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Good Friday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar.

🕗 News recap

The following articles were published earlier today — Mar 1, 2024.

Since it’s Friday, we’ve also compiled a list of the most-read articles of the week, below.

  1. Police investigating body found along busy road near Rosslyn (20885 views)
  2. Bonefish Grill in Pentagon City closes permanently (17532 views)
  3. Report: Arlington moves up to No. 7 priciest rental market in U.S. (9918 views)
  4. ACPD: Unlicensed drunk driver struck two cars, bit police officer and tried to grab gun (8688 views)
  5. Ballston Harris Teeter construction approaches finish line, opening date still unclear (6352 views)
  6. ACPD: Fleeing drunk driver crashes on Columbia Pike, injuring one (5610 views)
  7. County considers dropping 1960s-era parking minimums for gyms and shopping centers to help fill vacant storefronts (4252 views)
  8. New ‘fast-casual’ Italian restaurant set to replace Pizza Roma in Ballston (2776 views)
  9. Mid-century institutions form the bedrock of Arlington civic life. How are they adapting to the 21st century? (2715 views)

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on Saturday in Arlington, from our event calendar.

🌧️ Saturday’s forecast

Rain is expected mainly before 2pm, accompanied by patchy fog that will clear around 1pm. The high temperature will be near 53, with an east wind of 6 to 9 mph, shifting to the north later in the afternoon. There is a 90% chance of precipitation, with new amounts ranging between a half and three-quarters of an inch. As for Saturday night, it will be mostly cloudy with a low of around 44, and a northwest wind at around 6 mph. See more from Weather.gov.

💡 Quote of the Day

“It is not enough to aim, you must hit.”
– Italian Proverb

🌅 Tonight’s sunset

We hope you have a great weekend, Arlington! Feel free to discuss the most-read stories of the week, the upcoming weekend events or anything else of local interest in the comments. 👋

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Workers lowered signage today (Friday) from the now-former Giant supermarket in the Lyon Village Shopping Center.

Several passersby watched with interest as the team unscrewed the letters G-I-A-N-T from the storefront at 3115 Langston Blvd. One visitor, apparently a would-be customer, walked up to the grocery store’s closed entrance and peered inside before returning to her car and driving away.

“Can you believe it?” another pedestrian asked in disbelief.

Thursday was the last day in business for the 60-year-old supermarket. One person who emailed ARLnow described a tearful affair.

“My husband was at the Starbucks there and he said people were crying,” the tipster said.

The closure, announced last month, casts uncertainty over the future of the shopping center at the busy intersection of Langston Blvd and Spout Run Parkway. Even the work crew’s foreman was curious about the strip mall’s fate, asking a reporter what will replace the anchor store.

A brief statement from the owner of the plaza — which is home to The Italian Store, Big Wheel Bikes, a CVS and a Starbucks, among other retail tenants — yielded few answers.

“We are exploring a number of options but have nothing to share at this time,” BMC Property Group President Christopher Jones said.

The county, however, has a long-term vision for the shopping center as an “activity hub” that could support a mixed-use redevelopment with 12-15 story apartment buildings. A rendering from the Langston Boulevard Area Plan, adopted by the Arlington County Board in November, depicts an apartment building rising over a grocery store near the busy intersection.

In the more immediate future, a Cold Stone Creamery is expected to open in a standalone building in the shopping center sometime after May.

Signs outside the Giant today encouraged customers to visit another of the company’s stores about a mile away, at 3450 Washington Blvd in Virginia Square.

An earlier statement from Giant said store employees were given the chance to transfer to other locations.

“In the normal course of evaluating our business and local trade areas, we determined that we can adequately serve this community through several other nearby Giant Food locations as well as our online services Giant Pickup and delivery,” the company said. “While closing this location, we remain committed to meeting the needs of our customers and providing them the best service.”

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Rustico is closing its doors in Ballston.

The craft-beer-centric restaurant serving “artisan pizza” and “creative American cuisine” at 4075 Wilson Blvd plans to welcome its last customers on Sunday, March 10.

The Old Town Alexandria location of Rustico will remain open.

From a message posted on social media last night:

After 14 great years, Rustico Ballston’s last day of service will be Sunday March 10th. We love the Ballston neighborhood and we’re grateful for the opportunity we have had to get to know and serve our amazing community.

We especially want to thank all members of the Rustico staff, past and present, for their dedication, service, and camaraderie throughout the years. While the individual team members have changed over nearly a decade and a half, the spirit they delivered never did.

Please join us one more time (or two! or three!!) over the next two weeks as we say goodbye to Ballston in style. Of course, Rustico Alexandria continues to bring the best craft beer and pizza to Northern Virginia—we would love to see you there!

Rustico opened in October 2010, in an expansive restaurant space that also featured a sizable outdoor patio area, complete with artificial turf and picnic bench-style seating.

From our coverage at the time:

With about 200 indoor seats and 100 outdoor seats (which will stay in storage until next year), Rustico is trying to become the premiere lunch, dinner, happy hour and sophisticated night spot in Ballston.

It will certainly have the largest beer selection in Ballston, if not in all of Northern Virginia: 400 bottles, 40 drafts and 3 cask ales (the casks will be installed next week). By comparison, the original Rustico, in Alexandria, has 300 bottles, 30 drafts and 2 cask ales.

The bottles are displayed prominently behind the bar in two bright display cases. The taps, however, form the bar’s centerpiece — two dense horizontal arrays of colorful tap handles in a cut-out nook between the display cases.

It is unclear what, if anything, might fill the space once Rustico leaves.

Hat tip to @HawkeyeKevin

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(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) Two years ago, Grace Community Church held its meetings at the Thomas Jefferson Middle School auditorium.

Now, it is hosting big acts in contemporary Christian music at its new home in Ballston Quarter, which seats 500 people.

Next week, Grammy-award-winning artist Steven Curtis Chapman, a fixture on Christian radio for decades, will be making a stop at the church for a sold-out show.

On March 20, Colton Dixon and Jordan Feliz — two ascendant artists whose recent singles and albums have topped Billboard charts for contemporary Christian music — will perform “in this most intimate setting of their entire tour.”

It is a big shift for the church, which bounced between TJ and Key Elementary School before settling into the second floor of the mall, across from the art gallery, wine bar and restaurant WHINO one year ago this month.

Moving into the space drove a 30% attendance bump but the concerts, which started in September, put Grace Community Church on the map, says Pastor John Slye, Jr.

“We were a decent-sized church of 1,000-ish people before we had our space, but people didn’t know who we were,” he said. “But now, they know who we are. The concerts have given us awareness, for sure, and that’s fun.”

Slye had always envisioned using the new digs for concerts but he credits his son Jonathan — who owns a prominent national rock festival — for having the connections to book these acts and other big names. The church previously hosted singer-songwriter David Crowder and has concerts booked with rapper LeCrae, the band Big Daddy Weave and American Idol star Danny Gokey.

“We’re thrilled to have this,” says Pastor Slye. “There’s no way we could’ve done it without his skills and what he knows.”

With the recognition has come the opportunity to take on other types of events, too. Grace Community Church recently put on a worship night that drew people from 200 churches in the D.C. area and hosted a mixer for young professionals that spilled over into WHINO across the way.

With seats for 500, Slye says Grace Community Church is full but capacity is only an issue for larger events and concerts. As a result, future events might make use of other spaces in the mall. The church is in talks with a local radio station to host a singles event in the public outdoor space outside the Ballston Quarter food hall and has discussed the possibility of co-hosting a larger event at the MedStar Capitals Iceplex upstairs.

“We have no desire to make Grace the hero: We just want to see the space bring people together because this is a lonely place, and community is healthy for us, mentally, spiritually and physically,” Slye said. “People just want to make friends and make community. We want to rally around that, big time.”

The pastor and his wife both grew up in Arlington and attended the schools where later, their church would meet before moving into Ballston Quarter. They knew early on that their son loved music but never imagined their then 5-year-old, dancing and playing music in their sparse living room, would one day make his dad’s church into something of a regional hub.

“I had no idea that the seeds of this started way back then,” he said. “I can’t even clap on beat.”

Photos via Grace Community Church/Facebook

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Good Thursday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar.

🕗 News recap

The following articles were published earlier today — Feb 29, 2024.

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on Friday in Arlington, from our event calendar.

🌧️ Friday’s forecast

Clouds will increase throughout the day, reaching a high of 52°F, accompanied by a light southeast wind that will turn southward and increase to 5-10 mph by morning. On Friday night, expect rain to start primarily after 8 PM, with a low temperature around 42°F and a southeast wind of 6-9 mph. The chance of precipitation is 100%, with new rainfall amounts likely ranging between a quarter and half an inch. See more from Weather.gov.

💡 Quote of the Day

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
– Thomas A. Edison

🌅 Tonight’s sunset

Thanks for reading! Feel free to discuss the day’s happenings in the comments.

19 Comments

After a relatively mild winter, cherry blossoms are expected to hit peak bloom in mid-to-late March.

Today the National Park Service predicted 70% of the blossoms along the Tidal Basin will reach their peak between March 23-26, about the same time as last year.

This year’s peak is a few days earlier than historical averages — and getting harder to predict given warmer winters and big temperature changes, the Washington Post reports.

For now, the blossoms are in their budding stage, leaving bloom seekers a few weeks to plan for excursions and events.

For those seeking to avoid the D.C. crowds, there are a number of blossom options here in Arlington.

One notable destination is Arlington National Cemetery, which has cherry trees in a handful of locations on its 624-acre property. Locals can also find clusters of cherry trees at Welburn Square in Ballston, Quincy Park in Virginia Square, Long Bridge Park in Crystal City, in parts of the aptly named Cherrydale, and elsewhere.

As for events, the National Landing Business Improvement District is hosting “Pink in the Park,” a three-weekend series of cherry blossom events featuring live entertainment, food and activities.

The series kicks off Saturday, March 23 with the “Art of Pink,” a pop-up market showcasing local artists and small businesses. It will be held from 1-5 p.m. at Metropolitan Park (1330 S. Fair Street), the public park next to Amazon’s second headquarters.

Next up is a kid-friendly event, “Pink in the Pool,” on April 6 at the Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center (333 Long Bridge Drive). From 9 a.m. to noon, attendees can enjoy free access to the pool and free snacks, and participate in an origami class, tea tasting and a story time.

The series will finish off with “Pink Beats” on April 16 at the Crystal City Water Park (1601 Crystal Drive), where guests can listen to live music from local acts and sample food from the park’s dozen vendors from 4-9 p.m.

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This week, Arlington County recognized a handful of public facilities projects and privately developed apartment and office buildings for their sleek designs.

Top projects in honored in the biannual DESIGNArlington competition received “The Excellence Award.” Others were recognized with “Merit Awards” and “Honorable Mentions” for promoting county goals “in affordable housing, biophilic design, public art, historic preservation, or education.”

“Thank you to the jurors who took the time to review submissions and select our winners,” Arlington County Board member Takis Karantonis said in a county announcement. “These projects truly showcase the best of Arlington.”

Architectural, planning and design professionals judged the contest.

The Excellence Award winners are:

  • Lubber Run Community Center (Arlington Forest) — “With architecture rooted in its sense of place, this net-zero energy building features recreation areas, covered gathering spaces, connections to nature trails, and open space.”
  • 1770 Crystal Drive (Crystal City) — “This 1970s-era, concrete building transformed into an engaging, vibrant National Landing anchor — including floor-to-ceiling glass, a new curtain wall system, and metal grid expression.”
  • Clarendon West (Clarendon) — “Three residential buildings introduce new life into the neighborhood and transition between the Wilson Boulevard commercial district to Lyon Village’s single-family homes.”

Merit Awards, meanwhile, went to:

  • Pierce Condominiums (Rosslyn) — “This residential tower’s glass and stone exterior showcases a bright and airy structure dubbed the Lantern, with contrasting dark brick.”
  • Cardinal Elementary School (Westover) — “The design optimizes use of the existing building while seamlessly combining new construction to achieve a dynamic educational facility.”
  • U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial Comfort Station (Rosslyn) — “This new facility for visitors to the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial intentionally occupies a small piece of the landscape — maintaining direct views as well as providing a comfortable and respectful experience.”
  • Centro (Columbia Pike) — “Developed using the Columbia Pike Form Based Code, this luxury apartment building includes ground-floor retail, below-grade parking, and is designed around a public plaza with native plantings — enhancing the area for the entire neighborhood.”
  • Fire Lines (Rosslyn) — “A façade enhancement for Fire Station 10 in Rosslyn, this stainless steel and bronze sculpture represents a powerful spray of water and improves the pedestrian experience without impeding the functionality of the station.”
  • Crystal City Water Park (Crystal City) — “A Crystal City public space renovation that’s already proven to be popular – this project activates the streetscape and public space with vibrant retail kiosks, restaurants, and other site improvements.”

Some Honorable Mention recipients include Jennie Dean Park in Shirlington and Ruthie’s All Day restaurant in Arlington Heights.

6 Comments

Good Wednesday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar.

🕗 News recap

The following articles were published earlier today — Feb 28, 2024.

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on Thursday in Arlington, from our event calendar.

☀️ Thursday’s forecast

Expect sunny skies and a high around 46 degrees today, accompanied by a northwest wind blowing at 11 to 15 mph with gusts reaching up to 24 mph. Tonight, the skies will be mostly clear as temperatures drop to around 32 degrees, and the northwest wind will slow down to 3 to 7 mph. See more from Weather.gov.

💡 Quote of the Day

“Just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right.”
– Ricky Gervais

🌅 Tonight’s sunset

Thanks for reading! Feel free to discuss the day’s happenings in the comments.

11 Comments
Rosslyn skyline in black and white (Joseph Gruber/Adobe Stock)

Local news is a tough business, especially in 2024.

The recent, unfortunate closure of DCist illustrates how fragile of a thing it is. ARLnow has sustained our commitment to online-only local news for 14 years thanks to dogged editorial and business teams — and conservative budgeting.

That means that we don’t hire more reporters than our business model can support. While that’s good for long-term sustainability, it means we can’t quite do all of the local reporting we would like based on ad revenue alone.

That’s where the ARLnow Press Club comes in. Somewhat like a college athletics booster program, members of the Press Club provide extra funds that allow us to go above and beyond. For instance, the deeply reported article that’s set to publish after this post was only possible thanks to member support.

Growing our membership base substantially would allow us to fund reporting resources for more coverage of court cases, small local businesses and nonprofits, and other things that our current budget cannot quite support. We do some of that today, but want to do more.

Most Press Club members tell us they sign up primarily to support the site. But they also appreciate a notable membership perk: the daily “Early Morning Notes” email with a preview of the coming day’s coverage.

Sign up for the ARLnow Press Club here. Thank you, Arlington, for your continued support of local news!

5 Comments

Pizza Roma in Ballston has closed, making way for a new fast-casual Italian eatery called Scolapasta.

ARLnow received a tip last week that the longstanding pizzeria at 4219 N. Fairfax Drive — in operation for at least 15 years — had shut its doors, with “Coming Soon” signs for Scolapasta now gracing the windows. This week, the sign for “Pizza Roma” was also gone.

The closure comes after the pizza place abruptly ended its lunch service in 2019 amid rumors circulating of its closure.

The new tenant, Scolapasta, will not offer pizza but instead sell a variety of freshly made pasta types, sauces and toppings, restaurant owner Burak Temel told ARLnow. Patrons will be able to create their dishes on the spot, an approach Temel describes as “the Chipotle of Italian food.”

Temel, a long-time Arlington resident and owner of Urban Boxing Arlington and a construction company, said his business partner came up with the idea after visiting Italy and seeing how popular Italian street food was there among tourists.

“It’s kind of a no brainer, when you think about it,” he said. “Pasta is healthy. It’s budget friendly, and it could be a great late night food alternative to pizza for example, or some of the other local places in D.C., like Surfside.”

Scolapasta is aiming for a June 1 grand opening, according to Temel. Additionally, he noted that plans are in the works for a second location at the Tysons Galleria mall.

“I think it’s going to be very popular, especially with the locals,” he said.

2 Comment

Good Tuesday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar.

🕗 News recap

The following articles were published earlier today — Feb 27, 2024.

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on Wednesday in Arlington, from our event calendar.

⛈️ Wednesday’s forecast

Rain is likely throughout the day, possibly leading to a thunderstorm after 4pm, with highs near 67 and breezy south winds at 16-21 mph, gusting up to 37 mph. Precipitation chances are at 90%, with new rainfall amounts between a quarter and half an inch. Rain and potential thunderstorms continue until 7pm, followed by a chance of rain until 10pm. Lows will be around 31, with gusty northwest winds at 15-25 mph, reaching up to 47 mph. Precipitation chances drop to 80% for the night, with less than a tenth of an inch of rainfall expected, though higher amounts are possible in thunderstorms. See more from Weather.gov.

💡 Quote of the Day

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.”
– Robert Frost

🌅 Tonight’s sunset

Thanks for reading! Feel free to discuss the day’s happenings in the comments.

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