The proposed site plan amendment for the project will go before the Arlington County Board at its meeting this Saturday, Jan. 25. The Shooshan Company hopes to bulldoze the distinctive blue building at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Glebe Road and replace it with a nine-story office building — to be used to house the Marymount University programs now in the Blue Goose — and a 15-story residential high-rise.
The request for increased density comes with a proposed donation of $1.15 million toward the Ballston beaver pond restoration project and improvements to the Custis Trail, and a $4.57 million contribution to the Ballston Metro west entrance project.
County Planner Samia Byrd said the contributions would connect the Custis Trail to a cycle track that the developer plans to build along Fairfax Drive. The final designs for the improvements “are still under review,” Byrd said, but they could include building a planted buffer between the existing sidewalk and Fairfax Drive and making the sidewalk smoother for pedestrians and cyclists.
The contribution to the Metro entrance is just one chunk of the proposed $75 million project. The entrance, which is partially designed and planned for the intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Vermont Street, still has no timeline for construction, according to Byrd.
The Ballston Pond restoration project is already underway. Logs were removed that were holding the water in the pond and it drained completely by November. Construction on Ballston Pond to improve the habitat for wildlife is expected to begin in the spring.
The redevelopment, and demolition of the infamous building, drew criticism from historic preservation group Preservation Arlington, which named it one of the most “Endangered Public Places.” The developer has since agreed to keep some of the blue panels as elements in the new buildings, while others will be donated to local museums.
The “historical attributes” of the 1960s-era building will be “incorporated into the design of the proposed office building and landscaping in the public plaza and courtyard,” according to the county staff report.
Other community benefits proposed in the site plan include a $75,000 public art contribution, a $106,000 utility underground fund contribution, a $567,000 Transportation Demand Management contribution over 30 years, a public plaza and walkway, a $258,000 contribution to the Affordable Housing Investment Fund and LEED Gold certification.
Construction will remove the surface parking lot on the site and, because the office building will be largely used for education purposes, the Shooshan Company has requested a reduced mandatory parking ratio. The residential building includes 3,000 square feet of ground floor retail and 267 units, some of which will be committed affordable housing.
County Gets $500k for Beaver Pond Project — Arlington County has received a $500,000 state grant for a project to improve the Ballston beaver pond. “The $2.7 million improvement project, paid for mostly from stormwater funds, includes changing the flow pattern to keep water in the pond longer, allowing wetland plants to remove nutrients and other pollutants before it flows out,” the county said in a press release. “Construction is expected to begin in the summer 2014.” [Arlington County]
Fisette’s Disclosure Doesn’t Include Husband — County Board Chairman Jay Fisette’s annual financial disclosure did not include the finances of his husband. Fisette was married in D.C. this past September, but Fisette says he’s not required to include his spouse in the disclosure since their marriage is not recognized under Virginia law. [Washington Post]
Howze Tops Fundraising Battle — Democratic County Board hopeful Alan Howze has raised the most money of any County Board candidate, with $16,245. Fellow Democrat Cord Thomas appears to be completely self-funding his campaign, while independent candidate John Vihstadt’s donors include a number of local Republicans. [Blue Virginia]
APS Budget Forum Dates Set — Arlington Public Schools will hold three community forums on the upcoming FY 2015 budget. The forums will be held on Jan. 22, Jan. 29 and Feb. 3. [Arlington Public Schools]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
The building, at 1000 N. Glebe Road, is slated to be torn down to make way for two new buildings: one with 165,00 square feet of office and instructional space, and another with 267 residential units and 3,000 square feet of retail space.
The 1960s-era building was named one of the most “Endangered Historic Places” by Preservation Arlington last year. Many local residents, however, say it’s an eyesore.
“This building represents an excellent example of mid-century architecture that is quickly disappearing,” Preservation Arlington wrote of the Blue Goose. “It is one of those buildings which engender strong feelings but it also represents a period of time in architectural design that is just beginning to be fully appreciated.”
In a blog post today, Preservation Arlington said some of the panels will be used as part of the retail space and for a a historical marker to be placed on the site. Other panels will be donated to local museums.
“The Arlington Historical Society has requested pieces for their Museum on South Arlington Ridge Road,” a Preservation Arlington representative told ARLnow.com. “Another museum related to a long term tenant of the building has expressed interest.”
(Before Marymount moved in, the building housed government agencies.)
The Arlington Planning Commission will consider the site plan for the Blue Goose redevelopment tonight at 7:00 p.m., in Room 307 of the county government building at 2100 Clarendon Blvd. The Arlington County Board is expected to approve the redevelopment at its meeting later this month.
Located next to Rustico restaurant in the Liberty Center development, the fountain is privately owned and operated by property owner the Shooshan Company, according to county officials.
It has been on for years and children have played in it during the summers, but the Shooshan Company voluntarily turned it off this past fall after county inspectors discovered it had never had a health and safety license.
In fact, it was only discovered to be permit-less when a county Department of Human Services inspector was driving by and noticed the fountain and realized it hadn’t been inspected.
“The fountain at Liberty Center didn’t have the right water monitoring and quality control,” DHS spokesman Kurt Larrick said. “If children have access to it, then the water quality needs to be regulated. They have to follow the same code as other water features.”
The Shooshan Company has applied for a license, Larrick said, but the county sent back their plan, asking for it to include water quality measuring and a monitoring schedule, as well as signage and a proposal for remote shut-off capability. The “ball is back in their court,” Larrick said.
Calls to the Shooshan Company were not immediately returned.
The fountain is considered “an interactive water feature” which, according to county ordinance, needs to have lifeguards and fencing, but, as is the case with a similar fountain at Penrose Square on Columbia Pike, the county can waive those requirements if they are deemed unnecessary, Larrick said.
Flickr pool photo by Maryva2
Update at 8:45 p.m. — First Down Sports Bar and Grill had to shut down tonight, also due to a burst water pipe. From the businesses’ Facebook page: “We have had to close down suddenly for tonight because of a water pipe burst. Hopefully, we’ll be back up and running tomorrow. We will have an update on here as soon as we figure it out. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.”
Update at 8:35 p.m. — Tonight’s Arlington County Democratic Committee debate for County Board candidates was briefly evacuated tonight when a reported burst pipe triggered the fire alarm in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association building.
(Updated at 11:40 p.m.) The Regal Ballston Common 12 theater was closed tonight due to flooding from ruptured water pipes.
Three pipes burst this afternoon, sending water spilling across several floors of the theater, we’re told. A clean-up is underway and the theater is hoping to reopen tomorrow (Thursday).
The water also impacted elevators in the mall building.
“Please be advised this afternoon, the sprinkler pipe broke in the Ballston Mall movie theatre and water is going into the freight elevator,” said a memo sent to workers in the offices above the mall. “As of right now, all elevators are out of service.”
Burst water pipes have plagued homes and businesses across Arlington this week, as temperatures dipped into the teens and single digits. The Trader Joe’s store in Clarendon reopened this morning after a burst water pipe last night. Also last night, the Doorways Family Home in North Arlington, which houses homeless families and victims of domestic violence, was closed when “a sprinkler head in a second floor ceiling burst due to freezing conditions” and flooded the floors down to the basement.
The women and children who were in the home were evacuated to hotels. Restoration crews worked today to make the house habitable again.
In addition to the Arlington County Police Department, WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel says Transit Police were on the scene investigating the report of a suspicious male subject aboard an inbound train.
Few details are being released right now, but police scanner traffic first indicated the suspect may have lit WD-40 on fire inside the Ballston Metro station or inside a Metrorail car. Scanner traffic also indicates police are interviewing Metro employees at the East Falls Church station, where reports suggest the suspect may have gotten off the train.
Orange Line trains had been single tracking between Ballston and East Falls Church while police searched the station and the train, but the train in question has been released and was taken out of service. Normal service has resumed but some delays remain.
Photo courtesy @SRod17
Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
That’s the attitude of Distil Networks Founder and CEO Rami Essaid, and it is what has driven his company from something he built while living with his parents and crashing on his co-founders’ couches in 2011 to a thriving business with hundreds of clients and millions of dollars in funding and revenue.
Distil started out as a web scraping prevention company. Essaid was selling cybersecurity for a Northern Virginia company — he declined to say which one — when he realized that almost every company he was dealing with was having its content stolen by web scrapers. Seeing no company out there preventing scraping, in early 2011 he decided to quit his job, sell some of his possessions, rent out his apartment and move in with his parents in order to start his new company.
It’s not the first time Essaid had tried to launch a startup. Soon after Apple launched the App Store, Essaid and some friends began building a mall directory app. As Essaid put it, they “missed the Black Friday deadline.” He said an app with a worse design and smaller database launched on Black Friday, Apple featured it, and, selling for $3.99 each, it made hundreds of thousands of dollars almost overnight.
A few of his other ideas came close to turning into a business, but never quite made it over the finish line.
Essaid and his two co-founders, Engin Akyol and Andrew Stein, are all computer engineers. Once they had an idea of what kind of product to build, the building part was relatively free of speed bumps. The other side of the business — raising money and finding clients — was a different story.
“We didn’t know anything about being a venture-backed company,” Essaid said. He approached his first potential investor with his company not incorporated and without a lawyer; two requirements if a company wants to raise large sums of capital. “I thought if you just built a product, people are going to give you money. It was a rude awakening.”
Essaid said he was batting “about .010″ in venture meetings, but raised $400,000 at the end of December 2011, another $300,000 in July 2012 before completing a $2.1 million round of investment in December 2012. Distil will do another round of fundraising in 2014, Essaid said.
Distil Networks has grown beyond just preventing web scraping, expanding to four different products blocking different types of bots. Essaid calls each system a “vertical,” and there’s one to prevent online merchants from having their prices scraped by competitors. Another prevents fraud bots, which can drive up the price of online banner advertisements and clog servers. There is a vertical to prevent bots from stealing data, and another that shifts a company’s website onto Distil’s servers, increasing the website’s speed and performance.
“People kept asking us to help with problems tangential to the services we offered,” Essaid said, so Distil grew into a more diverse company.
(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) A man reportedly was stabbed in the chest early Wednesday morning after exchanging words with his assailant near the Ballston Metro.
From this week’s crime report:
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 131218005, 4200 block of N. Fairfax Drive. At 1:30 am on December 18, an unknown subject allegedly stabbed a 30 year-old victim in the chest after a verbal altercation. The suspect fled on foot towards the Ballston Metro. The victim was driven by a friend to Virginia Hospital center with non-life threatening injuries. The suspect is described as a black male in his thirties, approximately 5’9” tall and 150 lbs. He was wearing a khaki colored jacket with a black vest over top of it and a light blue skullcap at the time of the incident.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump. All named suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. (more…)
Bluemont Neighborhood Plan Approved – The Arlington County Board last night accepted an updated Bluemont Neighborhood Conservation Plan, which will ”[allow] the Bluemont Civic Association to pursue funding to transform the neighborhood to a true ‘urban village’ with slower traffic, better sidewalks and revitalized commercial corridors.” The plan also calls for a grocery store to remain at the current Safeway site. [Arlington County]
APS Plans to Use ‘Big Data’ to Reduce Dropout Rate — Arlington Public Schools is launching a competition that will challenge teams of scientists to figure out a way to reduce the school system’s dropout rate by combing through 12 years of student data. The winning team will receive $10,000. [Washington Post]
SuperStop Makes ‘Wastebook’ — The $1 million Walter Reed SuperStop on Columbia Pike has made Republican Sen. Tom Coburn’s annual “Wastebook,” which highlights “100 examples of wasteful and low-priority spending.” The bus stop, which can be found on page 32 of the Wastebook, was partially paid for with federal funds. “This report speaks volumes about why confidence in government is at an all-time low,” Coburn said of his publication. [Wastebook 2013, ARLnow Forums]
Fisette to Serve as Board Chair — County Board Vice Chair Jay Fisette was sworn in to a fifth four-year term on Tuesday. He will serve as County Board chairman in 2014. [Arlington County]
Research Firm Moving to Arlington — Research firm Hanover Research is moving its main office from the District to 4401 Wilson Blvd in Ballston this month. “The company’s extremely skilled staff, 61% of which hold advanced degrees, will help Ballston grow its reputation as a knowledge hub and significantly contribute to the area’s entrepreneurial spirit,” Hanover said in a press release. Arlington Public Schools is one of the company’s clients. [Hanover Research]
Flickr pool photo by jordanhiggins
Coming on the heels of the sudden closure of Leek American Bistro last month, a new restaurant is now moving into the space. “Republic at Arlington” should open in Ballston early next year, its managers say.
Executive Chef and operating partner Alan Newton describes the concept as “modern comfort food with some international flair.” He said customers can expect high quality, made from scratch food in a casual setting.
“We want to be known as a great place for drinks and great food. There’s a lot of French influence in the food as well,” Newton said. “You can wear a suit or wear shorts, you’ll feel comfortable either way.”
Republic at Arlington is expected to serve dinner dishes priced at $20 and less, as well as lunch dishes for $10-15. The bar will feature a selection of craft beers and specialty mixed drinks. The owners have a unique idea for how to compile the drink menu — let the patrons decide.
“Since the restaurant is called Republic, we want people voting and picking out what they like,” Newton said. “We’ll either incorporate an online voting system or something when you stop in the restaurant.”
Along with Newton, the management team includes owner Thanh Caodac and general manager Anthony Catselites. All three have management experience at McCormick & Schmick’s. Newton also helped to open Sweetwater Tavern in Centreville.
Newton is trying to make sure customers don’t draw parallels between the new restaurant and Leek. So far, the only connection appears to be the location at 801 N. Quincy Street.
“It’s going to have a totally different feel from Leek,” he said. “We’re hoping that no one will recognize the place when they walk in.”
Newton described the restaurant design as “industrial vintage with a slight touch of neoclassic twist.” Unlike Leek, he said, the new restaurant will not have tablecloths.
Currently, there’s not much to see at the restaurant — the windows are covered with paper. However, renovations are underway inside and the owners hope to open in mid-February. They expect to hold a grand opening event in the spring.
“We plan on being there as a member of the community for a long, long time — just a great neighborhood restaurant,” said Newton.
(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) Neighbors of Ballston’s A-Town Bar & Grill (4100 Fairfax Drive) have convinced the Arlington County Board to force the night spot to close its outdoor bar early.
On Saturday, the Board approved new restrictions to the bar’s outdoor patio. Despite A-Town’s owner’s objections, the outdoor bar will no longer be able to serve alcohol directly to patrons after 10:00 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. All alcohol served on the patio will have to be delivered by a waiter to patrons at a table.
The change to the bar’s site plan was made after residents of nearby condominiums, in particular The Berkeley at Ballston (1000 N. Randolph Street), lobbied the Board with complaints that the bar was making too much noise and negatively impacting property values.
“Commercial businesses must understand that they are doing business where people live,” Berkeley Unit Owner’s Association President Roger Lindberg said in a letter to the Board. “Late night disturbances make it an unpleasant community experience and thus directly impact the value of all our homes. Late night outdoor partying even on weekends, is not a reasonable expectation of any homeowner.”
“In addition to the noise… A-Town has attracted a more rowdy group of patrons who hang out in our public garden area after closing, creating noise, tossing trash onto our property and frankly causing a security concern for the whole building,” Lindberg added.
In addition, the bar will install a theater-style curtain around the patio to further block out noise. Attorney Jon Kinney, speaking on behalf of A-Town’s owners at the meeting, said the closure of the outdoor bar should at least be held off until it can be determined if the curtain is effective enough.
“We think the curtains are going to work and be able to contain the noise,” Kinney said. “We worry if we close the bar and the serving area and and we put the curtains up, that we won’t be able to open back up and know what worked.”
Members of the Board said they believed the curtain would help and questioned whether to hold off on forcing A-Town to close its outdoor bar, but the motion passed unanimously.
“It’s been really hard for the neighbors,” Board member Libby Garvey said. “I’m not saying it’s anybody’s fault, but I think we just need to bring [the noise] down as much as possible.”
Lindberg called the site plan amendment, which also renews the site plan conditions that allow live music and dancing at A-Town, a “reasonable… middle ground for all interested parties.”
Staff will conduct a review of the changes in three months, and the site plan amendment will go before the board in June for renewal.
The Asian fusion restaurant opened in March and held its grand opening celebration in May. However, owner Wendy Cheng said she found Arlington to be too far from Maryland, where she lives and runs the other two Red Parrot locations. She said the long commute was causing too many problems with maintaining the Arlington location.
Cheng confirms the Arlington location “is closed as of this week.”
According the real estate information firm RealtyTrac, Arlington’s 22203 ZIP code is the 7th-most “hipster-friendly” area in the United States.
A hipster ZIP code is generally defined by RealtyTrac as an area where residents are young and lots of people rent and take public transportation. The 22203 ZIP code, the second-highest ranking ZIP in the D.C. area next to Alexandria’s 22304 ZIP code, includes the neighborhoods of Ballston, Virginia Square, Bluemont and Buckingham.
Arlington’s 22201 ZIP code, meanwhile, ranked 23rd on the list. That ZIP code includes Courthouse, Clarendon, Lyon Village, Lyon Park, and parts of Ballston and Virginia Square.
No ZIP codes in the District of Columbia made the rankings.
RealtyTrac’s methodology seems questionable at best, ignoring the more nuanced cultural factors that define a “hipster.” That said, which Arlington locale would you consider to be the biggest hipster hotbed?
Looking at Campaign Sign Removal — Arlington County Board members may consider asking state transportation officials for authority to remove improperly placed campaign signs from state roads. Virginia law prohibits campaign signs from being placed on state roads, but it also prohibits anyone besides state officials from removing them unless the jurisdiction has a deal with the state. [Sun Gazette]
McAuliffe Adds to His Cabinet — Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe (D) made appointments yesterday for several of his key cabinet positions. He named Paul Reagan as chief of staff, Suzette Denslow as deputy chief of staff, Ric Brown as secretary of finance and Levar Stoney as secretary of the commonwealth. Reagan had previously served as chief of staff for Rep. Jim Moran (D) and Sen. Jim Webb (D). [Washington Post]
Library Displays Rare Kennedy Newspapers — The Arlington Central Library has put on a display a number of rare newspapers from when John F. Kennedy was president. Some of the papers highlight Kennedy’s assassination 50 years ago this month. The exhibit also includes papers from Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961 and his burial at Arlington National Cemetery. [Arlington Public Library]
How Ballston was Named — Do you know how the Ballston neighborhood got its name? It goes back to the Ball brothers who owned more than 250 acres of land in the area back in the 1700s. [Ghosts of DC]
Tipsters report the restaurant has looked deserted for several days. ARLnow.com staff stopped by today (Wednesday) and noted that the restaurant is dark, the doors are locked and the tables have been removed from the dining area.
Leek opened one year ago this month in the former Thai Terrace space.
Last week, Eater DC posted an article saying Leek closed briefly for renovations. The article included a photo of a sign in Leek’s window indicating the restaurant would re-open last Friday, November 8. That sign was not in the window, however, when ARLnow.com staff stopped by today. Nobody could be seen inside the restaurant, performing renovations or otherwise.
Leek’s Facebook page has not been updated since August. The restaurant’s owner could not be reached for comment.