Obama Visit Boosted Business at Bookstore — The November 2012 visit to One More Page Books (2200 N. Westmoreland Street) by President Obama and his family boosted revenue at the East Falls Church store by 20 percent. The visit still continues to benefit the store, according to owner Eileen McGervey. [Washington Business Journal]
Miss Gay Arlington Crowned — The new 2014 Miss Gay Arlington is Coco B. Colby. Colby was crowned after besting three competitors during the April 18 event at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City. Previous Miss Gay Arlington winners include Shaunda Leer, Stardust and Diamond D. Bottoms. [InsideNoVa]
County Promotes Building Safety — After a series of high-profile construction accidents this past fall, Arlington County has officially proclaimed May to be Building Safety Month. “Building safety is our focus every day, although most of that work happens behind the scenes,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette, in a statement. [Arlington County]
Crystal City Power Purge Today — Crystal City is holding its annual Power Purge and Shred from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. today. The event, at 1900 Crystal Drive, allows residents to recycle electronics, paper and to get rid of household paints and supplies. There’s also a specialty hard drive crusher for data security. [Crystal City]
Yorktown, W-L Soccer Game Ends in Tie — A “hard-fought, exhausting” boys soccer match between Yorktown and Washington-Lee ended in a scoreless tie Tuesday night. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
TechShop, a subscription-based, high-tech workshop, has opened its 20,000-square-foot space at 2110-B Crystal Drive, in the Crystal City Shops.
The shop opened last Wednesday after eight weeks of construction. It offers its members access to millions of dollars worth of equipment to use to build prototypes, new inventions or anything else they can dream up.
“There’s a deficit in people knowing how to make things with their hands,” TechShop’s interim general manager Isabella Iglesias Musachio said. “We’re giving people access to the tools to build their dreams.”
TechShop has computers uploaded with $20,000 of software, a high-powered water jet that can cut through several inches of steel, a fully-equipped wood shop, 3D printers and its most popular item, a laser cutter and etcher.
Memberships cost $349 for three months, $1,095 for a year and $7,500 for a lifetime. TechShop offers corporate memberships for companies, either startups or larger firms, that need to use the equipment to develop new products. TechShop also offers classes to teach how to operate each of the machines, but the classes are sold out until May, according to Iglesias-Musachio.
More than 250 people have purchased memberships so far, Iglesias-Musachio said, and more than 100 military veterans have gotten free memberships through TechShop’s partnership with DARPA.
“Our typical member is anyone,” Iglesias-Musachio said. “You could be sitting next to an engineer, an art teacher or a 12-year-old kid. For a few dollars a day, really, you can have access to more than $1 million worth of equipment. That sort of thing appeals to everyone.”
Crystal City is TechShop’s eighth location nationwide and its second on the East Coast, after its Pittsburgh location, which opened in 2013. Several technology and equipment companies, like the mobile transaction company Square, have been helped along by TechShop’s equipment, Iglesias-Musachio said.
“Crystal City was perfect for our next location because it’s extremely innovative and creative,” she said, noting how many people have peered into the window during buildout. “We were looking for a creative and educated community, and one that is accessible by transit.”
Rosslyn Startup to Be Featured on ‘Shark Tank’ — Rosslyn-based startup Zoobean will be featured tonight on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” Zoobean, which describes itself as “a web service that recommends apps and books for children,” will pitch itself to a panel of wealthy investors, including billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. The show airs at 9:00 p.m. on ABC. The company will also be profiled as part of ARLnow.com’s “Startup Monday” feature next week. [PR Newswire, Des Moines Register]
Pentagon City Mall Expansion Imminent — Work is expected to “begin soon” on a planned 50,000 square foot expansion of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. The expansion will add two new levels of retail, restaurants with outdoor seating, new elevators and escalators, and an expanded food court. Mall owner Simon is also expected to announce some of the new restaurants and retailers coming to the mall “shortly.” [Washington Business Journal]
We, The Pizza Eyes ‘Late Spring’ Opening – We, The Pizza, the pizza restaurant helmed by celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn, will be opening soon in Crystal City. No specific date has been set, but a spokeswoman said the restaurant is expected to open in “late spring.” Mendelsohn also operates burger restaurant Good Stuff Eatery in Crystal City.
‘Miss Gay Arlington’ Pageant Tonight — The Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance and Freddy’s Beach Bar in Crystal City (555 23rd Street S.) will host the annual Miss Gay Arlington pageant tonight. Four contestants will compete in four categories: presentation, talent, evening gown, and on-stage question. The event starts at 8:00 p.m. and admission is $10. [AGLA]
Enterprise CarShare Launches in Rosslyn — A car sharing service from Enterprise Rent-A-Car has launched in the D.C. area. Two of its car share parking stations are located in the Rosslyn area. [Enterprise CarShare]
Photo courtesy Rick Shewell
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