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ARLnow.com – Arlington, Va. Local News    
News, Views, Weather, Traffic and Events in Arlington, Virginia
Last updated: Sat, 23 Feb 2019 02:28:47 GMT

 Rethink Energy: Duct Sealing is More Important than You Think Sat, 23 Feb 2019 17:00:38 +0000
This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter...

This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

If you cool or heat your home with forced air through vents and duct returns, keep reading.

Duct sealing is a great way to improve home comfort, save money and improve indoor air quality. How much of a difference in home heating and cooling efficiency do you think duct sealing makes? According to the EPA, as much as 20 percent.

What’s the big issue with duct sealing? 

For starters, your air ducts are a vital part of your cooling and heating system. Metal on metal ductwork connections are never a perfect fit and over time ductwork can separate, creating holes and cracks.

These holes and cracks mean that your air conditioning or heating is likely blowing into your walls, crawl space and attic, and are creating uneven temperatures in your home. It also means that air may be pulled from your crawl space or attic into your home in your air duct returns. That isn’t the healthiest air to breathe.

What’s the fix? 

A technician can seal your ductwork where it is visible using an adhesive called mastic, coupled with professional grade foil tape. Believe it or not, duct tape is never recommended. The technician will also check for disconnected or poorly connected ducts and reattach them.

Most duct work isn’t visible because it is behind your walls, in your attic and crawl space, or beneath floors. Sealing that part of your ductwork requires an aerosol-based product. This process seals your ducts from the inside out. It is the most effective way to seal your ducts. This video helps to detail the process.

Take the next step to home comfort and seal your ducts. It will make sure that your air is healthier, your home is more evenly cooled and heated, and your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard.

Check out the contractors that participated previously in Arlington’s Home Energy Rebate Program and see who has done work in Arlington: https://environment.arlingtonva.us/energy/rebates/contractors/

Have questions? Email us at Energy@arlingtonva.us

 ARLnow Weekend Discussion Fri, 22 Feb 2019 22:30:06 +0000
It may not be the snow we saw earlier this week, but the weather is looking a bit wet this weekend. Forecasters expect a full day of rain Saturday, though...

It may not be the snow we saw earlier this week, but the weather is looking a bit wet this weekend.

Forecasters expect a full day of rain Saturday, though most showers should clear out by Sunday.

So be sure to pack an umbrella if you’re heading out to the “Feel the Heritage” festival tomorrow or any of the other events around the county this weekend.

Or stay inside and catch up on our most popular stories of the past week:

  1. Residents of Ballston Apartments Feel Blindsided by Plans to Convert Building into Marymount Dorm
  2. New Curb Extension Blocks Off Right-Turn Lane in Ballston, Prompting Headaches for Drivers
  3. County Officials, Activists Say Amazon Executives Have Failed to Engage with Arlington Community
  4. Nauck Leaders to Mull Renaming Neighborhood, Pointing to Namesake’s Confederate Ties
  5. As Amazon Moves In, Crystal City Business Group Works to Expand to Pentagon City, Potomac Yard

Head down to the comment to discuss these stories, your weekend plans or anything else local. Have a great weekend!

Flickr pool photo via Tom Mockler

 Pedestrian Struck in GW Parkway Crosswalk, A Frequent Spot for Dangerous Crashes Fri, 22 Feb 2019 21:30:36 +0000
A driver struck a woman with their car while she was crossing the G.W. Parkway just south of the Arlington Memorial Bridge yesterday (Thursday), in what’s long been a troublesome...

A driver struck a woman with their car while she was crossing the G.W. Parkway just south of the Arlington Memorial Bridge yesterday (Thursday), in what’s long been a troublesome stretch of road for pedestrians.

The woman was in the middle of a crosswalk just south of the bridge at the time of the incident, according to U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Eduardo Delgado.

The crash happened around 11 a.m. yesterday, and the woman suffered “non-life threatening injuries,” Delgado said.

Police believe that the right lane of traffic had stopped for the woman, but a vehicle in the left lane didn’t, Delgado added. Arlington Fire Department spokesman Ben O’Bryant said the woman was conscious when first responders arrived, and she was transported to a local hospital “in good condition.”

The stretch of the parkway leading up to the bridge has often been the scene of dangerous crashes involving pedestrians. Officials estimate that the area saw approximately 600 crashes between 2006 and 2012 alone.

Park officials are even in the process of weighing a variety of changes along the parkway and the nearby Memorial Circle to make them a bit safer for pedestrians.

In fact, some of the potential improvements would target crosswalks on the parkway south of the bridge, like making them a bit more visible for drivers or even narrowing the parkway to one lane as it approaches crosswalks.

Photo via Google Maps

 ‘Feel the Heritage’ Festival Celebrating African-American Culture Returns Saturday Fri, 22 Feb 2019 20:45:29 +0000
The “Feel the Heritage” festival, Arlington’s annual celebration of African American history and culture, returns to Nauck this weekend. The 27th edition of the community event is set to be...

The “Feel the Heritage” festival, Arlington’s annual celebration of African American history and culture, returns to Nauck this weekend.

The 27th edition of the community event is set to be held Saturday (Feb. 23) at the Charles Drew Community Center (3500 23rd Street S.). The festival will run from 1-6 p.m.

The event is set to feature a full lineup of live entertainment, “from traditional African dancing and drumming to soul and funk,” according the event’s website. Local vendors will also be offering everything from jewelry to homemade hot sauce.

The festival will include a variety of free arts and crafts activities, plus face painting, balloon art and a chance to meet critters from the Gulf Branch and Long Branch Nature Centers.

And be sure to come hungry — the event will also feature “Foods Around the World” Plinko, giving participants a chance to taste foods from around the globe at random, as well as a “soul food cook-off competition” featuring dishes from seafood gumbo to peach pie.

Limited on-site parking will be available, with overflow parking at the Macedonia Baptist Church (3412 22nd Street S.).

If you’re planning on hopping on a scooter to head to the festival, Bird is offering $5 off for anyone using the code “BIRDHERITAGE.”

Flickr pool photo via Arlington County Parks and Recreation

 UPDATED: Large Emergency Response Near Pentagon City Apartment Building Fri, 22 Feb 2019 20:05:12 +0000
Update at 7 p.m. — The situation ended after police found the subject dead in the apartment, per ACPD. UPDATE: The subject was located deceased and ACPD is now conducting...

Update at 7 p.m. — The situation ended after police found the subject dead in the apartment, per ACPD.

Earlier: Numerous police and fire department vehicles are staged along S. Joyce Street in Pentagon City following a shots fired call.

Initial reports suggest gunshots were heard inside the apartment of a man who may be suffering a mental health issue.

Emergency responders are taking a cautious stance before potentially entering the apartment. Some vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the area, near the Pentagon Row shopping center, is being restricted.

 Stamos Picks Up Endorsements From 50 Local Attorneys As She Fends Off Primary Challenge Fri, 22 Feb 2019 19:30:07 +0000
(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) Arlington’s top prosecutor has won the endorsement of 50 local attorneys, a key feather in her cap as a former public defender mounts a primary challenge...

(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) Arlington’s top prosecutor has won the endorsement of 50 local attorneys, a key feather in her cap as a former public defender mounts a primary challenge attacking her credentials as criminal justice reformer.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos (D) announced the news in an email to supporters yesterday (Thursday), writing that it’s “gratifying to know that I have earned the respect and endorsement of so many local defense attorneys.” She’s hoping to win her party’s nomination for a third term in office, in her first intraparty challenge since winning the job in 2011.

Parisa Tafti, who currently serves as the legal director for Georgetown Law’s Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project and has worked in D.C.’s public defender’s office, is hoping to oust Stamos for the job, arguing that she’s been insufficiently committed to reducing racial and economic inequities in the criminal justice system. Arlington’s public defenders have been similarly critical of Stamos on a variety of fronts in recent months.

But Stamos argues that this latest show of support from many of her nominal adversaries in the courtroom reflects well on her “record of competence, fairness and decency.”

“She has a well-earned reputation as someone who knows when to take a stand against violent and career criminals, but appreciates that incarceration isn’t the answer to people who make mistakes or suffer from illness or addiction,” the attorneys wrote. “While we may not always agree, Theo has always maintained an open-door policy, listens respectfully to opposing counsel and responds in a principled, thoughtful, and responsible way.”

Notable members of the group of lawyers endorsing Stamos include Denny Rucker of longtime Arlington firm Rucker & Rucker and Jim Korman, a decorated divorce lawyer from prominent Arlington firm Bean, Kinney & Korman.

Bruce Deming, who frequently represents local cyclists and pedestrians struck by vehicles, also joined the letter, as did Dave Albo, a former state delegate who practices as a DUI lawyer in Arlington.

Tafti has picked up some prominent endorsements of her own in recent months, including support from the progressive group Our Revolution Arlington and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The former governor has made a series of endorsements in local commonwealth’s attorney races recently, targeting prosecutors who opposed his efforts to restore voting rights to convicted felons, Stamos included.

Tafti has criticized Stamos over the issue in the early days of the campaign, in addition to charging that her efforts to reform the county’s cash bail system have been ineffective — lead public defender Brad Haywood agrees with her on that front. However, even though she worked in leadership roles for the county’s Democratic Committee, Tafti has yet to attack Stamos for her decision to twice cross party officials and endorse independent John Vihstadt in his runs for County Board.

Stamos recently offered a bit of a mea culpa for those endorsements to local Democrats, citing her long family ties with Vihstadt. She’s also defended her record as a prosecutor as one that balances the rights of victims and defendants, pointing to her decisions to not seek jail time for people convicted of their first marijuana-related offenses and to embrace diversion programs to keep people struggling with addiction or mental health issues out of jail.

Voters will decide the primary contest on June 11. Primaries are also shaping up in some of Arlington’s state legislative races, though only Katie Cristol has declared a run for re-election with two County Board slots on the ballot this fall.

Photo of Tafti, left, via Facebook

 In Rare Public Appearance, Amazon Leaders Pledge to Become ‘Good Neighbors’ in Arlington Fri, 22 Feb 2019 18:30:33 +0000
Amazon executives say they’re looking forward to becoming “good neighbors” in Arlington, delivering a decidedly optimistic message to local leaders in one of the company’s first public events since tabbing...

Amazon executives say they’re looking forward to becoming “good neighbors” in Arlington, delivering a decidedly optimistic message to local leaders in one of the company’s first public events since tabbing the county for its new headquarters.

The tech giant’s head of worldwide economic development, Holly Sullivan, assured a crowd of government officials and business executives last night (Thursday) that the company is looking to build a “sustainable long-term partnership” in the region. That presented a stark contrast with Amazon’s recent decision to spurn New York City over concerns that local leaders were insufficiently supportive of a new headquarters there.

The event, organized by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and held at George Mason University’s Virginia Square campus, also came just a few days after Arlington officials and activists expressed concern that Amazon executives haven’t done enough to engage the community as it gears up to move into the area.

Sullivan challenged that idea Thursday, arguing the company plans to be “active in the community” and has “just started our outreach” in Arlington. But only a limited group of Arlingtonians had the chance to hear that message — the event was “invitation-only,” though the COG did offer a livestream for anyone hoping to watch from home.

That stricture prompted some local critics of the project to refuse to attend the event, calling on the company to hold public hearings with community members instead. Many have been especially critical of Arlington’s proposed incentive package for Amazon — if the County Board approves it next month, Arlington would fork over $23 million over the next 15 years to a company owned by the world’s richest man.

On that front, Sullivan was able to offer significantly less reassurance. In response to a rare question from a reporter at the event, she pointedly would not say whether the company would pull the plug on its Arlington plans if the Board rejects the incentive package.

“The talent in the area was the primary driver of this entire process,” Sullivan said. “But incentives are important to us. They give us an opportunity to reinvest in our infrastructure and development opportunities for our workforce.”

Of course, it’s quite unlikely that the Board would take such a step. Even Board members who have expressed some unease with the incentive package have reasoned that it’s a small price to pay for the 25,000 (or more) jobs Amazon hopes to bring to the county.

The business community has also been increasingly vocal in support of the project. Not only has the Arlington Chamber of Commerce repeatedly thrown its weight behind the effort, but the Crystal City-based Consumer Technology Association recently joined in the fight as well. The CEO of the tech advocacy group attended the event to welcome Amazon to the neighborhood, and the CTA organized a crowd of dozens of pro-Amazon demonstrators to hold signs outside the gathering.

“We know this is a historic moment, not just for Arlington, but the whole region,” said Victor Hoskins, head of Arlington Economic Development.

To assuage anyone concerned that the company would bring a huge surge of out-of-state workers to jam area roads and pack local apartment buildings, Sullivan stressed that, in a perfect world, company executives “hope to hire all 25,000 workers locally.”

But she followed that up with a laugh, acknowledging that such a possibility is a bit unlikely. However, she is confident that D.C. region has enough highly skilled tech workers to provide a deep hiring pool for Amazon. And it helps, she believes, that the company already has corporate offices in both Herndon and D.C. to draw from too.

“A few people may choose to relocate from our Seattle headquarters, but this is not a relocation of corporate employees from Seattle,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan added that, wherever the company’s employees hail from, Amazon plans to design its offices in a way to “push employees out into the neighborhood to support local businesses.”

While the tech giant is still in the most preliminary phases of designing the office space it plans to lease from JBG Smith in Crystal City and build in Pentagon City, she said the company fully expects to draw from the design principles it used in Seattle.

“We’ll be trying to take the indoors outdoors and vice versa,” Sullivan said. “We want it to feel very much like a neighborhood. There will be no walls around it, no big sign that says ‘Amazon’ on it.”

That includes a focus on welcoming retailers and other restaurants onto the ground floor of the company’s offices. Though JBG has already worked fervently to bring more mixed-use developments to the area, it’s a process the area’s dominant property owner is hoping that Amazon will accelerate, to the whole neighborhood’s benefit.

“Crystal City gets pretty quiet at night, because everyone leaves right after work,” said Andrew VanHorn, JBG Smith’s executive vice president. “It may not be 24/7, but we want to make it more of an 18/7 environment.”

Until the Board signs off on the incentive package and Amazon starts submitting construction plans for its new offices, VanHorn pointed out that any design conversations are quite preliminary at this point.

However, he said JBG is working under the general assumption that the company will move into all of its leased office space in Crystal City by 2020. Then development work on a new building at Metropolitan Park in Pentagon City will run roughly from 2021 to 2025; construction at the former “Pen Place” development will run from 2023 to 2027.

Sullivan stressed that the buildings won’t look too out of step with the existing skyline, saying executives hope to “integrate into what’s already there” in Pentagon City.

Arlington’s notoriously extensive civic engagement process for new developments offers a long road ahead for the company, but Sullivan said she’s looking forward to embarking on it to answer a simple question: “How can we be a better neighbor?”

“We’re all doing this together,” Sullivan said. “We’re going to be neighbors.”

 Open Houses in Arlington this Weekend Fri, 22 Feb 2019 17:00:12 +0000
Looking for a home? There are plenty of houses and condos open for viewing this weekend. Check out the Arlington Realty website for a full list of homes for sale and open houses in Arlington. Here...

Looking for a home? There are plenty of houses and condos open for viewing this weekend.

Check out the Arlington Realty website for a full list of homes for sale and open houses in Arlington. Here are a few highlights:

2901 N. Kensington Street
4 BR/4 BA single-family home
Agent: Century 21 New Millennium
Listed: $1,750,000
Open: Sunday 1-3 p.m.

 

2710 S. Hayes Street
4 BR/4 BA, 1 half bath single-family home
Agent: Washington Fine Properties
Listed: $1,150,000
Open: Sunday 1-4 p.m.

 

4446 1st Place S.
4 BR/4 BA single-family home
Agent: Optime Realty
Listed: $999,000
Open: Sunday 2-4 p.m.

 

1111 19th Street N. #1503
2 BR/2 BA condo
Agent: Long & Foster Real Estate Inc
Listed: $735,000
Open: Sunday 1-3 p.m

 

1301 N. Courthouse Road #1802
1 BR/1 BA, 1 half bath condo
Agent: Keller Williams Capital Properties
Listed: $600,000
Open: Saturday 1-3 p.m.

 

3000 Spout Run Parkway D607
1 BR/1 BA condo
Agent: Keller Williams Realty
Listed: $259,900
Open: Saturday 1-4 p.m.

 Tech Company Yext Plans Major Rosslyn Expansion, Bringing 500 Jobs to the County Fri, 22 Feb 2019 16:00:47 +0000
A New York-based tech company just announced a major new expansion in Rosslyn, with plans to bring 500 jobs to the county over the next five years. Yext rolled out...

A New York-based tech company just announced a major new expansion in Rosslyn, with plans to bring 500 jobs to the county over the next five years.

Yext rolled out plans yesterday (Thursday) to lease a 42,500-square-foot office space at 1101 Wilson Boulevard. The company will occupy the top three floors of the building, and will help slash the office vacancy rate in Rosslyn, a persistent problem over the last few years.

Yext produces data management software for companies looking to manage their online presence, helping brands as large as T-Mobile and Ben and Jerry’s track and upload location information to directories across the web.

Company founder and CEO Howard Lerman, a Virginia native himself, says the move will help fuel his firm’s ongoing expansion efforts in the D.C. metro area, which he hailed in a statement as a budding tech hub now that Amazon is coming to the county.

“Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia are emerging as one of the country’s major hubs for tech talent, which was a key factor in our decision to expand in the area,” Lerman wrote. “Our new office will be a key foothold as we continue our global growth.”

Yext plans to offer an open floor plan, fully stocked kitchens and free meals to all employees at the space. The company also hopes to put up a sign displaying its name on the building, once the home of the county’s Artisphere, to adorn Rosslyn’s skyline.

Rosslyn has seen quite a few economic development victories in recent months, highlighted by Nestle bringing its American headquarters to the neighborhood last year. The tech consulting firm Accenture recently added an office in the area as well, and the We Companies recently opened a new coworking space in the neighborhood.

Rendering courtesy of Yext

 Students at Rosslyn’s Argosy University Left Without Federal Aid Cash, As School Faces Financial Woes Fri, 22 Feb 2019 15:00:41 +0000
Many students at Argosy University’s Rosslyn campus are now stuck in limbo, waiting anxiously for the financially struggling school to release federal financial aid cash they desperately need. Argosy’s parent...

Many students at Argosy University’s Rosslyn campus are now stuck in limbo, waiting anxiously for the financially struggling school to release federal financial aid cash they desperately need.

Argosy’s parent company, Dream Center Education Holdings, has been in serious financial trouble ever since it starting working to acquire Argosy, the Art Institutes and South University. It recently entered into receivership, essentially declaring bankruptcy, and has now run into problems with federal loan money.

The U.S. Department of Education recently revealed that it sent millions in aid cash to DCEH, but Argosy failed to turn over any money left over after students’ tuition is covered. In all, that worked out to about $13 million, which students usually rely on to cover living expenses.

Federal officials say they aren’t sure what DCEH has done with the money, and could cut off all of Argosy’s access to federal aid cash going forward.

DCEH would not say when it might send the aid money along to students, but it did confirm that students at the Rosslyn campus (located at 1550 Wilson Blvd) have been affected by the discrepancy.

“We are working day and night to secure the release of funds from the Department of Education owed to students of Argosy University for federal financial aid,” Mark Dottore, the court-appointed receiver for DCEH wrote in a statement to ARLnow. “These are funds that both belong to these students and, in many cases, are critical to them.”

Dottore was also adamant that the Argosy campus in Rosslyn will remain open and “there are no plans to close the campus.” DCEH recently shut down all of its Art Institute locations, including the Rosslyn campus, in July, and officials in other states have warned Argosy students to prepare for imminent closures of the campuses.

“The university remains committed to providing our students with a quality education that makes an impact in their lives and the lives of others,” Dottore said.

But that leaves many students, including the roughly 500 students attending the Rosslyn campus, a bit stuck while Argosy gets its affairs in order. The Education Department says it plans to cancel student debts for the current spring semester, but anyone relying on the loan money to afford rent or other living expenses will be out of luck.

One concerned mother, who declined to use her name given the sensitivity of the matter, says her son, Joshua, is waiting on $9,000 from Argosy to afford the basics like rent and food. He enrolled in the Rosslyn’s campus doctoral program for psychology last fall, and is relying on a loan from his parents just to stay afloat.

She points out that her son left a full-time job to pursue a degree from Argosy, as do many students attending the school, and doesn’t feel he has much time left to wait before trying to return to the workforce.

“Argosy and its administration have strung him and all the students along with false hope and empty promises,” she wrote in an email. “He trusted the program and the school. He aspires to have a career as a psychologist so he can help others and those in the DMV community who suffer mental health issues. We have no idea what to do… and many are in the same boat.”

Dottore is set to report more details on DCEH’s finances in the coming days, but he’s already said he suspects that Argosy used the loan cash to cover staff salaries instead of sending it to students. If that’s the case, federal officials could revoke all of Argosy’s access to loan funds, which could force the university to shut down.

Photo via Google Maps