Artisphere is very likely to close on June 30, barring a change of heart from the majority of the Arlington County Board, and while many agree with the Board’s decision, the local art scene is lamenting the loss.
Artisphere — with multiple theaters for programming of everything from local orchestras to international groups with experimental sounds and galleries for its free visual art displays — will continue operating as planned, Executive Director Jose Ortiz said.
“The show must go on,” he told ARLnow.com yesterday. “It was definitely a disappointing decision … We have programs that are planned and on the books, from exhibitions and performances to rentals. The items that are on the books must continue.”
ARLnow.com’s unscientific poll yesterday asked readers if they agreed with County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s recommendation to close Artisphere at the end of the fiscal year. Some 57 percent of poll respondents – out of nearly 3,000 votes – said they agree with the decision. Ortiz said he didn’t necessarily disagree with it.
“Barbara said it. This was a business decision,” he said.
Some critics of the move are calling it “short-sighted,” alluding to the multimedia center’s uptick in both revenues and visitors in the past year or more. Donnellan said the theater would require $2 million or more per year to stay open, but vowed to continue the revitalization efforts in Rosslyn.
“In an era when communities throughout the country and especially in the D.C. area have used arts and culture to successfully revitalize neighborhoods, Donnellan’s recommendation to close the county’s most vital cultural asset is both shocking and remarkably short-sighted,” wrote Phil Hutinet, editor of D.C. arts website East City Art.
Ortiz started at Artisphere four months after it opened to lots of hype and hope the it would be revenue neutral. He said he would have “helped people understand what Artisphere was” if he had been involved from the beginning. Still, he said, he’s proud of the four years of programming the center has showcased.
“My hope is people will remember us because they were part of a project or they attended something here that blew their minds,” he said.
A full statement from Oritz on Artisphere’s closing, after the jump: (more…)
Red, Hot & Blue, the barbecue chain restaurant at 1600 Wilson Blvd, is closing on Sunday.
Manager Chris Hawkins confirmed to ARLnow.com that the restaurant — which he says has been open since at least 1989 — will have its last day on Sunday, but he said the staff has been kept in the dark as to why.
“I haven’t the slightest idea” why the restaurant is closing, Hawkins said. “It was brought to my attention this week. We’re still trying to figure it out.”
Until the restaurant closes after Sunday, it will still offer everything it’s promised, including a holiday meal to go for $69, that customers can pick up on Sunday.
The tower, currently under construction at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Moore and Lynn Streets, will provide the public with a place to look down on D.C., the National Mall and Arlington National Cemetery from 390 feet up. The building will be one of the tallest in the region, and local officials think it will be the key for making Rosslyn a major tourist hub.
“We really believe that’s going to be a game changer,” said Rosslyn Business Improvement District President Mary-Claire Burick. “Moreso than other projects because it will really position Rosslyn as a tourist destination. This is something that we really think will be quite a draw into Rosslyn.”
The observation deck will pair with the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, five blocks down the road, for major tourist destinations that will create a “critical mass,” Burick said.
“Iwo Jima, the Netherlands Carrilon, Arlington Cemetery is a few blocks away,” she said. “All these things are right within this core area, and it’s so centrally located and accessible. We have a large cluster of hotels here with the Marriott, the Hyatt, Le Meridien … I think when you look at all that together, you’re now starting to see a critical mass of things happening in Rosslyn.”
The Iwo Jima memorial and Netherlands Carrilon drew a combined 1.4 million visitors in 2007, the most recently available data, according to Arlington Director of Convention and Visitor Service Emily Cassell. Arlington National Cemetery was the county’s most popular attraction, at 4 million visitors.
Cassell said Arlington expects the CEB Tower observation deck to draw comparable numbers to similar decks in New York City and Chicago, cities with larger – but perhaps less monumental — skylines than D.C.
“Being able to see the nation’s capital from that perspective and having a 360-degree view would be really exceptional,” Cassell said.
Another potential tourist attraction down the road: a boathouse along the Potomac River. The National Park Service, which owns Arlington’s shoreline, said this summer that “the ball is rolling” on preliminary plans for the boathouse and Rosslyn boosters are salivating at yet another feature for the neighborhood. They’re also eyeing the potential for a gondola across the river to Georgetown.
“The gondola would represent the fun aspect of what Rosslyn is all about,” said Peter Greenwald, the Chairman of the Rosslyn BID and a senior advisor for Penzance, “with connectedness in new, fun and different ways that play into the creative class and the innovation that Rosslyn is becoming known for.”
The “critical mass” would likely benefit the future development planned for Rosslyn. Besides Central Place (the CEB Tower project), there’s the approved Rosslyn Gateway and Colony House project, plus plans for a Rosslyn Plaza redevelopment. In total, those could bring more than 800 new hotel rooms to Rosslyn in the not-too-distant future.
Despite its bright future, there still lingers the perception that Rosslyn is nothing more than a transit hub filled with office buildings. Burick’s charge since she was hired at the BID last fall is to change that perception.
“We want to market Rosslyn as a modern, premier destination,” Burick said. “I think when you come here on weekends and evenings, you’re already seeing that the streets do have life. I think the perception is already changing.”
Image courtesy The JBG Companies
The Rosslyn Business Improvement District is planning to reshape the sidewalks of Rosslyn next year.
Recently, BID employees have tagged newspaper boxes around the area for removal by tomorrow (Friday), but Rosslyn BID Urban Design Director Lucia deCordre said they will soon be replace by modern newsbox corrals in high-pedestrian areas, instead of the current semi-scattered layout around various parts of Rosslyn.
The corrals, new benches designed with slots placed to resemble the lights of Rosslyn’s skyline, parklets for outdoor dining and WiFi-enabled streetlights are among the elements the BID is planning on bringing to Rosslyn, starting in the spring. No active newsboxes will be removed, the BID says — the notices were placed on the boxes to have the vendors contact the BID about the plans for the corrals.
“We’re really looking to give a facelift to the sidewalks,” deCordre told ARLnow.com today. “We did an inventory of everything we have out there with streetscape, how to make them more pedestrian friendly and hang out a little more and support the retail.”
The BID is in the process of submitting plans to Arlington County to install prototypes of several of the designs at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Oak Street. If approved, the prototypes would be installed in the spring, and, if it’s successful, more elements will be introduced all over the BID’s footprint, which extends to N. Quinn Street.
“We’re going to take a full block and at least get one or two of the pieces so we can see how it all interacts together, how it works together,” said Mary-Claire Burick, the president of the Rosslyn BID. “It’s really all about the pedestrian experience. This really just takes us to that next step of that really modern, high-end contemporary feel.”
Some of the design elements will also have functions for those in the neighborhood. One of the mobile phone charging kiosks is already operational at the corner of N. Moore and 19th Streets, and Burick said it’s “very popular.” The streetlights would be enabled with WiFi, creating a network throughout the district.
Disclosure: Rosslyn BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Arlington Firms Among ‘Best Companies to Work For’ – Two Arlington-based companies have made the annual list of the top 50 small and medium-sized companies to work for . The 2015 list, compiled by employment website Glassdoor.com, ranks Ballston-based Evolent Health at No. 3 and Courthouse-based Opower at No. 25.
New Plan for Rosslyn Plaza — Vornado and Gould Property Co. have updated their redevelopment plan for Rosslyn Plaza, the series of aging buildings along N. Arlington Ridge Road between Wilson Blvd and 19th Street N. The development team is proposing 2.5 million square feet of new construction, including a total of five office and residential buildings, four acres of open space and a esplanade deck with views of D.C. and an outdoor ice rink in the winter. [Washington Business Journal]
Celtics Player Swings By The Italian Store — Celtics center Kelly Olynyk stopped by The Italian Store after losing to the Wizards in double-overtime on Monday. He posed for photos and even helped make sandwiches and pizzas. Olynyk isn’t the only pro athlete that has visited the Lee Highway store. Nene, of the Wizards, and Nationals stars Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman have stopped by, as has NBA great John Stockton, who happens to be owner Bob Tramonte’s brother-in-law. [Washington Post]
ACFD Recruitment Starts Tomorrow — The Arlington County Fire Department’s biennial open recruitment period starts tomorrow. From Dec. 12-25 ACFD will accept applications for potential firefighter and EMT recruits. No experience is necessary. The county has also made a series of “Join the ACFD” videos for recruitment purposes. [Arlington County]
Arbour Realty Acquired By Md. Brokerage — Arbour Realty, the Ballston-based boutique real estate brokerage owned by “Ask Adam” columnist Adam Gallegos, has been acquired by Real Living At Home, a larger brokerage with office in Chevy Chase, Md. and Dupont Circle in D.C. Gallegos will hand over management responsibilities and continue as an agent with Real Living At Home. [Real Living At Home]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The Board has four items in Saturday’s consent agenda dealing with the conversion of space mandated to be retail, based on building’s site plans, to office or medical uses. One of those items is for a dentist’s office already in operation in Courthouse Plaza under a temporary site plan amendment.
The other three agenda items are for:
- Two vacant retail spaces, totaling 3,696 square feet, at 1800 N. Kent Street. One space (pictured above) was a private school space that has been vacant for six years. The other had been occupied by dry cleaners, but has been vacant for 10 years, according to the staff report.
- A 2,830-square-foot vacant space on the ground floor of 2001 15th Street N., in the Odyssey Condominiums. The space fronts Clarendon Blvd, but it has been vacant for five years, other than serving as a temporary leasing office for the now-opened apartments across the street, the staff report states. Since the leasing office has relocated, the owner reports difficulty finding a tenant for the space.
- A 1,520-square-foot space at 1600 Wilson Blvd, the former site of the Sir Speedy Printing Center, which has been vacant since July. The space, according to the staff report, “has a history of retail vacancy and poses some location challenges for retail attraction.”
County staff identified no issues for any of these sites, suggesting a “medical/physical therapy office, will help activate the street and pose no adverse impacts to the neighborhood,” in all of the reports.
The county seems to be taking a softer line on mandated ground floor retail spaces, in recognition that some storefronts are just not viable for traditional retail. For instance, 1800 N. Kent Street is well hidden from Rosslyn’s main N. Lynn Street drag, resulting in a relative paucity of the foot traffic that could bring customers to a small business.
County staff, in recommending approval of the motions, used the draft Arlington Retail Action Plan as guidance in its decisions.
The draft action plan, which would replace and expand upon the 2001 Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor Retail Plan, includes a map that specifies which type of retail can go where. According to the county’s planning staff, all four locations on Saturday’s agenda are considered appropriate for medical or office use under the draft retail map.
Rosslyn is finally getting a restaurant that serves pizza by the slice.
Wiseguy NY Pizza is opening a location, at 1735 N. Lynn Street, in the former Quiznos Subs location. In October, Wiseguy owner Tony Errol told Eater.com that the shop should open “in about three months or so.” So far, Wiseguy has not replied to a request for comment from ARLnow.com.
The pizza place’s first location is on 3rd Street and Massachusetts Ave. NW in the District, where it has received plaudits for coming close to replicating authentic New York-style pizza. It claims to make its pizza with “New Yorkinized water” thanks to a “special filter system.”
The eatery also offers garlic knots — a rare sight in the District — and cheesecake from New York staple Junior’s Cheesecake.
ModevCon, a conference for people interested in designing software for mobile platforms, is coming to Arlington next week.
Starting at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 11, Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd) will host hundreds of developers attending dozens of lectures, workshops and sponsors over a two-day event. The conference is described as “the East Coast’s premier mobile development event.”
The schedule also includes networking events and sessions on developing for iOS and Android, design, cross-platform technology and marketing. Panels include topics like “Women in Mobile Development” and monetizing apps.
The event is still open for registration. For two full days the conference costs $595 — it’s $395 for Thursday only and $295 for Friday only. Registration is still open here.
Arlington County’s economic development office, which runs Artisphere, is listed as a platinum-level sponsor of the event.
(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) For the past two weeks, officers with the Arlington County Police Department spent the lunch hour issuing parking tickets to food trucks and other vehicles along N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn.
The increase in enforcement, according to ACPD spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm, came after the police received complaints that the trucks were parking illegally beyond the two hour limit in the metered spots.
“They weren’t just writing parking tickets to the food trucks, they were writing tickets to all vehicles,” Malcolm told ARLnow.com. Officers from the Rosslyn district conducted meetings with the vendors about the parking situation. “Officers spoke with and warned food trucks about all the laws there.”
Malcolm said one food truck owner agreed with the enforcement. The vendor told police “it had to be done, the saving spots in overnight parking was getting out of hand,” Malcolm said. Not all food vendors that frequent Lynn Street — one of the busiest spots in the area for food trucks — think the enforcement is a good idea.
Maireni Melo, who works on Brandon’s Little Truck, strongly objected to the enforcement.
“They’re enforcing the two-hour parking limit, but they’re checking on vendor’s licenses and everything while they do it,” he said.
Brandon’s Little Truck was stopped from selling last week because of licensing issues, but they were back open for business today (Monday) for lunch. Melo sold out by 1:30 p.m., he said, and the line for the truck formed before the window even opened.
“We’ll just keep feeding the meter, even if there’s a limit,” he said. “We can afford a ticket. If you’re going to get a $35 ticket, that’s just a little more than three sandwiches.”
Che Ruddell-Tabisola, the executive director of the DMV Food Truck Association, said there’s been some confusion over whether trucks need to move after the two-hour limit on Lynn Street expires.
“Different enforcement officers have different answers,” he said. As for the enforcement campaign, spurred by complaints, Ruddell-Tabisola said similar situations have popped up around the area about the brick-and-mortar businesses complaining. “We’ve had situations where established brick-and-mortars oppose innovation and variety.”
“In the past complaints prompted enforcement, and if that’s the case here, I think that’s unfortunate, because food trucks are really good for the community,” he continued. “Food trucks are job creators, we contribute to the tax base, and ultimately we contribute to these vibrant commercial centers. You really want to have a dynamic mix of commercial and retail, different dishes, different price points. You want a mix of everything so everyone can benefit from it.”
The parking issue may soon be a thing of the past, however. As part of the Retail Action Plan the county will consider next year, food trucks may be able to vend from dedicated vending zones, including in Rosslyn.
“With social media and serial followers, vending can help pull customers into different areas,” the proposed Retail Action Plan states. “Establishing vending zones, to allow trucks to vend for longer than two hours or for alternative hours, can help prime an area that is not quite ready for retail or can attract people to other uses — parks, cultural venues or other businesses.”
Ruddell-Tabisola called Arlington “a real leader” in food truck policy. Malcolm said ACPD’s enforcement was for “a two-week evaluation,” but if vehicles continue to flout the law, police may consider another ticketing crackdown.
Crystal City and Rosslyn were big winners at the NAIOP Northern Virginia commercial real estate development awards yesterday.
Projects and transactions in the two Arlington communities accounted for nearly a third of the 25 awards given out by the organization last night. Adding to Arlington’s haul was one award for a building in Clarendon.
The Arlington winners included:
- Monument View in Crystal City — Best Real Estate Transaction – Sale, Award of Merit
- 1776 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn — Best Real Estate Transaction – Sale, Award of Excellence
- CEB Tower at Central Place in Rosslyn — Best Real Estate Transaction – Lease, Award of Merit
- WeWork in Crystal City – Best Real Estate Transaction – Lease, Award of Excellence
- Crystal Tech Fund in Crystal City — Best Interiors 0-14,999 SF, Award of Excellence
- Vornado/Charles E. Smith DesignLab in Crystal City — Best Project Marketing, Award of Excellence
- Presidential Towers in Crystal City — Best Building Common Area, Award of Merit
- 3001 & 3003 Washington Boulevard in Clarendon — Best Speculative Office Building 7 to 14 Stories, Award of Excellence
- 1812 North Moore Street in Rosslyn — Best Speculative Office Building 15 Stories and Above, Award of Merit
Don Tito is likely to open in the 10,000 square foot space at 3165 Wilson Blvd by early March, according to Scott Parker, one of the establishment’s five partners. Construction is expected to start as soon as next week.
The restaurant will feature “flex Mex” cuisine — Mexican dishes plus traditional American fare with a “Mexican twist” — but the emphasis will be more on the aforementioned beer and tequila. A bar will be added to what is now a dining area on the second floor, and a second bar will be added to the center of the rooftop.
The partners in Don Tito are Parker, Nick Cordero and Mike Cordero — the owners of the popular but oft-maligned A-Town Bar and Grill in Ballston — plus newcomers Ryan DeMagistris and Jason Fisher. All five are Arlington residents, Parker said.
The Cordero crew is on a roll since closing the financially-sound but stagnant Caribbean Breeze and reopening as A-Town in 2012. In addition to purchasing Eventide — for a sum just shy of $1 million, sources say – the company has also secured a 6,000 square foot space in Rosslyn for a bar/restaurant that’s expected to open in the fall of 2015, Parker tells ARLnow.com.
Parker declined to reveal additional information about the future Rosslyn watering hole, including its exact location.
The Eventide purchase will give its owners two big advantages, according to those with knowledge of the transaction. For one, the sublease offers five years of well below-market rent. For another, it offers a prime location in a Clarendon business district that’s well established as a nightlife spot — as opposed to A-Town’s location, where condo-owning neighbors have railed against late night noise.
Don Tito will remain open until 2:00 a.m. seven nights per week, according to Parker.
Parker said the partners were able to buy Eventide despite stiff competition from other restaurant owners, both local and national. The concept for Don Tito has been in the works for some time now, he said, and 3165 Wilson Blvd was judged the ideal place for it to open. In 2013, a Northern Virginia Magazine article about the opening of another Cordero restaurant, Flat Iron Steak & Saloon in Alexandria, described a planned Arlington venture that was then dubbed “Tacos and Beer.”
The owners of Eventide spent a reported $3 million constructing the restaurant, which opened in 2008. Parker said changes are necessary to “liven up the space and give it a little spark,” including renovations to the second floor which is “looking a bit too much like a monastery or something.”
Parker said he thinks Don Tito will compare favorably to what he described as an overabundance of American-style bars and restaurants in Clarendon. As for more direct competition, like nearby Mexicali Blues and Fuego Cocina, Parker said he and his partners are not too worried.
“Fuego is an incredible venue and we’ve been there many times,” he said. “Fuego is a great Mexican restaurant, [Don Tito] will be a great Mexican bar.”
The art will consist of 68 sculptures, lanterns and light fixtures by Venice, Calif.-based artist Cliff Garten. The pieces will be placed from the Lynn Street Esplanade over I-66, through the Central Place development, to the Meade Street bridge over Route 50.
The project will be constructed in three phases. Phase I will be at the Lynn Street Esplanade — the two-part intersection with Lee Highway that doubles as a bridge over I-66 — with four, 20-foot tall “luminous bodies” on each corner of the intersection. This phase of the project is expected to be complete in 2017, in conjunction with planned safety improvements for the “Intersection of Doom,” at one corner of the Esplanade, Arlington Cultural Affairs spokesman Jim Byers said.
Phase II consists of four, 26-foot tall luminous bodies — different in form from the ones in Phase I — at the corners of the 19th Street N. intersection, plus four at the corners of the Wilson Blvd, and five mid-block on Lynn Street in the Central Place development. There will also be 16-foot lanterns all along the block and illuminated bike racks and benches. This phase of the project is expected to be completed in 2017 along with the Central Place office and residential towers.
Phase III is largely the same in scope and look of Phase I, except on the Meade Street bridge. The $5 million renovation of the bridge, intended to make it more modern and pedestrian-friendly, is expected to be funded in 2019 as a joint project among the county, the National Park Service, which owns part of the land for the bridge, and the Virginia Department of Transportation. Phase III is expected to be complete and funded along with the construction.
When complete, the project is intended to tie together Lynn Street in its complete run through Rosslyn. The luminous bodies — giant, stainless steel structures with environmentally friendly lights — will be able to be programmed for different colors, and change with the seasons.
The project will be largely funded by JBG Companies’ contributions to the county’s public art fund, which were part of negotiations for extra density of the Central Place skyscrapers. Garten has already been paid design fees for Phase I and III, Byers said, but how much he has been paid was not made immediately available.
Garten spoke to the Washington Post in 2008, when the project was already being planned, and said he estimated he would need $750,000 to $1 million to complete the project.
“The next level of public art has to move to embrace the city at a large scale, which means to work with the city’s systems and infrastructure,” Garten told the Post. “That could be dealing with water systems. It could be sewer. It could be lighting infrastructure, as it is here.”
An Arlington County breast cancer charity is organizing a “B.F.F.” — “Breast Friends Forever” — fundraiser in Rosslyn next week.
Beer and appetizers will be served, The event is free to register for, but a donation is highly encouraged.
Proceeds from the event help the fund pay for “free mammograms, sonograms, biopsies, medical devices, and [breast cancer] medications” for uninsured men and women in Arlington and Falls Church.
McGowan was an Arlington resident and mother of seven children who succumbed to breast cancer in 1997. Her niece, Jaimie, will be at the happy hour – which doubles as a young professional networking event — encouraging those in attendance to find a “breast friend” to “buddy up with and remind each other to get annual mammographies.”
A new mural is being painted today at the new plaza at 19th and N. Moore Streets in Rosslyn.
New York City-based artist Jason Woodside has been working on the piece — which he describes as a “creative vortex” — since last Friday. Woodside plans on finishing the majority of his painting by tonight before putting the finishing touches on it the rest of the week.
The mural “kind of speaks just to what’s going in this zone,” Woodside told ARLnow.com while taking a break from spray painting the brick wall. “There’s a bus stop, there’s people coming and going, it’s really transient. It’s more of just something for people to look at and lose themselves in. I call it kind of a vortex, a creative vortex. It pulls people in, it makes their day. It’s all positive.”
The JBG Companies – which owns the property at 1911 N. Ft. Myer Drive and is constructing the Central Place development across the street — commissioned Woodside to paint the piece after seeing the work he’s done in large installations in Miami, Los Angeles, Sydney, Australia and New York. Woodside said it’s the first time he’s been to the D.C. area since he was two years old, despite being born in Fairfax.
Utility Pole Struck on Glebe Road — A car struck a utility pole on Glebe Road near 14th Street N., just before 9:30 last night. All lanes were closed while crews worked to clear the downed pole from the roadway. All lanes reopened by 5:00 this morning.
Rosslyn Metro Center For Sale — Rosslyn Metro Center, the 22-story office building above the Rosslyn Metro station, is for sale. Should it sell, the buyer would likely seek to redevelop the property. [Washington Business Journal]
Goal: Wreath for Every ANC Grave — The group Wreaths Across America is seeking about 25,000 volunteers to help lay 235,000 holiday wreaths in Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 13. For the first time, in honor of the cemetery’s 150th anniversary, the group wants to lay a wreath on every grave. [Washington Times - WARNING: AUTO-PLAY VIDEO]
RedRocks Seeks Entertainment, Delivery Permit — The Columbia Pike outpost of RedRocks Pizzeria (2501 9th Road S.) is seeking a site plan amendment to allow live entertainment and food delivery service. The request, which is expected to be approved by the Arlington County Board this weekend, has the “full support” of the local civic association. [Arlington County]
Crystal Tech Fund Expansion — Crystal City-based Crystal Tech Fund has started construction on an expansion project that will double the size of its workspace. [Tech Cocktail]
GOP Oppo Firm Resides in Arlington — America Rising, one of the top Republican opposition research firms during this latest campaign cycle, has its office “in a nondescript building in Arlington.” [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Rob Cannon