Arlington Considering Gondola Study — Arlington officials are trying to find $35,000 in funding to contribute to a feasibility study for a gondola system between Rosslyn and Georgetown. The gondola is being championed by the Georgetown Business Improvement District and just received a $35,000 funding allocation from the D.C. government. [Washington Post]
Vihstadt: Community Involvement Key for GOP — Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt, who was elected as an independent, has some electoral advice for Arlington Republicans. Vihstadt said Republicans hoping to get elected in Arlington should have a robust record of participation in Arlington civic life. So far, no Republican candidates have stepped forward to run for County Board, although former Republican candidate Michael McMenamin, like John Vihstadt before him, is running for Board as an independent. [InsideNova]
Arlington Firm Has Golf Ringer — Deloitte in Arlington has a ringer for its next golf tournament. Danny Hathway, a former Georgetown University men’s golfer who works in the consulting firm’s Rosslyn office, scored not one but two holes in one while playing a friendly round at Bethesda Country Club last weekend. [Georgetown University]
TargetExpress Coming to Rosslyn — A new 23,000-square-foot TargetExpress store is coming to Rosslyn. Located at 1500 Wilson Blvd, the store will have an in-house Starbucks, a pharmacy, a technology and mobile phone section and will carry clothing, groceries and prepared foods. Also coming to 1500 Wilson Blvd: a District Taco restaurant and a Wells Fargo bank branch. [Washington Post, Washington Business Journal]
Little Saigon Remembered — A master’s student at Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia campus recounts Clarendon’s former identity as “Little Saigon,” thanks to the immigration of Vietnamese refugees following the end of the Vietnam War. As a project, the student has created a self-guided walking tour of Clarendon in connection with the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon. [Preservation Arlington]
Victory for Yorktown Coding Team — The Yorktown High School Coding Club celebrated a big win at the Microsoft Imagine Cup U.S. National Finals in San Francisco last month. The team placed first in the competition’s “World Citizenship” category. [Arlington Connection]
Photo courtesy Peter Rof / Alt Globo MediaWorks LLC
Called “City Social,” the annual meeting is at the CEB Waterview Conference Center (1919 N. Lynn Street) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. RSVPs for the event have closed.
The BID’s calling City Social its “annual party,” and will serve hors d’oevures alongside the open bar while Champion Superior Soundsystem spins its “vintage world funk” tunes. In the middle of the partying, six Rosslyn business leaders will take part in a panel discussion of the neighborhood.
“Our panel of Rosslyn heavyweights will loop you in on the the important synergy a neighborhood can create among the companies, employees and residents located there,” the event website reads, “from the access to talented people and one-of-a-kind views to the energy and buzz happening out there on the street, all of which will drive success for you and your company.”
The panel includes ARLnow.com editor and founder Scott Brodbeck, plus executives from Rosetta Stone, Politico, LiveSafe, CEB and Heavy Seas Alehouse.
Image via Rosslyn BID
Metrorail service is suspended between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom due to a reported arcing insulator outside the Foggy Bottom station.
Firefighters were originally called to the Rosslyn station around 8:20 a.m. for a report of smoke in the station.
The station was evacuated but first responders only found a slight odor of smoke, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani.
Having not found any smoke or fire in Rosslyn, Arlington firefighters are currently scaling back their initially large response. However, Arlington police remain on scene, assisting with crowd control.
Large crowds of commuters seeking alternate means of transportation have been reported outside the Rosslyn station and other Arlington stations along the Orange Line.
— JensueFerrell (@JensueFerrell) May 11, 2015
Outside Rosslyn Metro pic.twitter.com/o1S4DsuGSd
— Elizabeth Widas (@emt211) May 11, 2015
— Valerie Insinna (@ValerieInsinna) May 11, 2015
— Kymberly Escobar (@kymesco) May 11, 2015
— David Hawkins (@khnashi) May 11, 2015
— Ashley Pratte (@AshPratte) May 11, 2015
— Micah Himmel (@Micah_Himmel) May 11, 2015
Photo (top) via @WashingtonFlack
The county’s long-term vision for Rosslyn includes an open-air Metro entrance, a pedestrian corridor through the heart of the neighborhood, a new pedestrian bridge over the Potomac River and a massive new park.
The Realize Rosslyn planning process, which begun in October 2012, has culminated in a draft Rosslyn Sector Plan, which lays out the vision for the area until 2040. That vision includes what’s being called the 18th Street Corridor, which would extend 18th Street from N. Oak Street as a pedestrian corridor with a public escalator to N. Lynn Street, and a road from there to N. Arlington Ridge Road.
“Surrounded by a high density of people and development, these spaces will collectively form a dynamic and memorable promenade weaving through the heart of Rosslyn, and could include features such as public art, festivals, chess tables, outdoor dining, and small recreation courts,” planning staff wrote on the Realize Rosslyn website. “A significant and iconic pedestrian bridge will link a new Esplanade to the Potomac Riverfront near Roosevelt Island.”
In the middle of that planned corridor would sit the Rosslyn Metro Station. As the building that sits on top of it is redeveloped, the Realize Rosslyn panel — made up of residents, business owners and county staff — envisions the enclosed entrance becomes a plaza, with a glass canopy, trees and other amenities.
This corridor would come into being in parts, with Monday Properties’ planned redevelopment of the 1400 Key Blvd and 1401 Wilson Blvd buidings and JBG Companies’ ongoing construction of its Central Place development.
The plan also calls for, by 2040, an additional 4,000-5,000 housing units in the Rosslyn Metro area, 800 of which are either under construction or approved. County planners hope to shrink the percentage of real estate currently occupied by office space, now sitting at 85 percent (with almost 30 percent vacant).
Wilson Blvd, Fort Myer Drive and Lynn Street would also undergo significant changes. Within 10 years, planners anticipate the three one-way streets to convert to two-way roads while removing the Fort Myer Drive tunnel under Wilson Blvd. Wilson, Fort Myer and Lynn would also each have two-way cycle tracks.
The pedestrian bridge to Roosevelt Island would originate from a new Rosslyn Plaza park, a potentially massive open space with recreation activities, an esplanade to the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial and access to a new Key Bridge boathouse.
Meanwhile, Rosslyn’s two biggest parks — Gateway Park and Freedom Park — would be redesigned. Gateway Park’s ramps would be removed and replaced with multipurpose courts and space for food kiosks. Freedom Park, which connects Artisphere’s building to Monday’s twin towers developments on the other side of Wilson Blvd, would become a place restaurants could place outdoor dining.
The Draft Sector Plan will go before the Long Range Planning Committee this month, with a planned hearing in June by the Arlington Planning Commission before the County Board can discuss it.
(Updated at 5:25 p.m.) The new Rosslyn fast-casual pizza restaurant, SpinFire Pizza, held its grand opening party yesterday, an event celebrated by co-owner Pierre Garçon and several of his Washington Redskins teammates.
Pro Bowl linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and wide receiver Ryan Grant were among Garçon’s teammates to attend the grand opening at 1501 Wilson Blvd, enjoying the pizza made in SpinFire’s custom oven, cooked in 90 seconds.
The pizza shop opens at 11:00 a.m. every day, and it closes at 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Garçon was also filmed by TMZ on the street outside his business, discussing the business and how users of legalized marijuana in D.C. can enjoy the pizza.
Below is the press release announcing the grand opening.
Last night, Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garçon welcomed over 500 guests – including teammates Ryan Kerrigan and Ryan Grant – to the grand opening of his new Rosslyn pizza eatery, SpinFire. Garçon and partner Fouad Qreitem, Paisano’s Pizza founder, opened the doors to their second SpinFire location in Arlington late last month.
Located at 1501 Wilson Blvd in the heart of the bustling Rosslyn neighborhood, SpinFire specializes in made-to-order individual pizzas, gourmet salads and hearty calzones, all freshly served in 90 seconds. Pizza aficionados can choose from over 30 fresh toppings, hand-cut in-house daily. Offerings at the Arlington restaurant include over 12 menu items that range from classic Italian combinations like the Prosciutto Arugula Pizza (arugula, prosciutto, olive oil, fresh mozzarella, ricotta and citrus vinaigrette) to American favorites such as the Hawaiian Pizza (shredded mozzarella, pineapple, smoked ham and scallions). Diners looking for a lighter meal can opt for a specialty salad – Fresh Mozzarella, Chicken Caesar or Prosciutto Arugula – or handpick their favorite ingredients.
With over 70 seats, Garçon and Qreitem’s brainchild also offers sweet tooth patrons the chance to indulge in homemade gelato and sip local brews from Port City Brewing Company of Alexandria, VA.Garçon is thrilled to offer SpinFire’s signature 90-second-service to the Rosslyn neighborhood. “We’re excited to be in Arlington and to provide quick service with an amazing product. Even with a line to the door, you can enjoy SpinFire on a quick lunch break,” confirms Garçon.
Just over 13 months after opening with a mini-sandwich giveaway, 100 Montaditos in Rosslyn is now closed.
The Spanish-style restaurant at 1776 Wilson Blvd specialized in serving all different kinds of mini sandwiches, with a variety of ingredients like pulled park, Iberican ham, brie and chocolate. Its parent company declared bankruptcy back in March, which appears to have been the Rosslyn location’s death knell.
An anonymous tipster tells us that 100 Montaditos packed up the interior overnight last night, coinciding with the end of the month. The interior is bare and the door is now locked — there are splotches of missing paint on the walls where artwork used to hang.
Elementary Student Fascinated by Fallout Shelters — Nathan Eberhart, a McKinley Elementary student, has been trying to unravel the mysteries of school fallout shelters for his school’s student newspaper. Eberhart thinks the Cold War relics could be better put to use nowadays “as a community-activities storage area for things like Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, recreational sports and enrichments.” [InsideNova]
Protest Planned in Rosslyn — The Mayday Project will be protesting outside the Infectious Diseases Society of America headquarters in Rosslyn today and tomorrow. The organization wants Lyme disease recognized as a chronic illness. The protest will be held from about 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the 1300 block of Wilson Blvd. [Twitter]
Four Mile Run Cleaning Planned — Starting in a few days, Arlington County and the City of Alexandria will begin a joint project to remove excess vegetation from the Four Mile Run flood control channel, which extends from I-395 to the Potomac River. “Residents will see crews working in or near Four Mile Run, removing trees, shrubs, and other vegetation growing in the channel,” the county noted in a press release. [Arlington County]
Washington Blvd Lane Closure — A northbound lane closure on the Washington Blvd bridge over Route 110 was put in place overnight, according to VDOT. A southbound lane closure, similarly reducing the number of lanes on the bridge from three to two, is expected to be put in place next week. The lane closures were originally planned for this past Monday.
Another County Board Straw Poll — Another straw poll in the race for the Democratic County Board nomination was held last night at Del. Alfonso Lopez’s campaign kick-off event at the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse. The reported results were: Christian Dorsey 27%, Peter Fallon 23%, Katie Cristol 22%, James Lander 15%, Andrew Schneider 12%, Bruce Wiljanen 1%.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
“Barley Mac” is expected to open in the former Red, Hot & Blue space at 1600 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn by December, co-owner Scott Parker told ARLnow.com Monday. It’s described as a “high-end tavern” that will serve Italian-American fusion cuisine and have a beverage program that emphasizes beer and bourbon.
Barley Mac will target a slightly older customer base than A-Town or Don Tito and will be the partners’ “most restaurant-centric, food-driven” establishment yet, according to Parker.
Parker said he and his partners decided to open Barley Mac because they see Rosslyn as lacking places to eat and have a few drinks after work.
“There’s a market in Rosslyn that’s being underserved served right now,” Parker said. One only needs to look at the crowds at the one-year-old Heavy Seas Alehouse, he said, to see that Rosslyn workers and residents are looking for more places at which to hang out.
“They’re doing tremendous business right now,” Parker said of Heavy Seas. And despite the new competition, Parker observed, local stalwarts like Cafe Asia are continuing to do well.
“It’s a no-brainer,” said Parker — especially considering the success of the partners’ other Arlington ventures.
At 5,000 square feet, Barley Mac will be slightly smaller than A-Town and about half the size of Don Tito and its three floors. (Don Tito, which opened last month, is far exceeding expectations, Parker noted, while A-Town “continues to do much better than we ever expected.”)
Whereas Don Tito was a “flip” that required relatively simple interior changes, Barley Mac will be “built from scratch” and will thus require months of renovations. The owners are hoping to open as soon as mid-November, though December may be a more likely target.
The Arlington County Board officially canceled the Artisphere project last night, making June 30 the grand finale for Rosslyn’s critically acclaimed but money-losing arts and cultural center.
June 30 is also the deadline the County Board has set for staff to return with a recommendation for next steps for the space, coinciding with the end of Fiscal Year 2015 and the last performances at Artisphere.
Arlington’s lease for the 62,000-square-foot space ends in April 2023, according to Deputy County Manager Carol Mitten, but the County Board could elect to cancel its agreement with owner Monday Properties and hand them back the unique space.
No formal proposals for the center have come forward, but Mitten said the county has had “lots of informal conversations” with outside parties. The cancellation of Artisphere will save taxpayers $2.3 million in FY 2016, and any scheming for the next steps won’t be coming from the county.
“If someone has an idea, they need to translate that into a proposal, because the county isn’t going to come up with a proposal of our own,” Mitten said yesterday. “The desire is that we get out of the business of subsidizing the use of this space… We have this block of one-time money to close out our obligations under the lease, and anything else the county were to do would really involve an outside entity.”
The only public idea to this point has been the vision of MoDev, a software developer conference company, to transform Artisphere into a tech incubator and conference center. MoDev CEO Pete Erickson told ARLnow.com this week that he is putting together a proposal, but he’s not alone.
“I heard that there are four different parties interested in the space, all with a technology center vision, which is awesome,” he said. “It doesn’t mean a deal will get done as the county could then decide to vacate the lease and put it in Monday Properties’ hands. If this happens, this would be bad for Arlington as the benefits of the existing lease would be away and put way more pressure on a new tenant and the building owner than would be necessary.”
According to Rosslyn Business Improvement District President Mary-Claire Burick, a Chinese business delegation recently toured the space and was intrigued. During the visit, Monday Properties representatives expressed a willingness to renovate and transform the space, if necessary, for the next tenant.
And while momentum seems to barreling ahead to transform the space into Arlington’s next major technology center — and potentially Rosslyn’s answer to 1776’s Crystal City investment — Burick said that the location at 1101 Wilson Blvd could return to its roots, when it was the former home of Newseum.
“We’ve had two groups that have been looking at turning it into a museum,” she said in a phone interview this morning. “Because of the grouping of other things in Rosslyn with Arlington Cemetery and the Marine Corps Memorial, we’re really starting to see Rosslyn have more tourism potential, particularly once CEB Tower delivers with its observation deck.”
All parties involved are looking forward to the unique space — with multiple theaters, high ceilings and an outdoor terrace — becoming something that can generate money for the county, rather than lose it. But the County Board’s decision has also left some wondering what the future of arts funding through taxpayer dollars will look like in Arlington.
Mitten said the cultural affairs department is developing a strategic plan that will address just that.
“There’s a belief that there is a clear nexus between our investment in cultural affairs and the arts and economic development,” Mitten said. “The part of the story that’s missing at the moment is how much is enough and in what way is the most effective in order to have it be a real investment and not just an expense.”
At 2:06 a.m. Thursday, the driver of a GMC Yukon sped over the Key Bridge from Georgetown into Rosslyn when he struck the curb at the intersection of Ft. Myer Drive and Lee Highway, Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said.
“The vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed,” Sternbeck said, “and alcohol may have been a factor.”
When the vehicle hit the curb, Sternbeck said, it flipped over and rolled multiple times. While the car was rolling over, the driver was ejected. A “citizen passerby” saw the crash and gave the driver CPR until the police arrived. At that time, police continued to administer CPR until the man was transported back across the river to GW hospital.
As of yesterday afternoon, the driver was in critical condition with life-threatening injuries, Sternbeck said. There was no update on his health today because ACPD detectives are focusing their efforts on the death investigation in Aurora Highlands.
District Taco, the Mexican restaurant that started as a taco cart in Rosslyn five years ago, is coming back to the neighborhood.
Owner Osiris Hoil said he signed a lease today to occupy 3,000 square feet at 1500 Wilson Blvd, in a storefront across Clarendon Blvd from Starbucks. It will be a welcome sight to District Taco’s fans in the neighborhood, who haven’t been able to partake of all-day breakfast burritos and other favorites since the cart closed last year.
“Oh man, I’m super excited for this,” Hoil told ARLnow.com over the phone this morning, hours after finalizing the paperwork. “We have a lot of customers in Rosslyn that love us, and I’m excited to go back with them.”
The space will be District Taco’s seventh location, and he’s planning to sign leases for three more by the end of the year, including another one somewhere in Arlington. Hoil’s original brick-and-mortar store is still going strong at 5723 Lee Highway, he said, and the customer service and atmosphere there is what he tries to replicate at all of his shops.
“The Arlington location is the original, and that one works very well,” he said. “We are a young company, we’re very excited, and we have a lot of energy.”
The buildout of his locations usually takes about five months, Hoil said, putting the Rosslyn store’s opening on track for mid-September this year.
County Board to Consider Concrete Contract — The Arlington County Board is set to consider an on-call concrete maintenance contract this weekend. The contract is intended to reduce the cost of repeatedly bidding out small contracts for road, sidewalk and curb work. The low bidder, Arthur Construction Company, is expected to bill about $3.8 million annually under the contract, according to county staff estimates. [Arlington County]
Bistro 360 Profiled — Bistro 360, the Rosslyn eatery opened last year by the owner of Cassatt’s Kiwi Café, is winning plaudits for its unique food offerings, which feature Asian, Central European and French influences. [Arlington Magazine]
Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman
(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) Next Tuesday, the Arlington County Board will vote on a budget that may or may not close Artisphere, the ambitious but money-losing cultural center in Rosslyn.
With the future of Artisphere and the nature of the county’s support for the arts on the line, it’s worth taking a look back at the optimism that surrounded Artisphere’s opening.
County leaders showed off the $6.7 million, 62,000 square foot facility on Oct. 6, 2010, touting it as — in our words — “a centerpiece of the effort to revitalize the workaday Rosslyn business district.”
Indeed, even though it was a county-owned facility, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District provided much of the support for Artisphere’s opening. In a press release about the opening — printed on Rosslyn letterhead — the BID committed $1 million in start-up funds for the facility, and pledged $300,000 annually for the life of the center. That commitment was signified in the form of a giant $7.3 million check presented to then-County Board Chair Jay Fisette at a press event.
Artisphere was designed to be a “new breed of urban arts center,” with four performance venues, three visual art galleries, a 4,000 square foot ballroom, a “WiFi Town Hall,” and its own cafe and bar. Initial programming cut a broad cultural swath, including music and dancing, often with an international flair; conceptual and interactive art exhibits; poetry open mic nights; documentary and art film screenings; the Washington Shakespeare Company; educational events; and even puppetry.
Rosslyn, county and cultural leaders believed that the Artisphere would be a game-changer for the neighborhood, attracting 250,000 visitors a year and generating nearly $800,000 in admission and ticket revenue, in addition to expanding the county’s artistic horizons.
“Artisphere is a new model for American cultural centers… a unique techno-savvy arts space that offers interactive opportunities to participate in the creative experience,” Arlington Cultural Affairs division chief Norma Kaplan said in the 2010 press release. “It will be a venue between work and home where people living and working in the Washington area can engage in the arts, challenge their intellect, or just hang out.”
(Kaplan would leave her post for a job in New Jersey less than a year later, after Artisphere’s visitor revenue projections came in 75 percent below expectations. By the April 2011, fewer than 50,000 people had visited Artisphere.)
Artisphere might have opened on an intriguing date, but in the rush to open on 10/10/10 the county was unable to hire an executive director or find a cafe operator in time for the opening. It would be January 2011 before Jose Ortiz, who previously worked at the Harvard Art Museum, was hired to lead the center as executive director. In April came the opening of Here Cafe + Bar, run by the owners of Guajillo in Rosslyn.
Another new pizza place in Rosslyn opened to the public yesterday.
Spinfire Pizza, at 1501 Wilson Blvd, is in the middle of a soft opening, training staff and preparing its 90-second, custom-made pizzas starting at 11:00 a.m. every day. It joins its neighbor just a few blocks away, Wiseguy NY Pizza, as new businesses opening this month serving the Italian staple.
The restaurant offers personal pizzas with up to four toppings for $8.99, and toppings range from pizza staples like pepperoni and mushrooms to Sriracha sausage, candied pecans and dried cranberries. It also make calzones, which, like the pizzas, are baked for 90 seconds in Spinfire’s custom, rotating oven.
The restaurant is owned by Paisano’s owner Fouad Qreitem and Washington Redskins receiver Pierre Garçon. The co-owners will be in Rosslyn on April 30, when Spinfire holds its grand opening celebration.