On the ground in D.C., Maryland and Virginia

Dyn-o-mite! Blasting to begin on Rosslyn Metro elevators

March 10, 2011 - 02:45 PM
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Rosslyn Metro
Arlington is about to start blasting for the project to add new elevators to the Rosslyn Metro entrance. (Photo: TBD Staff)

It's time to start blasting big holes in the ground for the Rosslyn Metro station's new high-speed elevator project, meaning that there will be planned nightly blasting between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. for the next couple of months. North Moore Street, as well as the existing elevators and two of the escalators leading into the station, will have to be closed during the blasts, according to an alert from Arlington County.

Notification of the nighttime blasts will come in the form of amber blinking lights as a five minute warning and red blinking lights as a one minute warning. The "all-clear" will be marked by a green flashing light.

The Rosslyn station improvement project include a new entrance to the Rosslyn Metro station via three high speed elevators located on the block between North Moore and North Lynn Street across from the existing entrance, as well as a new underground mezzanine level with fare gates, ticket machines, and a station operator's booth.

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Scenes from last night's Mardi Gras parade (Photos)

March 9, 2011 - 09:26 AM
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Mardi Gras
The flag twirlers from Ballou High School's Marching Knights Marching Band. (Photo: TBD Staff)

The weather was just right for the Clarendon Alliance's Mardi Gras/St. Patrick's Day parade last night, which brought out crowds along Wilson Boulevard from Courthouse to Clarendon.

There were floats from area businesses including Liberty Tavern, Whitlow's on Wilson, Palm Beach Tanning, Red Top Cab, and Artisphere. There were beads, boas, and glow sticks aplenty. And when it was all said and done, there were long lines at most of Clarendon's watering holes. Check out the photo gallery after the jump.

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Java Shack glimpses its past as Nazi headquarters

March 8, 2011 - 12:44 PM
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Nazi Java Shack
The Java Shack building in 1982, when it still served as headquarters of the National Socialist White People's Party. (Photo courtesy Java Shack.)

Even if they're not the norm, there are still people that remember when the space now occupied by Java Shack  in Clarendon operated as the headquarters of the American Nazi Party. But last week, someone apparently wanted to make sure that we never forget. 

Dale Roberts, the coffeehouse's owner, doesn't usually close up in the evenings. But on Feb. 28,  he found himself filling in for one of his employees. His final sweep of the tiny store's bathroom yielded a strange find: a flier plastered with photos of the shop's heyday as the headquarters of an American Nazi group.

"Gone but not forgotten," states the flier, which also references the "good old days" when the building was owned by the National Socialist White People's Party ("an organization of decent, law-abiding white folk ... JUST LIKE YOU", it adds). Yellow smiley faces adorned with Hitler's trademark 'stache and bangs flank the message.

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Columbia Pike Giant aims to open in June or July

March 7, 2011 - 01:40 PM
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Columbia Pike Giant
Giant is getting set to move into the ground floor of this building on Columbia Pike this spring. (Photo: TBD Staff)

A new Giant grocery store at Columbia Pike and South Barton Street in Arlington should be open by late June or early July. The new grocery option will likely come as a relief for Pike residents, who have seen both Giant and Safeway close stores in the neighborhood during the past few years.

An old Giant store on the site closed in 2009 to make way for the construction of Penrose Square. A few years earlier, a tiny, cramped Safeway store closed nearby when construction began on the neighboring Siena Park building.

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Clarendon road closures for Mardi Gras parade

March 4, 2011 - 03:27 PM
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Coming off last year's Mardi Gras turned St. Patrick's Day parade in Clarendon (Snowmaggedon forced organizers to reschedule the parade from Fat Tuesday to a date closer to St. Patty's Day) this year's event will be a combination Mardi Gras/St. Patrick's Day parade, and it's scheduled for Tuesday, March 8.

Unfortunately for unwitting drivers, the parade does also snarl up traffic at the tail end of the evening commute and throughout the evening. Keep these road closures in mind if you're driving in the Courthouse or Clarendon areas Tuesday.

The list of closures after the jump.

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Have you voted for Artisphere's restaurant name?

March 3, 2011 - 04:28 PM
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Artisphere
Part of the space that the new restaurant in Artisphere will occupy. (Photo: TBD Staff)

We know you were all just dying to know the three finalists in the naming contest for the restaurant at Artisphere in Rosslyn — there were more than 550 entries, after all. Well the wait is over, and you can now vote on your favorite choice over at the Washington Post's Express site.

Guajillo and Casa Oaxaca owners Karen Barroso and Rolando Juárez will run the restaurant, and their aim to bring their own brand of Latin cuisine to Artisphere clearly affected submissions. Two of the three finalists, Artesano and También, are Spanish words. The third choice finalist is here. (No, that's not an un-linked hyperlink. The other option for Artisphere's new restaurant's name is the word "here." And yes, the lowercase is specified.)

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Clarendon Metro plaza improvements on the way

March 3, 2011 - 10:47 AM
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Clarendon Metro work
Arlington plans to rip out most of the grassy median behind Clarendon Metro to create a more open, usable space. (Photo: TBD Staff)

The Clarendon Metro plaza will undergo a major revamp during the next few months, and work began this week on some preliminary installation of new paving materials in the park behind the metro, according to Arlington County officials.

The project will expand the area of the Metro plaza and make improvements to the park — which is apparently the "Central Park" of Arlington, according to its official name — by this summer.

The improvements will make the front section of the plaza wider, providing more space for the Wednesday farmers market, and also remove the grassy area stretching back from the escalator entrance to the elevators. There are also plans to install a covered bike storage rack, and modular newspaper racks. (Will it keep them from blowing over? Only time will tell.)

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Va. Square hot pot restaurant aiming for spring opening

March 2, 2011 - 03:51 PM
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3434 Washington Boulevard
The building that is soon to be home to Mala Tang hot pot restaurant. (Photo: TBD Staff)

It was refreshing to read yesterday's news from ARLNow.com that there's a new restaurant planned for Arlington, and it's actually not a burger joint or a pizza place.

Mala Tang is to be Arlington's first Chinese restaurant offering the "hot pot" concept, as far as we can tell, and its owners are planning to open sometime this spring, according to a rep. The restaurant will be located at 3434 Washington Boulevard, in the same complex as the George Mason law school.

The restaurant's chef, Liu Chaosheng, knows his way around a hot pot. He opened Uncle Liu's Hot Pot in Falls Church last year, and also owns Hong Kong Palace, according to this Washington Post review of Uncle Liu's. One of his co-owners, as well as Mala Tang's general manager, are former managers from Asian fusion restaurant Mie n Yu in Georgetown.

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UDC president responds to criticism of trips, expenses

March 2, 2011 - 12:17 PM
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University of District of Columbia president Allen Sessoms has issued a response to a report by FOX 5 that he was using taxpayer money to pay for expensive trips to Egypt and England.

He also speaks with ABC7's Sam Ford.

In a letter he addressed to the university community, Sessoms criticizes the FOX 5 report, but notably he doesn't deny the accuracy of the information behind the report, which was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request for details on Sessoms' travel expenses and compensation.

“The receipts used in the story were taken out of context and do not fully address the purpose and nature of each trip, as well as any extenuating circumstances surrounding the travel," he writes.

He then goes on to write about the purposes of the trips to Cairo and London, and that “any expenses incurred by my office are paid for out of University generated revenue.”

Read his response below:

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Free pancakes at area IHOP restaurants (Photos)

March 1, 2011 - 03:05 PM
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Pancakes
IHOP is giving away pancakes today to raise money for charity. (Photo: Jay Westcott)

TBD loves free food and so should you. The International House of Pancakes, the obvious authority on pancakes, has declared today National Pancake Day and is celebrating by giving away free flapjacks to all.

You have until 10 p.m., today to head to an area IHOP and get a free short stack. IHOP just asks that you consider making a donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in lieu of pancake-payment.

The IHOP in Columbia Heights had a considerable wait around 2 p.m., but TBD photographer Jay Westcott reports that the Ballston IHOP wasn't all that busy around lunchtime. Check out his photos.

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Planetarium funding included in proposed 2012 schools budget

March 1, 2011 - 02:35 PM
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planetarium
Arlington's David M. Brown Planetarium

The nonprofit group trying to keep the David M. Brown Planetarium in Arlington open to the public still has a way to go in terms of fundraising. But unlike last year, it looks like they won't have to fight to keep the planetarium open on an interim basis, as Arlington Public Schools has proposed to set aside more than $230,000 for the facility in its 2012 budget plan.

The Friends of Arlington's David M. Brown Planetarium are endeavoring to raise more than $400,000 for capital improvements to the planetarium by the end of June. At this point last year, APS opted to cut funding for the science facility from the budget, essentially closing it while the group tried to raise the money.

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Did you miss lunch? Zpizza is open in Rosslyn

March 1, 2011 - 12:55 PM
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Zpizza
Zpizza opens in Rosslyn. (Photo: TBD Staff)

Looking for lunch in Rosslyn? Well 1100 Wilson Boulevard just got one more option in its multicultural eatery portfolio: Zpizza. The newest location of the local Italian chain opened for lunch today, and at least right now, you can grab a slice without waiting in line. 

Zpizza is next door to Baja Fresh and just downstairs from Chinese restaurant China Garden, making the veritable building a melting pot of lunch options.

The restaurant's menu features standards like pepperoni and mushroom pizzas, but also stocks some of its signatures like the ZBQ with barbecued chicken, the Thai pizza, and the Berkeley Vegan. There's also a range of salads, sandwiches and pastas, if the proliferation of pizza joints in Arlington has you pizza'd out.

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Neighbors still fighting narrow streets parking rules

March 1, 2011 - 11:35 AM
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Narrow Street
A photo from the Arlington Fire Department's test of North Edgewood Street. (Courtesty of Arlington County.)

North Edgewood Street residents aren't looking forward to losing almost half of their street parking. After going back and forth with Arlington County during the past several months, they thought they had reached a compromise that would keep that from happening.

But it looks like that may have been too good to be true. The Lyon Park Civic Association wrote to the County Board this week to delay action on the parking restrictions until the two sides can negotiate further, ARLNow reports.

And the latest proposal from the county would reduce parking on the street by 44 percent, according to Edgewood Street resident Ron Salazar. Neighbors have been fighting a county plan to restrict parking to just one side of the street since late last year, when a complaint prompted the Arlington County Fire Marshal to look at the street and determine that it's too narrow for emergency vehicles to pass.

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D.C. street sweeping resumes today

March 1, 2011 - 11:24 AM
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Cars

D.C. resumes street sweeping today, so here's to hoping you bothered to check the parking restrictions in your neighborhood before you headed out the door.

Street sweeping didn't begin until March 22 last year, but given that the District's new snazzy signs clearly state that sweeping is supposed to begin today, it's probably in your best interest to err on the side of caution. Don't tempt the parking enforcement gods!

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DMV open after storm rips off roof

February 28, 2011 - 10:48 AM
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DMV Roof
Friday's storm tore the roof off the DMV in Shirlington. (Photo: ARLNow.com.)

The high winds that targeted the D.C. area last week claimed one notable Arlington victim: the Shirlington location of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. The wind tore off a large section of the DMV's roof toward the back of the building, ARLNow reported, closing the location for several hours.

A temporary roof was installed and the location is open today, however, just in time for all those customers rushing in at the end of the month.

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Mount Pleasant speakeasy aiming for Mar. 10 opening

February 25, 2011 - 04:13 PM
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Last Exit
(Image: Courtesy of Last Exit)

If you happened to recently visit the website of Last Exit, a new speakeasy coming to Mount Pleasant, you may have gotten your hopes up in vain — the site incorrectly stated opening day was Monday, Feb. 28.

Sorry folks, but manager Desiree Herschberger says the opening is slated for March 10 (and, given how bar and restaurant openings go, this may be pushed back even more).

But Herschberger did provide some details on the new watering hole being built out by the owners of Tonic. The space will be accessible through Tonic, with room for about 30 to 35 people.

"It’s going to be a very intimate space," Herschberger says, "and a little more focused on cocktails, higher end beer, craft brews."

Sure, those cocktails may be a little pricier than the typical drink at nearby Raven, but it's probably a lot more reasonable than the Gibson.

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Rockville power outage caused by fallen tree limbs (Update)

February 25, 2011 - 02:40 PM
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Pepco

Update 10:52 p.m.: As of about 10 p.m., Pepco had restored power to more than 36,000 customers who lost power due to the wind storm. There are about 10,300 Pepco customers still without power.

At the height of the outage, about 47,000 customers were without power.

Update 7:23 p.m.: About 37,000 customers remained without power across the region Friday evening, with nearly two thirds of them in Montgomery County, Md. Dominion Virginia power reported about 11,00 customers without service. Pepco reported about 26,000 customers in the dark, including 21,399 in Montgomery County. The utility issued a news release included in its entirety below.

WindStormwork2-25

Update 5:51 p.m.: Nearly 60,000 customers are without power.

Dominion:
NoVa:
25,609

Pepco
District of Columbia 3,476
Montgomery 25,368
Prince George's 4,982

Update 4:10 p.m.: More than 73,000 customers have now lost power across the region.

Dominion:
NoVa: 28,550

Pepco:
District of Columbia 5,385
Montgomery 36,727
Prince George's 2,848

Update 3:17 p.m.: Pepco now reports more than 19,000 outages across Montgomery County. Here are the latest numbers.

Dominion:

NoVa: 14,882

Pepco:

District of Columbia: 3,408
Montgomery: 19,029
Prince George's: 422

Update 2:39 p.m: It seems that nearly all of the power is back up for Rockville's Pepco customers, but the weather has just knocked out power for thousands more in Montgomery County.

Power is now out for 10,912 Montgomery County residents, 1,065 D.C. residents, and 550 Prince George's County residents.

Original: Today's high winds haven't even kicked in yet and we already have reports of thousands of Pepco customers without power, mostly in Montgomery County.

A large chunk of those power outages are concentrated in Rockville, where early this morning large tree limbs fell onto transformer lines and caused a fire, knocking out power for more than 2,000 customers.

Pepco spokesman Clay Anderson says they still need to conduct an investigation to find out what exactly caused those limbs to come down, but he notes that it all happened before high winds were even a factor.

“The ground is saturated and becoming more saturated," he says, saying "soggy soil" may be to blame for the tree becoming lose and dropping major limbs.

But things may get worse later this afternoon, when winds are predicted to reach up to 60 mph. Anderson says Pepco began preparing last night for the possibility of wind-related outages today by keeping their call center staffed 24 hours.

If your power does go out, you will need to call Pepco at 1-877-PEPCO-62 to let them know (nope, they won't know otherwise. And yes, you still need to call if your neighbor does).

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Construction still on hold at Cava

February 25, 2011 - 12:11 PM
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Cava site
Still no movement on the boards covering the future Cava space in Clarendon. (Photo: TBD Staff)

Curious about when Cava in Clarendon is going to open? It's been more than six months since the Washington Business Journal first wrote about the local Greek chain opening a Clarendon location, so we decided to reach out to its owners to find out. Co-owner Ted Xenohristos says the plan was to be open by late February, but due to delays in permitting, construction has still been largely stalled at the 2900 Clarendon Boulevard site.

"We're waiting for one more permit, and then there should be full force construction," Xenohristos says. "But if you looked in there now, there's nothing major going on."

They're still hoping for an opening in late April or early May, he says. Overall, there's been about a three-month delay, he adds.

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Petworth Library: Sneak peek (Photos)

February 25, 2011 - 10:30 AM
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Petworth Library
Library reopens Monday, Feb. 28. (Photo: Jay Westcott)

D.C. has been quite busy building new libraries and renovating old ones, and next one to check off of the list is the Petworth Library.

The old building at 4200 Kansas Ave. NW was closed down more than a year ago and, much like over in Shaw, library services were relocated to a much-smaller nearby temporary trailer. Now, the Petworth Library is set to reopen 10:30 a.m., Monday, with a bright, airy new entrance, shiny Dell and Mac computers, and lots and lots more space.

The Petworth Library was designed by the same architects behind the renovation of the Georgetown Library, which was rebuilt after a 2007 fire nearly burned the building to the ground. So, yeah, you'll notice some similarities between the two.

Although the square footage of the library building didn't increase, the interior was restructured in a way that increased the amount of usable space by 42 percent, says D.C.'s chief librarian Ginnie Cooper. So go ahead and enjoy a book by a (non-functional) old fireplace, or bring your toddler to the new picture book room, or heck, schedule your ANC meeting in a bright conference rooms, one of which used to be a garage.

Don't trust my words describing the library's design? Then check out TBD photographer Jay Westcott's photos instead.

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Arlington 911 call center chronically understaffed

February 24, 2011 - 02:12 PM
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Arlington ECC
Dispatcher Janice Frer at her post in Arlington's emergency communications center. (Photo: TBD Staff)

John Crawford, director of Arlington County’s Emergency Communications Center, found himself wishing he could send the center’s call takers and dispatchers home after they had been on duty for 16 hours or more during the snowstorm that whipped through the D.C. area in late January. But it just wasn’t possible.

The ECC was receiving a steady barrage of calls, and one shift stayed an additional six hours once the second shift of employees came on to relieve them, because there just wouldn’t have been enough people working.

“I was not only calling them back, but calling in other people not scheduled,” says Crawford, who calls the recent storm “an eye opener” for the center’s staffing issues.

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