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by Ethan Rothstein — April 16, 2015 at 4:15 pm 600 0

1776 announces expansion into Crystal City (photo via @1776)The heralded 1776 tech incubator and seed fund is moving into Crystal City, bringing tech bonafides and millions of dollars with it.

Today, on the roof of 220 20th Street S., Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes, Vornado CEO Mitchell Shear, 1776 co-founders Evan Burfield and Donna Harris and former Disruption Corporation CEO, and now 1776 Managing Director, Paul Singh joined forces to make the announcement.

“We’re proud that this new partnership will be anchored in Crystal City, which is increasingly becoming a globally-recognized home for world-changing startups,” McAuliffe said. “This new, unprecedented level of regional collaboration removes the traditional regional boundaries, creating tremendous opportunity for broad-based economic growth that benefits the entire region, and offering a model for future, long-term economic growth throughout Virginia and the D.C. Metro area.”

As part of its deal to expand in Crystal City, 1776 acquired Singh’s Disruption Corporation, a combination of a venture fund and financial advisory firm. Disruption’s headquarters on the 10th floor of 2231 Crystal Drive will be 1776’s base of operations in Arlington, according to Crystal City Business Improvement District Angela Fox.

“One of the beauties of Crystal City is there is so much space to expand, and if they do well, that’s certainly the thinking in all of this,” Fox told ARLnow.com this afternoon.

Earlier this week, 1776 announced a partnership with Montgomery County, and the incubator’s announcement today makes it one of the, if not the premier, dominant forces in the D.C. area technology space. In 1776’s new headquarters, it will already have member companies like Bloompop, Power Supply and Onomono Media.

1776 also hosts the Challenge Festival, an international, weeklong festival aimed at bringing together entrepreneurs in the energy, education, health and transportation sectors. The company anticipates more than 10,000 industry members will attend, and the opening party will be in Crystal City, at 2121 Crystal Drive, on May 8 from 7:00-11:00 p.m.

The incubator hopes to leverage the still-significant hub of government agencies and contractors in Crystal City, as well as the close proximity to the Pentagon, in its latest expansion.

“This region’s growing innovation economy and its future economic growth are closely linked, which is why at 1776 we’ve focused our attention on creating new opportunities for regional innovation and unfettered access to the networks that exist across regional borders,” 1776 co-founder Donna Harris said in a press release. “Between our partnership with Vornado and the acquisition of Disruption, this exciting new venture will allow us to bring together ALL the tremendous assets this region has to offer, from the NIH and MedStar in Bethesda to the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin in Crystal City, and create one of the most vibrant technology communities in the country.”

Photo via @1776

by Ethan Rothstein — April 13, 2015 at 12:15 pm 7,536 0

Rosslyn Metro station (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

As Arlington grapples with the cloudy future of transit on Columbia Pike, in the wake of the streetcar line’s cancellation, one question has been largely absent: Is Metro the answer?

The Pike, Pentagon City and Crystal City together are projected to account for 65 percent of the county’s population growth and 44 percent of its job growth in the next three decades, and Arlington doesn’t have a long-term transit plan in place for the Pike to accommodate that growth. So far, much of the discussion has revolved around bigger and better buses.

But there is another option, a much bigger, bolder and pricier option than even the streetcar: taking advantage of an existing stub tunnel at the Pentagon Metro station and building a new Metrorail line under Columbia Pike. Such a line was envisioned as a likely expansion by the Metrorail system’s original planners in the 1960s.

When the proposal for Arlington’s short-term plan for the former-streetcar corridor comes before the Arlington County Board next year, two of the five members of the Board will be newly elected, replacing the retiring Board chair and vice chair, Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada.

So far, seven candidates have declared they’re running for the two open seats: Democrats Christian Dorsey, Peter Fallon, Katie Cristol, Andrew Schneider, James Lander and Bruce Wiljanen, and independent Audrey Clement. Will this new crop of Arlington leaders revive the idea of Metro as long-term a solution for the Pike’s growth?

Dorsey tells ARLnow.com that he’s open to Metrorail as part of a more holistic discussion of the Pike’s transportation future.

“We haven’t undergone a process to really do that in a sufficient way, where we’ve looked at a variety of transit options that are possible — not feasible, but possible — and determining whether or not that matches long-range projections,” he told ARLnow.com. “I absolutely think that’s something that needs to be done in consultation with regional partners on heavy rail.”

The county is still planning to install 23 more transit stations along Columbia Pike, for a total of $12.4 million — redesigned to cost far less than the Walter Reed Super Stop prototype — and those stations are designed to accommodate enhanced bus service. However, other than assumptions that more, bigger and fancier buses will be coming to the Pike, it’s unclear how those stations will be integrated. The county has vowed to spend $200 million on the corridor’s transit over the next six years.

Cristol agreed with Dorsey, saying Arlington needs to consider all long-term options in the corridor’s future.

“I believe we need to keep everything on the table as we contend with the forces shaping re-development and transit demand in Arlington,” she said. “Rapid population growth and demand for public transit on the Pike will be a defining feature for Arlington’s coming decades … I will always be for considering and discussing big ideas — even the expensive ones that seem infeasible in the immediate — as we look to address those dynamics.”

WMATA already has a 40-year plan in place for Metrorail’s future development, but that plan, adopted in 2013, includes a connection between Arlington’s since-cancelled and D.C.’s embattled streetcar lines. WMATA has since discussed plans for a second tunnel in Rosslyn and another line in Virginia, but public discussions from the agency have not included Columbia Pike.

Photo courtesy Thierry Discoll

Wiljanen said Arlington taking on that discussion would distract from the immediate needs of the Pike’s residents.

“If a Metro line opened tomorrow under Columbia Pike, I would be elated,” he told ARLnow.com in an email. “However, given the current political and budgetary climate, starting the process now will prove to be an exceedingly heavy lift, and the timeline could easily extend 30 years or more into the future. I think we need quicker solutions.”

Clement, a perennial candidate for Arlington public office, thinks Arlington needs to take up these discussions as soon as possible.

“It is definitely time to plan for a Metrorail line under Columbia Pike,” she said. “One of the principal reasons I opposed the Pike trolley was the fact that the trolley tracks would have to be dug up to accommodate the subway, which is the ultimate solution to congestion on the Pike.”

(Fallon, Schneider and Lander did not respond to ARLnow.com’s email asking for comment.)

Dorsey also opposed the streetcar, while Cristol, a Pike resident, and Wiljanen didn’t say whether they supported the project, only that Arlington needs to move on.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — March 31, 2015 at 10:15 am 1,115 0

Multimodal transportation along I-66

County to Study ART Bus Ads — Arlington County staff will study selling advertisements on the side of ART buses. With County Board member John Vihstadt being joined by Jay Fisette and Libby Garvey in support, the Board directed County Manager Barbara Donnellan to study the issue and report back later this spring. Vihstadt said ART ads could bring in additional local revenue. [InsideNova, Twitter]

RAMMY Nomination for Liberty Tavern — Clarendon’s Liberty Tavern has been named one of the finalists in the “Everyday Casual Brunch” category for the 2015 RAMMY awards. Liberty Tavern appears to be the only Arlington restaurant nominated this year, although Tim Ma of Water & Wall in Virginia Square was nominated in the “Rising Culinary Star of the Year” category. The awards are organized by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.

Props for Crystal City, Pentagon City — Crystal City and Pentagon City are, in some ways, “experiencing the best of times,” according to Bisnow, which held a conference last week about business prospects in the “two cities.” [Bisnow]

by ARLnow.com — March 30, 2015 at 10:00 am 544 0

Crystal City 5K Friday race t-shirtIt’s almost April which means it’s almost time for Crystal City’s 5K Fridays to start up again.

Starting this week, four 5K races will be held on consecutive Fridays — April 3, 10, 17 and 24. The races kick off from 2121 Crystal Drive at 6:30 p.m. each Friday, with a course that runs up and down Crystal Drive and Long Bridge Drive.

Registration for a single race is $20. Registration for all four races is $60. Runners can register online.

Drivers should expect road closures in the area during the race.

After each race there will be a post-race party at a local watering hole, with special deals for participants.

More information about the race is available on the Pacers website.

Disclosure: The Crystal City Business Improvement District is an ARLnow.com advertiser

by Ethan Rothstein — March 27, 2015 at 4:45 pm 2,225 0

Burn & Brew, a new shop that specializes in tobacco and coffee, is open on 23rd Street S. in Crystal City.

Owner Taha Humayun opened the doors to his new shop on March 18, just a few steps away from another smoke-themed store, Smokey Shope III. He said his shop sells the cheapest cigarettes in Arlington — $5 a pack — because of deals he’s supposedly worked out with a variety of cigarette and rolling paper companies.

In the five minutes an ARLnow.com reporter was in the shop, in the former expansion space of the Gossip boutique next door, a customer came in a bought a pack of Marlboro Lights. When Humayun told her the price, she said “wow, that’s crazy.” Most of the cigarettes sold in the county cost at least a dollar more per pack, we’re told.

Burn & Brew sells bags of coffee beans and drip coffee — “no lattes or shots of espresso or anything like that,” Humayun said — as well as vaporizers, vaporizer juice, “every rolling paper on the market” and all different kinds of pipes.

“A majority of the people who smoke drink coffee,” Humayun said. “And a lot of the people who drink coffee also smoke cigarettes.”

Humayun is still waiting for a number of products to come in. When he’s all stocked — he expects that to be complete by next week — he also will sell newspapers like the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today.

He wants to be a daily stop for the smoking and drinking crowd of south Arlington, many of whom, he said, are bartenders and waiters. The Crystal City location is his second shop — he’s operated the first store in Annandale for six years.

by Ethan Rothstein — March 20, 2015 at 1:30 pm 1,160 0

Jeff Foxworthy (photo via JeffFoxworthy.com)Comedian Jeff Foxworthy, best known for his “You might be a redneck if…” bit, is coming to Arlington on April 12 for a reflux disease and esophageal cancer awareness fundraiser.

The fundraiser will include stand-up comedy from Foxworthy and an opening act, determined by a nationwide competition, and it’s called “No Laughing Matter.” The event will be at the Crystal Gateway Marriott (1700 Jefferson Davis Highway) at 7:00 p.m., and tickets are on sale for between $79 and $790.

The fundraiser aims to educate people on the link between acid reflux disease and esophageal cancer, and it’s sponsored by the Esophageal Cancer Action Network.

Along with the chance to hear Foxworthy’s routine, attendees will get access to an open bar of beer and wine, “light fare” at their table and the chance to win prizes like a walk-on role on HBO’s “Veep” and a tour of the White House’s west wing.

VIP tickets are available for the chance to take photos and mingle with Foxworthy — plus get an additional 90 minutes of open bar — for $200.

Photo via JeffFoxworthy.com

by Ethan Rothstein — March 18, 2015 at 2:55 pm 2,286 0

The Arlington County Board at its March 17 meeting(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) More than five months after the Arlington County Board canceled the Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar, the county is still a year away from any alternative plan.

“Transportation is complex,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan told the Board yesterday in an update on the area’s transit plans. “We really need to move forward in a deliberative way. We want a transit alternative very fast, but we’re going to make sure that the community is involved in whatever we do in terms of coming up with an alternative.”

Arlington Transportation Director Dennis Leach said the post-streetcar plan for Columbia Pike and Crystal City will likely mean more buses — buses that may be larger and fancier than those currently serving the corridors. While the county did previously study alternatives to streetcar, Leach said those plans need to be updated.

The future of transit in the area will be determined by the results of the county’s upcoming Transit Development Plan, to be completed by spring 2016. The TDP will be submitted to the state to make the county’s transit projects eligible for funding.

Top on the list of priorities, Leach told the Board, is building a facility for maintenance and storage for whatever buses the county decides to run on along the Pike.

“The facility issue is a really critical issue for Arlington, both for our existing ART service and for expanded service,” Leach said. The under-construction ART bus facility on S. Eads Street “does not quite meet the storage need for our fleet that we anticipate having this year. For Northern Virginia, we have some really serious facility challenges. These facilities are really hard to site.”

The county is already planning on expanding ART bus service — it’s cheaper than the equivalent Metrobus service — and Donnellan has asked the Board for funding to increase service for the ART 41, 42, 43 and 45 lines by this summer.

The county continues to progress on its major Columbia Pike multimodal improvements project, the Columbia Pike transit station project and projects in Crystal City and Pentagon City, but a unified, enhanced transit plan is not coming until next year. In all, county staff says it will spend $200 million in the next on transit improvements to the Columbia Pike and Crystal City corridors over the next six years.

The TDP will encompass countywide transit projects, but Leach said staff’s focus will be on the Pike and Crystal City.

Some County Board members used Leach’s update on post-streetcar planning to rehash old arguments made by both sides before the streetcar’s demise.

“People were told there would be another option that can be built faster and at a fraction of the cost, and it would be bus rapid transit,” Board member Walter Tejada said to Leach, referencing streetcar opponents, specifically John Vihstadt and Libby Garvey. “I’m not hearing you say that those are being considered as alternatives right now.”

Vihstadt responded by asking Donnellan if any developments had been cancelled or scaled back after the streetcar cancellation, to which Donnellan responded it was too early to tell –“I have not gotten any indication” that development was slowing, she said.

Fisette and Tejada went back and forth asking Leach to explain the federal definition of Bus Rapid Transit. According to the Federal Transit Administration, BRT is defined as 50 percent or more of a line using a dedicated lane during peak traffic periods. Columbia Pike is not feasible for a dedicated lane, but, theoretically, a combined Pike-Pentagon City-Crystal City-Potomac Yard line, using dedicated lanes in Crystal City, could meet the definition of BRT.

“I’m all about providing factual information to the community, not incorrect information that could unintentionally mislead,” Tejada said.

Board Chair Mary Hynes and member Jay Fisette — the two members who changed their votes to join Garvey and Vihstadt in cancelling the streetcar last year — admonished both sides for hijacking the discussion.

“The last 45 minutes has been disappointing,” Fisette said. “I don’t like seeing us devolve into last year’s competing facts. It’s certainly not appealing. It’s best that we, jointly, keep our eyes moving forward.”

Garvey, meanwhile, said she wanted to see the transit planning proceed expeditiously.

“Now we have to do a whole countywide process before we can look at the Pike again, and I think that’s not the intention,” she said. “I understand it all has to go together, it’s a good thing… The more I can hear a sense of urgency about moving forward the happier I will be and I think the happier our citizens will be.”

Leach responded that county staff has a leg up in the planning process due to the “body of work” already in place. He said a contract is in place for the design of new transit stops — the cheaper successor to the infamous $1 million Columbia Pike “Super Stop” — but construction isn’t likely until “early 2016.”

Hynes said the study, which will join the community facilities study and Long Bridge Park aquatics center study, also announced yesterday, is important to keep the community reminded of the Board’s effort.

“I don’t want anyone listening today thinking that we are abandoning Columbia Pike,” she said, citing the multimodal improvements and transit station projects and examples. “We need the community to understand that our commitment to those things is deep, is strong, is ongoing and it’s funded.”

by ARLnow.com — March 17, 2015 at 9:25 am 1,816 0

Blackjack dealer at Leadership Arlington's Monte Carlo Night at Reagan National Airport (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day — Looking for a place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day today? Take a look at the list of Arlington Irish bars we compiled last month. [ARLnow]

Ted Cruz in Arlington Tonight — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) is scheduled to make an appearance tonight at an event at Sobe Bar and Bistro in Clarendon. The event is being hosted by former Va. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, former lieutenant governor candidate Pete Snyder and the Alexandria-based Disruptor Fund. [Facebook]

NYT On Arlington’s Streetcar Cancellation — The New York Times interviewed Arlington County Board members Jay Fisette and John Vihstadt for an article today entitled “Streetcar Revival Is Wavering in Some Cities.” In addition to Arlington’s streetcar cancellation, the article examines D.C.’s troubles in getting its streetcar line operational. [New York Times]

WeWork Revises Crystal City Plan — The coworking office company WeWork, which has been planning to open microunit apartments in an older Crystal City office building, as part of its new WeLive brand, has revised its plan. WeWork and building owner Vornado are now seeking county permission to build two floors of offices in the building. [Washington Business Journal]

Concept for Abingdon Elementary Revealed — Arlington Public Schools staff have presented plans for a 27,000 square foot expansion of Abingdon Elementary School in Fairlington. The project is expected to cost $29 million and be complete in time for the 2017-2018 school year. [InsideNova]

by ARLnow.com — March 12, 2015 at 10:30 am 8,434 0

Bob and Edith’s Diner, the iconic 24-hour eatery on Columbia Pike, is expanding with two new locations, including one in Crystal City that’s expected to open later this month.

Bob and Edith’s has taken over the space vacated by the former Cesar’s Diner, at 539 23rd Street S., after the end of February. Owner Greg Bolton says he hopes to open a new 24-hour Bob and Edith’s location there, serving the same diner fare as the Pike location, by March 25.

“Same menu, everything’s the same,” said Bolton. The new Crystal City location will have 20 booths, while the original has 17.

Bolton said he’s been eyeing the location — which is within easy walking distance of huge office and apartment buildings, not to mention hundreds of hotel rooms — for 10-12 years, but it only recently “dropped in my lap.”

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “This place is a gold mine.”

Bolton and colleagues have been busy thoroughly cleaning the interior and preparing to install new equipment, including new grills, refrigerators and a new counter. Much of the diner, including its blue booths and its gleaming metal exterior, will remain. Bolton said he’s also planning on taking advantage of the outdoor seating area in front of the diner, when the weather allows.

The Crystal City location is the first of two new locations Bolton is planning to open this spring, after years of running Bob and Edith’s as just one single diner. Another location, in the former Tommy Thai restaurant at Springfield Plaza in Springfield — “next to the Christian store,” Bolton noted — is expected to open as soon as April.

Bolton said he’s expanding “more for my kids than myself.” The Pike diner was first opened by Bolton’s parents, Robert and Edith, in 1969. It’s remained a family affair ever since, with Bolton, his wife Victoria and more recently his two children, Tammy and Chris, helping to run the restaurant alongside a couple of close family friends.

“I can go to the Gulf and [water] ski and play golf all day long, you don’t have to tell me twice,” Bolton said. “But I want to set them on another level.”

There was a second Bob and Edith’s location for a while, situated on Columbia Pike a mile and a half west of the original, but it closed in 2007. Bolton explained that it ultimately just wasn’t a good fit.

“It was just too big, it was really more of a restaurant, I felt, not a diner,” he told ARLnow.com. “I just sold it, put a few dollars in the bank, and moved on.”

The former restaurant is now slated to be torn down and replaced with a four story condo building.

As for whether Bob and Edith’s might take advantage of the Crystal City nightlife and start serving beer, Bolton didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“No liquor, just a real diner,” he said. “I don’t want the responsibility, to be honest with you. There’s enough responsibility just running a business 24 hours.”

Bolton said he’s perfectly content to let other bar owners on 23rd Street serve the booze.

“They get them drunk and I’ll sober them up,” he said.

by Ethan Rothstein — March 11, 2015 at 5:30 pm 1,471 0

A new exhibit at Crystal City’s Gallery Underground, in the shops at 2100 Crystal Drive, might hit too close too home for some new parents.

Screaming Babies” is a solo exhibit by artist Linda Lowery on display now in the free and open art space. Lowery has been drawing infants in states of “raw emotion” for years, in myriad colors, sizes and methods.

“The pain and discomfort depicted in these portraits is a metaphor for the pain and discomfort we experience all of our lives,” Lowery said about her works. “When we see a picture of an infant crying, we identify with the baby’s pain or feelings of abandonment and insecurity and fright.”

The pieces are all available for purchase. The exhibit will run until Saturday, March 28

by Ethan Rothstein — March 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm 377 0

Startup Monday header

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.

Healthcare entrepreneurs at work at LiftOff Health (photo via Facebook)Crystal City’s rebranding as a hub for all kinds of innovation has a new entry in its portfolio: LiftOff Health, a new incubator for healthcare startups.

Founded by Michael Slage, an entrepreneur and former NASA employee who also founded Better Health Box and Healthengage, LiftOff Health is in office space above the Crystal City Shops, given to them for a six-month trial period by Vornado, and Slage said it’s the perfect launching pad for an industry that has gone curiously underdeveloped in the D.C. startup scene.

“A lot of angel groups and places like the Dingman Center don’t really invest in healthcare because they don’t understand it,” Slage said. Along with being an incubator and coworking space, LiftOff will serve as a vetting agency, helping to prepare investor presentations for its clients and validation studies for investors.

“We stand between companies — the risk-takers — and hospitals — the risk avoiders,” Slage added.

LiftOff will wear many hats, but the company still has to “figure out what we are,” Slage said. Is it an incubator, a coworking space, a trade association for healthcare startups, a nonprofit? All could theoretically apply, but Slage said the company is ready to assume all forms.

“It all comes down to how we increase innovation in healthcare,” he said.

There are a couple ways Slage and his cofounders, Sandeep Pulim, Ludmila Litvyakova and Pratik Patel, plan on spurring innovation. First, is a partnership with Marymount University. The school is in negotiations to invest in LiftOff, and partner to provide educational programming. In fact, Slage said when he brought the idea to MU President Matthew Shank, Slage said Shank’s enthusiasm was part of the impetus to start the company.

Second, Slage said he reached out to dozens of foreign embassies in D.C., whose countries are thirsty for better healthcare products. While the U.S. market is tough to break into because of daunting federal regulations, the barrier to enter the market in foreign countries is much lower. LiftOff is already capable sending its clients on a five-day “trade mission” to the United Arab Emirates to set up partnerships in one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

“In the UAE, there’s a huge need for the things we take for granted here,” Slage said.

Third, LiftOff is partnering with the increasingly vital TechShop, just a few blocks away, for a new “Health makers” program. Many of the startups the incubator hopes to bring on as clients will be building and testing new devices, and there are few better resources than the maker space in Crystal City.

LiftOff Health's office space in Crystal City (photo via Facebook)LiftOff currently has 12 clients in its 5,000-square-foot space, and it’s looking for more. Slage and his team take equity in their clients’ companies — between 4 and 8 percent — or accept cash for a new tenant. LiftOff already has $500,000 in investment and is looking for another $500,000 to grow its incubator program.

Part of how the company has been able to take off so fast — they only entertained serious discussions around the idea starting last November — is its partnership with Vornado. Seeing LiftOff’s potential, Vornado gave Slage the space rent-free for six months “to see what we can do with it.” The space opened in January.

If the company is successful, there is hundreds of thousands of square footage in Vornado’s portfolio for it to grow into. Vornado and the Crystal City Business Improvement District are betting it will be.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — March 5, 2015 at 9:15 am 3,022 0

Snow on a residential area near Ballston (photo courtesy @Norr_Fit)

Nats Player’s Townhouse for Rent — A townhouse owned by Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman is available for rent. The three-bedroom home, at the Bromptons at Clarendon development, is listed at $5,750 per month. [Real House Life of Arlington]

Budget Cuts for ‘Complete Streets?’ Updated at 9:25 a.m. — As part of budget discussions, Arlington County is considering cutting $800,000 from its “complete streets” program, which funds pedestrian and bicycle improvements. The cuts would still leave $4 million in the program’s budget, however. The county is also considering eliminating two bicycle planning positions. [WAMU]

Arlington Home Show This Weekend — The annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.). [Arlington Home Show]

Underground Bike Races in Crystal City — Every Wednesday night this month, Crystal City is hosting a series of bicycle races on the bottom level of a parking garage. The races are being dubbed “Wednesday Night Spins” and feature a course shorter than a kilometer with almost a dozen turns. [WJLA]

‘Honeysuckle Hill’ Property for Sale — A large property next across from Overlee Pool on Lee Highway is for sale for $3.325 million. The property is divided into four lots, one of which includes a 75+ year old Colonial Revival home that’s expected to be preserved. [Preservation Arlington]

Photo courtesy @Norr_Fit

by ARLnow.com — February 27, 2015 at 4:15 pm 2,049 0

Update at 4:50 p.m. — The fire has been extinguished, no one was hurt and roads are reopening.

A reported generator fire in Crystal City is producing a large amount of smoke.

Arlington County Police are shutting down roads in the area around the fire and the plume of smoke, on S. Clark Street between 26th and 27th Streets. Firefighters are on the scene and have brought the fire under control, according to scanner traffic

On today’s clear, sunny day, residents are reporting seeing the smoke from more than a mile away.

by Ethan Rothstein — February 20, 2015 at 2:40 pm 891 0

Update on 2/21/15 — This project has been approved. See the county press release here.

Millions of dollars in construction work to improve the flow of traffic near the Crystal City Metro Station could begin in a matter of months.

The Arlington County Board will vote at its meeting tomorrow to award a $2.7 million contract for construction on S. Bell Street and 18th Street. The work would include building four bus bays on 18th Street S. under Jefferson-Davis Highway and converting S. Bell Street to a two-way road between 15th and 18th Streets.

The project was originally split in two — the bus bays and surrounding street improvements and converting Bell Street to a two-way road — but the county decided to consolidate to reduce construction impacts and improve coordination, according to the staff report.

The bays allow buses and shuttles to park at an angle along the street, as opposed to stacking parallel to the curb and clogging traffic.

“Construction of the transit and street improvements are important for improving safety and traffic flow in the area, as well as supporting the Crystal City Sector Plan and the [Crystal City-Potomac Yard] Transitway,” the staff report states.

If approved, construction is slated to begin in April and take about 12 months. The contract includes a 15 percent contingency — 5 percent higher than standard because of unknown complications that could come from digging up the street.

According to county Department of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet, the new bus bays are needed for hotel and employer shuttles that drop off around the Metro station. The Transitway, when fully realized, will turn northbound Crystal Drive into a dedicated bus lane during rush hour. Those shuttles currently stop and drop off passengers on Crystal Drive, and they will be temporarily moved during construction.

One lane of travel each way along 18th Street S. will remain open during construction. The contractor that won the contract, Ardent Company, submitted a $2.3 million bid, more than $800,000 less expensive than the second-place bidder in a nine-bid race. The county determined Ardent to be a responsible bidder.

In addition to the bus bays and S. Bell Street work, the construction will add to the area:

  • A median under Jefferson-Davis Highway, to prevent what the county calls “prevalent” jaywalking near where the bus bays will be placed;
  • Bus shelters and benches at each of the four sawtooth bays;
  • Sidewalk improvements on both sides of 18th Street S.;
  • Replacing the asphalt roadway with concrete to withstand increase stress from bus traffic; and
  • Reconfiguring the S. Bell Street and 18th Street intersection to improve safety and circulation

by Ethan Rothstein — February 13, 2015 at 3:30 pm 3,248 0

Two masked men held up the McDonald’s at 2620 Jefferson Davis Highway early this morning and stole cash.

The two men caught on surveillance cameras entered the fast-food joint about 4:40 a.m. and jumped over the front counter, police said. One man pointed a handgun at employees while the other man served as a lookout. The thieves stuffed cash into a backpack and drove off in a dark sedan. No injuries were reported.

Police described the first suspect as a black man in his 20s who stands about 5-foot-3, weighs 125 pounds and was last seen wearing ripped jeans and construction boots. The other man was described as black, about 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds. He was wearing dark jeans and a black North Face coat.

Anyone with information about the crime is encouraged to contact Det. Mulvaney of the ACPD’s robbery/homicide unit at 703-228-4239 or at [email protected], or submit a tip anonymously at 866-411-TIPS (8477).

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