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Crystal City’s Underground Bike Derby Returns Tomorrow

by Ethan Rothstein | May 16, 2014 at 11:00 am | 649 views | No Comments

Phoenix Derby (photo via Crystal City BID)The Phoenix Derby, featuring an open ride and several races, returns to a Crystal City parking garage tomorrow afternoon.

This year’s event, in the garage under 1851 S. Bell Street, replaced the Diamond Derby of past years, but includes largely the same activities: several underground races and a bar and lounge in the middle of the garage to watch the cyclists zip around.

Unlike previous years, all proceeds from racer registrations go to benefit Phoenix Bikes, an Arlington-based nonprofit that teaches youths how to build and repair bicycles while fostering “real-world skills and education.”

Cyclists can register to participate in the kids race, team relays, a “celebrity cruise” with an obstacle course and sprint competitions. The events start at 2:00 p.m. and runs until 6:00 p.m., with last call at the bar at 5:30 p.m. Registration for each race is $20 per rider. Spectators can watch for free.

“The Derby is a creative way to show off Crystal City’s accessibility for bicycles and cars — by highlighting the area’s often overlooked parking assets,” Angela Fox, President/CEO of the Crystal City Business Improvement District, said in a press release. “We are excited about the evolution into the Phoenix Derby and its ability to support this amazing Arlington-based nonprofit organization.”

Photo via Crystal City BID. Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.

County to Add Bike Lane, Remove Travel Lanes from S. Eads Street

by Ethan Rothstein | May 15, 2014 at 10:45 am | 1,378 views | No Comments

(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) Arlington will be rolling out a pilot program for S. Eads Street this fall that will give residents an idea of what the future of the Pentagon City/Crystal City corridor will look like for years to come.

The county has decided that the four-lane road, which runs parallel to Jefferson Davis Highway from Army Navy Drive to Four Mile Run, is unnecessarily wide, and should be changed to a three-lane road — the center lane for left turns — with increased pedestrian and bicycle amenities.

The county’s Department of Environmental Services recently released a survey asking residents which plan for S. Eads Street they prefer: a regular bike lane with a buffer and a larger parking lane, a street-level “cycle” track with a physical buffer, or a “raised cycle track” with a larger barrier less space for both parked and driving cars. The survey will be open until June 18.

“The reallocation of the available street space allows for other uses such as widened sidewalks, bicycle facilities, pedestrian median refuges, and on-street parking, all to meet the existing and future needs of S. Eads Street,” the county writes at the beginning of the survey. “This pilot program will include many elements that may be included in the final design of S. Eads Street. During the pilot, various aspects of roadway operations will be monitored, including travel times and vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic counts.”

The pilot program this fall will reduce the traffic to three lanes and institute a “protected bike facility,” as well as increased pedestrian crossings and reconfigured parking. The program will be installed between 15th Street and 23rd Street S., according to DES spokesman Eric Balliet, and most closely resemble “Option 2,” which includes the street-level cycle track. Balliet said the dimensions of the program will differ from those presented as the long-term Option 2 changes.

The Crystal City Sector Plan calls for increased density along parts of S. Eads Street closer to Army Navy Drive, which is also a part of the alignment for the Crystal City streetcar. There will be a meeting for residents to discuss their thoughts and concerns over the future of S. Eads Street on Wednesday, May 21, at 7:00 p.m. at the Aurora Highlands Community Center (735 18th Street S.).

‘Micro-Unit’ Apartments Proposed for Crystal City

by Ethan Rothstein | May 13, 2014 at 11:00 am | 5,742 views | No Comments

One of the region’s first “micro-unit” apartment buildings is coming to Crystal City.

A new apartment concept is planned for a vacant Crystal City office building, one that would bring the office trend of co-working spaces to the residential real estate market. The project, called WeLive, is being developed by co-working space company WeWork in partnership with Vornado. The building planned to be redeveloped and repurposed is 2221 S. Clark Street, at the corner of 23rd Street S. and Jefferson Davis Highway.

The plan calls for the former office building to be turned into 252 apartment units and 5,848 square feet of ground floor retail. Many of those apartments will be “micro-units,” with fully-furnished studio apartments between 300 and 360 square feet. There are also three- and four-bedroom units, each under 800 square feet.

Although the apartments are tiny, the company plans to make up for that by placing common areas in the middle of the floors. WeLive aims to create two-floor “neighborhoods,” connected by a flight of stairs, with common space in the center of each floor. Each neighborhood would have a commercial-grade kitchen, a dining area, and a common area that may include a living room, a garden, or other amenities.

The idea is that residents — younger tech workers, mostly — would be more interested in hanging out together outside or in common areas than in their individual apartments.

“The idea behind this residential concept is really an extension of WeWork,” said Vornado Senior Vice President of Residential Development Toby Millman. “It’s taking this communal aspect of a work environment and applying it to a residential concept… There’s a lot of great things happening in Crystal City, like TechShop and Crystal Tech Fund, and this really works well in bringing that entrepreneurial spirit to Crystal City.”

Each unit is designed to have its own bathroom and a kitchenette with a small refrigerator, microwave and sink, but no oven or stove. County staff said they’ve studied the designs and said it complies with both code and zoning for a residential building.

The building is known as Plaza 6 — part of the six-building Crystal Plaza development that includes the Shops at 2100 Crystal Drive and has interconnected underground parking — and it’s now vacant after the last federal government tenant moved out a few months ago.

The building is in the path of the future alignment of S. Clark/Bell Street and is set to be demolished and redeveloped by 2050, according to the Crystal City Sector Plan. That gave pause to some members of Arlington’s Site Plan Review Committee at the group’s meeting last might.

Millman assured the SPRC that the lease with WeWork — which would control the entire building, including the ground floor retail — would last 20 years and the apartments would serve as simply an interim use.

“It’s completely vacant right now,” he said. “And there’s little or no prospect of ever re-leasing this building. It’s an obsolete office building for today’s standards.”

The 12th and top floor of the building, slightly smaller than the others, will feature standard apartments. The ten floors beneath it, however, may serve as a model for future residential development, aimed squarely at the young entrepreneurs and millennials who work in the co-working spaces that are popping up all over the D.C. area.

“[WeWork] essentially said, ‘we like Crystal City, but we’re not ready to do WeWork there because we’re concerned the people who we want in WeWork don’t have a place to live,’” said Mitchell Bonanno, Vornado’s Director of Development. “You can price these at a point where the young entrepreneurs can afford it and become a part of the community. That’s one of the reason the units are small: to keep the units market-affordable.”

Photo via Google Maps

New FAA Policy Could Hamper Crystal City, Rosslyn Redevelopment

by Ethan Rothstein | May 9, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 2,358 views | No Comments

The view from our ARLive event space at 2011 Crystal Drive in Crystal CityThe Federal Aviation Administration is considering a policy change that would lower the maximum allowable building heights near airports, a regulation that could severely hamper future development in Arlington’s urban centers of Rosslyn and Crystal City.

On April 28, the FAA formally announced it was considering changing the regulations regarding “One Engine Inoperative” safety procedures, the rules dictating precautions that should be taken in case one engine fails on a plane during takeoff.

This afternoon, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) introduced a bill that would require the FAA to put the policy change through “standard rulemaking procedure,” including a cost-benefit analysis by the federal Office of Management and Budget and studies by other agencies before taking effect. The FAA advertised the new rule as a “proposed policy,” which would circumvent the rulemaking procedure, Moran told ARLnow.com.

“The airlines and the airports authority are acting out of greed,” Moran said. “It’s self-centered on their part. It’s disappointing and it should be stopped in my view. I’m just asking that they go through the normal, standard rule-making procedure where you look at the real-world impact, but they don’t want to consider what the economic impact would be in surrounding communities because their stovepipe attitude is they exist for the benefit of the airlines.”

Moran said the regulations are unnecessary as it stands because, unless commercial planes are overloaded, they can ascend well enough to clear the current maximum height restrictions.

“There are millions of flights that go in and out of our airports and it never happens,” Moran, referencing the threat of a One Engine Inoperative situation that leads to a crash into a building. “The reason for this rule change is that they want to make more money by overloading the planes with cargo, passengers and fuel… They need to exercise some restraint so that if one engine was to become inoperable they could continue climbing.”

According to Moran, almost 170 structures in Virginia, largely in Crystal City and Rosslyn, would be impacted by the regulation. While the buildings that are currently built would not be affected, any redevelopment would have to come in the form of shorter buildings, meaning the property values of current buildings could plummet.

It’s unclear at this point what the new maximum height for the buildings would be, according to Moran’s office, but it’s likely buildings like 1812 N. Moore Street and the under-construction Central Place would exceed it. Crystal City especially could be hurt, Moran said, because of the vacant buildings that are in line for redevelopment after the military’s Base Realignment and Closure Act rendered many of them vacant.

“[The policy] would stop any high-rise redevelopment,” Moran said. “If you’re going to make the public investment in Metro, you’ve got to have the high-rise, high-density development around it to pay for it. This would prohibit that.”

Moran’s co-sponsors on the bill are Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.). The bipartisan-supported bill could slow the regulatory process significantly if it passes, Moran said. The FAA advertisement solicits public comment for 60 days, after which it could proceed to implement it. If the bill passes, the process would likely take more than a year.

“I think we’ve got a shot at it,” Moran said. “Frankly, I think the real impact of the bill is going to be to alert FAA that there is a lot of congressional resistance to what they want, and they’ll take it into their own hands and go through the normal procedure.”

File photo

Transgender Navy SEAL Hosts Crystal City Art Show

by Ethan Rothstein | May 7, 2014 at 11:00 am | 2,823 views | No Comments

Kristin Beck (photo via Facebook)(Updated at 6:35 p.m.) A former U.S. Navy SEAL is hosting an art fundraiser in Crystal City next month to raise money for veterans returning home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other combat-induced disabilities.

Alexandria-based nonprofit The 296 Project will host a gallery show and silent auction at Gallery Underground (2100 Crystal Drive) of U.S. Navy Senior Chief Kristin Beck, a transgender, 20-year veteran of the Navy whose art “kept her from suicide on more than one occasion,” according to a press release for the event.

Beck, who took part in seven combat deployments with the SEALS and was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, was diagnosed with PTSD and a 90 percent disability rating.

The first ever transgender Navy SEAL, Beck “will be addressing the crowd personally,” and discussing the therapeutic effect creating artwork had on her recovery, according to the press release. She will also be advocating for The 296 Project, which “promotes, funds, supports and advocates for art and expressive therapies” for veterans when they return to the States, according to Executive Director Scott Gordon.

Beck’s work will be on display at the gallery from June 2-28. The show will be on June 6 from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. and tickets are $15.

Photo via Facebook

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | May 2, 2014 at 9:05 am | 1,529 views | No Comments

Arlington County's courthouse and police headquarters

Police Launch Juvenile Crime Initiative — With prom around the corner, the Arlington County Police Department’s School Resource Officers are launching a spring initiative to prevent and reduce juvenile crime. Offers will focus on preventing crimes like drug and alcohol-related offenses among middle and high school students. [Arlington County]

Woman Falls into Manhole — A woman says she fell into a manhole near Columbia Pike Thursday afternoon. It reportedly happened while crews were working on manholes in the area. The victim says she was hurt and and is considering legal action. [WJLA]

Venture Capitalist Moving to Crystal City – Venture capitalist George Kellerman is leaving Silicon Valley and coming to Crystal City. Kellerman has joined the new Crystal Tech Fund as a partner. [TechCrunch, MyFoxDC]

A Puppeteering Legacy Endures in Crystal City

by Ethan Rothstein | May 1, 2014 at 11:00 am | 1,343 views | No Comments

Alban Odoulamy has been running Puppet Heaven, or puppet shops by other names, in Crystal City for 18 years, but his heart isn’t in it like it used to be.

Odoulamy emigrated to the U.S. in the mid-1990s from the small, French-speaking West African country of Benin, where he had worked in production and set design for children’s programming for the state-owned television station. He had been formally trained in Marionette puppetry — the puppets controlled by strings — and worked under a master puppeteer until he came here, where he worked as a concierge for Charles E. Smith before its merger with Vornado.

A year after starting his new job in his new country, he saw a vacant shop in a nearby alley and decided to turn it into his own puppet store and workshop, calling it La Marionette. The shop has moved and changed names twice before finding a permanent home in the Shops at 1750 Crystal Drive, as Puppet Heaven.

Odoulamy is not a shop owner by trade, however. He’s a puppeteer, and he’s done shows around the country — around the world, if you count his home country — but he can’t do them right now.

“I miss the shows,” he said, with the remnants of his French accent still very present in his voice. “Doing them is a full-time job. You have to create your characters, your script and your set. It’s not easy. I was trained to do shows in a studio for television; it’s not like some guy on the street.”

Odoulamy used to have two employees to work the shop while he performed, but business has slowed in recent years. Now, it’s just him, opening the shop at 10:00 a.m. six days a week and closing at 7:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. on Saturdays).

Odoulamy said he approached Vornado a few years ago and told them he was considering closing his shop. To convince him to stay, he said, they gave the shop a renovation. Plus, he says, his shop now has a legacy of customers since it opened in April 1996.

“Just the other day, I had these 23-year-old girls come in the shop and say ‘hi,’” he said. “I didn’t recognize them, but they told me they were two of the first customers at La Marionette and showed me the picture. I love that.”

Odoulamy is 55 now, and he doesn’t know how much longer he wants to keep the shop, despite his loyalty to Vornado/Charles E. Smith. On the contrary, he cherishes each customer who comes in and wants to buy a puppet for their children or themselves.

“I want to keep the tradition of a puppeteer and keep the art alive,” he said. “Everyone enjoys puppets. People still come in and buy Elmo puppets. Some people come in and see the Lamb Chop and they start crying.”

When he goes home every night — just a few blocks away, since he lives in Crystal City — he’s working on a new show, building a new theater and making new puppets.

“I’ve been doing puppets for 31 years,” he said. “I feel like I want to start over. Parents call me all the time and ask me to do shows and I don’t have time. The show is in my heart now, but I want to do it again.”

Crystal City Startup Brings Local Florists Online

by Ethan Rothstein | April 28, 2014 at 12:30 pm | 543 views | No Comments

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.

The Bloompop team at its Crystal Tech Fund workplace(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) Shavanna Miller has always loved flowers, and has a passion for supporting local businesses. Until last year, those were merely interests and hobbies.

Today, those interests and hobbies have spawned Bloompop, an e-commerce platform that lets customers browse and purchase flowers from some of the best local florists in their city. Miller said she was tired of seeing local florists struggling while national flower delivery companies delivered inferior products.

“It’s always clear the difference between a local florist and a big national chain,” Miller said. “It’s a much better value and the difference in quality is incredible.”

Miller originally had the idea when she was working in community develop New York City for Meetup six years ago. It wasn’t until late in 2012 — when she was in charge of U.S. digital sales for Rosetta Stone in Rosslyn — when a friend of hers gave her an angel investment to chase her dream. Her last day at Rosetta Stone was Dec. 31, 2012.

Miller hired a developer last March and a designer a month later. By the summer, Bloompop was in beta mode, helping deliver flowers around the D.C. area, but before that, Miller had to convince local florists to partner with her, despite having no product to show them and no customers yet on board.

Screenshot of Bloompop's website“Florists have been screwed over for years by different entities,” Miller said. “Getting the first one or two well-known florists was helpful. If you’re a florist in D.C., you know who the other good florists are.”

Bloompop’s first partner was Ultraviolet Flowers in D.C. “I basically had to speak with them four or five times to convince them to sign up,” she said.

Once the first florist or two was on board, Miller and Bloompop formed a system for dictating which florists to choose. She goes on multiple online review sites and only selects those with four- and five-star ratings, and considers florists that have creative arrangements and are willing to work with Bloompop’s universal pricing structure: every arrangement costs $69, $99 or $129, and the delivery fee, no matter where the recipient is, is a flat $10, even for same day delivery.

“A lot of the complaints in the flower industry is how non-transparent the price is,” she said. “A flower website will run a $30-for-roses sale, but after delivery, convenience and other fees, you wind up paying $70. With our site, you can easily compare what you’re getting from different florists because the price points are consistent.”

The Bloompop teamBloompop’s official launch was in September, by which time the company was based in D.C.’s 1776 incubator. Now, Miller and her small team have a workspace in the new Crystal Tech Fund in Crystal City, although they are the one company there that hasn’t yet reached $1 million in annual revenue. Miller said Bloompop was accepted into Crystal Tech Fund because its founder/investor, Paul Singh, sees promise in the company.

Miller said the company set a sales goal before it looked into expansion, and hit that goal within three months. Now, Bloompop is either launched, or soon will be launched, in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas City, Mo., and Sarasota, Fla.

(more…)

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | April 23, 2014 at 10:00 am | 985 views | No Comments

Dogwood flowers in Arlington (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

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 Opens in Crystal City

by Ethan Rothstein | April 22, 2014 at 9:50 am | 1,678 views | No Comments

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.”

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | April 18, 2014 at 8:00 am | 2,002 views | No Comments

Fort Bennett Park (photo courtesy Rick Shewell)

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

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | April 16, 2014 at 9:05 am | 1,633 views | No Comments

Rainy night on the Pike (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

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

Investment Fund Launches in Crystal City

by Ethan Rothstein | April 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm | 821 views | No Comments

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.”

RV Fire Closes Southbound Route 1 in Crystal City

by Ethan Rothstein | April 9, 2014 at 10:05 am | 2,070 views | No Comments

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.

Road Closures for Crystal City 5K Fridays

by Ethan Rothstein | April 4, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 571 views | No Comments

Crystal City 5K Friday (photo via Crystal City BID)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

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