Crystal City will soon be the home to dozens of early stage technology companies, housed in the just-opened Crystal Tech Fund coworking space.
Located on the 10th floor of 2231 Crystal Drive, the $50 million Crystal Tech Fund — founded by Paul Singh, an early partner in the venture capital firm 500 Startups – provides office space to companies while also giving each of them significant capital investments and entrepreneurial mentorship.
The fund’s office space opened this week with six companies inside, and partner Brooke Salkoff said the floor — which has an acre of space — can fit up to 30 or 40 companies. The idea isn’t to bring in new startups and be an incubator or accelerator, she said — the startups eligible for space must already have an average of $1 million in annual revenue.
“These startups need more money in order to grow,” Salkoff said. “We fund startups to scale nationwide, and it’s scalable because once they grow, there’s more space around Crystal City.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D) toured the space this morning and Gov. Terry McAuliffe will do the same tomorrow morning, meeting the companies, some of whom are D.C.-area natives and others that moved to Crystal City from other tech hotbeds like Austin, Texas. Warner was briefed on the concept by Singh and Vornado/Charles E. Smith President Mitchell Shear. Vornado contributed $10 million in investment capital as well as the space.
“The combination that’s taking place here is the kind of thing I want to see all over Virginia,” Warner told a group of reporters. “I think Crystal City is being remade. If we could create a tech entrepreneur hotbed here, that would be great for Virginia.”
Among the space’s first tenants are Power Supply, a platform that allows chefs to deliver healthy meals directly to customers, and SupplyHog, an e-commerce platform for contractors. Warner, a former tech investor and one of the founders of Nextel, asked each company to give him “an elevator pitch.”
“We’re going to find the best companies from around the world,” Singh said, “and bring them to Virginia.”
Several cherry trees were chopped down this week, while fully flowered, for a new landscape design in Rosslyn.
The trees were several of about a dozen planted in front of the Colonial Village Shopping Center, home to the new Ben’s Chili Bowl, along Wilson Blvd. Xtra Care Landscaping & Design was hired by the strip mall’s property manager to remove the trees, according to an Xtra Care employee.
“The manager just wants the shopping center to look better and to cut some trees down,” the employee told ARLnow.com. “There are going to be a lot of new plants going in and the whole center is going to be landscaped.”
The employee estimated the landscaping work will be completed by Friday.
Rosslyn has a cameo in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which opened to a record-setting $96.2 million in box office sales this past weekend.
The superhero flick is set in D.C., but much of the action centers around the high-rise headquarters of the spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D., which oddly appears to be built on Roosevelt Island. As a result, Rosslyn can be seen in the background of many shots.
“The filmmakers did an excellent job of showing off the Rosslyn skyline and waterfront (along with the National Mall) throughout the film,” one local moviegoer told ARLnow.com. “Most movies that take place in D.C. rarely get it right, but you can clearly see a number of Arlington landmarks like the Rosslyn skyline, River Place Apartments, and the Key Bridge Marriott.”
Some of that Rosslyn skyline is visible in the screenshot above, taken from a television commercial for the film.
As the weather has warmed up, Arlington’s box turtle population is coming out of hibernation and making its way onto roads and lawns. That has led county naturalists to ask for the community’s help in helping to protect the shelled reptiles.
While turtles have effective defensive mechanisms against predators, Arlington’s only native land turtle species is vulnerable to cars and lawn mowers, Long Branch Nature Center naturalist Cliff Fairweather wrote in an email to neighborhood newsletter editors.
“A box turtle’s shell can protect it from many dangers in nature, but danger from humans is another story,” Fairweather wrote. “Roads and traffic pose a particularly difficult challenge; even the box turtle’s portable fort is no match for a sedan. They are also vulnerable to lawn mowers; if you have box turtles in your neighborhood, check for them in your lawn before you mow. Sick and injured turtles can find help at the Long Branch Nature Center but we need your help to provide that care.”
Park Naturalist Rachel Tolman says there is no estimate on how many box turtles that live in Arlington, but said they are most common in meadows, parks and lawns, especially those that border forests.
“It’s difficult to get a good estimate for how many we have,” Tolman told ARLnow.com. “They are just hard to find. You can’t catch them on a game camera or bait for them. I’ve released a box turtle and have turned around five minutes later and couldn’t find it anymore.”
Tolman said the nature center rehabilitates about 40 injured turtles a year that residents bring in. To raise money for those efforts, the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation organizes an annual Turtle Trot 5K. This year, the race is on May 17 at 10:00 a.m. at Bluemont Park. The race is $30 for adults and $15 for children ages 12 and under.
Photo courtesy Rachel Tolman
Four Sisters Grill, a Vietnamese fast-casual restaurant coming to the former Fat Shorty’s space in Clarendon, is planning to open next week.
Owner Hoa Lai, the executive chef at Four Sisters Vietnamese Restaurant in Merrifield and owner of the new venture, said he plans to open the restaurant to the public on April 17. After holding a soft opening last month, Lai told ARLnow.com he pushed back his planned opening date to “iron out some of the kinks.”
The restaurant will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Sundays. There will be about 20 menu items ranging from $4 to $14 and Lai said the restaurant plans to serve beer.
(Updated at 6:05 p.m.) The $3 million renovation to Rocky Run Park in the Courthouse area are complete and the park is now open to the public.
The renovations, which were approved by the County Board in November 2012, include two lighted basketball courts, a lighted synthetic turf for drop-in play, a new playground area with equipment for 5-12 year-olds, a picnic shelter and bathrooms. The park, at 1109 N. Barton Street, had its mature trees preserved while the equipment and facilities were reorganized around them.
The renovations were funded through 2010 and 2012 Neighborhood Conservation funds, parks capital maintenance bonds and pay-as-you-go funds. The park came in under budget, according to parks officials. The plans to renovate the park have been in the works since 2009, according to Arlington County.
According to county Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Roberta Korzen, the park opened on Friday and there is an official ribbon-cutting planned for April 27 at 2:00 p.m.
Korzen said an earlier plan to build “stakeable art” in the park was scrapped.
“The ‘skateable’ art feature previously designed in Phase I design development and planned for installation with the Phase II construction activities was removed from the project,” she said via email. “During the final drawing development of the art feature, it was determined that the artistic expression and functionality of the sculpture could not be effectively realized. That area will instead feature a sculpted lawn and shade trees.”
(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) It’s cherry blossom season in the D.C. area, and the more than 1,000 trees that call Arlington home are beginning to bloom.
The most famous of the local cherry trees, those along the Tidal Basin in D.C., will be in peak bloom next week, from April 8-12, according to the National Park Service. Although spring officially began on March 20, the cherry blossoms blooming in places like Clarendon and Pentagon City are one of nature’s better indicators that warm weather is here to stay.
Arlington plants between 25 and 35 flowering cherry blossom trees each year, county Landscape and Forestry Supervisor Jamie Bartalon told ARLnow.com. The trees planted in Arlington include the Yoshino, Okame and Kwanzan varieties. The Yoshino cherry blossom is the primary species in the Tidal Basin in D.C. that attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Bartalon said most of the recent tree plantings are Okame trees, which are the pink flowering trees pictured above. The Yoshino trees are the plants with white flowers.
Starting Monday, April 7, the county will move from neighborhood to neighborhood cleaning the streets in an effort that will continue until June. All cars parked on roads marked for street sweeping should be moved to a driveway, garage or street that won’t be swept on the days the neighborhood’s sweeping is scheduled to take place.
Here’s the schedule for the next two weeks. Sweeping will start again with the same rotation on May 5 and June 9:
- April 7 – Arlington Forest, Barcroft, Buckingham Columbia Heights West, Forest Glen, Glencarlyn
- April 8 — Claremont, Columbia Forest, Douglas Park, Fairlington
- April 9 — Arlington East Falls Church, Williamsburg, Yorktown
- April 10 — Arlingwood, Chain Bridge, Country Club Hills/Gulf Branch, Old Glebe, Rock Spring, Stafford Albemarle Glebe
- April 11 — Bellevue Forest, Donaldson Run, Dover-Crystal, Maywood, North Highlands, Rivercrest, Riverwood, Woodmont
- April 14 — Ballston-Virginia Square, Cherrydale, Cherry Valley Nature Area, Glebewood, Old Dominion, Waycroft-Woodlawn, Waverly Hills
- April 15 – Clarendon-Courthouse, Colonial Village, Lyon Park, Lyon Village, North Rosslyn, Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights
- April 16 — Alcova Heights, Arlington Heights, Arlington View, Ashton Heights, Foxcroft Heights, Penrose
- April 17 — Aurora Highlands, Columbia Heights, Long Branch Creek, Nauck, Arlington Ridge/Forest Hills
- April 18 — Highland Park/Overlee Knolls, John M. Langston, Leeway Overlee, Madison Manor, Tara-Leeway Heights, Westover Village
- April 21 — Bluemont, Dominion Hills, Boulevard Manor
In the days between residential street sweeping, Arlington will perform street sweeping in commercial areas.
A 24-year-old Arlington native has opened a new kind of food shop in the Dominion Hills neighborhood.
Taste by Katie opened yesterday at 6017 Wilson Blvd, in the Dominion Hills Centre. The store focuses on reheatable meals to bring home to the family.
Chef Katie Gilman, who has operated Taste as a home-based catering and personal chef business since February 2013, has also worked as a banquet chef at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View hotel.
Taste will specialize in “seasonal ingredients and global flavors,” and will offer vegetarian and gluten-free options. Gilman is also offering catering for parties and business events, and offers “happy hour to go,” with selections of appetizers.
“Taste is meeting the needs of busy people who don’t have time to cook but appreciate sitting down to a gourmet meal once they get home,” Gilman said in a press release. “I’ll also work with customers to provide specialized meals that meet their needs.”
Taste offers 10 percent off meals that are pre-ordered online by 5:00 p.m. Fridays for the next week (Tuesday-Sunday). Meals can also be picked up at Taste’s storefront, which is open Tuesday-Friday from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. and on weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.
(Updated at 6:00 p.m.) The list of new restaurants and retailers coming to Reagan National Airport continues to grow.
Taylor Gourmet, &pizza, a politically themed restaurant named Grille District and a new Starbucks location are expected to open in Terminal B and C by the end of the year, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority announced this week. That’s in additional to the under-construction Ben’s Chili Bowl, Legal Seafoods, American Tap Room, Vineyard Vines, Pinkberry and Lacoste, which are expected to open within the next few months.
Along with the retail additions, Terminal A, which has been in the process of renovating, will complete its redesign by the spring of 2015, according to MWAA. The terminal will have a full-service spa, expanded security checkpoints, publicly accessible iPads and charging stations as well as yet-to-be-announced new retail and restaurant options.
The combined efforts go along with MWAA’s goal to either convert or reconstruct 95 percent of all restaurant and retail options at DCA and Dulles Airports.
Photos courtesy MWAA
The McDonald’s restaurant at 1823 N. Moore Street has closed to make way for a new residential skyscraper.
The fast food restaurant posted a sign on its entrance on N. Lynn Street declaring Sunday as its last day. The standalone location, one of the shortest buildings in central Rosslyn, will soon be torn down as part of JBG Companies’ ongoing construction in the area, which has also claimed the skybridges over the Metro station.
The initial timeline of the McDonald’s closure indicated the restaurant wouldn’t be demolished until May. Unfortunately for local office and apartment dwellers, the timing of the closure coincided with McDonald’s two-week free coffee promotion.
The apartment building will have 25,000 square feet of ground floor retail, and McDonald’s sign stated it would be closed “indefinitely,” leaving open the possibility that Rosslyn won’t be without a McDonald’s permanently.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) hosted an information briefing this morning on how low-income residents can file their taxes for free.
At the new Arlington Mill Community Center, Moran spoke briefly to a crowd of representatives from local nonprofits like Offender Aid and Restoration, AHC and from staffers at Arlington’s Department of Human Services, extolling the benefits of FreeFile, the free tax filing available to those who make $58,000 a year or less.
“The FreeFile program is a terrific example of how government and private businesses work together to help families take control of their finances,” Moran told the crowd of about 30. “Seventy percent of taxpayers in this country are eligible to file taxes for free.”
After Moran spoke, representatives from the IRS and the Intuit Tax Freedom Project walked those in attendance — at least two of whom wanted to electronically file their taxes on the spot — through the process. The talk was focused on not only saving low-income families money when filing, but making sure they understand potential refund money they’re entitled to.
“The Earned Income Tax Credit is the No. 1 poverty-fighting instrument in the world,” IRS Senior Tax Specialist Loren Johnson said.
Moran told ARLnow.com after his talk that despite the substantial average wealth of his constituents, he is still focused on making sure the financially struggling residents of the 8th Congressional District are as informed as possible two weeks before the April 15 filing deadline.
“We have thousands of people eligible for free filing who work hard, and they ought to be able to keep as much of their income as the law allows,” Moran said. “The representatives of the organizations here can now interpret what they learned to their constituents.”
Early Monday morning, Rodney P. Hunt’s home was broken into.
This normally would not be considered a noteworthy event outside of Hunt’s family and friends — burglaries happen every day in Arlington and every minute around the country.
Hunt’s house, however, was third-priciest home in the D.C. area as of May 2012. Located on Chain Bridge Road near the border with McLean, the 23,000 square foot home has an indoor basketball court, two-lane bowling alley, 15-car garage and sits on a cliff over the Potomac River. It was featured in 2010 on MTV Teen Cribs with Hunt’s son, Bradley.
Hunt is the former president and CEO of RS Information Systems, which he said he sold for $1.2 billion. He woke up to the sound of shattered glass at 4:45 a.m. — several windows in his entryway were broken — and went downstairs to find a man in his foyer and a woman he recognized sitting in the passenger seat of a black Nissan Altima in his gated driveway.
“It was pretty scary,” Hunt said as he, a police officer, a detective and an ARLnow.com reporter walked through his Mediterranean-style mansion. “I ran after the guy thinking I was a police officer. I wish I had called Arlington police when it happened.”
Hunt would call the police just after noon on Monday. The woman in the car, he said, was an assistant he saw the day before. Her name is Stacy, but she went by “Princess,” and she had asked him for a paycheck two days early — a request he refused to grant. He wasn’t sure what, if anything, was stolen, but said it looked like the burglars got away with some crystal ware.
Wearing a red “Ride or Die” T-shirt, he took ARLnow.com on an impromtu tour of his expansive home — to the basketball court he built for his son, Bradley (who also raps as Kid Named Breezy); the bowling alley he built and named after his father who once bowled a perfect game; the special garage-within-a-garage where he keeps the Nissan Maxima his wife bought him before she was killed by a drunk driver in 1993.
He says the house has fireplaces that were once owned by John F. Kennedy and Winston Churchill.
After it was featured on MTV, the house has gained notoriety for less positive reasons. It was scheduled to be sold at auction in September 2012 when the Washington Post reported Hunt owed Bank of America almost $10 million, but it was taken off the auction block after Hunt convinced the bank he could pay. It was back on the foreclosure market in early 2013, according to Washington Exec, but Hunt is still listed as the property’s owner, according to Arlington County’s property database.
Despite the coverage the home has received, Hunt said it’s the first time it has been broken into since he bought the property in 2003. Asked whether he was more surprised that the house was broken into, or whether it’s the first time it had been broken into, Hunt said it was an easy question.
“That it was broken into at all,” he said, launching into a description of the estate’s extensive security features.
The property has two gates, an elaborate security and alarm system — which Hunt said he forgot to turn on after returning late from watching basketball at a sports bar Sunday night — and has a steep hill entrance to the property.
“That’s just crazy,” he said of the boldness of the break-in.
Old man winter is losing his grip on the area as spring-like temperatures have finally arrived.
Aside from the sunny, blue skies, the arrival of spring can perhaps best evident by looking at the remains of a formerly two-story snow fort.
The snow fort, built by a 19-year-old Leeway-Overlee resident, once stood 12 feet high. Now, it’s a small pile of “snow rubble,” surrounded by an area of brown grass about the size of the fort’s 11-foot-by-11-foot base.
Photo courtesy @StuNagurka
Chef/owner Riyad Bouizar said he’s hoping to open the business April 15, but after a long, drawn-out construction and licensing process, the opening could be delayed even further. Bouizar signed the lease for the space in August and was hoping to open in December or January.
For the first month, Mazagan will only be open for dinner and late night, Bouizar said, after which it will start selling lunch. During the week, the bar and hookah lounge will be open until 1:00 a.m., and until 2:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
“This is something new to the neighborhood,” he said. “With the movie theater right next door it’s a chance for people to get a drink afterwards.”
The private hookah lounge, Bouizar said, will be a glass enclosure in the dining room. That way hookah smokers won’t feel like they are cut off from the rest of the patrons, but the non-smokers won’t have any secondhand smoke.