The Ballston Business Improvement District (BID) will be showing off some “virtual statues” of local sports figures at Taste of Arlington to highlight the upcoming launch of its new mobile device app.
Users will be able to walk up to one of the posted markers, scan a code with their phone, and see a brief video of a sports star. The first three markers will be unveiled on Sunday, May 19, at Taste of Arlington. Each features one of three local sports stars: Washington Capitals team captain Alex Ovechkin, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall or D.C. United midfielder Chris Pontius.
Visitors do not have to bring a mobile device in order to try out the virtual statue markers. Volunteers will be on hand with iPads to demonstrate how the technology works, and to show users how to get a photo of themselves with the virtual statues (see rendering above).
“This is relatively new,” said Ballston BID Chief Executive Officer Tina Leone. “We don’t know of any other examples where this technology has been used before like this.”
The technology will be a small portion of a larger Ballston BID app. More markers with codes eventually will be installed throughout Ballston. Once users download the mobile app, they will be able to scan the markers and learn about the importance of that particular site, or even see a list of events that will take place there. For instance, a marker near Welburn Square could list upcoming dates of the Ballston Farmers Market.
“We want people to enjoy this and try the technology so they get used to seeing this around Ballston,” said Leone. “We’re employing this in stages over time, probably a one to two year period, because there are so many aspects we want to include and we want to do it right. Eventually there will be mobile WiFi hotspots throughout Ballston and there will be a map showing those. This will be a really robust mobile application.”
Although the full application is still in the planning stages, another idea is to have markers posted in the windows of restaurants and businesses.
“This is where everything is going. Everyone uses their mobile device, it’s the first thing that people do,” Leone said. “If you’re walking by a retailer and don’t know them, what do you do? Whip out your mobile device and research it. We want people to know what’s going on here.”
Leone said the virtual statues and the new app bring together some of the best parts of Ballston.
“We have these amazing minds behind the scenes that create this technology. We’re trying to bring this technology and personality to the streets,” she said. “We want to showcase the great minds in Ballston. This is a great marriage of bringing efforts together and bringing our brand to the public.”
Besides the virtual markers, visitors to Taste of Arlington will see a number of other changes. There will be more child-friendly activities at the Washington Capitals and Wizards KidZone, an expanded beer and wine tent and picnic tables. Booths will be repositioned, and some eliminated, to allow for more walking room. Visitors will pay the same price for tasting tickets as they did last year ($30), but will get more tasting tickets (10) for the money.
“We encourage people to come out because we’ve made some great improvements this year,” said Leone. “We’re really excited about it.”
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Mall owner Forest City Enterprises has been in the planning stages for major renovations to the 26-year-old, 580,000 square foot facility since at least 2010. Today (Wednesday) the Washington Business Journal reported that that the company revealed preliminary plans and renderings for the renovations at an industry conference in National Harbor.
“The rebranded Ballston Center at 4238 Wilson Blvd. would include more than 300 apartment units, three levels of office space and a significantly reconfigured retail space,” WBJ reported.
Tina Leone, CEO of the recently-formed Ballston Business Improvement District, said her organization is looking forward to the positive changes the redevelopment could bring to the area.
“It is very exciting and we are so pleased to be working with Forest City to further improve our wonderful neighborhood,” Leone said. “The design calls for an exterior renovation that will complement the recent developments that have occurred here, such as Shooshan Company’s Founders Square and JBG’s gorgeous 800 N. Glebe building. This change, along with the BID’s plans to beautify Wilson Boulevard, will make for a much improved, more inviting streetscape to our main street of Ballston.”
Forest City has not yet submitted its plans to Arlington County for approval.
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Wakefield Captures District Championship — On Friday, the Wakefield High School boy’s basketball team defeated Mount Vernon 69-60 to become the National District champions. Wakefield is now competing in the Northern Region regional tournament. Yorktown, which fell 42-82 to Wakefield in the National District tournament, is also competing as a lower seed in the Northern Region tournament. [Northern Virginia Sports]
Neighbors Want Security Guard at New Homeless Shelter — Residents of the Woodbury Heights Condominium in Courthouse are pressing Arlington officials to place a 24-hour security guard at the county’s planned year-round homeless shelter at 2020 14th Street N. Residents say they’re worried about an increase in crime as a result of the shelter moving next to their building. A resident’s Freedom of Information Act request revealed that there have been just under 6 police responses to the existing shelter per year, on average, between 1994 and 2011, mostly for alcohol-related incidents. [Arlington Mercury]
Arlington Tourism Tax Bill Passes General Assembly — A bill that would restore Arlington’s 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge is destined for the desk of Gov. Bob McDonnell. The state legislature approved the bill, which will restore the tax authority — which is used to fund tourism promotion — for three years. [Sun Gazette]
Conservative Tech Biz Booming in Arlington — Business is booming for a small Arlington-based conservative digital advocacy company. The co-founder of Red Edge, which is based above an antique shop in Lyon Park, says he expects the business to double or triple this year as Republicans look to make up ground lost to Democrats in the online sphere. [New York Times]
Registration Open for Ballston LaunchPad Challenge — Registration is now open for the Ballston LaunchPad Challenge. The contest challenges entrepreneurs to come up with the “next great idea,” for a chance to pitch their innovation to billionaire Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis. [Ballston BID]
Ted Leonsis, the billionaire owner of the Washington Capitals and Wizards, says Ballston could soon be known as a haven for entrepreneurs and the “creative class.”
Leonsis made the remarks at a launch event Thursday night for the new Ballston Business Improvement District, which has announced a new campaign to brand Ballston as “home to some of the world’s brightest minds and most innovative industries.” The campaign will capitalize on the fact that the community is home to the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Virginia Tech Research Center, and various science and technology-related companies.
Leonsis, whose Capitals practice at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston, said he’s encouraged to see the BID unifying Ballston’s public agencies, private companies and academia around the theme of innovation.
“The community is really coming together to try to stimulate everything about the creative class,” he said.
As part of the BID’s campaign, Leonsis, a former AOL executive, is helping to conduct and underwrite a business competition for entrepreneurs called the Ballston LaunchPad Challenge. He said the winning business idea may receive funding from the $450 million investment fund he set up with AOL co-founder Steve Case.
“We’re here to help and mentor and to help find the next great companies that will start their businesses here and will create employment for residents in Northern Virginia,” Leonsis said.
“Right now there’s this mythology that the only great companies that can get started happen out in Silicon Valley, and that’s not what we adhere to or we believe,” he continued. “We think that there’s a creative class, that there’s unbelievable gifts, talent and infrastructure in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. and Maryland — and we want to help stimulate that. We think that there are great young entrepreneurs walking among us.”
Leonsis said the contest, which is just one component of the BID’s overall branding and business improvement effort, will pay dividends in terms of stimulating economic activity in the area.
“This is a small part of this overall branding and outreach program, but I think it can be a very important part, because jobs are still the number one issue facing our country,” he said. “There’s no more noble, higher calling for an individual to create a company, see your vision come to life, and to employ people. Families get supported, kids get to go to good schools in the community, you start to shop in the mall, you start to eat in the restaurants, and the money stays within the community.”
“This is very strategic not just for Ballston, but for our country,” Leonsis added. ”If we are to make an investment… we want a commitment that you’ll stay in this community that’s treating you and supporting you so well.”
Leonsis said that small business in particular can help ”get young people get back to work” and out of their parents’ homes.
“We should never lose sight of the importance of small business,” he said. “Big companies right now retain earnings and shed jobs. Small businesses are creating all of the new opportunities and all of the innovation that’s keeping us competitive against global competition.”
Leonsis started and ended by addressing a topic that was on the minds of many — one concerning the return of dozens of wealthy individuals to the Ballston area.
“Thank you, and let’s go Caps,” he said, concluding his remarks.
Disclosure: The Ballston Business Improvement District is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
The BID, formed last year after the Arlington County Board approved its creation in December 2010, is busy shaping Ballston’s identity around the area’s strength in the science and technology sector. It’s emphasizing entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity as part of its new branding campaign.
“Ballston is home to an impressive roster of influential, innovative organizations including DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Project Agency], NSF [National Science Foundation], Accenture and Virginia Tech,” the BID said in a press release. “Ballston is the place where innovation and entrepreneurship converge. Where the best ideas are discovered and thrive with the support they need to flourish.”
To help launch the branding campaign, the BID will be holding an innovation competition. The “Ballston LaunchPad Challenge,” as it’s called, will allow entrepreneurs to compete for a chance to pitch ideas to Ted Leonsis, the billionaire owner of the Washington Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. (The Capitals practice at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston.)
After soliciting applications this month, a panel will select 10 finalists who will the work with mentors to “develop their ideas into saleable business plans.” The winner of the competition will be announced in November and will be eligible to potentially receive seed money, donated workspace and “continuing mentorship.”
On his blog, Leonsis said the competition will help Ballston become known as “a haven for startups.”
“This is a smart way to incentivize businesses to open and grow in Arlington,” he wrote.
The competition will be formally announced Thursday evening at the former Chevy’s Restaurant space (4238 Wilson Blvd) at Ballston Common Mall, which for the next 10 months will host some events connected with the contest. In addition, the BID will provide free public Wifi and seating in the restaurant’s former outdoor dining area.
Other initiatives planned by the BID include business networking events like breakfasts, lunches and happy hours; “public labeling” at the Ballston Metro station, restaurants and in the Ballston Common Mall food court; a “digital/virtual statue to showcase the innovators already working in Ballston”; public art and light installations; and the creation of mini-parks and 4-5 additional Wifi hotspots around the neighborhood.
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
AWLA Wins ‘Best in Shelter’ Contest — The Animal Welfare League of Arlington will receive $50,000 in prize money after one of its dogs won the “Best in Shelter” contest. Gaston, a four-year-old American Bulldog mix, received the most votes in the contest, which was sponsored by author Martha Grimes. ”The prize money will help us do even more for all the homeless animals that come into our shelter, including vaccines, medications, surgeries, and enrichment,” said AWLA Executive Director Neil Trent. Gaston was propelled to victory, at least in part, thanks to a music video produced by AWLA supporters.
Leonsis to Address Ballston BID — Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis will be the keynote speaker at the first annual meeting of the new Ballston Business Improvement District this evening. Leonsis is expected to talk about “entrepreneurship and the future of Ballston” at the meeting, which is being held from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Westin Arlington Gateway (801 N. Glebe Road). The meeting is open to local residents but attendees are asked to RSVP in advance. [Ballston BID]
Officer’s Donation Noted at Shirlington Library — When Lt. Col. James R. Mailler died in 2011, he left a donation to one of his favorite places — the Shirlington Branch Library. Now Lt. Col. Mailler’s donation is being recognized with a plaque near the newspapers, where he used to spend much of his time. [Library Blog]
Flickr pool photo by Alex
The opening of the revamped Ballston Farmers Market is not taking place today, as originally scheduled.
The farmers market will now hold its grand opening on Thursday, June 28, according to Ballston Business Improvement District spokesman Will Marlow. Local rockabilly band Jumpin’ Jupiter will provide live music for the grand opening.
Starting this year, the farmers market is being managed by FRESHFARM Markets, which also runs the Crystal City Farmers Market and numerous other markets in D.C. and Maryland. The market will from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays through October 25, at Welburn Square (between N. Taylor and Stuart Streets).
Marlow said the market may hold a “soft opening” on Thursday, June 21, but cautioned that it’s not 100 percent certain that the soft opening will actually take place.
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Mark Center Parking Capped — A roughly 2,000 spot parking cap is being put in place at the Mark Center in Alexandria, thanks to language placed in a federal appropriations bill. The cap should avert a feared traffic congestion nightmare around the Mark Center, located at the Seminary Road exit off of I-395. Thousands of Department of Defense jobs from Arlington and elsewhere are being transferred to the Mark Center, but transportation infrastructure improvement projects around the Center are still underway. [Rep. Jim Moran]
Ballston BID’s New Director — The new Ballston Business Improvement District formally announced last week that it has hired Tina Leone as its first executive director. Leone was previously president and CEO of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce. [Ballston BID]
Cemetery Transfer May Not Be Necessary — A federal review of operations at Arlington National Cemetery concluded last week that a proposed transfer of the cemetery from the Army to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs may no longer be necessary. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief
Ballston BID to Support Mall Redevelopment — The head of the newly-formed Ballston Business Improvement District says one of her first goals will be “redeveloping” Ballston Common Mall. The BID is trying to get people to think of Ballston as a science and technology hub, rather than a place best known for its “down-on-its-heels” mall. [Connection Newspapers]
‘Winter Wonderland’ Coming to Clarendon — On Saturday, Dec. 10, a family-friendly ‘Winter Wonderland’ event will be held at the Market Common Clarendon shopping center. Santa Claus is expected to arrive at the event by hitching a ride on a fire truck, according to an event flyer. [Market Common Clarendon]
County Announces Human Right Award Winners — From a press release: “A community group and three outstanding individuals are Arlington’s 2011 James B. Hunter Human Rights Award winners.” [Arlington County]
Problems at PBS NewsHour — The PBS NewsHour is facing serious challenges. The hour-long news program, which is produced at the WETA facilities in Shirlington, has been shedding staff and viewers. A number of top news and business personnel have left recently, while viewership is down 11 percent year-over-year. Meanwhile, a top sponsor is pulling out at the end of the year, leaving a $2 million hole in the NewsHour’s budget. [New York Times]
Elementary School Goes Solar — A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at Glebe Elementary School yesterday to mark the installation of a 1.1 kilowatt solar panel system. The solar panels will not only generate enough clean energy to power one classroom, but will also serve as an educational tool. Students, parents and teachers will be able to monitor the system’s electricity output using any web-enabled device or smartphone. [Arlington Public Schools]
Park Gives Marymount New Athletic Facilities — Long Bridge Park is more than an attractive new green space to Arlington’s only four-year university. Marymount University paid about $2 million toward the cost of one of the three multi-use synthetic-turf fields at the park. In exchange, the school’s Division III soccer and lacrosse teams will utilize the field as their “home base.” When the field is not in use by the school, it will be available for use by the public. [Sun Gazette]
Ballston BID Director Hired — The newly-created Ballston Business Improvement District has a new executive director. Tina Leone is leaving her post as president of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce to run the BID. [Alexandria Times]