Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Glebe & Pershing, Coffee, Art, News of News.

Progress, Slow and Underground, at Glebe/Pershing


had me on the telephone to Bill Roberts at the county. He tells me that some of the telephone poles (most likely Virginia Power’s) are being “topped,” or cut short, before they’ll be pulled from the ground outright.

The neighborhood is probably going to see some more slow-going on this, however, as the different wires are still being pulled through the underground conduits or are being attached to the buildings. Some poles will remain in place to hold up street lights or traffic signals, said Mr. Roberts, who the Capital Projects Manager in the Department of Environmental Services, Transportation Bureau.

Recall that the intersection at N. Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive is set to undergo a massive renovation, one that Mr. Roberts previously called the worst project he’s seen in his 30-odd years with the county because of the difficulty of working with so many different stakeholders—citizens, property owners and the Virginia Department of Transportation. (See the Sept. 13, 2006 post.)

The power poles will be cut down and the wires run underground. The lanes of traffic will be shifted, and the entrances and traffic flow will be shifted through the CVS parking lot.

Mr. Roberts said that his department has recently sent to VDOT the final drawings of the project for approval, which he expects to take about six weeks. Then the job goes out to bid, and finally, the work gets done.

Buckingham should see changes by the summer; at that time the telephone and power poles should be gone. This is the same schedule that Mr. Roberts reported last September—so in that sense, the project is on schedule!

To give a little perspective, at one point in my journalism career, I published the Buckingham Independent News, and I was covering this project—that was 2002, and it was already about a year old.

Here are the final drawings as supplied by Mr. Roberts. (The image is cropped and saved as a small file. With luck, the detail comes out. North is to the left.)

I’m a sucker for a new coffee shop…

and the Rendez Vous Café caught me a little by surprise. I had just left the parking lot of the Arlington Arts Center on Wilson Boulevard, heading vaguely on my way to Murky Coffee in Clarendon, when a large, “Grand Opening” sign written in permanent marker caught my eye.

I can’t remember what used to fill the space, but there was this nice little coffee shop, which was doing a slow but steady business mid-morning on Tuesday. It holds just six tables, and the place was a little warm. It offers the standards of a coffee shop: the drinks, muffins and bagels.

But it also offers crepes and paninis, fresh fruit and gourmet breads, items not offered on-the-go at most coffee shops, the owners said.

They are Mourad Rais and Hesham Bennani, both from Morocco.

They built the interior décor themselves, Mr. Rais said. It’s a nice use of space, Mediterranean colors, and an exposed wood frame that mimics a trellis-roof, beachside. International music played—some of it was American ‘60s pop translated into French and Spanish.

Mr. Rais said the plan is to expand into the one-bedroom apartment at the back of the store and put in couches and more tables. The Internet access was not up and running, but it was coming, he said.

The coffee was good and reasonably priced; I didn’t try the other foods—the desserts looked beautiful, too: tiramissu, chocolate tarts (damn that new year’s resolution!).

Mr. Rais said he has owned a coffee shop for seven years in the Potomac Mills mall, but troubles with the lease brought him to Arlington.

The grand opening was on Saturday. According to Mr. Rais, they had an outdoor buffet and the place was packed. People were sitting on the stairs outside, enjoying the warm weather.

The restaurant is at 3540 Wilson Blvd, next door to the Arlington Arts Center.

Free Sun Gazettes for Buckinghamsters? Maybe this year…

The Sun Gazette hopes to mail newspapers to all the houses in Arlington by the end of this year, Deb Hummel, the Sun Gazette’s business manager said Monday. She said they don’t mail to two zip codes currently, including Buckingham’s 22203.

"We would love to add another 10 or 15 thousand,” she said. This is part of changes in their subscription management.

The conversation came about when I called to find out why I was getting a Sun Gazette mailed to me. See, last February I sent in my check, never cashed (the former manager of subscriptions left a little to be desired, apparently).

I let my subscription lag, and then, as you know if you’ve read this blog, I got miffed that I had been paying about $30 per year, while some lobbyist making eight times my salary in North Arlington got it for free.

Suddenly, about a month ago, the paper started showing up again. I feared they found and had cashed a check my bank had long ago given up for dead. But that’s not the case. The newspaper has begun to send out papers to former subscribers, Ms. Hummel said, to gauge interest and get their subscription management in better order.

Even though I write for the Arlington Connection, which is already free to any Arlingtonian who calls and requests a subscription (703-917-6465), I look forward to the time when we all get the Sun Gazette. I just don’t like it when our neighborhood gets left out.

Global Shifts at the Arlington Arts Center

I’ll give you another reason to begin thinking about Global Warming: Arlington Arts Center.

“Topotechture,” the grey-painted bamboo frames that look somewhat like mountain peeks on the center’s front lawn have been moving and changing. When the piece was first installed (reported here on Oct. 11, 2006), they were snow-capped with a white, waterproof material and they formed a long range. Now, the snow caps are gone, and the chain is two separate clumps of mountains, moved there by artist Laura Amussen.

The change (the mountains have moved four times since their installation last fall, AAC staff told me) is attempting to simulate, like time-lapse photography, the changes in the earth.

With the lack of snow (and all this terrible warm weather we’re having), I just couldn’t help but think of major shifts in the environment. I don’t believe that this one winter will be the precursor to warm winters forever. But with those mountains moving so quickly, and the weather abnormally warm, with polar bears threatened and even Bob Seeger singing about too much fossil fuel consumption, I just couldn’t help but feel a little moved myself.

By the way, the painting and multi-media pieces inside the center are really something to see. Arlington Arts Center: 3550 Wilson Blvd.

Police Notes for Buckingham

Jan. 5: Fatal accident 600 N. Glebe Rd (the Ballston Common Mall parking lot).
At approximately 11:17 a.m., a woman was struck by a vehicle in the parking garage of Ballston Common Mall. The victim was taken to a local hospital where she later succumbed to her injuries.

You should also check out Daily Grind, the new coffee shop at the corner of Fairfax Drive and Quincy St. across from Carpool. They just opened up, but they've already donated items to Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, so I'm a big fan :)
Will do.

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