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Arlington County Fair Returns in Two Weeks

by Ethan Rothstein | July 23, 2014 at 3:55 pm | 1,263 views | No Comments

Arlington County Fair 2013The Arlington County Fair will kick off its 38th year in two weeks, starting Wednesday, Aug. 6 until Sunday, Aug. 10.

The fair will again be held on the grounds of the Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.). The fair starts at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday. As always, the fair is free to attend.

Just like last year, the fair will have a 5k run/walk, for which registration is still open, at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9. There will be multiple piglet races every day — including five on Friday — making sure no visitor will be in the park for more than a few hours without getting a chance to see one of the fair’s most popular attractions.

There will be “Cows-N-Corn milking demonstrations,” more than a dozen live bands, exhibitions by the Harlem Wizards basketball troupe, pony rides, an outdoor showing of “Frozen” and plenty of other outdoor activities. There will be rides, face painting and a Miss Virginia Senior America pageant.

No county fair would be complete without a full agenda of exhibition competitions, with categories ranging from extracted honey and preserves, baked goods (there are 14 categories just for cakes), needlework and textiles, ceramics and fine arts, photography, and herb, fruit and vegetable growing.

There are 13 food vendors signed up already and dozens of crafts and art vendors will be plying their wares next to booths from Arlington businesses and nonprofits.

File photo

Photos: Ben’s Chili Bowl Opens at DCA

by Morgan Fecto | July 23, 2014 at 2:40 pm | 1,054 views | No Comments

(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) Ben’s Chili Bowl opened its second Arlington location at Reagan National Airport this morning with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

In the pre-security section of B/C terminal of the airport, a crowd gathered to hear the Chuck Brown Band, listen to speakers and watch the Ali family, which owns Ben’s, cut the ribbon on the new restaurant. The Ben’s Chili Bowl location in Rosslyn opened in March as the first standaloen, brick-and-mortar Ben’s to open since the original in 1958.

“We have a lot of visitors to our original U Street location that come from all over the country, so now people who don’t have time can stop here on their way in or out of the city,” Virginia Ali, the widow of Ben’s founder Ben Ali, said. “It’s a very attractive location.”

Ben’s historian and former Marion Barry aid Bernard Demczuk was the MC of the opening, and handed out pamphlets detailing a history of Ben’s as well as instructions on how to “properly eat a Ben’s Chili Bowl Classic chili dog.” He spoke about the late “Godfather of Go-Go” Chuck Brown — who was a famous Ben’s customer along with Bill Cosby and President Barack Obama — before introducing the band.

He also remarked on Reagan’s number of annual visitors; according to the airport, more than 20 million passengers flew in and out of the airport last year.

“That’s pretty good traffic for Ben’s Chili Bowl,” Demczuk said.

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board Member Warner Session spoke briefly after the band played its first set of songs. He said that MWAA is elated to have a Ben’s airport location.

“I live in the neighborhood and as you can see I’ve probably eaten one chili dog too many,” Session joked.

Kamal Ali was the last to speak before he and his family cut the ceremonial ribbon. Ali thanked the airport and the ceremony’s event planners, and also mentioned his late father.

“I know dad is looking down on us,” he said.

The band continued to play while Ben’s employees served their first customers, and those waiting in line to get their half-smokes and fries danced and clapped along. The band also promoted its new single and album “Beautiful Life,”  which was released today.

Inside Ben’s, two flat-screen monitors played a slideshow of the Ali’s family pictures, pictures from other Ben’s locations and footage of the U street location’s appearance on the Travel Channel show “Man Versus Food.”

“They are going to do very well here, trust me,” one woman waiting in line said. “There’s going to be a line forever.”

“Investors” Choose The Green Spoon at Startup Smackdown

by Ethan Rothstein | July 23, 2014 at 1:15 pm | 1,149 views | No Comments

(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) Gluten-free food delivery company The Green Spoon was the people’s choice among Arlington startups at last night’s ARLive Startup Smackdown event in Crystal City.

Green Spoon founder Hanson Cheng and his team served guests lemon garlic chicken, cauliflower mash and truffled mushrooms, earning $1.48 million in “investment.” Every guest was given $100,000 in fake $10,000 bills to invest in their favorite companies. A total of $11.26 million in “venture capital” was invested.

In second place was Encore, a company based in Rosslyn’s ÜberOffices that gives companies advice on what to tweet, when and how often. Encore received $1.25 million in “investment,” just edging out Giftrocker, a gift certificate and e-commerce platform, which brought in $1.18 million.

“I’m stunned,” Cheng said after it was announced that Green Spoon won the competition. The Green Spoon also won the contest for Best Entrée at Taste of Arlington in April. “There are all these companies with amazing services and the fact that we’re even in this room is crazy. I’m ecstatic.”

Cheng and his team won a lunch with venture capitalist Paul Singh, founder of Crystal Tech Fund, whose offices hosted the event.

Many of the 100+ guests at the event remarked on the diversity of the companies, both in the products they sell and the stage of their growth. One company, RoadFan, made its public debut at the event while another, Boldfoot socks, had a chance to show its designs to customers in physical form for the first time.

“This is the first time we’re throwing it out to the world,” RoadFan co-founder Jason Waxberg said. His company is a platform to allow fans of teams gather in a communal spot in any city to watch games together. “To be in the same room as Encore and Distil Networks, who are at the forefront of D.C. startups, it’s great exposure.”

Dozens of members of the Arlington community showed up to network, attempt to create partnerships and see the future of business in the county. Ryan Halpin works in a D.C.-based accounting firm that specializes in technology and was hoping to entice a few new clients.

“I think all the companies here are pretty impressive in their own way,” Halpin said. “It’s interesting to see where they’re all at. For me an event like this is an obvious fit. It’s not your typical networking event.”

The entrepreneurs were all given money to invest in the other companies, and all of them glowed about the communal experience of starting a new business.

“Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey,” Boldfoot founder Brad Christmann said. “It’s cool to be here and talk shop. There’s nothing cutthroat, everyone is genuinely excited to see everyone do well.”

ARLnow.com hosted the event with the Crystal City Business Improvement District, Click, Disruption Corporation — which owns Crystal Tech Fund — Grade A Marketing and The Falcon Lab. Below is the complete list of companies that participated:

Disclosure: The Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser

Crystal Twilighter 5K Returns Saturday

by ARLnow.com | July 23, 2014 at 11:40 am | 313 views | No Comments

Start of 2011 Crystal City Twilighter 5K (courtesy Crystal City BID)Crystal City will host the annual Crystal City Twilighter 5K race on Saturday.

The summer race, organized by Pacers, is dubbed ”the hottest 5K in town.” It kicks off at 8:30 p.m. and is followed by a post-race party. Registration is $40 for adults over the age of 18, but $20 for those 18 years old or younger.

The Arlington County Police Department is planning on closing a number of roads to make way for the race. From ACPD:

The following lane closures will be in effect between 6:30 p.m. and 11:15 p.m.

  • Northbound lanes of Crystal Drive between 23rd Street and 20th Street
  • Southbound lanes of Crystal Drive between 23rd Street and 20th Street
  • A single southbound access lane from 20th Street to the parking garage entrance at 2100 Crystal Drive will be provided.
  • A single southbound exit lane will be provided at the 2200 Crystal Drive exit with access to 23rd Street.
  • Note, there will be parking and limited access restrictions in the horseshoe driveway at 2121 Crystal Drive starting at noon.

The following lane closures will be in effect between 8:00 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.:

  • Northbound lanes of Crystal Drive between 23th Street and 12th Street
  • One southbound lane of Crystal Drive between 20th Street and 15th Street. Western-most southbound lane between 15th and 20th Streets to remain open to provide parking garage access.
  • Westbound lane of S. 12th Street between Crystal Drive and Long Bridge Drive.
  • North and South bound lanes of Long Bridge Drive from 12th Street South to Boundary Channel.
  • East and West bound lanes of Boundary Channel between Long Bridge Drive and Connector Road.
  • Both directions of 10th Street between Long Bridge Drive and S. Ball Street.
  • Both directions of 6th Street between Long Bridge Drive and S. Ball Street.
  • Both directions of S. Ball Street between 6th and 10th Streets.

Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser

County Board Sympathetic to Taxi Drivers in Uber Dispute

by Ethan Rothstein | July 23, 2014 at 10:30 am | 1,649 views | No Comments

The County Board discusses the CIP 07/19/14County Board members weighed in on the ongoing Uber and Lyft controversy during Saturday’s monthly meeting, largely expressing support for the taxi drivers and companies.

None of the County Board members expressed an explicit desire to ban Uber, citing its popularity, but Board Chair Jay Fisette, Vice Chair Mary Hynes and Board member Walter Tejada each expressed sympathy for the county’s taxi drivers — who have organized protests of Uber and Lyft — who are losing business to the ridesharing services.

“As a Board, as individuals, there is a recognition that some of these new services have stolen some people’s hearts or gotten their business because of the technology they provide and some of the customer service they provide,” Fisette said. “We are very respectful of the drivers… that do need to make a living in this community and do a fine job of it, and then we need to figure out as a state and as a community what authority we have and how we might effect and take advantage of that authority as that unfolds.”

Uber’s UberX service and Lyft allow smartphone users to book rides with non-professional drivers. The drivers drive their own cars and Uber and Lyft don’t have licenses to operate as taxi or car service companies. The lack of regulatory oversight led the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a cease and desist order against the companies, but both Uber and Lyft have continued to operate in the state.

Most recently, eight Northern Virginia taxi companies — including Arlington Blue Top Cabs — have filed a lawsuit requesting an injunction against the two companies, requesting a judge order them to stop operations in the state before the DMV and Attorney General Mark Herring make a ruling on their requests for operating authority.

“I thought the cease and desist order from the state was very appropriate,” Tejada said. “Who knows what other issues are going on that we don’t know about because these [companies] are not regulated. I want to make sure the cab drivers, who are working very hard in this area, get the respect they have earned. These are hard-working individuals, and some of these companies charge them an arm and a leg to operate a cab. I hope that everyone will indeed play by the rules.”

Only John Vihstadt, the lone non-Democrat on the County Board, sang a different tune in responding to the issue, remarking about the popularity of services while pointing out he’s a loyal Arlington Red Top Cab customer.

“I think we need to keep in mind that the marketplace is responding to a need and responding to a demand,” Vihstadt said. “Competition is a good thing and we should not stifle innovation… At the same time, I think we need to consider the current regulatory scheme that we have for our established cab companies to allow them to be more competitive and able to better respond to the needs of the marketplace.”

Hynes pointed out that while Uber and Lyft have grabbed a sizable portion of the market share, they leave out customers who don’t have access to smartphones.

“The state has to explore how you make sure this service is available to all the people who might need it and that nobody is dealt out of the process by their age, disability or income,” she said. “It’s not just about the young people who use Uber and Lyft, but it’s really how it functions as a piece of our transportation system overall.”

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | July 23, 2014 at 9:30 am | 965 views | No Comments

Fluorescent office lights can be seen as reflections in a window overlooking Reagan National Airport

Vihstadt Outraising Howze — County Board member John Vihstadt is outraising Democratic challenger Alan Howze ahead of the upcoming November election. Vihstadt, who is running as an independent, has raised $33,773 to Howze’s $6,801. [InsideNova]

‘Revenge of the Understudies’ at Signature — They prepare for roles that they rarely get to actually play, at least in front of a paying audience. On Saturday, however, the understudies at Signature Theatre will take center stage for the annual “Revenge of the Understudies” cabaret. Tickets to either of the show’s two performances — at 9:00 and 11:00 p.m. — are $25. [Washington Post]

Ben’s Chili Bowl Opening at DCA — Ben’s Chili Bowl will be holding a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new Reagan National Airport location this morning. Bill Cosby won’t be there, but the Chuck Brown Band will be performing. The restaurant is located before the security checkpoints in the B/C terminal.

Courthouse Square Designs to be Unveiled Tomorrow

by Ethan Rothstein | July 22, 2014 at 3:45 pm | 1,843 views | No Comments

Courthouse Square mapThree potential designs for the re-envisioned Courthouse Square area will be presented to the community tomorrow (Wednesday) night.

The workshop will be held on the third floor of the office building at 1310 N. Courthouse Road from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The public will see three draft design concepts for the area that include plans for open space, building location and design, cultural resources, circulation (moving cars, pedestrians and bicycles through the area) and sustainability.

After the workshop, county staff and the Envision Courthouse Square Working Group will take the community’s recommendations and, along with county planning staff, formulate a draft revision to the 1993 Courthouse Sector Plan Addendum, to be brought before the Arlington County Board this winter.

The workshop could be the final chance for the public to engage in person with the working group before the plans start to take a more definite shape. There have already been two community workshops — one in March and another in April — as well as an online survey that revealed respondents have more open space and an outdoor movie program on the top of their wish list for the area.

Courthouse Square is defined as the 9-acre area around the large surface parking lot between Courthouse Plaza and the Arlington County Justice Center. It’s bounded by N. Courthouse Road to the east, Clarendon Blvd to the north, Courthouse Plaza to the west and just south of 14th Street N. to the south.

Image via Arlington County

Conversion of Office Building to Micro-Unit Apartments Approved

by ARLnow.com | July 22, 2014 at 3:15 pm | 2,784 views | No Comments

"WeLive" bulding renderingA vacant office building in Crystal City will become a unique apartment building under a plan approved by the Arlington County Board on Saturday.

WeWork, a company that specializes in co-working office space, plans to gut the 1960s-era office building at 2221 S. Clark Street and convert it into a community-oriented residential building featuring “micro-unit” apartments and large common areas. Many of the 252 apartments in the 12-story building will be 360 square feet or less.

“The Crystal City project will be WeWork’s first residential building, bringing the same benefits of co-working — shared amenities, a sense of community and opportunities for collaboration — to a residential building,” the county notes in a press release. “The project will offer an entirely new type of apartment living within walking distance of the Crystal City Metro Station, several bus stops and Capital Bikeshare stations, and will serve as a model for adaptive reuse of an outdated building until redevelopment can occur.”

WeWork signed a 20-year lease with property owner Vornado. The building is expected to be torn down after WeWork vacates the space, making way for a realignment of S. Clark and Bell Streets, as called for in the long-range Crystal City Sector Plan.

“This temporary conversion of an aging, vacant office building into an innovative live-work space is an example of how we continue to reinvent Crystal City as a more attractive, vibrant place that will attract more entrepreneurs and tech workers,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said, in a statement.

In addition to extensive interior renovations, the building’s exterior “fins” will be painted with stripes of bright colors, an “experimental exterior color application” that will change in appearance as one moves around the building. Apartment dwellers will have access to 154 parking spaces and 94 bike parking spaces.

The project’s community benefits include “streetscaping, sidewalk improvements on 23rd Street, and outdoor areas including, play and lounge zones and a community garden.”

Dubbed “WeLive,” the apartment conversion is one of several tech-oriented projects happening in Crystal City, including the opening of the TechShop and the Crystal Tech Fund.

Photo (bottom) via Google Maps

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