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Columbia Pike at sunset on Monday night (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

An earlier version of this feature article was published via email for members of our ARLnow Press Club, whose support makes more in-depth reporting like this possible. Join the Press Club here.

The past, present, and future of Columbia Pike is rather easy to see.

Cross Glebe Road and there’s the Broiler, first opened in 1959 and, today, still slinging cheesesteaks. Right by the ramp to I-395, the historic Johnson’s Hill neighborhood (also known as Arlington View) remains home to a number of the same residents that have lived there for decades.

Drive the Pike from Washington Blvd to where it crosses Leesburg Pike in Fairfax County and you’ll see a number of low-slung businesses and massive apartment complexes that were built during the Eisenhower administration.

But, over the last decade, the Pike has seen plenty of change. There’s now modern shopping plazas, cavernous parking garages, and gleaming new apartment complexes. Sure, there’s no streetcar, but in frequent intervals buses go up and down the Pike, pausing at a million dollar bus stop (and, soon, numerous upgraded but less expensive stops).

The Pike has continued to have a reputation for being one of the more affordable areas to live in Arlington and, with that, a diverse neighborhood has thrived. The Pike — and its corresponding 22204 zip code — is often referred to as a “world in a zip code.”

At the same time, the future is nearly here and it may bring changes that not everyone is happy with — or could afford. Redevelopment of decades-old shopping centers, forcing the closing of long-time legacy businesses. Garden-style apartments are being turned into 400-unit buildings. Mixed-use projects are set to replace under-used parking lots.

Not to mention, just a few miles away, Amazon is building a headquarters which is likely to bring more people and development to the Pike.

Today, about 41,000 people live along the Pike corridor, according to county data. That’s more that a 10% increase compared to a decade ago. Over the next thirty years, much of Arlington’s population growth is expected to be concentrated along the Pike.

Officials are looking to adapt to these changes by turning Columbia Pike into what the county calls a “vibrant… walkable, lively ‘Main Street’, an effort that first began more than 30 years ago.

In 1986, the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization formed in response to the Arlington County Board providing a $50,000 grant towards economically reviving the Pike.

The grant and the formation of CPRO would be, as the Washington Post described at the time, “the first step in what some see as a 10-year effort to coordinate improvements that could lead to revitalization of the highway as well as a return of community pride.”

That was followed over the next decade plus by a number of revitalization plans, policy changes, and initiatives – including in 1990, 1998, and 2002 — all in an attempt to bring more businesses, “revitalize,” and create a more “vibrant” Pike.

But one of the most consequential shifts in what the Pike would look like going forward was the Board’s approval of the Columbia Pike Form-Based Code for commercial centers in 2003 and, a decade later, for residential areas.

“It really gave us a bit of a blueprint on how we were going to move forward,” CPRO Executive Kim Klingler tells ARLnow.

The purpose was to standardize how new buildings along the Pike were physically going to look and integrate into the community.

“It focuses on the form of the building, which is a little different from the way that other zoning codes work,” says John Snyder, Chair of CPRO’s board. “Like, how tall is the building? What’s the shape? [How many] setbacks from the street? How many stories should it be? [The code] puts together all the rules about that… it’s all set in advance.”

The intent was to “foster a vital main street” with mixed-use buildings that had shops, cafes, and other commercial uses on the ground floor and residences and offices above. It also encourages more sidewalks, trees, and public spaces (like Penrose Square).

The hope is to create a more dense, pedestrian, and public transportation-friendly community.

“A walkable community, like a traditional downtown,” says Snyder.

The plus of following a form-based code for the community is that it is known what new buildings are going to look like and avoids a potential years-long battle with a developer over details like height and design.

For the developer, adhering to the code provides incentives like more density and less red tape.

When first adopted, the county was one of the first jurisdictions in the country to use this strategy to redevelop existing, older neighborhoods.

For the most part, proponents say it has worked. While developers can choose whether they adhere to the code, more than 90% of the new buildings along the Pike were developed with it according to Snyder.

“We’ve gotten 12 or 13 new projects, gained some plaza areas we didn’t have before, and we got ground floor retail,” he says. “We got economic revitalization.”

But with economic revitalization, comes other challenges.

With more amenities, a neighborhood becomes more attractive and vulnerable to natural market forces.

“The whole idea for a building like Centro was to build one that has amenities like you’d expect on [Metro’s] Orange Line, except cheaper,” says Snyder. “Because it is close to everything… it drives prices up. And that puts pressure on the affordable apartments.”

While the county has made efforts to preserve and increase affordable housing along the Pike, not all of their proposals have been embraced by the public as good enough.

It isn’t just about rental units, either. Economic revitalization can drive up housing costs and potentially prevent those in the middle-income brackets from buying homes in the community.

While there are a lot of reasons why the Arlington housing market is hot right now, the redevelopment of Columbia Pike is a factor.

“[Housing] prices are definitely up and… can change the tone of a neighborhood,” says Snyder.

The county’s Missing Middle Housing Study is diving into how to address this challenge, but solutions may be hard to come by even if everyone wants to preserve a community that’s accessible for all.

“The goal has always been for the Pike to be a very diverse community — culturally, socioeconomically, and generationally,” Klingler told ARLnow. “We still want to make Columbia Pike a place for all people.”

But is that even possible? Some certainly don’t think so.

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Levi’s in Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, courtesy photo

For those venturing back to the mall for the first time in awhile, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City might look a little different than you remember, thanks to some recent additions.

Four new stores have recently opened in the mall, at 1101 S. Hayes Street, with two more expected to open sometime in the next few weeks.

On the first level, denim retailer Levi’s has set up next to Altar’d State, overlooking the food court.

On the second level, luxury goods retailer Vince has set up next to Pandora and home décor store Casa Furniture has opened on the opposite side of the food court.

Down in the bottom-floor “dining pavilion” — the mall’s new term for its food court — there are a few additions underway. As Kelis attested in 2003, milkshakes are a popular attraction, and the new Day & Night Cereal Bar is offering a dozen specialized milkshakes and cereal bowls, along with coffee and flights of bacon.

The cereal-centric eatery has some unique combinations, like Marty McFly — a combination of Apple Jacks, Fruit Loops and gummy bears. Its website says it also offers oat milk and almond milk substitutions for those who are dairy averse.

A Subway had previously closed in the food court, but a new franchise for the sandwich chain is expected to open in November, a mall spokesman tells ARLnow.

Lastly, as previously reported, Mediterranean restaurant Sante’ is planning to open sometime this fall in the adjacent Ritz-Carlton hotel at 1250 S. Hayes Street.

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3720 N. Vermont Street (via Google Maps)

Hoping to make a move? Find open houses across Arlington this weekend, from high-rise condos to multi-story homes.

Here are a few you can look forward to:

  • 1604 N. Cleveland Street
    4 BD/3 BA single-family home
    Noteworthy: Roomy front porch, complete renovation, upper-level balcony, walk-out basement
    Listed: $1,875,000
    Open: Saturday and Sunday, 2-4 p.m.
  • 3720 N. Vermont Street
    4 BD/4 BA single-family home
    Noteworthy: Renovated in 2015, flexible and open floor plan, private backyard
    Listed: $1,399,000
    Open: Sunday, 2-4 p.m.
  • 4793 Williamsburg Blvd
    2 BD/2.5 BA single-family home
    Noteworthy: Brand-new renovation, single-level living, private fenced yard, attic for storage
    Listed: $1,085,000
    Open: Sunday, 2-4 p.m.
  • 2712 S. June Street
    3 BD/2.5 BA single-family home
    Noteworthy: Close to HQ2, basement in-law suite, two-car garage, refinished hardwood floors
    Listed: $915,000
    Open: Saturday, 1-3 p.m. and Sunday, 2-4 p.m.
  • 1012 N. Arlington Mill Drive
    4 BD/2 BA single-family home
    Noteworthy: Wood-burning fireplace, lower walk-out level, patio, fenced yard
    Listed: $795,000
    Open: Friday, 3-6 p.m. and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Image via Google Maps

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Arlington County public works staff tested out their snow-plowing, water main-fixing skills — and equipment — during a “roadeo” yesterday (Thursday) at Long Bridge Park.

About 75-100 Water, Sewer, Streets Bureau staff participated as either contestants or judges, Department of Environmental Services spokesman Peter Golkin said. The first equipment “roadeo” in recent years was 2014, although the county used to hold the event in the past, he added.

Contestants demonstrated their ability to navigate Bobcats and snowplows around traffic cones and their precision when maneuvering a backhoe, or digger. This involved guiding a hook attached to the digger through a small metal loop.

Water works crews tested out their ability to assemble water meters in “Meter Madness” and respond to water main breaks in “Rapid Tappin.” This year featured an all-female pipe-tapping team, Golkin said.

Winners of the backhoe and snow plow contests will represent Arlington at a “roadeo” hosted by the Mid-Atlantic chapter of the American Public Works Association next spring. Winners of the water events will compete at the Virginia Section American Water Works Association regional competition on Oct. 5-6.

This video of the 2019 “roadeo,” shot by staff photographer Jay Westcott, gives a closer look at the skills on display during the annual event.

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Arlington native Neffy has won National Public Radio’s prestigious Tiny Desk Contest for her song “Wait Up,” inspired by her return home to the Green Valley neighborhood.

Neffy, née Mecca Russell, tells ARLnow she drew on her homecoming experience during the pandemic, after living in New York City for about five years.

“Returning had me get in touch with my roots for the first time in half a decade,” she said. “It was almost like, ‘Will this environment accept me in the same that it did when I was younger, after being away for so long?'”

She found that Green Valley not only accepted her, but proved to be a well of inspiration to draw from. The 24-year-old singer-songwriter’s ballad about the meaning of home was chosen from thousands of entries to NPR’s contest, which selects an emerging artist to perform at the vaunted “tiny desk,” joining the likes of some very notable musicians, including Mac Miller, Wu Tang Clan, Demi Lovato, Justin Bieber and Lizzo.

“I couldn’t believe it. I was in so much shock and disbelief,” says Neffy about how she felt after hearing she had won. “I’m still kind of in shock and disbelief, to be quite honest.”

She says she has always been musical, known to sing around the house as a child. Neffy wrote her first song at 13 years old and, shortly after, picked up a guitar.

When she got older, went to college and decided to pursue writing and performing professionally, she realized her craft required a lot of sacrifice — and it led to some self-doubt.

But winning the Tiny Desk contest in 2021, after entering submissions in 2018 and 2020, validated her choice to pursue her craft.

“This experience has given me the chance to really feel full and express myself completely as an artist,” Neffy says. “And that alone has taken so much weight off my shoulders because that means I’m allowed to be an artist.”

She said writing and performing “Wait Up” allowed for that self-reflection and gave her an outlet for some of these feelings.

“I wrote this song for myself… because it was almost like a very cathartic therapeutic experience for me to write the song,” she says. “It was something that my soul definitely needed.”

To get herself in the right place, she says she spent a lot of time in her backyard as well as in and around Arlington’s green spaces, including gardens, nature centers and trails.

“Those [places] really are the foundation of who I am,” Neffy says. “[The song] was also a weaving of my mother’s love, my family’s love and us being outside in our backyard and having memories attached to all of those spaces.”

Right now, she’s primarily performing virtually due to the pandemic but plans on taking her talent to venues in the D.C. area soon.

While she’s currently residing in Green Valley, Neffy expects that she will soon head off on a new adventure. Writing “Wait Up” taught her that leaving will be okay, and that her home will always be here in Arlington no matter where her ambition leads her.

“By the time the song gets to the bridge, I am certain that, yes, home will always be there, whether it’s a physical manifestation or a spiritual manifestation that lives inside of me,” she says. “No matter where I go in the world, whether it’s Japan or who knows where, home is going to always live inside of me no matter what.”

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Doughnuts for sale at Good Company

If you’re looking for a job in Arlington, you’ve got options. Around the area, find a number of full-time and part-time options.

We waded through job boards and company sites to find job opportunities posted or updated within the past seven days. Companies hiring locally include LEGO, Good Company Doughnuts & Cafe and the U.S. Postal Service.

Take a look:

  1. RISE career coach — Goodwill of Greater Washington
  2. Communications specialist — Virginia Hospital Center
  3. Sales associate, brick specialist (seasonal) — LEGO
  4. Customer experience coordinator — Scissors & Scotch
  5. Diversity, equity and inclusion consultant — Booz Allen Hamilton
  6. Dog walker and petsitter — Metropawlitan Petsitters
  7. Budget analyst — Washington Headquarters Services
  8. Sales associate (seasonal) — Crate & Barrel
  9. Team member (Blockstar) — South Block Juice
  10. Regional construction manager — Lidl US
  11. Senior data engineer — Sunrise Senior Living
  12. Event manager — Marriott International
  13. Gifts and data coordinator — USO
  14. Assistant editor — POLITICO Magazine
  15. Senior UX designer, IMDb TV — Amazon
  16. Junior data analyst — Grant Thornton
  17. Baker’s assistant — Good Company Doughnuts & Cafe
  18. Director of faith-based partnerships — Stand Together
  19. City carrier assistant — U.S. Postal Service

Are you a business owner or manager who’s hiring? Get your opening in front of more local job seekers with our featured Job of the Day posts. Reach out to [email protected] or give us a call at 703-348-0583 for more details.

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Arlington Pet of the Week: Abbie

Meet Abbie, the latest Pet of the Week. This shy Silken Windhound is 26 pounds of cuddles and fun.

Here’s what her mom had to say about Abbie’s life here in Arlington.

This is Abbie, a 10-month-old Silken Windhound living the dream in Arlington with her Greyhound sister, Aimee. Abbie is 26 pounds of cuddles and fun. She loves playing with toys, hunting for sticks and chasing rabbits outside. Her favorite spot in the house is either of the queen-size beds, surrounded by pillows and blankets (and her favorite stuffed dragon, too)!

Abbie loves exploring at Gulf Branch Nature Center, playing with her canine friends and sleeping. We haven’t met any other Silken Windhounds in the Arlington area, which makes Abbie even more special than she already is! Abbie is very shy, but if you see us out on a walk feel free to try to say hello! Also, follow Abbie on Instagram at @abbiethesilken.

Silken Windhounds are a “newer” breed and are not yet AKC recognized. They are, however, UKC recognized as of 2011. The first litter of Silken Windhounds was born in 1985 to Francie Stull in Texas.

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Please don’t send vertical photos — they don’t fit in our photo galleries!

We are also looking for local pets who look like their owners or like celebrities. Email us photos of your pet and their doppelgänger, explaining the resemblance and whether it has been noticed in your neighborhood.

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(Updated at 10:20 a.m.) The new Dunkin’ store at 3300 Wilson Blvd, near Clarendon, is now open.

The standalone Dunkin’, which features its own parking lot and a drive-thru window, officially opened on Tuesday, a company spokesman said. The coffee and donut purveyor was open this morning, serving a trickle of customers who notice the “now open” sign.

The building — which was previously a Dunkin’ Donuts, before it closed and was succeeded Peruvian chicken restaurant Pio Pio, Indian-Pakistani-Bangladeshi restaurant Naan Kabob, and, briefly, Red Hook Lobster Pound — was completely renovated over the past few months.

The new interior includes a steel “Arlington Runs on Dunkin'” sign and “next generation” Dunkin’ features like a front-facing bakery case and tap-based iced coffee, nitro cold brew, and iced tea pours.

The new store, which is about halfway between the Virginia Square and Clarendon Metro stations, takes the place of the previous, more central Dunkin’ location at 3009 Clarendon Blvd in Clarendon, which closed earlier this month.

A company spokesman says Dunkin’ is planning “a two-part grand opening celebration for the end of the month.”

“On [Thursday], Sept. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 2, we’ll be hosting a Free Medium Hot or Iced Coffee offer from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” the spokesman said. “We’ll also be offering guests Dunkin’ swag from the Dunkin’ Prize Wheel, photos with Dunkin’ mascot Cuppy and more.”

The grand opening will also include the presentation of a $2,500 donation to the Capital Area Food Bank from Dunkin’ franchisee DDC Management LLC, we’re told.

Given Arlington County’s propensity for encouraging more pedestrian-oriented and less car-oriented facilities — including county staff push-back on a proposed second drive-thru lane for a busy McDonald’s along Langston Blvd — the new Dunkin’ drive-thru is something of a curiosity. According to Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt, the use of the drive-thru window was grandfathered in, given that the building previously featured one.

ARLnow observed the drive-thru already in use this morning, as an Arlington police cruiser was seen making a U-turn on Wilson Blvd and then pulling up to the order lane, apparently after the driver saw the “now open” sign.

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(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) Tatte Bakery in Clarendon is finally set to open.

The growing Boston-based chain’s Arlington location will open tomorrow (Wednesday), according to a sign in the window. It was first announced earlier this year and was originally expected to open in July.

The cafe is located at 2805 Clarendon Blvd, around where the Baja Fresh used to be before it closed in late 2018, ahead of extensive renovations to the building.

Tatte now has more than 20 locations, with a majority in the Boston-area. However, over the last year, the bakery has expanded to the D.C. area, including two relatively new locations in D.C. and one in Bethesda, Maryland which just opened in March.

The Clarendon spot is focused on breakfast, brunch, and lunch, with hours from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will have the same menu as the other D.C.-areas locations, except no dinner. The menu includes sandwiches, tartines, shakshuka, salads, bowls, and coffee.

The interior of the restaurant features a modern aesthetic and tiled counters.

The bakery is housed within The Crossing Clarendon, the multi-block, mixed-use development and retail center formerly known Market Common Clarendon.

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Luna Park (Courtesy of the Center for Local History, Arlington Public Library)

Before Six Flags and Busch Gardens, Luna Park, on what is now the Arlington-Alexandria border, was the go-to amusement park for D.C. area residents.

Opening a few years after the turn of the 20th century, the local Luna Park — it was part of a chain of dozens of parks — featured everything from roller coasters to circus performances. In one famous incident, reminiscent of the recent zebra escape in Maryland, a pack of elephants broke loose from the park during a storm and terrorized unsuspecting local residents for more than a week.

Memories of the park and the elephant escapades are included in local journalist, historian and Falls Church News-Press columnist Charlie Clark’s new book, Lost Arlington County. The book, which was released Monday, “provides a compendium of gone-but-not-forgotten institutions, businesses, homes and amusements.”

Clark shared with ARLnow an excerpt on Luna Park, below.

Arlington bid to be a regional playground at the dawn of the twentieth century. A vacuum in the entertainment market was created after commonwealth’s attorney Crandal Mackey’s cleanup of saloons and brothels in Rosslyn and Jackson City.

Pittsburgh entrepreneur Frederick Ingersoll spent $350,000 to build, near the rail line and Four Mile Run at the Arlington-Alexandria border (the edge of today’s Crystal City), what promoters called “unquestionably the grandest and most complete amusement and recreative place between the great ocean resorts.”

When it opened in May 1906, Luna Park was forty acres of tackiness with space for three thousand picnickers, restaurants, a circus arena and a ballroom in varying Gothic, Moorish and Japanese themes. At night, attendees were thrilled to behold fifty-one thousand electric lights. A 350-foot-tall inclined chute spilled riders into an 80-foot-deep lagoon.

The press enthused: it was like “a silver city set with diamonds,” said the Washington Post. Guests were entertained by Liberati’s sixty-piece band and by the Bessie Valdare All-Girl English Bicycle Team, as reported in a 2012 narrative by Jim McClellan and Shirley Raybuck in the Northern Virginia Review. Their article “The Pachyderm Panic of 1906” is the most detailed account of an oft-told tale that has brightened books on Arlington since the 1950s.

To liven the offerings at Luna Park, impresarios brought, by boxcar, four live elephants from Coney Island, New York. The much-hyped act, Barlow’s Elephants, arrived in August 1906 as a procession of the animals debarked from a Potomac barge. Dubbed Queenie, Annie, Jennie and Tommy, the elephants were trained to perform tricks, such as playing barber and shaving a man. But on that first night, a violent storm hit Alexandria County, which frightened the pachyderms that were chained together inside their hippodrome. They began kicking equipment (destroying an ice cream vendor’s cash register). To the screams of onlooking women and men, three made their escape.

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Connor Garwood and Sarah Buzby at a virtual prom last May (courtesy of National Down Syndrome Society)

This photo of two Arlington teens with Down syndrome will appear on JumboTron screens in Times Square this weekend as part of a visibility campaign for people with the genetic condition.

It depicts Connor Garwood, 18, and his girlfriend Sarah Buzby, 16, at a virtual prom held in the Garwood’s workout room last May. The two met in preschool at Ashlawn Elementary School and have been “inseparable” ever since, said Connor’s mom Suzanne.

She said she submitted the photo of Connor, wearing his dad’s tuxedo and embracing Sarah, because it was sweet.

“Yeah, that picture is cute,” Connor said. “She kissed me.”

The photo, selected from more than 2,100 entries, will be one of 500 in the hour-long presentation this Saturday (Sept. 18).

“Connor and Sarah’s photo will be shown on two JumboTron screens in the heart of Times Square, thanks to the support of ClearChannel Outdoor,” a National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) press release says.

The video will kick off the Buddy Walk in New York City, hosted by the NDSS, which raises awareness about the disability. The video will also be live-streamed on the society’s Facebook page from 9:30-10:30 a.m. the same day.

“These collective images promote the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome in a very visible way,” said the press release.

The couple’s prom was hosted by Best Buddies, a national organization that matches kids and adults with disabilities with high school and college students without disabilities. The pandemic-era dance gave Connor, now a Yorktown High School graduate, and Buzby, a senior at Washington-Liberty High School, a chance to see each other during the lockdown.

“It was fun. We danced,” said Connor, who then showed off some of his signature moves.

For Connor, being on the Jumbotron means demonstrating that he is a capable adult. This year, he started the Program for Employment Preparedness at Arlington Career Center, which partners with employers and worksites to transition adults with differing abilities to life after school.

“I want people to know that I know stuff,” he said.

Suzanne said the program teaches him “how to ride the ART bus and the Metro and cook and balance a checkbook, which frankly more colleges ought to teach.”

The video and walk also preview Down syndrome Awareness Month in October, a month that Suzanne uses to highlight the challenges of living with or caring for someone with Down syndrome.

“I try to post things… that, if people knew, they could help with advocacy and make changes to the law that would make life easier for our kids,” Suzanne said.

She is watching some bills in Congress right now that could make it possible for people like Connor to earn more than a sub-minimum wage. Additionally, caps on income and assets for those with Down syndrome to access federal programs like Medicaid may disincentivize seeking higher-paying employment, she said.

October is also a time to humanize people with the condition.

“People think people with Down syndrome have X and Y characteristics and I don’t think that’s necessarily true,” she said.

Connor is a social media maven who enjoys exercising, especially kickboxing, saying he could protect Sarah in an altercation with his skills. But in a fight, Sarah would likely utilize her charm and humor.

“She’s cute, kind and funny and she makes jokes and dances with her dolls,” said Connor.

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