Arlington Has Highest Tax Burden for the Poor — Arlington County has the highest tax burden for low income people in the D.C. area, according to a new study. In response, County Board Chair Jay Fisette suggested that the higher taxes go to providing more services, like affordable housing and better public schools, compared to other jurisdictions. [WAMU]
Op-Ed: Lower The Tax Rate — Local fiscal watchdog Wayne Kubicki says that the the County Board should reduce the property tax rate by 1.5 cents by utilizing part of the $37.1 million in unspent funds left over from Fiscal Year 2014. Kubicki suggests calling the tax rate reduction a “Vihstadt Dividend.” [InsideNoVa]
National Issues Didn’t Help Dems in Local Race — Democratic County Board candidate Alan Howze and his allies tried to corner opponent John Vihstadt on issues like Medicaid and his past support of Republican candidates. But it didn’t work, and Vihstadt was elected in a virtual landslide, the first non-Democrat on the County Board in 15 years. Concludes “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark: “Superimposing state and national ideological issue tests on genuine local disputes won’t trump voter focus on the individual candidates’ qualifications and clarity of message.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Venture Fund Founder on Crystal City — Paul Singh, founder of the new $50 million Crystal Tech Fund, which will focus its investments on post-seed stage tech companies, talked to a reporter about why he chose to locate the fund in Crystal City. He said Crystal City is an “attractive” location for tech company founders because of Metro access and airport proximity, along with “great restaurants and great living environments.” [Washington Post]
National Airport Cab Fares May Rise – The cost of taking a cab from Reagan National Airport may rise starting in September. The Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is considering raising the dispatch fee for cabs picking up passengers from $2.50 to $3 per trip. The board is also considering a requirement that all cabs accept credit cards. [InsideNoVa]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
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.”
Update at 10:25 a.m. — One southbound lane of Route 1 has reopened, according to Arlington County. A tow truck is on scene and all lanes are expected to reopen shortly.
An RV has caught fire on southbound Route 1 in Crystal City, causing police to shut down the southbound lanes to traffic at the tail end of this morning’s rush hour.
The fire started just before 9:00 a.m., according to scanner traffic, on the highway near the intersection with 15th Street S. The Arlington County Fire Department and Virginia State Police were the first responders to the scene.
According to ACFD spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani, three people were inside the RV when the fire started, but they all escaped the vehicle safely and no injuries were reported. The fire is believed to have been caused by a mechanical failure in the engine block, Marchegiani said.
“The driver didn’t notice the fire at first, just that the car was acting funny and he smelled smoke,” Marchegiani told ARLnow.com. “They happened to pass by a Virginia State Police officer who saw that the car was on fire and flagged them down.”
The roadway will remain closed temporarily. Drivers should avoid the area if possible.
Parts of Crystal Drive and Potomac Avenue will be closing this evening and the following three Fridays to make way for the Crystal Run 5K Fridays.
Starting at 6:30 p.m. tonight and on the evenings of April 11, 18 and 25, the race will kick off at 2121 Crystal Drive and run 3.1 miles from Crystal Drive, down to Potomac Avenue, up to 12th Street S. and back.
Registration for the races are $20 each or $60 for the series and runners can pick up their packets and bibs by the start line. The races are a USATF-approved course and use the same timing tag as most other races.
Below are the street closures the next four Fridays, starting at 6:00 p.m. and opening back up at 8:00 p.m. Street parking in the area will also be restricted, with “No Parking” signs posted around the course.
- Northbound lanes of Crystal Drive between 23rd Street and 12th Street S.
- Northbound lanes of Crystal Drive between 26th Street and Potomac Avenue/27th Street S.
- Northbound lanes of Potomac Avenue between 27th Street and 33rd Street S.
- One southbound lane of Potomac Avenue between 27th Street and 33rd Street S.
- One westbound lane of 12th Street S. between Crystal Drive and Long Bridge Drive/S. Clark Street
- One lane of Long Bridge Drive northbound will be closed for approximately 100 feet (Police will cone a new northbound lane and a southbound lane to maintain access)
Photo via Crystal City BID. Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
The Crystal City Business Improvement District has commissioned a 215-foot-long, 2,500-square-foot mural to be painted on the Crystal Drive side of the vacant office building at 1851 S. Bell Street.
The “graffiti-style” mural will be painted by the No Kings Collective beginning April 1. According to Crystal City BID President Angela Fox, several artists will paint different parts of the mural during the times when the streets of Crystal City are busiest — during the work day, farmer’s markets, food truck Thursdays and 5K Fridays.
“It’ll just turn into a very vibrant wall like you’ll see in Miami’s Wynwood Art district,” Fox told ARLnow.com. “It’s colorful, it’s bright, it’s experiential. You’re going to watch the evolution of it going from a primed white to all sorts of colors.”
The painting process will take about three-to-four weeks, Fox said, and the mural could be continuously changing until the building is ultimately torn down, to be replaced with a 730,000-square-foot skyscraper.
Photo via Google Maps. Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Black Lime Café, a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant at 2450 Crystal Drive in Crystal City, has closed.
Legal notices are posted on the restaurant’s door, notifying the owners that the locks have been changed due to an alleged non-payment of rent. Restaurant personnel would be charged with trespassing if they try to get in, one notice says.
Black Lime was the flagship location of what the owners hoped could be a new fast-casual restaurant chain. The owners were veterans of large restaurant companies like Maggie Moo’s, Outback Steakhouse and Bennigan’s.
It’s unclear whether the restaurant was hurt by lack of sales or something else. One customer told ARLnow.com that the restaurant was usually busy during lunchtime.
Hat tip to @_TylerHicks
The District Taco cart, which was launched four years ago and has now spawned four brick-and-mortar restaurants, is retiring today in Rosslyn.
District Taco owner Osiris Hoil said the team that runs the cart is needed to support the restaurants, with locations at 5723 Lee Highway and at Metro Center, Eastern Market and soon-to-be-open Dupont Circle in the District. The decision was purely a business one, but that didn’t make it any easier for Hoil, who opened the cart using family recipes after being laid off from a construction job.
“It’s very emotional for me, because when we started four years ago it was just me and my taco stand,” Hoil told ARLnow.com today. “It’s part of my heart, but as a business decision, we had to let it go.”
Hoil said that, in addition to the Dupont Circle location opening next month, he plans to open in Crystal City, Rosslyn, Alexandria and Vienna, and is looking at space in Rockville and Reston Town Center. No new location is firmed up yet, he said, but he hopes to open another store by the end of the year and three or four next year. The taco stand is just too unpredictable to continue to operate while District Taco grows, said Hoil.
“One of the challenges we’re having is the weather,” he said. “This wintertime has been really cold, but also it’s just one of the reasons. We’re growing pretty aggressively this year and next year and we need our team to focus on our restaurants. It’s a little bit harder to manage the stand than a restaurant just because it’s a mobile unit and anything can happen while traveling.”
It might not happen right away, but Hoil is determined to open up spaces in Rosslyn and Crystal City close to where his taco stand set up shop most days. He said he’ll likely try to move into Rosslyn once the Central Place construction is complete.
Today in Rosslyn, in honor of the stand’s last day, District Taco is offering two free tacos to every customer that stops by, while supplies last.
Tech Hub Coming to Crystal City — Crystal City office building owner Vornado is investing $10 million in a venture capital fund called the Crystal Tech Fund. Venture capitalist Paul Singh is hoping to raise a total of $50 million for the fund, and is moving his company, Disruption Corp., to Crystal City. Vornado is also bringing a WeWork co-working space to Crystal City by 2016, and converting an existing building into a 300 unit apartment building for “today’s mobile and collaborative workers.” [InTheCapital, Washington Business Journal]
AFAC Sees Record Food Need – The Arlington Food Assistance Center continues to see record need for food in the community. The food bank served just over 1,800 families per week in February, a 30 percent increase compared to last year. [Sun Gazette]
Sony Store to Close — The Sony store in Pentagon City Mall is set to close, according to the company. The Sony store in Tysons Corner is also on the chopping block. [Sony]
Remembrance for Jean Crawford — Jean Crawford, a local Arlington County official and activist, died earlier this month after experiencing complications from gastric bypass surgery. A remembrance ceremony for Crawford will be held Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (4444 Arlington Blvd). [Washington Post, Sun Gazette]
Video: Joan Mulholland — Joan Mulholland, a civil rights activist and former Freedom Rider who lives in Arlington, recently donated documents from her private collection to the Center for Local History at Arlington Public Library. The county’s Arlington TV channel created a video about Mulholland and the donation. [YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by ksrjghkegkdhgkk
County Board Still Steamed Over Tree Removal — Arlington County Board members are still lashing out against Arlington Public Schools’ removal of some trees from the grounds of Ashlawn Elementary School, which is beginning an expansion project. The school system received county staff approval to remove the trees but did not receive County Board approval. “The community has reason to be upset,” Board member Walter Tejada reiterated on Saturday. County Board members also questioned whether a controversial plan to create a loop road for student drop-off was still necessary. [Sun Gazette]
Transitway Stops Cheaper than Superstop — The new transit stops along the just-approved Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway will cost between $345,000 and $530,000. That’s significantly less than the cost of the $1 million “Superstop” on the corner of Walter Reed Drive and Columbia Pike. The new transit stops will still come with an “[improved] sidewalk, boarding platform, benches, trash cans, lighting, information signs, canopy, bike racks and windscreen.” [Washington Post]
W-L Wrestler Finishes Second in Tourney — Washington-Lee senior wrestler Narankhuu Ganbaatar has finished second in the 6A state tournament. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by J. Sonder
The construction is part of the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway Project, a project that, when completed, will see a bus rapid transit system connect from Crystal City and Pentagon City down to the Braddock Road Metrorail Station in Alexandria.
The project’s construction is expected to start this spring and last for 10 months. Alexandria’s portion of the Transitway is already under construction, according to county staff. In Arlington, the bus will operate in dedicated lanes near Potomac Yard, with stops on Crystal Drive, S. Bell Street, Clark Street, 15th Street, 20th Street and 26th Street.
During morning and evening rush hours, the buses — which will be a new 9X Metrobus route — will use a dedicated lane south on S. Bell and Clark Streets and north on Crystal Drive, replacing an existing traffic lane. The lane will be open to normal traffic during other times.
A little more than $1 million of the project’s funds will come from county funds and bonds, while the rest will come from state and federal transit grants, according to the county’s staff report. The project is designed to support the redevelopment of Potomac Yard and provide another transit option for commuters and residents of the Jefferson Davis Highway corridor.
Last year, Metro announced that the Transitway would be WMATA’s first BRT service. The dedicated lanes are expected to expedite travel times and keep buses running on a more reliable schedule.
In previous years, the wine and beer walks were separate, but now participants can drink beer and walk with friends who choose wine, according to the Crystal City Business Improvement District, which is hosting the event.
Walkers will start in separate heats between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m. The different wine and beer stands will close at 6:30 p.m. The entire race takes place indoors at the Shops at Crystal City, with the starting point at The Landing (1750 Crystal Drive).
Below is the list of beers and wines available, but the Wine Academy has promised some surprise selections.
Ponga Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)
Wildewood Pinot Gris – Willamette Valley, Oregon
Chateau Valmer Vouvray – Loire Valley, France
Chamisal Chardonnay (California)
Whitehall Viognier – White Hall, Virginia
Selbach Oster Kabinett Riesling – Mosel, Germany
Degiorgis Moscato D’Asti – Piedmont, Italy
Atmosphere Rosé – Provence, France
Bellene Bourgogne (Pinot Noir) – Burgandy, France
Charles Smith Boom Boom Syrah Columbia Valley, Washington
Ventisquero Reserva Cermenere – Central Valley, Chile
Santa Julia Sustainable Malbec (Argentina)
Jefferson Vineyards Cabernet Franc – Charlottesville, Virginia
Bodegas Paso O Paso Tempranillo – Castilla-La Mancha, Spain
Mountain View Cabernet Sauvignon – Central Coast, California
Heinz Eiffel Dornfelder (Germany)
Dogfish Head Namaste
Great Divide Colette
Lagunitas Lil’ Sumpin’ Sumpin’
Hardywood Cream Ale
21st Amendment Brew Free or Die
SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale
Stone Ruination IPA
Stoudt’s Double IPA
Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout
Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter
Scotch de Silly
Fort Collins Chocolate Stout
Crabbie’s Ginger Beer
Fox Barrel Blackberry Pear Cider
Photo courtesy Crystal City BID. Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
High Demand for Affordable Housing — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing received more than 3,000 applications for 122 apartments at its new Arlington Mill Residences building on Columbia Pike. Demand for affordable housing is high. Arlington lost about 6,000 residents earning between $50-75k per year from 2000 to 2012, while gaining about 25,000 households that earn more than $200k. [Washington Post]
Remembering Classic Arlington Businesses — Local writer and historian Charlie Clark recently held a talk to recall the former mom-and-pop businesses and restaurants that have closed as a result of Arlington’s “creative destruction.” Among the restaurants remembered were the Buckaroo Steakhouse on Lee Highway, Speedy Gonzales Tex-Mex restaurant in Ballston, and Major Bo’s Chicken Delight. [Sun Gazette]
Charlotte Eyes Crystal City As Development Model – The city of Charlotte, N.C. is hoping to boost development around its airport. One developer has eyed Crystal City as a possible model, considering a “complex similar to Crystal City, a collection of apartment buildings, hotels, offices and shops next to Reagan National Airport.” [Charlotte Observer]
Flickr pool photo by J. Sonder
Crystal City’s annual Crystal Couture fashion show and sale got underway last night.
The show is being held through Saturday, every night from 6:00-10:00 p.m., across from the Crystal City Metro station at 251 18th Street S. In addition to models showing off the latest fashions from local designers, Crystal Couture features a cash bar, free makeovers and boutiques from more than 50 retailers.
Philippa Hughes of Pinkline Project guest hosted Tuesday night. Other scheduled hosts include 94.7 Fresh FM’s Tommy McFly (Friday) and WPGC’s Guy Lambert and former Miss D.C. “K Street” Kate Michael (Saturday).
Disclosure: Event organizer Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Arlington County Police are investigating an armed robbery that took place on a weekday afternoon.
The alleged incident happened
just before 2:00 p.m. this past Friday, on the 2700 block of S. Eads Street near Crystal City. Police say a 37-year-old woman was approached by a man with a gun and robbed of her purse and cell phone. The armed man then handed the stolen items to a second suspect before fleeing toward nearby Eads Park.
There’s no indication that the woman was hurt during the robbery.
“The first suspect is described as a Hispanic male, in his early twenties, and approximately 5’3”. He was wearing a dark knit hat, dark scarf covering his face, a dark coat, and jeans at the time of the incident,” the crime report states. “The second suspect is described as a Hispanic male in his early twenties with curly black hair, and approximately 5’5” with a thin build. At the time of the incident he was wearing a black and blue hooded coat and dark pants.”
Renovations for Crystal City Sheraton — The Crystal City Sheraton hotel (1800 Jefferson Davis Highway) will close in mid-April and undergo renovations.. The 218-room hotel will reopen as a Westin. Nearly 100 workers will be laid off during renovations. [Washington Business Journal]
New Signage for WJLA Building Approved — A divided Arlington County Board has approved new rooftop signage for the office building at 1100 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, also known as the WJLA building. The board split its vote 3-2 after residents expressed concern that the new signage would “be detrimental to their neighborhoods” and local monuments. The potential signage is for an unnamed prospective client. [Sun Gazette]
Board Approves New Transportation Funding — The County Board on Tuesday gave the okay to Arlington’s share of a new regional transportation funding stream. The county will receive $11.4 million in the first year, which will go to support projects like the Columbia Pike streetcar, a western entrance to the Ballston Metro station, local transit service and “complete streets” improvements. [Arlington County]
Galaxy Hut Named Top Karaoke Spot — DCist has dubbed Clarendon’s Galaxy Hut (2711 Wilson Blvd) “Arlington’s favorite dive” and one of the “best places for karaoke in the D.C. area.” [DCist]
Alexandria is Poised for Growth – Arlington’s neighbor to the south, Alexandria, is poised to begin booming with new development. The city expects a new Potomac Yard Metro station and the impending move of the National Science Foundation to the Eisenhower Valley area to further spur development. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick