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Ballston Rebranding: ‘Where Minds Meet’

by ARLnow.com January 7, 2013 at 1:45 pm 2,640 70 Comments

Ballston logo(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) The new Ballston Business Improvement District is rebranding the neighborhood as the place “Where Minds Meet.”

The BID, formed last year after the Arlington County Board approved its creation in December 2010, is busy shaping Ballston’s identity around the area’s strength in the science and technology sector. It’s emphasizing entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity as part of its new branding campaign.

“Ballston is home to an impressive roster of influential, innovative organizations including DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Project Agency], NSF [National Science Foundation], Accenture and Virginia Tech,” the BID said in a press release. “Ballston is the place where innovation and entrepreneurship converge. Where the best ideas are discovered and thrive with the support they need to flourish.”

To help launch the branding campaign, the BID will be holding an innovation competition. The “Ballston LaunchPad Challenge,” as it’s called, will allow entrepreneurs to compete for a chance to pitch ideas to Ted Leonsis, the billionaire owner of the Washington Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. (The Capitals practice at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston.)

After soliciting applications this month, a panel will select 10 finalists who will the work with mentors to “develop their ideas into saleable business plans.” The winner of the competition will be announced in November and will be eligible to potentially receive seed money, donated workspace and “continuing mentorship.”

On his blog, Leonsis said the competition will help Ballston become known as “a haven for startups.”

“This is a smart way to incentivize businesses to open and grow in Arlington,” he wrote.

Chevys at Ballston Mall, now closedThe competition will be formally announced Thursday evening at the former Chevy’s Restaurant space (4238 Wilson Blvd) at Ballston Common Mall, which for the next 10 months will host some events connected with the contest. In addition, the BID will provide free public Wifi and seating in the restaurant’s former outdoor dining area.

Other initiatives planned by the BID include business networking events like breakfasts, lunches and happy hours; “public labeling” at the Ballston Metro station, restaurants and in the Ballston Common Mall food court; a “digital/virtual statue to showcase the innovators already working in Ballston”; public art and light installations; and the creation of mini-parks and 4-5 additional Wifi hotspots around the neighborhood.

Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser

  • JamesE

    Phase 1, knock down the mall.

    • yequalsy

      I was in that mall for the first time in a long in mid-December to see a live broadcast of an opera. I figured it would be less of a hassle than going to Tysons. Shocking. We’re talking about a Saturday afternoon, ten days from Christmas. Virtually empty.

      • JamesE

        other than the theater (which has 2 good screens) and occasionally gamestop there is no reason to go. A complete waste of prime real estate.

        • Tool Time with Tim

          Is there any reason why Arlington doesn’t have a Home Depot or Lowes given the number or home/condo owners needing to do some home repairs or renovations? Knocking down the mall and putting in a HD would probably bring in more revenue into the county rather than having us trek to Falls Church or Alexandria.

          • Dan

            There is a Home Depot at Seven Corners….not exactly a long drive from Ballston.

          • Quoth the Raven

            Where would you put it? Home Depot requires a TON of trucks delivering stuff, day and night. Do you want that outside your window?

          • JamesE

            The 7 corners one is close enough

          • Nimby

            Home Depot attempted to put a location at the old Sears site in Clarendon, but it was voted down.

          • drax

            That’s a terrible location for a Lowes or Home Depot. Ballston is transit-oriented and urban now.

          • Artie Fufkin

            The original plan for Market Common was to build a Lowes.

          • Sam Walton

            Wrong. It was a Home Depot.

          • Mister Dude

            Drax, there’s a Home Depot in Manhattan.

          • HDTV

            Yes, the board doesn’t want one and so has zoned them (almost) out of existence in the county.

          • Tool Time with Tim

            Well then how about a new food court filled with foyos

    • GroverOver

      +1000 Nothing says “innovation” and “entrepreneurship” like holding these events in the empty shell of a Chevy’s that was one of the finer eating establishments in the mall prior to its close. Grudgingly drove my family to Tysons yesterday for a movie because at least there is stuff to do there after a movie.

      • JamesE

        I wouldn’t say “finer eating establishment”, it was fairly mediocre. Plenty of better options in the area.

        • IAmUrFodder

          The Irony is weak with this one.

        • GroverOver

          My comment said “in the mall”. And it was dripping with sarcasm.

          • JamesE

            Hey that sushi place isn’t half bad

          • old timer

            I preferred when it was Slade’s.

  • CrystalMikey

    Logo looks like something from an 80’s tech firm.

    • BBMS

      I’d say more 70’s. That orange color is awful.

  • YTK

    It was much nicer when it was Parkington.
    Also, something must be done about deterring the creeps that frequent the bus stop area and the Starbucks, especially after rush hour and all hours during the weekends.

    • trackwork4ever

      Agree. There doesn’t appear to be any type of security in the area on weekends. The police could assign a beat officer to the Metro stop area, which maybe would help. Riding public transit doesn’t make one a second-class citizen, and we shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable at a bus stop in broad daylight. I know there are far worse urban areas out there, but this area definitely needs improvement.

  • How generaous

    You can sit outside and be creative… “the space will host BID events and will offer free public Wifi and seating in the restaurant’s former OUTDOOR dining area.”

    How is this different from sitting outside in Courthouse or Shirtlington where free WiFi exists?

    • JamesE

      someone actually complaining about free wifi, wow, just wow.

  • fedworker

    Where minds meet? You mean thought leaders such as the Ballston butt grabber, the Ballston molotov flame thrower, the MU student stabber, or the Pat can I buy a vowel Snguon bros.


    • Major Pup McPuppo Jr.

      lots of interesting ideas will be born, i can guarantee that.

  • Hmmm

    Looks like Leonsis pulled his blog post. Perhaps not well-timed with the other Ballston front page arlnow news.

    • no_cup_craps

      He had to focus on drafting excuses for why the no-cupitals bowed out of the playoffs in early fashion again. He was hoping for a reprieve this season, but now he has to scramble.

  • Tabby_TwoTone

    Lemme ask youse all a question.
    If a man, would you ask your date to meet you at the Ballston movie theater entrance (after dark)?

    • JamesE

      It’s North Arlington not Compton, good god people. You need to get out more if you think it is unsafe, crimes happen all around the county.

      • JamesE

        However, I would drive my date to Tyson’s since that movie theater is 100000x better.

        • Penrosey

          I usually go to Potomac Yard for movies, but try to get to the renovated Courthouse theatre whenever possible. Those reclining lounger seats are the best thing ever!

          • CrystalMikey

            I know! I just wish they showed more movies I’d like to see.

        • A-town gangsta

          I know. You’d think people are talking about SoARL or PG county!

      • Tabby_TwoTone

        I’ve lived in a few rougher neighborhoods in our great urban centers, but I think “meet me near the ticket booth” is lame.

        • Josh S

          “I’ll pick you up at your place at 7.”

        • sn-arl

          better than “meet me inside”…….

      • Mister Dude

        Yeah, they do–in decreasing proximity to Metro stops and/or low-income housing. A quick look at the SpotCrime map bears this out.

    • Joshua Tucker

      Potomac Yard theater is too ghetto. Georgetown is my go-to.

  • Milo

    [Post removed per comment policy]

    • Josh S

      Too soon.

    • Major Pup McPuppo Jr.

      unoriginal, bland, and in very poor taste. nice.

  • TJ


    Did somebody say “Cell Phone Cases”?
    Slow elevators means reduced whiplash
    Pretty soon, Metro from here will take you to Tysons Corner.

    • yappydogs

      And don’t forget: Ballston Mall: Where Creepers Crawl

  • Ball

    I was thinking more “Where 20-somethings meet for one-night-stands.”

  • novasteve

    How about where naked guys run and and others throw molotovs? Or Ballston: We don’t have public masturbators.

  • Ricardo

    “Where bikes go to be stolen”

  • fuzzy

    I’m trying to think what the County could do with the mall if they don’t simply blow it up (which they can’t with the ice rink on top). Is it financially possible to somehow convert some of the space into Condos? I believe Washington Sport & Health is expanding and taking over a portion of Macy’s Furniture (which is good and needed). I’d like to see Bailey’s replaced by one of those Lucky Strike bowling type places. I’m not sure what they can do if they can’t/won’t get decent clothing stores to lease space there.

  • ARLgirl

    My suggestion for the Mall. Make it a sports and entertainment complext with an indoor pool, great restaurants, the existing ice rink and update the movie theater.

    • Developer

      Turn it into one huge McMansion.

    • Zimmerman

      Tolley hub…Grand Ballston Station

    • Ballston neighbor

      Best idea i’ve heard yet. also could offer REI or other specialty sports stores incentives to lease space to further sports & entertainment center idea. how about a Dave and Busters? a spa?

  • Will there be free chips?

  • D&B

    Turn the Macy’s Furniture into a Dave and Busters. Turn the mall into an Entertainment Complex.

  • Jaime

    Love the idea of a sports and entertainment complex. How about a Target!

    • Bullseye

      They have Target sports and entertainment complexes on Rt. 50 and Rt. 1.

  • Robert

    I’ve lived near Ballston for over 10 years now. Been to the mall one time. Creepy and disgusting. I’ve never been able to figure out why it continues to exist in its current form.

    I remember one time my wife purchased some clothing at the Macy’s in Tysons and tried to return it at the Ballston Macy’s. It took a manager authorizing the return with receipt because she was told that Ballston doesn’t carry the higher end labels and they didn’t want to get stuck with it.

    I give the Ballston BID credit for trying but they simply don’t have much to work with.

    • drax

      Oh, come on, people. You sound like a bunch of, well, rich spoiled Arlingtonians. Why don’t you get it over with and move to McLean?

      This mall is small and below average, that’s true. But it’s hardly creepy. Enough hyperbole.

      • jackson

        And looking at the crime statistics, it looks like your car is more likely to be broken into at Pentagon City!

        • JamesE

          Or Market Commons in Clarendon

      • JamesE

        When people refer to parts of Arlington as shady or creepy I am 100% convinced they live inside a bubble and have never been to the real world.

    • bargainhunter

      I shop at that Macy’s because it has the cheap brands! I find Karen Scott sweaters there that I can’t find at other Macy’s.

  • Jim

    If anyone is interested in learning a bit about the issues with Ballston Mall, there is an article in the latest issue of the Arlington Magazine.

    Ballston Stall…


    • The following was posted as a reply by a user but lost due to a technical problem:

      “They [Forest City] were very upfront with me in the negotiations,” says Kennedy, who signed a three-year lease at Ballston Common. “They said that maybe my retail store might not be extremely successful.”

      No wonder they can’t attract better retail…

      • JamesE

        What a wonderful thing to say to a client! No wonder the mall is so popular.

  • DB Smith

    How do they keep the riffraff out of Mazza Gallerie? It’s also on a Metro line and not far from low-income areas.

  • Arlingtonian

    You can bet that the BID won’t publicize the businesses, residents, affordable housing and distant views that all of the new development in Ballston displaced. You can also bet that the BID will not publicize the energy usage and the rush-hour traffic congestion that the new development created,

  • Sebastian Melmoth

    “Where Minds Meet” would be quite appropriate with the addition of the word ‘deranged”


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