A man used a cord and then his hands to try to strangle a woman last night in Arlington’s Colonial Village neighborhood, according to police.
The reported attack happened around 7 p.m. on the 1800 block of N. Uhle Street, in the garden-style apartment and condo community between Courthouse and Lee Highway.
“The female victim was walking in the area when the unknown male suspect approached her from behind and tightly put a rope or cord around her neck,” the Arlington County Police Department said today in a press release. “The victim attempted to pull the object loose and fell to the ground with the suspect over her. The suspect then began to strangle her with his hands and stopped the attack when two witnesses arrived in the area.”
The man “fled the scene on foot and a canvas by responding officers concluded with negative results,” ACPD said. “The victim was transported to an area hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.”
Police described the suspect as “a light skin Black male in his late teens to early 20’s, 5’6″ tall with a thin build… wearing frayed blue jeans, a black zip up jacket with red accents on the sleeves, a tan or beige shirt underneath and a black baseball hat.”
“This remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected],” said the press release. “Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The County Board is set to consider a set of projects that would upgrade sidewalks and improve a small park.
Of the four, three focus on pedestrian improvements with an eye toward walkability for Arlington Public Schools students in the Bluemont, Columbia Heights and Fairlington neighborhoods. The fourth would fund improvements to 11th Street Park in Clarendon.
These upgrades, at a cost of roughly $2 million in total, were given a thumbs up last December by Arlington’s Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee. This group identifies needed improvements such as sidewalks, street beautification, street lights and parks and recommends them to the County Board.
At the intersection of 6th Street N. and N. Edison Street in Bluemont, the committee proposes to widen some corners and build out the sidewalks as well as upgrade landscaping and accessible ramps.
“It’ll be very visible to cars that people are crossing,” project representative Nick Pastore said during the December meeting. “That will help slow the rate of speed of cars going around those corners.”
Drivers take these residential roads “at a pretty decent speed” to avoid N. George Mason Drive between N. Carlin Springs Road and Wilson Blvd, he said.
At the intersection of 12th Street S. and S. Scott Street in Columbia Heights, nearu Columbia Pike, NCAC is requesting $500,000 to conduct a feasibility study for improving the intersection by extending the street corners, and making improvements to the crosswalks, landscaping and accessible ramps.
“This improved crossing will help students walking from nearby S. Courthouse Road to Hoffman-Boston [Elementary School] safely cross a busy road,” said Kristin Haldeman, director of multimodal transportation planning for Arlington Public School, in a letter to the county.
She added that the extra curb space “will provide more room for students in the area who attend Gunston Middle School and Wakefield High School to wait for their bus at the intersection.”
Columbia Heights Civic Association member Sarah McKinley welcomed the project for the neighborhood of apartment buildings and condos, saying the committee has been criticized over the years for mostly benefitting single-family neighborhoods.
“Here’s an example of an NC project that can benefit both types of neighborhoods,” she said.
In Fairlington, the committee proposes a sidewalk, curb, and gutter along the north side of S. Abingdon Street between 31st Street S. and 31st Road S. — near the STEM Preschool and the former Fire Station 7.
Fairlington representative Ed Hilz said these changes would improve walking paths for students getting to Abingdon Elementary School.
“Currently, there’s a staircase that is not very convenient to negotiate for children,” he said.
“I think this park is heavily used so all these upgrades will be a tremendous benefit for the community,” project representative Alyssa Cannon said.
Money for the projects will come from the 2016 and 2018 Community Conservation bonds.
Images via Google Maps
A new farmers market may be coming to Pentagon City.
On Saturday, April 17, the County Board is planning to hear a permit request from the National Landing Business Improvement District about holding an open-air farmers market at the plaza area in the northern portion of Metropolitan Park, about 2-3 blocks from the Pentagon City Metro station.
The farmers market would take place on Saturdays, April through November, from 8 a.m.-noon. However, the market would not start until June this year, National Landing BID spokesperson Ashley Forrester tells ARLnow.
The reason for the delay, writes Forrester, is so that the BID can do more planning in advance and set themselves “up for success in future years” for when there’s a new park.
Metropolitan Park is on the verge of getting a $14 million makeover courtesy of Amazon and its new, adjacent HQ2, with design work from James Corner Field Operations of New York’s High Line fame. That project is expected to be completed in 2023.
The market will be operated by Freshfarm Markets, which runs nearly 30 markets in the D.C.-area including four in Arlington.
If approved, the market would be able to accommodate up to 20 vendors, who would park along 13th Street S. and S. Fair Street.
The staff report notes that the area around Metropolitan Park contains several high-rise, multi-family apartment buildings, so they expect most patrons to the farmers market will likely walk or bike there.
The County Board will review the use permit for the farmers market again in a year, April 2022.
This additional market would give Arlington nine active farmers markets, a number of which have opened or will be opening in the coming weeks.
Pre-ordering is still being encouraged as a safety measure, but all the markets are open for in-person shopping. It’s a change from early last year when markets were briefly shut down due to the pandemic and, then, allowed to reopen only for pre-order sales.
Most Library Branches Still Remain Closed — “Arlington officials say it is no longer public-health concerns, but budget issues, that are keeping most of the county’s libraries locked up tight. And it’s likely most of them will stay that way for months to come. ‘Community health metrics are not the driving factor in regard to opening additional locations and services,’ library officials said in an e-mail to patrons last week. ‘The county [government] has been under a hiring freeze for more than one year. Libraries cannot open additional locations or services with current staffing levels.'” [Sun Gazette]
Rosslyn Startup Raises Millions — “Arlington meal delivery service Territory Foods has raised $22 million in fresh funding, the startup announced Tuesday… The company creates specialty meals that cater to a wide variety of specific diets, including paleo, Whole30, keto, vegan, low carb and low fat, among others. Customers can order the meals delivered in bulk once or twice a week.” [Washington Business Journal]
County Board Meetings Stay Virtual — “It could be summer before Arlington County Board meetings return to an in-person venue. The board schedule currently anticipates meetings through May will be ‘virtual’-only, as they have been since the spring of 2020 when the pandemic took hold.” [Sun Gazette]
Flower Market Coming to Rosslyn — “Roses are red, violets are blue, if you’re looking for fresh flowers, Rosslyn is here for you! With spring in full bloom, the Rosslyn BID is continuing Rosslyn Refresh with a series of outdoor flower markets. Rosslyn Flower Market will bring local plant, herb, and flower vendors to Central Place Plaza, Saturdays April 24-May 8.” [Rosslyn BID]
New Development to Host Temporary Hotel — “The developer of another new apartment complex is seeking permission to use some of the units as hotel rooms for a period, but is quibbling with county staff over how long that period should be. Arlington County Board members on April 17 will be asked to approve a proposal to permit up to 100 residential units in one of the two towers in ‘The Highlands’ to be used as hotel space.” [Sun Gazette]
The public survey focuses on the east (northbound) side of the relatively small section of S. Eads Street running near Amazon’s future HQ2. It asks questions about living and working in Arlington, how individuals travel around the county, and how safe does one feel traveling along this particular segment of S. Eads Street.
The last page of the survey provides an interactive map, asking individuals to leave comments about their difficulty crossing the street, sightlines, and if pavement or sidewalks are in need of repair.
“We’re hoping to gather observations and experiences on how people use the street now across all modes, from biking and walking to taking transit and driving,” writes Eric Balliet, spokesperson for Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, in an email to ARLnow. “We’d like to know what issues they experience, any safety or access concerns they have, and how they might want to see the street improved. The feedback will be used to guide the development of the concept design, which we will present later for another round of feedback.”
The existing streetscape includes a partially protected bike lane, inconsistent sidewalk, and a lack of street lighting. The layout of the street is also primarily oriented toward cars, according to the project’s webpage.
Improvements being considered include adding physical protection to the bike lane, adding more street lighting, and reconstructing and realigning sidewalks.
“Together, these improvements will create a safer, more accessible, and more comfortable environment for all users of the street,” says the webpage.
The county’s master transportation plan as well as other plans and studies all call for S. Eads Street to be reconstructed into a so-called complete street — one safe for pedestrians, bicyclists, mass transit users, and drivers. This was first implemented as a pilot project back in 2014.
The survey is part of the county’s “preliminary public engagement” process and will be open until Friday, April 23.
The concept design for the changes is set to be unveiled this spring or summer. Afterward, more time will be provided for the public to weigh in.
By the fall, the final concept design should be ready with engineering, design, and procurement of a contractor set to be completed by the spring of 2023.
Construction is scheduled to start in the summer of 2023 and be completed a year later, in the summer of 2024.
Image (2) via Arlington County
Police responded to an Arlington church last week after a man was seen open carrying a pistol on its grounds.
The incident happened on the afternoon of Thursday, April 8. A childcare center operates out of the church, on the 600 block of N. Vermont Street near Ballston.
“At approximately 2:32 p.m. on April 8, police were dispatched to the report of a subject openly displaying a holstered handgun while walking on a property containing an occupied child care facility,” said an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The subject left the scene prior to the arrival of police and was not located in the area by responding officers.”
“The subject is described as a white male in his 50’s, 5’8″, medium build, white hair beneath a dark ball cap, long sleeve button-down shirt and tan pants,” the crime report continues. “The investigation is ongoing.”
Initially, officers told dispatch that the man might have been legally open carrying the gun. However, the crime report indicates that the incident is now believed to have been a weapons violation. It is illegal to open carry on the grounds of a childcare center or preschool during operating hours in Virginia.
Arlington County is halting use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after a federal warning about rare blood clots.
The temporary pause in use of the one-shot vaccine at county-operated vaccine clinics is “out of an abundance of caution,” Arlington County said in a statement this morning.
D.C., Maryland and other Virginia jurisdictions are also pausing administration of the J&J vaccine, after a recommendation from the Centers for Diseases Control (CDC) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).
“The CDC and FDA announced on Tuesday the review of data involving six reported cases of a rare and severe blood clot in individuals after they received the J&J vaccine,” Arlington County said. “Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. As of April 12, nearly 7 million doses of J&J have been administered in the United States.”
“All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination,” the CDC and FDA noted in a joint statement.
In a press conference Tuesday morning, federal officials said at least one person was in critical condition as a result of the clots. There is no evidence of similar reactions to the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, they said. The pause is expected to last only a few days, and officials emphasized that the condition is serious, but exceedingly rare.
The county, meanwhile, says that those with appointments for J&J shots today will receive the Moderna vaccine instead.
“Individuals who have appointments Tuesday, April 13, at the Lubber Run Community Center, where Johnson and Johnson was being administered, will be offered the Moderna vaccine,” said the county statement. “The County will continue to hold clinics to the extent it receives available doses of Pfizer and Moderna over the next few days. Appointments may need to be rescheduled depending on whether the County receives additional doses of other vaccines or learns more about the status of the J&J vaccine.”
Arlington has accelerated its vaccination efforts recently thanks to more vaccine supply from the state, which is pushing to open appointments to the general public by next week. As of this morning, the county reached new seven-day highs for both vaccine shots administered and people fully vaccinated: an average of just over 2,700 shots per day and nearly 1,500 people fully vaccinated per day.
Nationally, the White House says it does not expect the pause in J&J shots to hinder its vaccination goals.
JUST IN: White House says pause with Johnson & Johnson vaccine “will not have a significant impact on our vaccination plan: Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes up less than 5 percent of the recorded shots in arms in the United States to date…”https://t.co/Xsfh0hJUud pic.twitter.com/EaDGNyK0r9
— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) April 13, 2021
County Opening Free Testing Site Today — “Arlington County is opening a no-cost, no-appointment, COVID-19 testing kiosk in the parking lot at Courthouse Plaza in partnership with Curative, which operates two additional sites in the County. The kiosk will be open seven days a week from 12-8 p.m., starting Tuesday, April 13.” [Arlington County]
Fmr. Arlington Waiter Now a Real Estate Kingpin — “In 2013, Heider, then 25, was working at an Italian restaurant in Shirlington when his manager became the assistant to a local real-estate agent. When this agent moved to Washington Fine Properties, Heider’s former manager brought him on to help. As the assistant to the assistant, Heider worked without any base pay, making money only when he brought in referrals. At night, he waited tables at the Crystal City Morton’s.” [Washingtonian]
Kitchen Fire at Pike Apartment Building — Updated at 9:10 a.m. — Arlington County firefighters responded to a kitchen fire at the Dominion Towers apartments on Columbia Pike last night. No injuries were reported. [Twitter, Twitter]
Marymount Students Volunteering at Vax Clinic — “Since the start of the spring semester, students in Marymount University’s Nursing program have been using their classroom skills to serve as vaccinators in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic… [The students] are often on the team of registered nurses and EMS personnel who are on duty for vaccinations at the Lubber Run Community Center in Arlington.” [Marymount University]
YHS Finishes Football Season on Win Streak — “For the Yorktown Patriots, the shortened seven-game high-school football season was like two campaigns. There was the 0-2 beginning when the Patriots lost badly and struggled in all aspects of the game. Then there was the 5-0 finish, when Yorktown was vastly improved in all areas… Yorktown capped its season with a 24-15 victory over the T.C. Williams Titans.” [Sun Gazette]
Arlington County’s projected revenue appears sunnier than when County Manager Mark Schwartz first presented his proposed budget for the 2022 fiscal year in February.
The county can attribute this warmer outlook to two sources: the nearly $2 trillion American Rescue Plan and strong business license tax receipts, Budget Director Richard Stephenson said during a public hearing on the tax rate last Thursday. While he did not specify the revenue from the business taxes, Stephenson said President Joe Biden’s relief bill will apportion $46 million to the county.
Combined, the influx of cash could mean funding will be restored to libraries, community centers, Arlington Independent Media and the Virginia Cooperative Extension, for example.
Schwartz’s proposed budget delays the re-opening of Cherrydale and Glencarlyn libraries and reduces support for AIM and VCE. Between 2019-20 and the proposed budget, funding for AIM had dropped by 22%, while the proposed reductions to VCE would require the organization to find new funding sources or reduce its programs. Members of the public spoke in favor of restoring funding to these programs last Tuesday.
Still, Arlington County will be leaning on real estate taxes for the lion’s share, 59%, of its revenue. Specifically, it will be relying on increasing residential real-estate taxes due to rising property values as commercial property assessments drop.
“We’ve experienced some significant reductions to several of our tax revenues and non-tax fees,” Stephenson said. “We were fortunate this past January that real estate assessments came in slightly higher than we were originally projecting. While we experienced a decrease in commercial property assessments, new construction and residential properties increased.”
While property values are rising, Schwartz is proposing to keep the rate flat — at $1.013 per $100 of assessed value — for the upcoming fiscal year. That will mean an overall tax increase for most homeowners.
The County Board is slated to vote on this rate next Tuesday.
Members cannot increase the rate but they could decrease it, which is something that a few Arlington residents told board members they would like to see.
While Arlington has proposed holding its tax rate steady, nearby jurisdictions — including Fairfax County and Loudoun County — have proposed lowering or approved a lower real estate tax rate, said Audrey Clement, who is running as an independent for a seat on the County Board.
“The impetus for tax reductions elsewhere is to provide relief to homeowners hit by rising assessments, even as the pandemic has put a lot of them out of work,” Clement told the board.
She said the county is using falling commercial real estate tax revenue to justify freezing rather than lowering the residential tax rate.
“The county will tell you it can’t afford to reduce the real estate tax rate because the pandemic has drained the commercial real estate tax revenue, but where were your real estate tax rates heading when the county was flush with revenue from corporate tenants?” she said. “They were going up.”
Meanwhile, two residents, William Barratt and Cindy Nelson, both asked the County Board to reduce real estate taxes.
Barratt said the Bluemont Civic Association, of which he is a part, passed a resolution encouraging the board to reduce the tax rate. The homeowner said he and his wife have seen a 15% increase in their taxes in recent years.
“I don’t think this is a wise idea for anyone: poor and rich,” Nelson said. “It’s just not right.”
The stormwater tax rate is set to increase, which Stephenson said will help generate $15.1 million earmarked for stormwater improvements.
Eventually, the county plans to eliminate the stormwater tax completely in favor of a fee based on how much impervious surface covers a given property, Schwartz previously said.
A higher cigarette tax rate is also being proposed that could generate $600,000. Like most of the county’s tax revenue, almost half of that will go toward Arlington Public Schools, Stephenson said.
Images (2-4) via Arlington County
Arlington’s rate of new coronavirus cases is continuing to hold relatively steady, as vaccinations continue as an accelerated clip.
The trailing seven-day total of new reported cases in the county has not been above 300 since Feb. 17. It also has not dropped below 199. As of today, it stands at 243 weekly cases.
Arlingtonians are continuing to get very sick as a result of the virus. Eight new COVID-related hospitalizations have been reported over the past week. No new deaths have been reported over the past six days, however.
Amid a backdrop of continued infection, vaccinations in Arlington are proceeding relatively quickly.
Nearly 10,000 new vaccination doses have been administered since Friday. With more vaccine supply from the state, Arlington is administering an average of more than 2,500 doses per day, as it tries to complete its Phase 1B and 1C vaccinations before appointments are opened to the general public next week.
After trailing neighboring Alexandria on vaccination stats for most of the year, Arlington is now ahead of the city to our south in terms of percentage of the population that has received at least one vaccine shot: 34.2% for Arlington compared to 32.6% for Alexandria. But Alexandria still has a higher full vaccination rate and just today announced that it is opening vaccinations to all residents ages 16+.
The City of Alexandria has moved into Phase 2 of vaccine distribution.
This means that ALL residents 16+ are now eligible for vaccination.
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) April 12, 2021
Still, the number of people fully vaccinated in Arlington has risen dramatically over the past couple of weeks.
A total of 41,573 people have been fully vaccinated — with one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines — in the county, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.
At the rate of new reported full vaccinations over the past week, it would take just over four months to fully vaccinate the remainder of Arlington’s adult population.
Of course, while Arlington has one of the highest rates of vaccine interest in the nation — 92% according to one study — there are still residents who may be reluctant to get the jab. To help increase vaccination rates, Arlington County Board and School Board members, as well as other local officials and hundreds of volunteers, canvassed the county on Saturday.
“Core members of the [Arlington Complete Vaccination Committee], along with over 250 volunteers, will be canvassing the County to share information with as many people as possible, utilizing yard signs, local businesses, door hangers and more,” the county said in a media advisory before the Saturday “day of action.”
“The Arlington County Public Health Division encourages all Arlington County residents 16 years old and older to pre-register now for the COVID-19 vaccine in preparation for Phase 2 of Virginia’s vaccination plan,” the county said.
It’s Arlington’s Vaccination Day of Action! Volunteers from across the County are going door to door, posting median signs and engaging small businesses, all with the goal of getting our neighbors pre-registered their shot. #CVCDayofAction pic.twitter.com/bX6FU0DFXv
— Katie Cristol (@kcristol) April 10, 2021
Great fun disseminating vaccine info at #CVCDayofAction with @BarbaraKanninen @kcristol @TakisKarantonis, #ASHPA parent leaders @janeth_janeth2b & @ArlingtonVA staff & volunteers. Grateful for your service. pic.twitter.com/DjU37K1Iq2
— Dulce Carrillo (@dulceAPS) April 10, 2021
Photo (top) by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II
The stalled plan to redevelop the site of Rappahannock Coffee on Columbia Pike is going back before the Arlington County Board.
Next week, the Board is set to consider a Use Permit Amendment for the already-approved redevelopment of 2400 Columbia Pike. The amendment “would result in the addition of 6,500 square feet of overall density and an increase of 15 residential units with preservation of existing building facades.”
The changes would also add 36 new parking spaces. The proposal is being made by a new developer, as Columbia Pike-based B.M. Smith is apparently no longer in the proverbial driver’s seat of the long-delayed project, which was first proposed in 2013 and approved in 2016.
“A new entity is now pursuing construction of the 2400 Columbia Pike development,” says a staff report to the County Board. “The new applicant believes the proposed enhancements to the development program are responsive to current market conditions and will facilitate swifter implementation of the project. The design changes, when considered individually may have triggered an administrative change or a minor use permit amendment, but when considered collectively, have been determined to be a major use permit amendment.”
With 15 units added on, the updated project would include 120 total residential units, in addition to 13,000 square feet ground floor space for retail and office, and two levels of underground parking.
The new developer appears to be a small local firm called YW Capital Development, based near Tysons.
“YW Capital Development is a minority-owned real estate development company based in the DC metro area,” the firm’s website says. “Our business focus is development of multifamily and mixed-use projects in urban settings. Our mission is to achieve the most efficient use of land and the best architectural design while maintaining the historic integrity of the neighborhood. Founded at the peak of the housing crisis in 2009, we have successfully completed a dozen projects in the DC metro area.”
The developer’s website touts 2400 Columbia Pike as being “minutes [from the] Pentagon and new Amazon HQ2.” A request for comment sent to an email address listed for the company bounced back as undeliverable.
Nearby residents have previously expressed concern about the proposed development’s displacement of local favorite Rappahannock Coffee, as well as other small businesses. The plan involves tearing down three low-slung commercial buildings, preserving the facades of two.
Another concern, according to the county staff report: noise and light.
“Several residents of the neighboring condominiums expressed concern about potential noise and light impacts from the proposed balconies, loading dock, surface parking area, and outdoor open space located in the southern portion of the site,” the staff report says.
Others are hoping the redevelopment could allow a new bicycle connection on the southern side of the Pike, with Arlington Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt recently calling it “a critical opportunity for a bike-able Pike.”
The County Board is set to consider the proposal at its meeting on Tuesday, April 20.
Photos via YW Capital Development