The decision came just hours after County Manager Barbara Donnellan recommended closing Rosslyn’s Artisphere next June. The County Board ultimately decided that the two arts organizations’ situations were different enough to begin a new investment as it acknowledged the failure of a previous one.
“Signature really is an Arlington treasure,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said. “It reaches into our community and impacts our community in substantial ways.”
The theater will receive the loan at a low, 1 percent interest rate; it will no longer have to pay $411,000 in unpaid county taxes and fees; and $2.7 million of its $7.7 million debt to United Bank will be forgiven.
“Signature will pay back this loan in full and on time,” the theater’s managing director, Maggie Boland, told the Board. “We often joke that ‘hope is not a strategy’ at Signature. We don’t commit to a production plan that we can’t afford.”
Signature’s yearly debt payments will be reduced from more than $1 million to about $300,000, a difference that county Director of Management and Finance Michelle Cowen called “transformative.”
“It allows them to bulk up on their balance sheet, which is in poor shape,” Cowen said.
There were 11 speakers from the public, and eight of them spoke in support of the County Board’s action. Many of the supporters were either current or former members of the Signature in the Schools program, Shirlington business owners or those with active interests in the theater’s success.
“We believe Signature is vital to the overall success of Shirlington and the greater Arlington County community,” Ken Mosig, director of asset management for the Village at Shirlington’s parent company, Federal Realty Investment Trust, said. “Their programs attract people to the Village of Shirlington. Having Signature Theatre as an entertainment venue has helped bring 100,000 people to the area per year.”
Among the dissenters were Jim Hurysz and Tim Wise, two frequent County Board critics and opponents of government spending.
“Taxpayers who oppose public subsidies for the arts do not oppose the arts,” Wise said. “We just think the arts should pay for themselves.”
Board member Libby Garvey asked Boland why they couldn’t raise ticket prices to generate the additional revenue, needed, but Boland said that if the tickets were any more expensive, “that would be detrimental to our business.”
Although the County Board unanimously approved the loan — the money for which comes from FY 2014 closeout funds — several members indicated that this would be the last chance Signature has for county funding for some time.
“We don’t want to be here again,” Fisette said.
Photo via Signature Theatre website
The outside patio Copperwood Tavern, the farm-focused restaurant at 4021 Campbell Ave. in Shirlington, is going to have a campfire-esque feel this winter.
The restaurant, which opened last fall, has installed two propane-powered fire pits, which it will turn on every day starting at 5:00 p.m. The tables surrounding the fire pits will be first come, first served and there will be complimentary fleece blankets available, according to director of operations Jon Gardiner.
“Nobody else in the area is doing it,” Gardiner told ARLnow.com yesterday. “It looks nice and it distinguishes us even more from the surrounding businesses.”
In addition to the blankets, Copperwood is also rolling out a hot cocktail menu with outdoor patrons in mind. On the menu will be “Moonshine with coco syrup, coffee and crème; Spiced Rum with apple cider redux, lemon and nutmeg; Apple Brandy with port-vanilla syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange; and Bourbon with lemon, honey syrup, orange and clove.”
Copperwood is also offering s’mores kits for customers to roast over the flames, Gardiner said.
(Updated at 12:20 p.m.) Runners participating in 5K races next weekend will weave their way through opposite ends of the county.
The Global Strides 5K sends runners into the streets surrounding Tuckahoe Elementary School next Saturday, November 1. The 5K begins at 8:00 a.m. and the 1 mile fun run begins at 9:00 a.m.
Proceeds from the Global Strides 5K will benefit Arlington Academy of Hope School in Uganda. AAH is a nonprofit organization founded by an Arlington family, aimed at improving the lives of children in rural Uganda through education and health care.
Registration is $25 and can be done online or at the race. Those who register online by next week’s deadline will receive a race t-shirt.
Also on Nov. 1, the inaugural Paws2Care 5K Family Fun Run/Walk will be held in Bluemont Park, at 9:00 a.m. The event will include free activities and giveaways like yoga, massages, face painting, music, dog treats, raffles and prizes.
The next day, on November 2, things will get a little hairy in Shirlington for the Beckett’s Irish Pub Stache Dash. Proceeds from that race go to The Movember Foundation, an organization that raises funds for men’s health programs.
The 5K begins at Samuel Beckett’s Irish Pub (2800 S. Randolph Street) at 8:00 a.m. There will be a post-race party at Samuel Beckett’s, where attendees will be provided with a mustache if they don’t already have one.
Registration is $40 and can be done online. Participants will receive a tech tee and light snacks after the race.
Periwinkle, a women’s clothing boutique in the Village at Shirlington, plans to close at the end of the year.
The shop, at 4150 Campbell Ave., is owned by Elizabeth Mason, who said she has decided not to renew her lease after being in the location for five years.
“Business is down and rent continues to go up, but it was always going to be a 5-year deal, the option to renew was never going to work for me,” Mason told ARLnow.com via email. “The landlord and I did discuss if I wanted to renew, but they wanted too much rent and as I said, this year sales have been down so it worked out to just let the lease end.”
Periwinkle also has a location in Old Town Alexandria, which Mason said is closing in November when her lease is up there. She plans to focus on Periwinkle’s online shop, her affordable online shop The Pink Armoire, and finding a new retail space in the area.
Periwinkle is the third storefront to close in the Village at Shirlington in the last two weeks, following Bloomers and Aladdin’s Eatery. Mason said “business is down” while a Bloomers employee told ARLnow.com the store may have shut down due to “a lack of foot traffic.” A manager in a nearby store told ARLnow.com that both companies have no one to blame for their closing but themselves.
“Bloomers always struggled in its execution,” the manager, who wished to remain anonymous, said. “The average female doesn’t look for lingerie and bras on the sidewalk. Periwinkle has struggled in the past year, but I heard from customers it’s because of the shop’s pricing and sizing.”
The manager, who said she had worked in the Village at Shirlington for more than five years, said foot traffic in the shopping and restaurant district has rarely been better.
“Shirlington has great foot traffic,” the manager said. “People never used to come to the side of the village with Bloomer’s and Periwinkle because they didn’t know it was there. It’s just been getting better and better over the years.”
Photo via Periwinkle
Aladdin’s Eatery, the health-conscious, Lebanese restaurant in the Village at Shirlington, has closed.
The restaurant, at 4044 Campbell Ave., is locked and had all of its furniture removed this week. ARLnow.com has been unable to confirm with the company’s corporate office whether the closure is permanent or for a renovation. There is no indication on the exterior of the building of the nature of the shop’s closing.
The location in the Village at Shirlington was Aladdin’s only restaurant in Arlington. It had recently featured belly dancing shows from Saffron Dance in Virginia Square.The closest location is in Burke, almost 10 miles away.
Anyone who wants to pick up some ladies’ undergarments and loungewear will have to look somewhere other than Bloomers in Shirlington. The store at 4150 Campbell Avenue has closed its doors for good.
When ARLnow.com stopped by today, the store had been cleared out except for some display cases and mannequins. It’s unclear exactly why the store shut, but an employee speculated it might have been a lack of foot traffic. The original store in Old Town Alexandria will remain open.
Bloomers had been in Shirlington since January 2012. A representative for The Village at Shirlington was not able to give any clues as to what might move into the former Bloomers space.
‘Damn Yankees’ Was Written in Arlington Home — The book that was the basis for the musical “Damn Yankees” was written in Alcova, a historic home in Arlington. A family of four now lives in the house, after buying it for $950,000 in 2012. [Falls Church News-Press]
Shirlington Library Temporarily Closed — Shirlington Branch Library was closed Thursday and is expected to reopen this morning following “a maintenance issue with the building HVAC system.” [Library Blog]
NBC’s Chuck Todd Gives Back in Arlington — “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd lives in Arlington and says he prefers giving back to local causes rather than national charities. Among other causes, Todd volunteers at Arlington Free Clinic. “You have a community where you have a lot of wealth in one part of the county and a lot of poverty in the other, and it’s right in D.C.’s backyard,” he said of the motivation for his volunteer work. [USA Today]
Capitol City Brewing Company is hosting the 15th annual Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest on Saturday from noon to 7:00 p.m. on Campbell Avenue. For $30 tickets, patrons 21 or older get a tasting glass and 10 tasting tickets. Further tickets can be bought for $1 each, with a $5 minimum. Beer taps will close down at 6:00 p.m.
Capitol City says more than 65 breweries will have booths, and more than half of those breweries come from the D.C. region. The list includes Virginia staples like Port City, Devil’s Backbone and Lost Rhino, with lesser known Northern Virginia breweries like Adroit Theory, Old Ox Brewery and Heritage Brewing Company. There will also be three cider makers and a “meadery” to offer some variety in the suds options.
There will be traditional German music being played all day and specialty German food to accompany the beer in honor of the Bavarian region’s centuries-old harvest festival.
Starting at 6:00 a.m., roads in Shirlington will be closed to allow the booths to set up, and they are expected to remain closed until about 10:00 p.m. According to the Arlington County Police Department, Campbell Avenue from S. Arlington Mill Drive to Quincy Street and S. Randolph Street between Charlie Chang’s restaurant and Arlington Mill Drive will be closed off. Drivers should also be on the lookout for “no parking” signs in the area.
File photo courtesy Capitol City Brewing Company
Four projects aimed at improving pedestrian safety, removing invasive plants and more are likely to be approved at this Saturday’s regular Arlington County Board meeting.
The final four projects funded by the 2012 Neighborhood Conservation bond, approved in June by the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee, will receive a total of $2,540,175 if the Board approves them. About $1.3 million of those funds would come from the 2012 bond, while about $1.2 million is expected come from the bond referendum on the ballot on Nov. 4.
The four projects up for approval:
- Pedestrian safety and street improvements for the intersections of N. Vacation Lane with N. Stuart and N. Utah Streets in Donaldson Run. Improvements include replacing a yield sign with a stop sign at the northeast corner of N. Stuart Street, replacing sidewalks on N. Utah Street and curb extensions at both intersections. Total cost: $608,749.
- Street improvements for N. Quintana Street between Washington Boulevard and 19th Street N. in East Falls Church. This includes constructing curbs and gutters on both sides of the road and installing a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side on the street. Total cost: $756,581.
- Park improvements for Oakland Park at 3701 Wilson Blvd. in Ballston-Virginia Square. This project is meant to give the park a complete upgrade, bringing features up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards and adding new site furnishings, ornamental plantings and wood decking. Total cost: $798,845.
- Removing invasive plants from Lucky Run Stream in Fairlington-Shirlington. The project calls for creating a “pollinator habitat between the stream bank and bike trail” and creating buffers with trees on either side of the stream. Total cost: $376,000.
The four projects were selected from a pool of 26 applications from neighborhoods around the county because they scored the highest on the NCAC’s points system, which is explained in the county staff’s report.
The county also has produced a five-minute video, embedded above, in honor of the Neighborhood Conservation Program’s 50th anniversary.
“When it was created in 1964, the goal was to empower residents by having them come together to discuss and share ideas for improving their neighborhoods,” the narrator says. The video includes interviews from NCAC Chair Bill Braswell and other committee members. “Over the years, the program has moved from beautification efforts to focus more on infrastructure needs… The program enables residents to identify and plan projects in their own neighborhoods.”
Reliant Asset Management has 9 employees working from its headquarters at 2900 S. Quincy Street — behind Carlyle restaurant — and last year reported $85.1 million in revenue. That’s up from $153,125 in 2010, when it was founded, for a whopping 55,460 percent three-year growth rate.
Also known by the acronym RAM, the company rents modular housing, offices and classrooms to oil companies, hospitals, schools and other entities. Housing for oil field workers in remote parts of Texas, North Dakota and Canada accounts for about two-thirds of its business, according to Barry Roman, who co-founded the company with his brother, Michael.
“We’re very excited about it… it’s thrilling to be No. 3,” Barry Roman told ARLnow.com. “Since the first two were in El Segundo, California, we can say we’re the fastest growing company east of El Segundo.”
Roman said the company is currently helping to house nearly 4,000 oil workers, in temporary facilities that include 24-hour kitchens, gyms and entertainment options, plus integrated security and transportation infrastructure.
“It’s a self-enclosed town,” Roman said. “These oil companies are looking for oil in very remote locations and they want their workers to be well taken care of. There’s not much around.”
Roman said the company has been able to manage its stratospheric growth thanks to good planning and strategic outsourcing of functions like catering, transporation and security.
“We recognized it as a very fast-growing market so we went at it hard,” he said. The company currently has about 150 employees — most of whom are outside of Arlington — and plans to continue hiring and growing.
Roman said RAM’s headquarters is likely to remain in Shirlington, which was chosen due to its proximity to the highway, Reagan National Airport, downtown D.C., and the founders’ homes.
“We love it… it’s a great place to be,” Roman said. “It’s a Class A office building at a good rate and it’s very convenient. It’s a good place to attract employees… everyone can find it and it’s easy to get to.”
RAM has not received any sort of plaque from Inc. in recognition of the honor, but Roman said it did receive a copy of the magazine in the mail.
Other Arlington-based companies cracking the top 1,000 of the Inc. 5000 list include:
- American Wireless (No. 232) — “Provides carrier-agnostic contract and prepaid wireless plans and devices”
- Heartland Energy Partners (No. 256) — “Helps clients develop and manage programs and assets in the fields of energy and environment, IT, infrastructure protection, and health care”
- Fonteva (No. 286) — “Provides enterprise resource protocol and development tools on the Salesforce.com platform”
- R3 Government Solutions (No. 530) — “Provides large-scale program management, process improvement, and workforce management services to federal clients”
- Opower (No. 635) — “Combines a cloud-based platform, big data, and behavioral science to help utilities around the world reduce energy consumption”
- Kitewire (No. 901) — “Develops mobile device management software for government and private sector clients”
Dems Breathe Sigh of Relief After Win — Local Democrats have a bit more of a bounce in their step following Rip Sullivan’s convincing 48th District House of Delegates victory. Some believed that Arlington was becoming more competitive for Republicans, following John Vihstadt’s County Board win in April. Sullivan, however, significantly outperformed Alan Howze, Vihstadt’s Democratic opponent, winning every 48th District precinct. [InsideNova]
Woman Gives Birth on I-66 — A woman gave birth in her car on I-66 in Arlington early this morning. The woman was pulled over onto the shoulder of the eastbound lanes near Washington Blvd when the baby was delivered. Emergency personnel arrived after the delivery and transported mother and baby to the hospital. [Washington Post]
Shirlington Oktoberfest Date Set — Capitol City Brewing has set the date of its annual Oktoberfest celebration in Shirlington, which is billed as the largest Oktoberfest beer festival in Northern Virginia. The street festival, featuring 65+ breweries and German food and music, is set for Saturday, Oct. 4. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
Falls Church Man Indicted for Sex Trafficking — A Falls Church man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for “engaging in the sex trafficking of a child and transporting a minor across state lines for prostitution.” Alan Cooley, 34, allegedly used force and threats to force a 17-year-old runaway to perform sex acts for money. [U.S. Justice Department]
The annual Shirlington pet festival, Wags ‘n Whiskers, returns for its seventh year this Saturday.
This year’s festival’s hours are extended: the fun begins at 10:00 a.m. and goes until 4:00 p.m. along Campbell Avenue. The festival’s organizer, the Federal Realty Investment Trust, said more than 60 pet-centric vendors have signed up to participate, making it the biggest Wags ‘n Whiskers festival to date.
In addition to the vendors selling treats, food, toys and other goods, there will also be on-site adoption booths, pet portraits for $5, demonstrations, face-painting and balloon art. A complete list of vendors is available on the festival’s website.
The Arlington County Police Department will be closing roads around Shirlington on Saturday for the event. Starting at 5:30 a.m., Campbell Avenue will be closed from S. Quincy Street to the parking garage entrance in front of the Harris Teeter (4250 Campbell Ave.). S. Randolph Street will also be closed from Arlington Mill Drive to the alley south of Campbell Avenue. Street parking in the area will be restricted. The roads are expected to re-open by 7:00 p.m.
County Quietly Chooses Auditor — The Arlington County government hired an internal auditor to improve transparency in finances and operations. County officials say specifics about the hire will be released in September. [InsideNova]
CEB Deal Questioned – Last month, the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) announced it would anchor The JBG Cos.’ planned Central Place office tower in Rosslyn. But the head of Boston Properties believes that’s not a win. He says Rosslyn’s vacancy rate will grow because of the huge space CEB will leave behind at 1919 N. Lynn Street. [Washington Business Journal]
Pike Lane Closures — VDOT will keep the right lane of eastbound Columbia Pike near S. Quinn Street closed, except from 6:00-9:00 a.m., through this Friday for construction. Additionally, VDOT is closing the entrance to S. Quinn Street from Columbia Pike for two days for the installation of a new Arlington County sanitary sewer manhole and pipe. Wednesday, August 6, and Thursday, August 7, no traffic can enter or exit S. Quinn Street from the Pike.
Second Copperwood Tavern to Open — Copperwood Tavern in Shirlington hasn’t even been open a year, but already its owner is looking to expand into Loudoun County. Reese Gardner has signed a lease for a 6,500 square foot space in Ashburn, which he says is closer to some of the farmers contributing to the restaurant’s farm-to-table menu. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by thekidfromcrumlin
Dark Star Park Day in Rosslyn — It’s Dark Star Park Day in Rosslyn. Today commemorates the 30th anniversary of the park, which is designed to cast shadows that align with the art installation once a year, on Aug. 1. Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette is expected to speak at a celebration at the park, at 1655 Fort Myer Drive, starting at 9:00 a.m. [Rosslyn BID, Ode Street Tribune]
Roads to Close for Signature Open House — Part of Campbell Avenue in Shirlington will be closed from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday for the annual Signature Theatre open house. The event runs from noon to 10:00 p.m. and features numerous singing and theater performances, including a “Signature Idol competition.” [Signature Theatre, Arlington County]
Finding Love on Metro — Metro is D.C.’s most popular location for missed romantic connections. “There seems to be quite a lot of flirting, or at least furtive glancing, taking place on public transportation,” states the county’s Mobility Lab blog. As evidence of that, the blog interviewed Mary Rouleau, executive director of the Arlington-based Alliance for Housing Solutions, who met her husband while waiting for an Orange Line train. [Mobility Lab]
Library Seeks LEGO Creations — Arlington Public Library is seeking original creations for its 2nd annual LEGO exhibit. The exhibit is open to LEGO builders age 18 and under, and teams featuring at least one under 18 member. [Arlington Public Library]
Arlington Parkmobile Video — Arlington County has created a video showcasing its new partnership with Parkmobile, the smartphone app that allows you to pay for parking without feeding a meter. The service is currently available in Crystal City and Shirlington, and will be expanding to other parts of the county over the next 9 months or so. [YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
The Curious Grape, at 2900 S. Quincy Street in Shirlington, held its first chocolate tasting last night, guiding attendees through tasting five high-end chocolates. It’s the first in a series of chocolate tastings and seminars that Curious Grape plans to offer through August.
During the tastings, which range in price from $3 to $5, customers can come in between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. and taste five “rare heirloom varieties of chocolate,” said Curious Grape owner Suzanne McGrath. Artisan chocolate-making, she said, has been on the rise recently.
“There have been developments with chocolate in the past few years,” McGrath said. “Chocolate really is like wine. It depends on where it’s grown, how it’s grown and how it’s processed.”
At the chocolate seminars, attendees will taste more than 12 chocolates, with guidance and commentary from McGrath, and watch informational videos on chocolate production, McGrath said. The seminars cost $15 and accommodate 34 attendees.
“People are pretty jazzed by the end,” McGrath said. “It’s a lot of caffeine.”
Chocolate tastings will be held Aug. 13, 15 and 22, and will explore the differences in chocolate offered by single brands, or the variance between different brands making chocolates at the same cacao percentage, McGrath said. The 90-minute chocolate seminars will be held Aug. 19 and Aug. 26 at 6:30 p.m and registration is still open.
The cafe and wine shop has offered wine tastings since it first opened in 2001, and also offers cheese tastings and seminars, although wine will not be served at the chocolate events, McGrath said.
“Once you start mixing wines and chocolates, you miss the complexities in the flavor,” McGrath said. “There will be no spitting of chocolate.”
Although McGrath had offered chocolate events at her store in the past, she said that the improvements in organic and heirloom chocolate production inspired her to hold tastings and seminars again. Among the more than 40 new, white, milk and dark chocolate bars at the cafe, there is a range of cacao percentages, roasting techniques and conching styles among them, McGrath said.
“Those are big brands for me,” McGrath said. “Ritual is one that uses the same process to make chocolate from different origins, and Fresco uses different methods to make chocolate from one origin.”
But of all the options in her cafe, McGrath said the customer favorite is still Mo’s Milk Chocolate Bacon Bar.
“That’s always been our best-seller,” she said.