Morning Notes

Big Changes Proposed for Shirlington — “A proposal to re-imagine the streets of Shirlington is being put forward. Last July, the Arlington County Board approved mixed-use rezoning for nearly ten acres of the Village at Shirlington. Now, Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT) is putting forth a vision to transform the streetscape throughout the area… Campbell Avenue will be the focal point for these improvements, updated with patterned pavers and interactive sculptures.” [UrbanTurf]

Yorktown Soccer in State Final — “Somewhere in the mess of bodies, Patriots senior Gibson Lusk poked the ball into the net. It gave Yorktown a lead for good and punctuated the full turnaround of a game that started slow and sloppy for the Patriots. Now, they are headed to the Virginia Class 6 title game after a 3-1 victory Monday.” [Washington Post]

Huske Reacts to Olympic Qualification — “In her first on-camera interview since returning from Omaha, Torri talked with 7News sports anchor Scott Abraham about her incredible journey to the Olympic Games. ‘At first it was very overwhelming, I feel like it’s just so unbelievable that this would happen to me of all people,’ Huske told Abraham… ‘I never thought I would be in this position and it’s really weird to think that some little kid looks up to you.'” [WJLA]

Feds Off Hook, But ACPD Still Being Sued — “A federal judge has dismissed multiple claims filed by protesters and civil liberties groups after law enforcement forcefully cleared demonstrators from Lafayette Square Park ahead of Donald Trump’s infamous photo-op at St. John’s Episcopal Church last summer…. The judge did allow litigation to proceed against D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department and Arlington County Police, however.” [DCist]

Amazon Donated Antiracism Books to APS — “The emails show Amazon employees reached out to Arlington Public Schools as part of ‘NeighborGood,’ a program to donate $100,000 to schools and other institutions that ’empower black voices and serve black communities.’ Despite Amazon’s offer to purchase Kindles or other equipment, Arlington Public Schools director of diversity and inclusion Arron Gregory requested copies of [Ibram X.] Kendi’s Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You. Amazon donated between 500-600 copies of the book to Wakefield High School and paid $10,000 to have Kendi’s coauthor Jason Reynolds address students.” [Washington Free Beacon]

Crystal City Metro Mural Finalists Selected — “Six visual artists have been chosen as finalists to paint a new mural at the Crystal City Metro Plaza, according to a release from the National Landing Business Improvement District (BID). The BID put a call out in May for individual artists or teams of artists to submit their credentials by June 1 so judges could determine if they had the experience and the chops to tackle the project.” [Patch, National Landing BID]

Memories of a Local Cicada Expert — “Ann thought of Allard recently because of one of his favorite subjects: the periodical cicada. She hadn’t realized he was an expert in Brood X. Then she found his 1937 paper in the American Naturalist journal. Ann posted her memories on Facebook’s ‘I grew up in Arlington, VA’ page and was surprised at how many other people from the neighborhood remembered the old scientist.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Jeff Sonderman

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The county plans to resurface a stretch of Wilson Blvd in Bluemont to improve the driving, cycling and walking experience.

The project is part of Arlington County’s annual effort to resurface about 100 lane miles of roadway annually, prioritizing those in the most need of upgrades and those adjacent to development or other capital projects.

County staff propose reducing — in most places — the number of vehicle travel lanes along Wilson Blvd from four to two between N. Frederick Street and N. George Mason Drive. During a meeting last night (Monday), they said the reduction will accommodate new turn lanes and buffered and standard bike lanes, and prevent merging conflicts where Wilson Blvd transitions from two lanes to one in each direction west of N. Frederick Street.

Transportation Engineer Dan Nabors said the changes will “improve pedestrian crossings, provide separation between people who are driving, walking and biking, reduce and control vehicle speeds, improve sightlines, and make the street easier to understand for all users.”

Currently, east of N. Frederick Street — near the Safeway — Wilson Blvd has two vehicle travel lanes in each direction, curbside transit stops and shared-lane bicycle markings, also known as “sharrows.” The posted speed limit is 30 mph and most people go 33.8 mph, said fellow transportation engineer Cathie Seebauer.

This spring, road users suggested changes to this segment of Wilson Blvd, which staff said they incorporated into the concept plan shared last night. Community members asked for a continuation of existing bike lanes, a safer Bluemont Trail crossing at the intersection with N. George Mason Drive, and changes to the part of Wilson Blvd where it narrows from two lanes to one west of N. Frederick Street, Seebauer said.

Proposed changes to Wilson Blvd from N. Frederick Street to N. Emerson Street (via Arlington County)

From N. Frederick Street to N. Emerson Street, staff propose eliminating the transition from one to two lanes and adding buffered bike lanes that will be shared with enhanced bus stop markings.

“The road does meet national volume thresholds for a reconfiguration from four lanes to two,” Seebauer said. East of N. Edison Street, however, she said that “two eastbound travel lanes would need to be retained to maintain safety and operations.”

Proposed changes to Wilson Blvd from N. Emerson Street to George Mason Drive (via Arlington County)

From N. Edison Street to N. George Mason Drive, cyclists will have a 6-foot standard bike lane with green paint to warn drivers and cyclists of major conflict points. A two-stage bike box will guide those turning to go north on N. George Mason Drive and help those continuing east on Wilson Blvd to merge with through vehicular traffic when the bike lane disappears.

Wilson Blvd going west will have only one through-lane to make room for dedicated right and left-turn lanes.

An online comment tool will be open until Tuesday, July 7. The resurfacing work will be done this summer and fall.

Photos (1-4) via Google Maps 

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Armed suspects robbed the 7-Eleven store in Penrose early Sunday morning.

The robbery happened around 3:30 a.m., at the convenience store on the 2300 block of 2nd Street S.

Police say one man brandished a handgun and demanded the employee open the cash registers, before he and another suspect fled with cash in a Honda Odyssey minivan.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report, below.

ROBBERY, 2021-06200048, 2300 block of 2nd Street S. At approximately 3:39 a.m. on June 20, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect vehicle, a gold Honda Odyssey, pulled up to the business and two male suspects exited and entered the business. Suspect One grabbed merchandise and approached the counter, with Suspect Two following behind. Suspect One then brandished a handgun and demanded the employee open the registers. The suspects then fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash. Suspect One is described as a Black male with a slim build, approximately 5’6″ tall, wearing a black hat, black mask, blue gloves, black pants, a gray vest and a gray hoodie. Suspect Two is described as a Black male, approximately 5’6″ tall, wearing a black hat, black mask, blue gloves, and a dark blue hoodie. The investigation is ongoing.

Also in the latest Arlington crime report, a Reston man was arrested and charged with assaulting police after an incident early Thursday morning on 23rd Street S. in Crystal City.

From ACPD:

ASSAULT & BATTERY ON POLICE, 2021-06170010, 400 block of 23rd Street S. At approximately 12:50 a.m. on June 17, police were dispatched to the report of a disorderly male inside a restaurant. Upon arrival, the responding officer made contact with the intoxicated suspect who was yelling at patrons and employees. The officer directed the suspect to leave and attempted to issue him a banning notice at the request of the property manager but the suspect refused to comply and continued to act disorderly. As the officer attempted to place the suspect under arrest for public intoxication, he resisted and shoved and hit the officer before fleeing the scene on foot. A foot pursuit was initiated, however, the suspect was not immediately located. Officers located the suspect inside his vehicle nearby and directed him to stop and exit the vehicle. The suspect then reversed out of his parking spot and attempted to drive away. Officers were able to stop him from exiting and he was taken into custody. Seth Hauter, 28, of Reston, VA, was arrested and charged with Assault and Battery on Law Enforcement, Drunk in Public, Obstruction of Justice and Driving Under the Influence.

A car caught fire in the middle of a Columbia Pike intersection last night.

The carbeque happened around 8:30 p.m. Monday at the intersection of the Pike and S. Jefferson Street, near Arlington’s western border. Video shared with ARLnow (below) shows the car being driven while flames shoot from the engine compartment, before it finally comes to a stop and the flames and smoke intensify.

The car was fully engulfed, sending a column of dark smoke into the sky, by the time firefighters arrived on scene. Local residents gathered to watch the firefighting effort.

The video-taker said firefighters arrived remarkably quickly.

“They showed up almost immediately and quickly took care of the situation,” he said. “They seriously showed up within 5 minutes… the Arlington [County] Fire Department is seriously awesome.”

Both eastbound lanes of Columbia Pike were blocked for nearly an hour due to the blaze and the subsequent cleanup.

Photo courtesy Jason Sheldrake. Video courtesy anonymous.

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Morning Notes

Legendary Recording Studio Sets Closing Date — “For all the punk-fueled emotion packed into music recorded at Inner Ear, and social media angst that the Arlington, Virginia, studio will close Oct. 1, Don Zientara — as always — is the calmest one around. ‘We’ve been in that location for 32 years, it’s been a long run, and a good run,’ Zientara told WTOP, shortly after announcing the studio on Oakland Street in South Arlington will shut down this fall. ‘It needs to come to an end, at least at that location.'” [WTOP]

Mars Helicopter Company Moving to Arlington — “An unmanned aircraft firm is moving its corporate headquarters from Simi Valley to the Washington, D.C. area. AeroVironment, Incorporated announced last week it is relocating its HQ to Arlington, Virginia… The defense contractor created NASA’s Mars Ingenuity helicopter that flew on Mars two months ago. It was the first powered flight of an aircraft on another world.” [KABC]

Conviction Upheld in Unlawful Filming Case — “Virginia’s Court of Appeals has confirmed the Arlington County conviction of a man for taking a nude video of a woman, rejecting his argument that she had no expectation of privacy because they were in a relationship.” [WTOP]

Old Local Newspapers Digitized — “Spanning the years from 1935 to 1978, the materials include historic articles, photos, and news clippings from four Arlington newspapers: the Columbia News, the Daily Sun, the Northern Virginia Sun and the Sun. Previously, these publications were only available in the Center for Local History as microfilm and digital scans, which were not easily searchable.” [Arlington Public Library]

Beyer Visits With ACPD — From Rep. Don Beyer: “I had a very productive meeting with [the Arlington County Police Department’s] recently appointed Police Chief Penn, Deputy Chief Cassedy and Deputy Chief Vincent today. I appreciate their commitment to transparency and collaboration to keep Arlington a safe community.” [Twitter]

Yorktown Hockey Wins Championship — “The Yorktown High School spring ice hockey club team won the recent Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League championship. Yorktown defeated McLean in the title match, 4-3 in overtime, finishing with a 7-0-1 record. The team was 2-0 in the playoffs.” [Sun Gazette]

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Coasters from Arlington County encouraging people to get vaccinated (courtesy Arlington County)

(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) Patrons at nine restaurants in Arlington may have noticed new cocktail napkins and coasters with QR codes floating around last week.

These coasters and napkins are courtesy of Arlington County as part of its vaccination effort, county communications director Bryna Helfer tells ARLnow.

Scanning the code, patrons of Whitlow’s, TTT Restaurant and Ambar in Clarendon, Wilson Hardware, The Lot, O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub, Rebellion on The Pike, Caspi Restaurant and Lounge and Crystal City Sports Pub can schedule a vaccine appointment while sipping their drinks.

“We want to try and do some creative strategies and get a better understanding… of how we can get the remaining people vaccinated,” Helfer said. “Are incentives what will get the remaining people in Arlington across the finish line?”

Across the country, governments and companies are offering prizes to people who get a shot. These bonuses, from the chance to win the lottery to free state park season passes and absolved parking tickets, have generated a lot of attention. The Biden administration is even encouraging states to offer prizes to draw attention to the vaccine.

In neighboring D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser is providing cash incentives to people living in parts of Wards 7 and 8 with lower vaccine rates. Residents who go to certain clinics will receive $51 gift cards and can enter a drawing to win cars, groceries and Metrobus passes.

“We haven’t done those things, but we’re exploring and working to try to understand… what would motivate someone to get the shot,” Helfer said. “Sometimes it’s not incentives — it’s fear of shots or it might be something else.”

Coronavirus cases have dropped significantly in Arlington, to around just one per day. Nearly 60% of all Arlingtonians have at least one vaccine dose, while 52% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. Compared to its neighbors, Arlington’s rates are higher than the city of Alexandria’s but lower than Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

“We have more of a vaccine uptick than a lot of other places, but that said, we have gaps,” she said. “We’re trying to launch outreach to 21 to 29-year-olds to see what’s holding them back and reaching out to people in the 22204 zip code and the neighborhoods along Columbia Pike.”

If Arlington could include doses administered by the federal government, Helfer estimates the rate of unvaccinated individuals would be closer to 30%, as many federal employees and military service members live in Arlington.

In addition to working with 35 pharmacies and offering daily clinics, the county is working with the Complete Vaccination Committee — a volunteer group established to raise vaccine awareness — and trusted partners, including faith groups, to draw attention to the vaccine and get shots in arms, she said.

Now, the county is leaning on those partners as it prepares to launch new outreach efforts.

This week, the county is planning to meet with nonprofits and Business Improvement Districts to see if it can “piggyback” on events such as outdoor movie screenings to administer more shots, she said. With 30% of the community left to vaccinate, Helfer said the county is entering a new stage of vaccine outreach: “field operations.”

Staff members have gone to diaper distributions and food banks with shots and volunteers have stood at busy corners near neighborhood clinics, telling passers-by that a shot is around the corner, she said.

Helfer noted that another partner, Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, has parked ice cream and food trucks at pop-up clinics near its buildings.

“People like the ice cream trucks,” she said. “It builds energy and attention. Sometimes that’s all people need.”

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A woman used a fraudulent cashier’s check to steal a vehicle from an Arlington resident who was offering it for sale, according to police.

A woman who identified herself as “Stacy James” showed up at a home with the fake check in hand earlier this month, ostensibly to buy a used vehicle that was listed on Facebook Marketplace, police say. Five days later, the victim was notified by her bank that the check was fraudulent.

Police are now asking for the public’s help in identifying the alleged fraudster, who was wearing sunglasses and a mask but who had distinctive piercings in one ear.

More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division is investigating a larceny from false pretenses and is seeking the public’s assistance identifying the suspect captured in home surveillances images.

On June 11, the victim filed an online police report regarding a fraud. The investigation determined the victim was selling a used car on Facebook Marketplace when the suspect, who identified herself as ‘Stacy James,’ made contact with him. On June 5, the suspect arrived at the victim’s home, inspected the vehicle and provided the victim with what appeared to be a cashier’s check for the purchase. On June 10, the victim was notified by their bank that the check was fraudulent.

The suspect is described as a white female, approximately 5’2″ tall and weighing 155 lbs. She has long, red/purple hair and multiple piercings on her left ear.

Anyone with information related to this incident and/or the suspect’s identity is asked to contact Detective L. Bello at 703-228-4166 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Morning Notes

Lee Highway Planning Update — “Arlington county staff have produced different future land use scenarios for five sections, or neighborhood areas, of the [Lee Highway] corridor. These scenarios offer different visions for the route that note anticipated intensity and uses of land as well as potential future transportation and public space improvements. Ultimately, the initiative will culminate in an area plan that will guide future development along the corridor over the next 30 years.” [GGWash]

Postal Flexibility for Route 29 — “To borrow from a phrase of Barack Obama: If you like your Lee Highway address, you can keep your Lee Highway address. Arlington County officials say they do not expect the pending renaming of the 5.2-mile stretch of U.S. Route 29 in the county to impact delivery of mail addressed to the old ‘Lee Highway’ address when the roadway becomes ‘Langston Boulevard.'” [InsideNova]

Blood Drive in Courthouse Today — “Fire Works American Pizzeria and Bar… is working with INOVA Blood Donor Services to host an Arlington Community Blood Drive with an INOVA Bloodmobile, which will be located near the intersection of Clarendon Boulevard and North Adams Street, on Monday, June 21, 2021, from 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.” [Press Release]

A-SPAN Buys Westover Apartments — “This eight-unit apartment building, originally built in the 1940s for Pentagon workers, looks modest. But it’s the centerpiece of an ambitious pilot program from the Arlington-based non-profit A-SPAN. ‘This is for people who have too many housing barriers, [meaning] felonies, no credit, no rental history, immigration status,’ says A-SPAN’s director of development Scott Miller.” [DCist]

Police Pride Event at Freddie’s — “In recognition of Pride Month and the significant contributions of Arlington’s LGBTQ+ communities, the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) will host Pride with the Police… on Friday, June 25.” [Arlington County]

Last Week: Protest Outside Boeing HQ — “Supporters of Palestine demonstrate outside of Boeing’s office building in Crystal City, 6/16/21.” [Instagram]

Trump Official Trying to Sell D.C. Condo — “The condo was then taken off the market, and re-listed in April at the same price. In mid-May, the listing was withdrawn for a second time, and it remains off the market. [Stephen] Miller, meanwhile, has reportedly moved to Arlington with his wife, Katie Miller, another former Trump administration official.” [Washingtonian]

Reminder: This Week’s Arlies Vote — There’s one day left to vote for your favorite Arlington food truck. [ARLnow]

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A mobility advocacy group is asking the county to build a three-year plan for funding projects that make non-car transit faster, more desirable and safer.

And the group, Sustainable Mobility, is trying to capitalize on signs that people are interested in bicycling and walking more coming out of the pandemic. 

“We have to seize that opportunity before everybody gets into their cars again,” said Chris Slatt, the group’s president, who is also chair of the Transportation Commission and an opinion columnist on ARLnow. “This is an inflection point. Arlington has let too many opportunities pass during COVID-19 — we never achieved open streets, when people demanded more space to walk, sit and eat — we need them to do better now.”

Its recommendations respond to a draft document outlining the large projects that Arlington County intends to embark on over the next three years. This plan, called the Capital Improvement Plan, is winding its way through review processes and is set to be approved by the County Board in July.

Volunteers from Sustainable Mobility, or SusMo, combed through the transportation projects and identified a handful to nix, postpone or kick to developers for funding and implementation, which they say could free up about $17 million that could fund 20 projects or programs.

The alternative projects fall into five of SusMo’s priority areas:  

  1. Funding Vision Zero
  2. Speeding up transit 
  3. Building safe routes to every school 
  4. Building out the bike network for all ages and abilities   
  5. Expanding and connecting the trail network 

“None of what’s in our plan is really our idea,” Slatt said. “It is all things that are in sector plans, projects that… the county already has [identified], projects that were identified in the bicycle element of the Master Transportation Plan, or just ways to fund priorities that Arlington says they already have.” 

Highlights include:

  • Changing the signals to reduce the time buses spend at intersections
  • Completing the Arlington Blvd Trail
  • Conducting a feasibility study of dedicated transit and high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Columbia Pike
  • All-door bus boarding and off-vehicle fare collection, to speed up buses
  • A trail on the west side of Carlin Springs road, with a connection to the W&OD Trail, to provide a safer route to Kenmore Middle School
  • Protected bike lanes on S. George Mason Drive between Route 7 and Route 50, providing a safe connection to Wakefield High School
  • Additional capital funding for other Safe Routes to School projects
  • Protected bike lanes on a portion of N. Highland Street in Clarendon
  • A two-way protected bike lane on Fairfax Drive between Ballston and Clarendon
  • Other “neighborhood bikeways”

Some projects are already in the County Manager’s draft Capital Improvement Program proposal, including a feasibility study for a trail underpass under Shirlington Road near the Weenie Beenie, and a new trail along the Arlington National Cemetery wall between Columbia Pike and Memorial Avenue.

Read More

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Morning Notes

Big Ballston Restaurant Opening Today — WHINO, a 150-seat restaurant, craft cocktail bar and art gallery, is set to open its doors at Ballston Quarter today. [ARLnow]

County Considering Green Valley Curfew — “No arrests yet, but Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz says police are making progress after a June 6 shoot-’em-up in the Green Valley neighborhood… The matter became the topic of discussion at the June 12 County Board meeting, when one neighbor called on county leaders to impose a curfew at dusk for the park and school area. County Board member Katie Cristol has asked staff to return with an opinion on whether such an approach would be legal.” [Sun Gazette]

Police Planning for ‘National Night Out’ — “The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) invites community members and organizations to celebrate outdoor National Night Out (NNO) events on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. NNO is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our communities safer and improve quality of life.” [Arlington County]

APS Animal-Science Program Dwindling — “I am an 11th-grader at Washington-Liberty High School and a technical-animal-science student at the Arlington Career Center. The animal-science program is at risk. The number of animals in the program has been dwindling for years. The program has not been permitted to replace the recently deceased miniature horse. Only one goat is left, and he’s 17. The sole surviving ferret, at nine, is living on borrowed time. However, the administration wants to cut our programs even more, taking away our only goat and our four chickens.” [Sun Gazette]

W-L Student’s Vax Effort Lauded — “Before graduation, McBride spent countless hours convincing her classmates to get vaccinated against COVID-19. ‘I was making sure if vaccines were available for some of my friends, they were going to be able to get it and access it,’ she said. ‘I was very compelled by the thought that I want to be able to see my friends in the future, I want to make sure my friends are healthy, and the community is healthy, and their family is healthy in the future.'” [WJLA]

Man Arrested for Columbia Pike Robbery — “The female victim was walking to her parked vehicle when she observed the suspect sitting near by. As she approached the vehicle, the suspect allegedly ran towards her with his arms outstretched and demanded money. The victim backed away and the suspect ran across the street and approached another victim in a similar manner. Arriving officers canvassed the area and located the suspect.” [ACPD]

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A long-stalled affordable housing development project in Ballston has secured the funding it needs to move forward.

On Saturday, the County Board approved an allocation of nearly $16 million for an 8-story building at the Central United Methodist Church site on Fairfax Drive near the Ballston Metro station.

The project, which will have 144 committed affordable housing units, a childcare facility for up to 100 children and a church space for up to 200 people, is being developed by the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.

“It’s a move that goes a long way — there’s still much more work to do — toward achieving our affordable housing goals here in the county,” Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said.

The funding is in addition to the $3 million allocated to APAH in September 2019.

APAH proposes a mix of units: 15 units are affordable up to 30% of AMI, 60 units affordable up to 50% AMI and 69 units affordable up to 60% AMI.

Twelve units will be accessible to people with disabilities.

Setting aside 75 units for residents earning 50% of the area median income or below “is an elusive income target in affordable housing developments,” said Housing Commission Chair Eric Berkey in a letter to the county.

Twelve of the 69 units will be three-bedroom, something the Housing Commission is also pushing to see more of in the county, generally, Berkey said.

APAH will be providing free in-unit internet access to residents as well.

“Low-income residents often cannot afford internet access or can only afford service that provides very low bandwidth or limited service,” the staff report said.

Although there is momentum now, those involved have had a hard time getting the Ballston Station project off the ground.

The County Board originally approved the development in 2017, when the church was working with Bozzuto Development Company.

The county reapproved the project in 2019, once APAH took it over, to upsize the project from 119 units, including 48 designated as affordable, to 144 units of 100% committed affordable housing.

Last fall, the County Board granted APAH a three-year extension on the site plan amendment, giving the developer until October 2023 to start building.

The project has also faced setbacks, as multiple applications for competitive Low Income Housing Tax Credits were unsuccessful. APAH had to find other ways to make the project financially sustainable.

It changed the mix of apartment units, worked with the county and Virginia Housing to restructure the financing for the project, and applied for and won an $8.75 million Amazon REACH grant from Virginia Housing.

“It is noted that this project was made possible due to APAH and CUMC making changes to the income-level mix of the property and obtaining Virginia Housing Amazon REACH Grant funding,” Berkey said. “That this project required such efforts should be a reminder about the challenges currently faced by our development partners and should inform both our local efforts and advocacy at the state and federal levels.”

Next, the County Board will review the loan documents, likely this fall. Construction is slated to start in October or November and APAH expects work to finish by winter 2023-24.

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