Sun Gazette’s County Board Endorsement — The Arlington Sun Gazette newspaper has endorsed Erik Gutshall in the Democratic County Board caucuses, which are happening this week. At the same time, the paper urged readers to also consider Kim Klingler, thanks in part to her background on public safety issues. [InsideNova]
SoberRide Triples Cinco de Mayo Usage — Having switched from offering free taxi rides to free Lyft rides, the regional SoberRide anti-DUI program reported that its ridership on Cinco de Mayo tripled this year: 676 riders compared to 225 last year. [Washington Regional Alcohol Program]
Hurricane Hunters at DCA — Government officials and members of the public were on hand at Reagan National Airport yesterday to tour the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s hurricane hunter aircraft. Among those on hand were acting FEMA director Bob Fenton and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. The director of the National Hurricane Center called it “the biggest, baddest hurricane awareness tour stop we have ever had.” [Roll Call, Capital Weather Gang]
TV Station Visits Local School — WJLA (ABC 7) and meteorologist Brian van de Graaff broadcast live from Hoffman-Boston Elementary School, near Columbia Pike and I-395, yesterday as part of the station’s “lunchbox weather” program. [WJLA]
Activists Target FCC Chair’s Arlington Neighbors — In their fight to retain net neutrality policies, activists have been leaving advocacy materials for and knocking on the doors of FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s neighbors in Arlington. Pai has suggested such policies should be rolled back. [Silicon Beat, DSL Reports, Popular Resistance]
Arlington Water Quality Report Posted — The results of Arlington County’s annual water quality testing have been published online. Per a press release: “Based on sampling data taken throughout the year at our treatment plant and distribution system, the report confirms that Arlington’s high-quality drinking water meets and exceeds all federal and state requirements.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Autria Godfrey, a morning news anchor on WJLA (ABC 7), was charged with trespassing and being drunk in public last month in Clarendon.
The incident happened early Saturday morning, on Feb. 18, at Clarendon Grill (1101 N. Highland Street).
From Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage:
“At approximately 12:45 AM on February 18, officers working a detail in Clarendon responded to the 1100 block of N. Highland Street for the report of a disturbance at a restaurant. The restaurant manager advised arriving officers that a female subject had allegedly started an altercation inside the establishment and they no longer wanted her on the property. Restaurant employees escorted the female subject off the property where she was advised by police that she would be arrested for trespassing if she returned that evening. The female subject left the immediate area with friends.
At approximately 1:24 AM, officers were advised that the female subject had returned to the property. Responding officers arrived on scene and observed the female subject inside the restaurant. Autria Godfrey, 33, was arrested and charged with trespassing and drunk in public.”
Godfrey was arraigned Feb. 24 and is due back in court on May 19.
The long-time Chinese restaurant, at 1100 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, is perhaps best known for its weekend dim sum lunches.
Monday Properties, owner of the 1000-1100 Wilson Blvd twin towers, is requesting County Board permission to convert the 10,000 square foot retail space currently occupied by the restaurant into new television studios.
The permit application does not name the soon-to-be “former restaurant” but its location on the mezzanine level of the building and floor plan match that of China Garden.
“As of the date of this application, one of the retail tenants located in the mezzanine level of the building has decided to terminate its lease and to vacate the property,” an attorney for the building owner said in a letter to the county. “In the Applicant’s experience, retail space on the mezzanine level has proven difficult to lease, given its separation from the pedestrian realm on the street level. As such, the Applicant proposes to convert the former retail space into two new television studios and associated support facilities.”
The application also does not name the tenant that will be using the new studios, but the building is home to television station WJLA and NewsChannel 8. Station owner Sinclair renewed its lease in the building this summer.
County staff are recommending the Board approve the application.
A China Garden employee said today that the restaurant’s manager would not be available for comment until Friday.
(Updated at 11:15 a.m.) The big TV screen and news ticker at the entrance to the WJLA (ABC 7) offices in Rosslyn have been quietly removed.
The electronic displays, which helped with Rosslyn’s “Manhattan on the Potomac” vibe, were recently taken down by Monday Properties, which owns the gleaming 1100 Wilson Blvd tower (and its twin tower at 1000 Wilson Blvd).
A spokeswoman described the removal as “temporary.”
“For the WJLA news ticker, the decision to temporarily remove the news ticker from outside of 1100 Wilson Boulevard was solely based on Monday’s desire to improve the outdated technology that supported the service,” the spokeswoman said in an email. “They’re in the process of evaluating new technology providers to help ensure such a service provides the utmost convenience and value to the community.”
No word yet on when new displays may be installed. WJLA just signed a new lease that should keep the television station at 1100 Wilson Blvd for at least another 15 years.
The Arlington County Board originally approved the replacement of the screen in 2012, but voted against WJLA and Monday’s request to devote part of the screen to sponsor messages. Near the end of its twelve-year lifespan, the screen only displayed a weather map because it was incapable of displaying WJLA’s high definition broadcast.
Television station WJLA (ABC 7) will remain in Rosslyn after its owner, Sinclair Broadcasting, signed a new 15 year lease.
Monday Properties, which owns the 1000/1100 Wilson Blvd “twin towers” in which WJLA is based, first announced the 100,000 square foot lease renewal on Tuesday.
The renewal helps to maintain Rosslyn as something of a media hub, home to WJLA, Politico, Washington Business Journal, Graham Holdings, Salem Radio Network News, Washington Free Beacon and New Media Strategies.
More from a press release:
Sinclair Television Group, Inc is renewing its over 100,000 square foot lease at 1000 Wilson Boulevard and 1100 Wilson Boulevard until 2031. The Towers is one of 10 buildings owned and operated by Monday Properties throughout Rosslyn and the greater metropolitan area.
“Over the past several years, we have been running an extensive search in the Metro D.C. area with the goal of selecting a long-term real estate solution that meets our future business objectives. As we looked at our options, which included building a new, standalone facility, we kept coming back to the Towers,” said Del Parks, Senior VP and Chief Technology Officer of Sinclair Television Group, Inc. “With its expansive building infrastructure and operational flexibility, we are able to execute our growing platform in Rosslyn most efficiently.”
“It’s clear that Rosslyn’s ongoing transformation offers a robust and diverse array of businesses, retailers and housing options which are critical for our employees’ overall workplace and social requirements,” Dan Mellon, General Manager of Sinclair’s WJLA and News Channel 8, which will occupy part of the space. “The Towers proximity to Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., also provides our employees the ability to cover stories quickly, from a location that is free from transportation inefficiencies.”
Sinclair’s decision to re-commit to Rosslyn builds on its extensive occupancy history at the Towers, where its landmark media companies, WJLA and News Channel 8 (acquired by Sinclair in July 2014) have been long-term tenants. Sinclair’s 15 year lease will be accompanied by an extensive infrastructure investment to suit their unique business needs, which includes vital connectivity to the Washington D.C. area.
With the renewal of their lease, Sinclair has joined a growing ‘media hub’ trend in Rosslyn, which has an impressive roster that includes Politico, Washington Business Journal, Graham Holdings, Salem Communications, Washington Free Beacon and New Media Strategies.
“When we did our initial short-term renewal with Sinclair earlier this year, we did so hoping that we would provide Sinclair the time necessary to fully vet their real estate search which included the Towers. Over the past couple of months, we have worked collaboratively with the Sinclair team to formalize a comprehensive lease renewal structure that enables them to firmly achieve their firm’s new programming endeavors. As companies increasingly look to pursue first-rate amenities, easy accessibility and a business-friendly environment, the Rosslyn submarket continues its upward trend of being a location that firms look to in attracting and retaining high quality employee talent.” said Tim Helmig, President and Chief Operating Officer of Monday Properties. “We’re pleased that Sinclair will remain a tenant of Monday Properties, enjoying the unparalleled amenities and lifestyle opportunities Rosslyn has to offer.”
Including the Sinclair transaction, Monday Properties has executed over 345,000 square feet of new and renewal leases in 2016 in its portfolio as Rosslyn continues its impressive, upward absorption trend this year, joining other recent high profile transactions with global consulting group, Grant Thornton, PriceWaterhouseCooopers, Eastern Foundry, CalAtlantic Group (Ryland Homes) and Silicon Valley Bank, to name a few.
In Rosslyn: WJLA Stays, Politico Implodes — In Rosslyn yesterday, there were two big pieces of local media news in the same building, on the same day. First, it was announced that Sinclair Broadcast Group signed a five-year, 100,000 square foot lease that will keep WJLA and NewsChannel 8 in the 1000/1100 Wilson Blvd twin towers. Later, it was revealed that Politico — which renewed its lease in the same complex in 2014 — would soon be losing CEO Jim VandeHei, chief political reporter Mike Allen and three senior executives. [Washington Business Journal, Huffington Post]
Arlington OKs Gondola Study Contribution — Arlington County will kick in $35,000 to study the feasibility of a gondola running from Rosslyn to Georgetown. Some County Board members expressed skepticism of the plan, though the county’s economic development director said it would at minimum give local hotels and tourism a boost. [Washington Post]
Apartment Complex Deemed Historic District — The Arlington County Board yesterday voted to designate Cambridge Courts — “a garden apartment complex built from rationed materials to house defense workers during World War II” — a local historic district. The apartment complex along Route 50 will now be protected from redevelopment. [Arlington County]
New Rules for Bus-Only Lanes — New rules have been approved for the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway. After it opens this spring, the transitway’s lanes in Crystal City will be designated bus-only during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Police will issue warning to drivers who violate the rules during the first 30 days, then will issue $200 fines to lane violators after that. [WTOP, Arlington County]
County Board Approves ‘Complete Streets’ Guidelines — The Arlington County Board has approved a set of guidelines intended to “help transform busy neighborhood streets into ‘Complete Streets’ – ones that will be safe for users of all ages and abilities whether they are walking, driving, cycling or using transit.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by J.D. Moore
Fmr. Arlington Man Pleads Guilty to Murder — Lamont Deshawn Terry, a 39-year-old former Arlington resident, has pleaded guilty to the 1992 fatal shooting of a D.C. man at Hains Point. Terry had driven from Arlington to D.C. with plans to commit a robbery when he encountered victim Chet Hunter Matthews and his girlfriend in a parked car. [Washington Post]
Heritage Center in Courthouse? — An Arlington Heritage Center, hosting exhibits about Arlington’s history and cultural heritage, could eventually be built in Courthouse. Officials are looking at the redeveloped Courthouse Square area as a potential site for the long-sought center. A heritage center on Columbia Pike, which had been discussed previously, is apparently no longer being considered. [InsideNova]
Crystal City McDonald’s Lease Sells for Millions — A ground lease for the Crystal City McDonald’s, at 2620 Jefferson Davis Highway, has been sold for $7.35 million, a possible record. The McDonald’s, which pays around $300,000 per year to lease the land, is expected to remain there through 2026. [Washington Business Journal]
ACFD’s 9/11 Response — Last Thursday, Arlington County fire chief James Schwartz recounted the department’s response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Arlington was uniquely prepared for the unfathomable attack, thanks to its location and response to other major disasters like the 1982 Air Florida crash, Schwartz said. He also lauded Arlington’s role in the evidence gathering effort, which included finding the terrorists’ drivers’ licenses. [Falls Church News-Press]
WJLA Takes Right Turn Under New Ownership — Rosslyn-based WJLA (ABC 7) has taken a rightward turn following its purchase by Sinclair Broadcast Group. The station now airs conservative commentary, critical of President Obama and “government waste,” during its newscasts. It has also fired much of its longtime management team. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Highmuckmuck
Board Members Spar Over Streetcar PR Funds — Of the $7-8 million contract with Parsons Transportation Group to serve as project manager of Arlington’s streetcar system, up to $650,000 will be spent on “public-education efforts during the first year of the contract.” That isn’t sitting well with Board member and streetcar critic Libby Garvey. “We should not be wasting $650,000 on PR,” she is quoted as saying. [InsideNova]
DJ Pleads Guilty to Assaulting Women — DJ Joey Flash, who counts A-Town Bar and Grill in Ballston among his former clients, has pleaded guilty to charges of rape and sexual battery. The nightlife fixture, whose real name is Joseph Rivera, admitted to bringing highly intoxicated women back from bars, having sex with them while they were unconscious, and filming the encounters. [Washington Post]
Capital Bikeshare Runs Out of Membership Keys — Anyone wanting to sign up for Capital Bikeshare will have to wait until the second week of July. CaBi says it has run out of membership keys “due to issues with our supplier, and heavier than anticipated member sign ups.” [DCist]
Animal Hospital Coming to Shirlington — Two veterinarians will be opening a new facility, Shirlington Animal Hospital, this fall at 2770 S. Arlington Mill Drive. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
Sinclair Hoping to Close on WJLA Sale Soon — Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is buying Rosslyn-based TV station WJLA (ABC 7), is hoping to close on the sale by July 27. The company is selling TV stations in Harrisburg, Pa. and Charleson, S.C. to facilitate FCC approval of the acquisition of WJLA and six other Allbritton Communications stations. [Arkansas Business]
Flickr pool photo by David Bender
Rosslyn workers got a “hump day” surprise Wednesday when a camel showed up in front of the WJLA building at the corner of N. Lynn Street and Wilson Blvd.
According to the camel’s handler, the large ungulate was brought to Rosslyn by the TV station in honor of “hump day.” The camel is from a ranch in Berryville, Va.
A crowd quickly formed at the plaza in front of the building as onlookers snapped photos with cell phones and quoted the popular GEICO commercial featuring a camel in an office on a Wednesday. One even quipped to the handler that he should be walking through aisles of cubicles, not outside in the plaza.
Hat tip to WJLA’s Alex Liggitt
Concern Over License Plate Readers — Automated License Plate Readers, or LPRs, are mounted on Arlington County Police cruisers, allowing cops to see instantly if a car driving by is stolen or if its owner is wanted. The police department also stores the data collected by the LPRs for six months, to aid in investigations. The American Civil Liberties Union, however, is concerned about the data storage, saying police departments are “storing everybody’s time, place, and location.” [Voice of America]
Meat Returns to Galaxy Hut — Nine months after switching to an all-vegetarian menu, Galaxy Hut in Clarendon is again offering bacon, pulled pork, beef chili and other meat dishes. While veggie dishes will still be offered, owner Lary Hoffman blames lack of sales for his decision to ditch the vegetarian-only menu. [Washington Post]
No More Playboy at the Pentagon — Army and Air Force Exchange stores, which operate at the Pentagon and Fort Myer, among other military installations, have stopped carrying a third of its magazine collection. Among the magazines no longer available, due to declining interest, are Playboy, Penthouse and American Curves. [Sun Gazette]
NewsChannel 8 to Be National Model — Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is buying WJLA, plans to use NewsChannel 8, the station’s 24-hour local cable news channel, as a model for markets across the country. Sinclair will create a “hybrid” channel that airs local news produced by local stations and national news produced by WJLA. [Baltimore Sun]
Mobility Lab Wins Award — Arlington County’s “start-up think-tank,” Mobility Lab, has won a top award from the Association for Commuter Transportation. Mobility Lab “researches and creates solutions for transportation options that are cool, healthy, fun, and efficient.” [Arlington County]
WJLA parent company Allbritton Communications announced today that it had struck a deal to sell WJLA, local cable channel NewsChannel 8, and 6 other local TV stations to Sinclair, which is based in Hunt Valley, Maryland. The deal, worth $985 million, will add to Sinclair’s portfolio of nearly 150 television stations across the country.
The deal is not expected to close until the end of the year, while the companies wait for federal regulatory approval. No changes to the station are planned in the meantime, but newsroom employees worry that Sinclair — which is conservative in its politics and in its fiscal management — may cut jobs and make other changes once the deal is approved.
“Everybody [is] shitting bricks,” one newsroom source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told ARLnow.com. “[The] mood is very tense. Everyone thinks there’ll be massive cutbacks and reductions in the next year. Not a single person is happy about the new owners.”
WJLA currently employs about 240 part-time and full-time newsroom employees, according to station General Manager Bill Lord. That doesn’t include station advertising and business staff.
One thing not likely to change in the near future, says Jerry Fritz, Senior Vice President for Legal and Strategic Affairs at Allbritton Communications, is the station’s location in Rosslyn.
“We have a long-term lease here and we believe we’ll be staying here,” Fritz told ARLnow.com.
It was announced in May that the Allbritton family was seeking a buyer for its television holdings. The announcement came five months after Joe L. Allbritton, whose initials were used as the call letters for WJLA, passed away at 87. His son, Robert Allbritton, said he would use proceeds from the sale of the stations to concentrate on another asset, Politico, and invest in internet ventures.
In a statement, Allbritton said he hopes the stations he’s selling will “reach new heights” under the new ownership.
“Sinclair is the ideal buyer of our superb television stations,” he said. “Its existing reach and history of innovation matches exceptionally well with our long tradition of viewer service and news gathering excellence. David Smith and his team have been a pleasure to work with. I am confident that their leadership and resources will enable our stations to reach new heights of service to our communities.”
WJLA and NewsChannel 8 for Sale — Rosslyn-based TV station WJLA (ABC 7) has been offered for sale by Allbritton Communications. The company is seeking to sell WJLA and its companion cable channel NewsChannel 8 in order to continue investing in new media, like its Politico website and newspaper. Disney, owner of the ABC television network, is thought to be a likely buyer. [WBJ, Washington Post, Politico]
Brink, Lopez Announce Reelection Bids — Dels. Bob Brink and Alfonso Lopez announced their bids for reelection to the Virginia House of Delegates at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. As part of his speech, Lopez made fun of a Republican effort in the state legislature to study the creation of a Virginia-based currency. Lopez joked that he wanted his face on the Virginia $5 bill and Brink’s on the $10 bill, so that “in Virginia it would cost a Brink and a Lopez to buy a pizza.” [Blue Virginia]
‘Over the Edge’ Fundraiser in Crystal City — Today, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., people will be rappelling 15 stories down the Hilton Crystal City at 2399 Jefferson Davis Highway as part of a fundraiser for the Special Olympics. Among those scheduled to go “over the edge” today is Washington Nationals mascot Screech. The fundraiser will also run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. tomorrow (Friday). [Event Calendar, Special Olympics Virginia]
County Sells $206 Million in Bonds — Arlington County sold $206 million in bonds on Tuesday. The bonds were sold at a low 2.5 percent interest rate. The refunding of older bonds under the low rate will save the county about $5 million. [Arlington County]
Police Looking for Wallet Thief — Arlington police are looking for a man who allegedly stole a victim’s wallet in the Clarendon area last month. [ACPD]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Arlington to Hold Online Snow Chat — Dave Hundelt, Arlington County’s Streets Manager, will be answering questions about snow removal online today (Thursday). The discussion is scheduled from noon to 1:00 p.m. [Facebook]
Metrobus Driver Arrested at Pentagon — A Metrobus driver was arrested by U.S. Marshals at the Pentagon Wednesday morning. The driver, of the 9E Pentagon-Huntington line bus, was wanted in connection with a 2010 murder. [Washington Examiner]
Joe Allbritton Dies — Joe L. Allbritton, owner of Arlington-based WJLA (ABC 7), NewsChannel 8 and Politico, has died. Allbrittion, whose initials are the call letters of WJLA, was 87. [Politico]
Arlington Ranks Sixth in Household Income — Arlington County had a median household income of $98,060 in 2011, which was 5.1 percent higher than a year prior, according to new census figures. Arlington’s 2011 median income is the sixth-highest of all counties in the United States. [Sun Gazette]
While the Board approved a request to replace the screen at 1100 Wilson Boulevard with a more modern, high definition video display, it also voted against a request that 8 percent of the screen space be used for a static commercial sponsorship message.
WJLA and landlord Monday Properties requested a sponsorship logo be allowed in order to help fund the new pricey new screen. The logo would have taken up 8 percent of the screen, while another 15 percent of the screen would have been used for community and cultural messages. As we reported last week, county staff recommended against the sponsorship request, saying it could set a bad precedent.
The county zoning ordinance states advertising for goods or services not available on site is forbidden, largely to avoid the proliferation of billboards. Jonathan Puvak, an attorney representing Monday Properties, argued at Saturday’s County Board meeting that thanks to specific restrictions proposed by the applicant, making an exception for the Jumbotron would not create a new precedent and wouldn’t spur billboards. The Board, however, still voted unanimously in favor of the county staff recommendation.
Monday Properties was seeking to replace the eight-year-old screen because it’s no longer capable of displaying the WJLA’s high definition broadcasts. At the moment, it can only display a weather map. Before the vote, Puvak said the Jumbotron may simply be taken down unless the sponsorship aspect was approved.
“Without the sponsorship element, it’s likely that the new screen will not be installed, and both the ticker and the Jumbotron will eventually come down, as they’re no longer maintainable,” Puvak said.
The 8-year-old “Jumbotron” screen outside the WJLA building in Rosslyn has “fallen into disrepair” and needs to be replaced, according to a staff report filed in advance of this Saturday’s Arlington County Board meeting.
WJLA is asking the County Board to approve a site plan amendment that would allow the station to install a new high definition screen in place of the existing standard definition Jumbotron. The new screen would be smaller: 164 square feet compared to the current screen’s 172 square feet. It would also have a rectangular 16:9 aspect ratio, as opposed to the more square 4:3 aspect ratio of the current screen.
County staff is recommending the Board approve the new screen, but deny a separate request from WJLA to dedicate a portion of the screen to “commercial sponsor messages” unrelated to the normal WJLA programming.
According to the staff report:
The applicant is proposing that the Jumbotron screen be redesigned to display the WJLA broadcast on the main portion of the screen, with static community/cultural messages occupying 15% of the screen and static commercial sponsor messages occupying 8% of the screen. Currently, the screen displays the WJLA broadcast and interrupts service periodically to display community/cultural messaging.
“Such a use is prohibited by the Zoning Ordinance and a modification to allow it would be unprecedented in the County,” county staff writes.
The applicant agreed to a condition prohibiting deliberate commercial messages on the screen when the Jumbotron was approved in 2003… The Sign Ordinance prohibits the advertising of goods and services not available on the lot in which it is advertized [sic] due to the potential deleterious impacts that would result from such signs, including the proliferation of “billboards,” and the potential for increased sign clutter. There is no precedent for the County Board to approve a modification to this regulation as staff is not aware of such signs having been approved under the current Sign Ordinance.
It’s unclear if WJLA will proceed with the screen replacement if the County Board does not approve the commercial message portion of their request. It’s also unclear what exactly is broken in the current screen. A representative of Allbritton Communications, the parent company of WJLA, did not reply to a request for comment.
No changes to the wrap-around news ticker on either side of the screen are included in the request.