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Revamped, food-centric Crystal City Water Park set to open next week

After nearly three years of waiting, the Crystal City Water Park is slated to reopen next week, JBG Smith announced yesterday.

The newly renovated, privately owned 1.6-acre park will feature nine restaurant kiosks, a cocktail and oyster bar, seating areas, public art installations, new water features — including a water wall — and a live performance stage.

“Water Park is a manifestation of our vision for National Landing as a premier 18-hour community that warmly embraces families, workers, students and visitors of all ages,” Kai Reynolds, chief development officer at JBG Smith, said in a press release.

“In addition to creating an urban oasis where people can relax, linger and enjoy time spent together, we have intentionally curated Water Park to serve as a celebration of the region’s rich and diverse culinary traditions,” he continued.

JBG Smith says it plans to host a grand opening ceremony next Friday, Oct. 6, from 6-10 p.m.

After deferring an initial proposal due to concerns about pedestrian and cyclist safety, the Arlington County Board approved plans for the park in March 2021. Construction started in March 2022.

While the park previously had a small food and drink kiosk, the new iteration has nine kiosks for a variety of food vendors, with a focus on “local, minority- and women-owned businesses.”

The vendor lineup features:

  • Brij, D.C. a café and wine bar by Skyler Kelley, supporting single mothers, the LGBTQ+ community and people who are homeless
  • Bubbie’s Plant Burger, a Kosher, plant-based American eatery by the creators of D.C.’s Pow Pow, Margaux Riccio and Shaun Sharkey
  • Cracked Eggery, a D.C. food truck known for inventive egg dishes that now has two brick and mortar locations in Cleveland Park and Shaw
  • Dolci Gelati, a D.C.-based gelato shop offering over 450 seasonal, artisanal flavors, plus coffee and espresso
  • Falafel Inc., a Georgetown-based charitable eatery that offers hummus and falafel dishes
  • PhoWheels, a new Vietnamese-inspired food vendor
  • Tiki Thai, a Reston-based Thai-Polynesian eatery
  • Queen Mother’s, a fried chicken concept created by James Beard Award semi-finalist Chef Rahman “Rock” Harper

In addition to the kiosks, there is be a new cocktail and oyster bar, dubbed “Water Bar,” perched on top of the water wall at the back of the park.

The restaurant, operated by the Atlanta-based hospitality group STHRN, features a raw bar and an extensive cocktail list, according to JBG Smith. STHRN will also be opening an outpost of Crush Pizza, its New York-style pizzeria.

“We are excited to bring the delicious taste of Water Bar to life through unique, tasty cocktails and the deeply immersive flavors of the east coast,” Elizabeth Feichter, a partner at STHRN, said in the release.

The park will be open to the public daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., although operating hours for individual vendors may vary.

It will also be a “sip and stroll” zone where visitors can drink alcoholic beverages while exploring the space. There are “sip and stroll” zones in the Village at Shirlington and Westpost, formerly Pentagon Row.

The Water Park is not the only public space getting an upgrade. JBG Smith is also constructing a new restaurant at a nearby private park space located at 2121 Crystal Drive.

The restaurant, Surreal, will span 5,587 square feet and is set to be led by award-winning D.C.-based Chef Enrique Limardo, known for his work at Seven Reasons and Imperfecto. While the restaurant is scheduled to open at some point this year, an exact opening date remains undetermined.

Initially, Surreal had aimed for a “soft opening” in August, however, a spokeswoman told ARLnow that there is currently “no update” on its opening.

The Water Park and Surreal — plus Amazon’s second headquarters and other redevelopment projects — will triple the number of retail businesses in Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard, collectively known as National Landing, JBG Smith says.

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