An exploration of things to do in Arlington

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is Lee Gardens Shopping Center Worth Preserving?

From the Arlington Connection comes news that the County Board has approved a redevelopment plan for a site at the corner of Route 50 and Pershing Drive:
The new development will be a mixed-use building that will feature residences, office space and stores. More than 180 apartments will be on the site, with 18 of them being sold at below-market, affordable rates. It will also feature more than 33,000 square feet of retail and office space.

[M]any historical preservation activists opposed the project. The Lee Gardens Shopping Center, they said, is a historic building that shouldn’t be renovated.

“It’s a remarkable and wonderful design,” said Robert Dudka, chair of the County’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board. “If we don’t preserve the recent past what will we be doing in the future?”

I used to live right behind the Lee Gardens Shopping Center in Sheffield Court apartments. I only went to Lee Gardens a few times, to get pizza at Armand's, for an emergency grocery item at the market, or for karaoke at the Royal Lee.

Really, there wasn't much reason to. "Remarkable and wonderful" are the last words I would use to describe Lee Gardens. There's no foot traffic in that area and the Lee Garden stores that remain open look like they're barely scraping by.

I'll miss the Royal Lee if it can't find a new home. Especially after the closing of Whitey's and Dr. Dremo's, it's one of Arlington's few remaining neighborhood dives. But is that enough reason to oppose redevelopment that could revitalize that area? Definitely not.

So why would anyone fight to keep Lee Gardens the way it is? The Recent Past Preservation Network details the history and architecture of Lee Gardens, but the case for preservation seems thinner than Armand's pepperoni slices. The architect who designed the building "was involved in about 900 other projects" and I can't imagine this strip mall would rank among his top achievements.

I'm not saying this redevelopment plan is the perfect one. But if historic preservation advocates would argue Lee Gardens deserves protection, is there any site at which they wouldn't fight redevelopment?

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Go Car -Free in 2008

Sick of your car? Want to be a good environmentalist? Learn how to go car-free at the Car-Free Diet Expo. Here's the details (ripped straight off the Commuter Page Blog) ...

Co-host of the TV show The CW Now and author of How To Live Well Without Owning A Car, Chris Balish, will be visiting the area from Los Angeles as he attends Arlington's Car-Free Diet Expo on Tuesday morning, January 29. This is your chance to meet the author and get an autographed and free copy of the Special Arlington, Virginia Edition of his book, which can be your practical guide for going on the Car-Free Diet.

Says Google about the book:
"The first practical, accessible, and sensible guide to living in North America without owning a car. It exposes the true costs of car ownership and shows how getting rid of your car can simplify your life and put you on the road to financial freedom. The book is packed with realistic, economical alternatives to owning a car, including chapters on carsharing, carpooling, and even car-free dating. It includes more than 100 real-world tips, strategies, and success stories from people who are happily car-free or "car-lite," from cities to suburbs. According to a 2004 American Automobile Association study, the average American spends $8,410 per year (roughly $700 per month) to own a vehicle."

The Expo, held at the hotel Palomar in Rosslyn, has two sessions. The first from 8:00 - 10:00 am is designed for the business community and property managers to help them help their employees and tenants go car-free or car-lite. The second session from 10:30 until 12:00 noon is designed to give anyone practical tips on going car-free or car-lite. All attendees will receive a free autographed copy of Mr. Balish's book and be eligible for many prizes being given away by the dozen vendors there to provide you with information. RSVP today! Send us an email or call 703.247.9299.

nd here's a fun YouTube video of a report from a L.A. TV station report about Chris' story about the book. Hope to see you at the Expo!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Last Night at Dremo's

The Green Miles usually sticks to a pretty simple rule about cover charges. Is there a rollercoaster inside? Is there a ballgame being played? No? Then I'm not paying to get in.

But I was willing to open up my wallet on Saturday night and pay Dr. Dremo's $10 "relocation fund" cover charge. If I'm going to complain about Dremo's closing at its Courthouse location, why not put my money where my mouth is?

It didn't seem to bother many other people, either. All the seats were filled by the time I arrived at 5:15, the bar area was crowded by 6, and there was a line soon after.

So what's next for Dremo's? An auction of bar items on Monday night and a search for a new location. I'll let you know if I hear anything!

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dr. Dremo's Counts Down to Closing

Sometime on Sunday morning around 1:30am, it'll be last call for the last time at Dr. Dremo's. It'll be demolished to make way for a high-rise condo building.

Owners hope to reopen at a new location in the not-too-distant future, but fans of Dr. Dremo's know it'll never be quite the same. OK, so maybe if your standards are tasteful decor, comfortable seating, and clean air, the new location could be significantly better.

But dive bars are a dying breed. The Green Miles and his roommate once almost picked an apartment in Courthouse over our current Ballston digs only because of its proximity to Dremo's.

A friend told me Dremo's has been packed lately with people trying to get in one last pitcher, so if you're planning to go over the next few days, go early. Because after this weekend, never again will you get the chance to drink on the open-air beach downstairs with a view of the Washington Monument.
And you won't get to sit inside their silo booths. From Night Out in Arlington:
Monday, Jan. 28th
It's Sad, But You Could Get a Totem Pole

We all knew it was coming -- Dr. Dremo's is in its last days. Starting at 7 pm, they'll be auctioning off tons of the restaurant's odds and ends (pool tables, poker chips, the totem pole, beer tanks, and so on). If you stop by beforehand and speak to the manager, you can submit a pre-auction bid.
There's still hope that Dremo's will rise from the ashes at a new location:
Some blogs have reported that Dremo's owners are throwing in the towel and closing the business for good, which Stewart denies. "[Looking for a new building] is not that bad," Stewart says. "You have to throw a lot of lines out to get something to bite. We put in a bid to buy a building, but we haven't heard back." The Dr. Dremo's team continues to visit real estate agents, trying to find a way to stay in their neighborhood. "I'd love to be in Clarendon and Court House," Stewart says.
Few dive bars remain in Arlington, and they're practically extinct in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. There's Jay's in Clarendon and the Royal Lee at Pershing Drive and Route 50. Any other favorite dive bars in Arlington?

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Relay for Life

Want to give back and have fun doing it? Try Relay for Life - the American Cancer Society's signature fundraising event.

The relay is unique in that it offers an opportunity for communities to take up the fight against cancer in a fun atmosphere where participants set up campsites, and enjoy food and entertainment. Relay is an overnight celebration where teams of 8 -15 people take turns walking, jogging or running relay-style around a track throughout the day and night.

In 2008, more than 4700 communities across the United States, and in 25 different countries, will host their own unique Relay For Life event honoring cancer survivors and remembering those lost to the disease. The Relay For Life of Arlington is set for June 21-22, 2008 at Wakefield High School.

The annual kickoff has just been set for Tuesday, February 5, beginning at 7:00pm at Chevy's Restaurant in Ballston Common Mall. During this hour-long gathering, old and new participants will learn important details about the upcoming year's Relay For Life event, will meet the new event leadership team, and will hear about all of our volunteer opportunities.

Interested? Check out the kick off event - RSVP Here.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Banished at Busboys

Just got this email from Busboys and Poets in Shirlington and sounded pretty cool, so thought I would share ...

Busboys will be showing the film BANISHED this Sunday from 4pm-6pm, in partnership with ITVS and PBS.

About Banished:From the 1860s to the 1920s, dozens of towns and counties across America violently expelled entire African American communities, forcing thousands of black families to flee their homes. A century later, these towns remain all white. BANISHED tells the story of three of these communities and their black descendants, who return to learn shocking histories.This event is free and open to the public. Discussion to follow. For more info, click here:


Friday, January 04, 2008

January 14-20: DC Restaurant Week

DC Restaurant Week is coming up January 14-20. Participating restaurants offer 3-course meals for $20.08 and dinners for $30.08. Eric gave a rundown of some participating restaurants in Arlington during the last Restaurant Week.

Personally, I'm not a big fan:
  1. The good restaurants book up fast
  2. Many restaurants offer only limited menus for Restaurant Week customers (2-3 choices for each course)
  3. Unless it's a pricier restaurant and you were definitely going to eat a whole appetizer, entree, and dessert, it's sometimes not a good deal (and who spends $20 plus tax and tip on lunch, anyway?)
  4. Some restaurants are known to treat their Restaurant Week customers like they're sitting at the kiddie table
But many people tell me I'm nitpicking and that it's a good way to sample new restaurants. What do you think?

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Walter Tejada Chat Recap

Check out the transcript of new Arlington County Board Chairman Walter Tejada's chat on!

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Wanted: Your Input on Public Health

Just got this, and I thought I would pass it along. I know this may not sound super interesting. But seriously, your voice is important and it does make a difference ...

Wanted: Your Opinion!

Arlington County is joining with local businesses, community groups, and government agencies to conduct a survey to identify where people who live, work, and play in Arlington
believe the local public health system should focus its efforts over the next 10 years.

The survey is part of a process called MAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and
Partnerships). Measuring perceptions of the quality of life and health in Arlington will provide
valuable information in the planning process.

for a copy of the survey and details.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

CRM's New Year's Resolution: Going Smoke-Free

Arlington Community Role Models has a simple New Year's resolution. In 2008, we'll be holding all of our social events at smoke-free venues - bars and restaurants that are either entirely smoke-free or have separate smoke-free facilities.

We've heard our members complain over and over how much it stinks (literally) that DC is smoke-free but Arlington is not. Last year, the Virginia State Senate passed a smoking ban and Gov. Tim Kaine was poised to sign it, but the House
killed the bill on a 59-40 vote. Virginia is the last state to hold fast to a legal provision called the Dillon Rule that only allows localities the powers granted to them by the state. However, some communities like Alexandria and Norfolk are trying to get around those limitations and I hear Arlington may be next.

Until then, CRM will use its economic muscle to support businesses that voluntarily go smoke-free. The Arlington Civic Federation maintains the most thorough list of smoke-free restaurants in Arlington. Not on that list are several places that maintain separate smoke-free bars like Tallula, Summers, and Four Courts.

CRM will hold its first smoke-free event next Monday the 7th with our January Monthly Meetup at the new King Street Blues location in Courthouse. You can RSVP at the CRM website or at the Facebook event page!

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