Those in and around the retail industry say the recent trends toward mixed-use, urbanized development and the growth of “milennials” among consumers in the post-recession years add up nicely for Arlington.
Bruce Leonard, a managing principal at Streetsense, a real estate, retail and marketing firm, gave a lecture at George Mason University’s Arlington campus last month called “the changing face of retail.” He contended that the retail market is catching up to the real estate market in seeking urban, walkable centers.
Downtown areas were the dominant retail markets at the turn of the century, he said, until “construction of the interstates it moved away from the cities.”
“Now, ironically, we’re coming back to more urban- and downtown-focused retail,” Leonard said. “So for the [Rosslyn-Ballston] corridor, that’s really a good thing because it’s really urban. It’s relevant to the consumer in that it has the ability to provide an immersive and engaging environment… which is what [the consumers] are looking for.”
Kevin Shooshan, who oversees the leasing for The Shooshan Company in Ballston, said that’s why Arlington will still have an advantage over Tysons Corner when the Silver Line opens.
“I think specifically in the Courthouse-Clarendon-Ballston area, it’s more that it’s a walkable area, even more than Tysons,” he told ARLnow.com yesterday. “In Ballston, in Courthouse, in Clarendon, you can go on a leisurely four-block, five-block walk, passing ground floor retail with every step, with options to grab a paper, grab coffee, meeting with someone. It’s not just a walk down a Metro access corridor. I do see that as a huge asset.”
As the D.C. area apartment rental market continues to surge, that retail market can be key for attracting tenants. Most of the new buildings have fitness centers, pools, computer lounges and other amenities, but the shops in the neighborhood are every bit as much of the pitch to a tenant these days.
“Retail, in these markets, is really becoming an amenity,” Leonard said. “We’re seeing the conversation is ‘what kind of retail will I get that will match the demands of my tenant?’ Co-tenancy is going both horizontal and vertical, and that’s a really new trend.”
Billy Buck, the vice president of Buck & Associates, said the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor sells itself.
“In a 10-minute conversation, it’s mentioned in the first minute or two by the client before we have to bring it up,” Buck said. ”It’s not something you have to sell. The client or the purchaser or the tenant, they get to us because they’ve already realized that all those things are super important to their use.”
Lastly, the top trend Leonard said the retail market will see, both locally and nationall, is continued downsizing of big retailers. With online shopping and a shift in consumer behavior, chains that had giant, big box stores are looking for spaces sometimes half the size as before.
Most national retailers have square-footage requirements for any space they are looking for, Buck said, but that never prevents them from squeezing themselves in Arlington.
“These retailers are smart enough to realize that it may not fit their corporate mold, they know better than to skip Arlington,” he said. “You’re not going to just pass on Arlington in general, it’s just a bad business decision.”
Today is Mardi Gras, and although the ice and snow has forced the postponement of the annual Clarendon Mardi Gras parade, another street festival is going on as planned.
Bayou Bakery (1515 N. Courthouse Road), the Cajun-themed coffee shop and restaurant by New Orleans-native chef David Guas, is hosting its Bayou Gras Block Party this evening, starting at 5:00 p.m. in front of the store.
Northbound N. Courthouse Road is shut down to make room for a large heated tent between Clarendon Blvd and 15th Street N., and is expected to remain closed until the party ends at 10:00 p.m.
The block party will include a choice of three cajun dishes for a $30 ticket, three cocktails for a $25 ticket and/or three beers from Louisiana brewery Abita for $15. There will also be free oysters available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Update on 3/3/14 — The parade has been postponed indefinitely due to snow.
The annual Clarendon-Courthouse Mardi Gras Parade will take place next Tuesday, March 4.
The free, family-friendly parade will start at 8:00 p.m. at N. Barton Street and will make its way up Wilson Blvd to N. Irving Street in Clarendon. The parade features decorated vehicles, marching bands, parade floats, groups with animals, historic fire trucks, school groups and more.
According to Matt Hussman, executive director of the Clarendon Alliance, the parade this year will be the biggest ever in terms of entries. Among the groups that are expected to march in the parade:
- Ballou High School Marching Knights
- Batala Washington Drummers group
- Cherrydale VFD
- US Park Police Horse Mounted Unit
- DC LSU Alumni Chapter
- Krewe of Xenia
- Kensington Street Builders
- “The Band” Marching Unit
- Washington Nationals
- Corozon de America
- Sangre Boliviana
- Morenada Transpeco USA
- Tinkus Tiatacao USA
Before the parade, at 5:00 p.m., New Orleans native chef David Guas, of Bayou Bakery (1515 N. Courthouse Road), will hold his annual Bayou Gras Block Party in front of the restaurant in Courthouse.
The event will feature Abita on draft, bourbon cocktails, oysters, king cake, jambalaya, and gumbo under a large party tent. Tickets range from $15-30.
Disclosure: Clarendon Alliance is an ARLnow.com advertiser
A new food truck, DC Sliders, has come to serve lunch to customers in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.
The truck’s first day in Arlington was Feb. 6. It serves an array of mini-burgers, including the “Elvis” slider, featuring the King’s favorite sandwich ingredients: peanut butter, banana and bacon. Currently, it has regular stops in Courthouse and Rosslyn, as well as Reston and Tysons Corner, but it has also stopped in Ballston in the last two weeks.
Other menu items during its stop in Rosslyn yesterday (Wednesday) included the “Del Toro” — which comes topped with tomato salsa, refried beans, guacamole, corn, greens and tortilla chips — and the “Slider Mac,” a burger topped with ketchup and macaroni and cheese. Customers can choose two types of sliders and combine with an order of garlic fries for $11.
The line for sliders at 11:45 a.m. was the longest on the block, even with four other food trucks parked close by.
The truck was launched in Loudoun County last August, according to co-owner Carmen Morse, who owns the truck with her husband, Chris. Carmen Morse told ARLnow.com that they are waiting for permits to park in D.C. and, if business continues to go well this summer, they are aiming to launch another truck and, a bit down the road, open a brick-and-mortar store.
Arlington County received two bids on the construction of a new “Homeless Services Center” at 2020 14th Street N., across from Arlington police headquarters. KBE Building Corporation bid $5.7 million and Miller Brothers Inc. bid $5.2 million for the project, which will involve interior alterations on two floors of the county-owned office building and the enclosure of an open parking area on the ground floor. The figures do not include project contingencies and some material costs.
“The total amount is within budget,” Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius told ARLnow.com on Monday. The Arlington County Board is expected to award a construction contract at its meeting later this month.
The Homeless Services Center will be a year-round facility, replacing the county’s aging, part-time Emergency Winter Shelter, located two blocks away. The total cost of the project — including last year’s purchase of the building, tenant relocations and the two-floor build-out — is projected at just over $38 million. The building purchase alone cost the county $27.1 million.
Other floors of the building are expected to eventually be used for county offices, displacing the private tenants there now. That may happen when the county’s below-market lease on office space at Vornado-owned Courthouse Plaza (2100 Clarendon Blvd) expires, insiders tell ARLnow.com.
A timeframe for construction will not be available until the county staff report is issued on Feb. 14, Curtius said. Last year officials were hoping to have the new homeless shelter built and ready to open by fall 2014.
The decision to build the new homeless shelter attracted considerable controversy last year as nearby condo residents told County Board members they were fearful for their safety and property values. As a compromise measure, the Board agreed to require a security guard at the center from 4:00 p.m. to midnight..
In December, county staff recommended that Velocity 5′s popular outdoor patio be forced to stop serving food and drink at 11:00 p.m., in response to “community concerns about noise.” That’s despite a report from the police department saying that noise complaints were down by 50 percent.
The owners of Velocity 5′s Courthouse location, which changed hands in early 2013, rallied supporters via social media after learning of the staff recommendation. Dozens showed up at the Dec. 17 County Board meeting where the proposal — part of the renewal of Velocity 5′s live entertainment permit — was under consideration. The Board ended up deferring the proposal until January to allow staff more time to work with the owners.
Co-owner Matt Rofougaran says the early serving cut-off could have put the restaurant, which employs about 30 people, out of business. Some 30-40 percent of Velocity 5′s revenue comes from the patio, he said.
“I would be shocked if we would be able to stay open… if they close that patio,” Rofougaran told ARLnow.com in December. “It’s not fair, they’re trying to punish us for something that we improved on.”
Rofougaran contended that the majority of the noise complaints came from one or two residents of the next-door Archstone Courthouse Plaza apartments.
“Most of the complaints were from one guy… who had problems with the previous owner,” he said. “A lot of customers live in the building and say they don’t hear anything from their apartments.”
Rofougaran said one complaint was for a barking dog on the patio, another was for a group of people singing “happy birthday,” and yet another was for boisterous people — who weren’t customers — walking by the patio.
After making their case, Rofougaran said the Board was “actually helping us” sort through the issues.
As a result, at its upcoming meeting on Saturday, the Board is slated to consider a new live entertainment permit renewal that does not place restrictions on Velocity 5′s outdoor serving hours. The patio will still be allowed to stay open and serve customers until 1:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday and until midnight Sunday through Thursday.
Velocity 5 will, however, face some new restrictions. It will need to hire a security guard to monitor the patio after 8:00 p.m. when it’s at capacity. Also, it will need to turn off any outdoor music at 10:00 p.m. and will have to turn off outdoor televisions at 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.
“Staff is not recommending that the outdoor seating area be closed at any specific time; instead, it is expected that the additional security presence outdoors will mitigate the impacts of the use,” the new county staff report. It adds that complaints about noise have been made by “a few residents” of the apartment building.
“The staff has agreed to work with us and has recommended changes to the entertainment license that we will gladly abide by,” Rofougaran said via email Tuesday. “We thank everyone for all their help, including the staff and the community that helped support us.”
Velocity 5 is still slated to be rebranded as “Social Haus,” as earlier reported. Rofougaran says they’re planning close the restaurant in early February for renovations. It’s expected to reopen as Social Haus in early March.
The Robeks smoothie shop in Courthouse has closed.
The Robeks location at 2300 Wilson Blvd, next to Me Jana was one of two locations for the national smoothie chain in Arlington. The Courthouse shop’s only current Arlington location is in Shirlington (4115 A S. Campbell Street).
The sign announcing the store’s closing didn’t give a reason, simply stating “Robeks at Courthouse is now closed. Thank you for your patronage over the last 8 years!”
Representatives from Robeks could not be reached for comment.
Hat tip to Mikey Lynch
Metro Proposes Loop Line — Metro officials are considering a proposal for establishing a loop line between Arlington and the District. The line would include a new cross-Potomac River connection between Arlington and Georgetown in D.C., plus new stations near Rosslyn and the Pentagon in Arlington, and in Georgetown, Logan Circle and East Potomac Park in D.C. However, the plan also eliminates the direct Yellow Line connection between Arlington and downtown D.C. [Greater Greater Washington]
Unemployment Rises in Arlington — The unemployment rate in Arlington rose from 3.7 percent in August to 3.9 percent in October. However, Arlington’s unemployment rate remains the lowest in the Commonwealth of Virginia. [Sun Gazette]
Man Attacks Officer Across From Police Station — A 48-year-old homeless man is accused of assaulting a police officer across from Arlington County police headquarters in Courthouse. Police say the man was “shouting profanity” and “chasing after people” before the alleged scuffle with police. [Patch]
The incident happened Friday afternoon at a residence in the Alcova Heights neighborhood. The upper portion of man’s ear was severed, but he was “very uncooperative” and wouldn’t tell police what happened, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Police do not have any suspects in the case.
From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 3600 block of S. 3rd Street. At 2:00 pm on November 29, an intoxicated male subject’s ear was severed in a fight. An investigation is ongoing.
Earlier this week, someone lit a field marker flag on fire at Long Bridge Park, causing minor damage.
ARSON, 400 block of S. Long Bridge Drive. Between 3:00 pm on December 2 and 7:00 am on December 3, an unknown subject lit one of the field markers on a soccer field on fire. No suspect description is available.
Police are also investigating a report of a woman being sexually assaulted after leaving a bar in the Courthouse neighborhood last Sunday night.
The woman was intoxicated at the time, can’t remember details of the alleged incident and reported it three days later, according to Sternbeck. There are no suspects in the case.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Sternbeck said.
SEXUAL ASSAULT, 1400 block of N. Courthouse Road. Between 10:30 pm on November 24 to 12:07 am on November 25, a female victim reported she was allegedly sexually assaulted after leaving a bar. An investigation is ongoing.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump. All named suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Note that ACPD is now including case numbers and basic details of minor incidents in its crime report.
Hundreds of grade-schoolers flooded the sidewalks of Courthouse this morning, trick-or-treating for Halloween.
Key Elementary School students, along with teachers and parents, went up and down Clarendon and Wilson Blvd just after 9:00 a.m., collecting candy from tables local businesses like John Marshall Bank and the Bank of Georgetown.
At the same time, at Courthouse Plaza, a band made up of elementary schoolers in costumes — like North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un and Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman — played “Let’s Go Band” while workers from the office buildings walked by and snapped pictures with their cell phones.
The Italian restaurant’s website, SpaghettiYaFace.com, was recently updated to say the restaurant was closed for good. However, that site was maintained by Joe Smith, who was managing the restaurant the last two years.
Smith’s contract with Toscana’s owner ended last week, but the restaurant, located in Courthouse Plaza (2300 Clarendon Blvd), has continued operations. Manager Nargis Mughal said some changes are planned, including a new menu.
Smith could not be reached via email, but the Spaghetti Ya Face Facebook page announced Oct. 20 that the restaurant shut down. In a reply to a customer comment, Smith or someone else managing the page wrote about the closure: “tried to plan it for November but [the] owner strong armed us.”
Mughal said Smith did not renew his contract because Smith was starting another restaurant in a new city.
Toscana had to close for more than a month earlier this year after a burst pipe covered the restaurant’s floor with three inches of water. It reopened in late June.
Protesters lined N. Courthouse Road this morning (Wednesday) to speak out against the new state regulations on abortion clinics this year.
Falls Church Healthcare Center filed a lawsuit against the Virginia Board of Health and the Virginia Department of Health in Arlington Circuit Court, and doctors and administrators from the practice spoke before a crowd of several dozen before the case was set to be heard in court for the first time.
“Because of these regulations, two women’s health centers have already been forced to close,” said Margaretha Netherton, a registered nurse with FCHC. “Patients want healthcare performed by doctors and nurses, not lawyers.”
In April, the Virginia Board of Health voted to implement regulations that require centers that perform five or more abortions a month to have building requirements, including construction outlines like width of hallways of hospitals and nursing homes. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed a motion to dismiss the FCHC’s lawsuit in Arlington Circuit Court. Just after 11:00 a.m., the court dismissed the state’s motion against FCHC’s suit.
Those in attendance chanted “Virginia women deserve more” and held signs with slogans like “Stop the War on Virginia’s Women,” “Keep Abortion Legal,” and “I Oppose Illegal Abortion.” The speakers said if the abortion clinics are forced to close, women will be forced to resort to illegal or self-abortions.
“[Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers] laws do not protect the women of Virginia,” Sara Imershein, an OB/GYN with FCHC, told the crowd. “They put them in danger.”
Development Proposed to Replace Courthouse Wendy’s — Developer Carr Properties is planning to propose an office building to be built at 2038 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse, replacing the Wendy’s. The building will be similar to Carr’s planned office building at 2311 Wilson Blvd, which was approved by the Arlington County Board in December. [Washington Post]
Questions Remain As Staff Works on Urban Ag Report — County Board Chairman Walter Tejada is pressing county staff to move faster on a report on urban agriculture. The report is expected to recommend a course of action on the controversial issue of urban hen raising, an issue for which many questions remain. [Sun Gazette]
Free Tropical Plants Today – Ferns, palms, ficus trees and banana plants will be given away for free this afternoon at the Crystal City farmers market. Used to decorate outdoor areas of Crystal City during the summer, the plants would otherwise be composted in advance of winter. [Crystal City BID]
Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser. Photo courtesy @BrianWohlert.
A man who broke into a Courthouse apartment and rubbed a sleeping woman’s arm had struck twice before in the same apartment building, ARLnow.com has learned.
On Sunday, Sept. 15, six days before the arm-rubbing incident, police say the same suspect broke into two apartments and stared at women while they slept. Both break-ins took place between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m., and ended with the suspect — who was wearing a yellow polo shirt and khakis — fleeing the apartment after the women woke up, according to police.
In the first instance, the man said “oops, wrong room,” after the woman, who was sleeping in a bed with her boyfriend, awoke. In the second instance, the suspect fled after the victim woke up, saw the man staring and her and began screaming.
The second victim, who did not want her name used in this article, contacted ARLnow.com and shared her story.
“Around 4:45 a.m. [on] Sept 15, I woke up to find a man standing at the foot of my bed staring at me,” she wrote. “He did not say anything to me. I screamed from my bed (as where he was standing was blocking my bedroom door) for about 30-45 seconds… before he slowly backed out of my bedroom and ran out of my apartment.”
“I did not hear him open the door to my apartment, so I waited about about 45 seconds and ran out of my apartment, into the lobby and called 911,” the woman continued. “The police came right away and searched my apartment, but the intruder had left.”
Six days later, the man broke into another apartment and began rubbing a sleeping woman’s arm, before she woke up and he fled the scene. During that incident, the man was wearing a red polo shirt and blue jeans.
The break-ins all took place at the Meridian apartment complex at 1401 N. Taft Street.
The suspect is described as a 5’10″ to 6′ white or Asian male, between the ages of 20 and 25. In each of the three cases, police say, the victims were white women in their 20s who live with roommates.
It’s unclear how the man is choosing his victims, or how he has managed to gain entry to the apartments. Apartment doors in the building lock automatically, though it’s possible that the victims’ doors were accidentally left partially open. Today, building management posted a flyer online encouraging residents to lock the dead bolt on their doors.
Police are working the case in hopes of finding the suspect before he possibly escalates his crime.
“We’re actively investigating and working with the victims,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “It’s a good reminder to make sure people are locking their doors at night, and if they are a victim of a crime, contact police immediately.”
Sternbeck noted that the suspect description fits that of many residents of the apartment complex, making the investigation more difficult.
Photo (bottom) via Facebook
A Courthouse woman awoke early Saturday morning to an unknown intruder rubbing her arm, according to Arlington County (Va.) Police.
The man fled the woman’s apartment without taking anything, according to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The suspect’s description does not match the alleged Virginia Square face-caresser from earlier this month.
From the crime report:
BURGLARY WITH INTENT TO DEFILE, 09/23/13, 1400 block of N. Taft Street. At 4:05 am on September 21, an unknown subject entered a female victim’s residence while she slept. The victim woke up to the suspect rubbing her arm. The suspect fled the scene and was wearing a red polo shirt and blue jeans at the time of the incident.