., after detectives documented the scene.

Police said later Friday afternoon that the driver will face a traffic charge in the crash.

“[The driver] was cited with failure to yield,” said Savage. “The cyclist’s injuries are considered non-life threatening.”

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An independent coffee shop in Clarendon has shuttered its doors, with plans in the works to rebrand under new ownership.

Blümen Cafe, located roughly between Clarendon and Courthouse at 2607 Wilson Blvd, closed earlier this month. The cafe first opened in 2016, in the former CD Cellar space, and served teas, coffees and pastries, with an international flair.

Reached via the cafe’s original phone number last week, Blümen Cafe owner Andira Jabbar said the cafe would be reopening soon under new ownership, with a new name, menu, and look.

The new owner, contacted by ARLnow, declined to comment on what would be replacing Blümen Cafe. He said that he was “excited” for what’s to come and that he’s looking to open “before the new year.”

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(Updated at 10:10 a.m.) The reconfiguration of Clarendon’s worst intersection is one step closer to finishing as crews begin paving.

Working began repaving the roads that together form the notoriously dangerous “Clarendon Circle” — a.k.a. the intersection of Wilson, Clarendon, and Washington Blvds — this past weekend.

The paving work will continue for the rest of this week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is expected to close some traffic lanes and cause temporary detours, the county’s Department of Environmental Services warns on its webpage for the project.

“Increased traffic congestion is expected, and drivers are encouraged to seek alternate routes and avoid Clarendon Circle during this work if possible,” DES said on its website.

On Monday, for instance, through traffic on Wilson Blvd was blocked and redirected to Washington Blvd. On Tuesday, steam and a burning rubber smell clouded the intersection as crews directed traffic around a cluster of paving equipment.

Work on the project is expected to wrap up by Veterans Day, this coming Monday.

The county has long aimed to redesign the intersection to be safer for pedestrians and cyclists and less confusing for motorists, with a goal of reducing crashes. The project design selected will realign Wilson and Washington Blvd, shorten crosswalks, and widen sidewalks.

Construction kicked off last year after the Arlington County Board awarded a $2.5 million contract to Ardent Construction Company.

Since then, the county has made several changes to the tricky nexus of roads, including cutting off N. Irving Street and banning left turns onto Wilson from Washington — though many drivers at least initially ignored the ban.

Image 1-5 via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

School Shuffle Blowback Starts — “Alicia Rich, president of Key’s PTA, said she has been fielding texts and messages over WhatsApp from parents and staff members worried about the prospect of moving. ‘This issue is so huge for us,’ Rich said.
School system officials said they ‘urgently need’ the Key building as a neighborhood school because of the lack of space for students.” [Washington Post]

Arlington Office Market Improving — Arlington County landing Amazon HQ2, a selection announced one year ago this month, has helped move its office market in the right direction after years of struggles. The office vacancy rate in National Landing, the newly branded area comprising the Crystal City and Pentagon City neighborhoods, dropped from 19.6% in Q3 2018 to 16% as of Sept. 30, the lowest level since 2012, according to JLL.” [Bisnow]

Chamber Supports Keeping Dillon Rule — “Facing a possible Democratic majority in the General Assembly, @ArlVAChamber is standing firm in its support of the Dillon Rule. Why? A Dem majority could allow localities like Arlington to raise the minimum wage.” [Twitter, InsideNova]

Storms Don’t Deter Trick or Treaters — From a family that tracks the number of trick or treaters visiting their Arlington home: “Despite threatening weather and a tornado watch issued by the National Weather Service… 2019 was our second best year ever with 161 visitors, 13 goblins behind the all-time high of 174 visitors in 2016.” [Facebook]

ACPD Helps With Snakes, Too — “Sgt. Morrison proves he’s a jack of all trades! Yesterday he responded to a citizen assist call and helped safely relocate this snake.” [Twitter]

Opera Fans Plan Outreach Effort — “Reports of the demise of a certain musical genre are not just premature. They are just plain wrong, supporters say. ‘Clearly, opera is not a dying art – the music is still transcendent,’ said Paul Dolinsky, a board member of Opera Nova, which on Oct. 27 held its annual fund-raising brunch at Washington Golf & Country Club.” [InsideNova]

Local Teen Is Runner Up in Entrepreneurship Competition — “Ela Gokcigdem has good news to share about her ePearl noise-cancelling wireless earbuds. They were a big hit in the Big Apple… The 17-year-old senior at Wakefield High School in Arlington participated in the NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. More than two dozen competitors from around the country pitched their products to a panel of judges.” [WJLA]

Nearby: Road Closure Planned in Seven Corners — “The Wilson Boulevard (Route 613) bridge over Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) will be closed from 9 p.m. Monday night, Nov. 4 to 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, Nov. 5 for bridge deck work, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Eastbound Wilson Boulevard traffic will be detoured via Route 7, Patrick Henry Drive, Route 50 and the westbound Route 50 service road back to Wilson Boulevard.” [VDOT]

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A new Japanese restaurant is coming to Rosslyn in conjunction with the upcoming Gong Cha Tea Shop.

Permits have been filed for Toryumon Japanese House at 1650 Wilson Blvd, across from the new Arlington Public Schools facility The Heights.

The Japanese restaurant already has a location in D.C. at 1901 Pennsylvania Avenue. Its menu features a wide variety of traditional and speciality sushi rolls, along with ramen and hibachi.

Additional permits at the same address have been filed for national bubble tea chain Gong Cha Tea Shop.

A spokesman from Gong Cha confirmed the location with ARLnow and said it would open by December, though no construction activity was evident as of this morning.

Toryumon Japanese House could not be reached for comment.

The ground floor of 1650 Wilson Blvd was formerly home to Ray’s Hell Burger.

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(Updated at 1:50 p.m.) Three out of four lanes of Wilson Blvd in Ballston were blocked by utility work Monday morning.

The work, at the intersection of Wilson and N. Randolph Street, near the mall, was to replace a blown electrical transformer in a utility vault that’s in the middle of the westbound lanes of Wilson. Crews from Dominion Energy were on scene, along with a large, mobile crane.

We’re told the transformer went out Sunday, knocking out power to an adjacent apartment building.

All westbound lanes of Wilson Blvd were blocked approaching Ballston Quarter mall, while only one eastbound lane was closed. The lane closures caused minor backups during this morning’s rush hour.

Residents in the area have been complaining for years about excessive noise caused by vehicles — particularly trucks — driving over the utility vaults.

“The plates have been there for years, but starting in October 2018, they began making absurdly loud noises whenever cars/buses/trucks drive over them,” one tipster said in July. “Dozens of complaints have been filed on the county’s ‘reporting tool’ website… The result of the noise is that local residents at Ava Ballston Square, Origin Ballston, and other apartments are disturbed through the day and awakened at night.”

Today’s work is not expected to alleviate the noise issue. A Dominion spokeswoman noted that the vault itself is maintained by the owner of the nearby building, not the utility company.

“The grates are not ours and the work has nothing to do with replacing them,” a Dominion spokeswoman told ARLnow. “The grates top our underground vaults containing our transformers that serve the buildings along the street… Normally, you will see our transformers sitting at ground level or up high on a utility pole. The developer wanted them underground.”

As of 1:30 p.m., all lanes had reportedly reopened.

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Completion of the Ballston Quarter pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd could be delayed by another three months.

The Arlington County Board is set to discuss extending the completion deadline of the under-construction bridge from September 1 to December 1 at its meeting tomorrow (Saturday). The delay is at the request of the mall’s owner, which is building the bridge as a condition of Ballston Quarter’s recent renovations.

The company cited “difficulties associated with the complexity, constructibility issues of the design, field modifications, and the current status of construction” as reasons for the extension, according to as staff report to the Board.

This will be the second time the bridge project has been delayed. Originally, the walkway was scheduled to open last fall so it would be ready for the first shops to open at Ballston Quarter. Then the deadline was pushed to September of this year.

A spokeswoman for mall operator Brookfield Properties told ARLnow they are “on track for a November opening” for the bridge, pointing interested locals to a blog with periodic bridge construction updates.

It’s been more than two years since the original Wilson Blvd bridge was torn down. Once the new walkway is completed, it will link the mall to the Ballston Metro station.

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