The grassy patch of land that runs along Columbia Pike and Washington Blvd by the Pentagon is slated to be home to the new 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center by 2020.
“The Pentagon is the only 9/11 attack site without a visitor center or museum to explain the historic significance of what happened on that day. Among the 500,000+ visitors who come to the Memorial each year, few know how different this location is from all others in Washington, D.C.,” said James Laychak, the president of the Pentagon Memorial Fund, in a press release.
“The 9/11 Pentagon Visitor Education Center site is in a dramatic location, right where the attack of 9/11 took place and adjacent to the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and Air Force Memorial… This thoughtful arrangement creates a powerful backdrop to heighten the experience for visitors as they arrive at the 9/11 Pentagon Visitor Education Center,” the Pentagon Memorial Fund said on its website.
The organization is currently looking for sponsors to help it reach a goal of $75 million for the visitor education center.
Once the center is completed, visitors will be able to learn more about the Sept. 11 events and the significance of the Pentagon Memorial through exhibits created from artifacts and content donated by the FBI, National Geographic, the Transportation Security Administration and National Museum of American History, among others.
The visitor center will help tell the stories of both the victims and survivors of the Pentagon attack and inform visitors about the U.S. response to the attacks. It will also offer walking audio tours.
“Tens of thousands of children and students come to the memorial each year and few know why this memorial is different from all others in Washington, D.C. in that it is located where the event took place. Many of those are eighth-graders on class trips that are too young to have experienced the tragedy of Sept. 11. We do not want to miss out on these teachable moments,” the Pentagon Memorial Fund said.
The visitor center is expected to open in 2019 or 2020, according to a spokesman.
Columbia Pike is slated to be realigned as part of a land swap between Arlington County and the military that will allow for Arlington National Cemetery to be expanded around the planned 9/11 visitor center.
Kickboxing gym 9Round is planning to open two new Arlington locations, one in Ballston and another on Columbia Pike.
The new Ballston location at 927 N. Quincy Street may be open as early as next week, pending final approval from Arlington, said 9Round partner Michael Agrillo.
The company is looking to open the gym at the Penrose Square shopping center on Columbia Pike the end of the year or beginning of 2016, Agrillo said.
“We will be located by the new Starbucks under the Super Giant,” he said.
The company may also look at a new space in Pentagon City or Crystal City, bringing the total number of Arlington locations to four, Agrillo said. The company first opened in Arlington with a location in Courthouse, at 2250 Clarendon Blvd.
“We’re also residents,” Agrillo said of his partners in the business. “We know this area well.”
“9Round offers a 30 minute boxing/kickboxing fitness program that incorporates functional, interval, cardiovascular and circuit training regimens,” the company said in a press release about the openings. “There are no class times and no person to person contact; members can come to the studio whenever it fits their schedule and get started on the circuit right away.”
In addition to the three new Arlington locations, the company is planning to open up a new gym in Falls Church.
Disclosure: 9Round is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Arlington County’s new year-round homeless shelter will open its doors next week.
The Homeless Services Center officially opens on Oct. 1 with day programs and will start offering beds to the county’s homeless population on Friday, Oct. 2.
The new shelter has 50 year-round beds — 36 on the men’s side and 14 on the women’s side — and 25 “hypothermia prevention beds” for cold winter nights.
The center has a sitting room for people to relax or watch TV, a cafeteria serving meals around the clock and a classroom, where the shelter plans to hold job training, budgeting and art classes, said Kathy Sibert, the president and CEO of Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network.
The shelter is colorful, with a bright orange wall greeting people as they approach the front desk. The bedroom walls are painted blue on the women’s side and green on the men’s side. Even the floors are colorful, with green tiling on the women’s side and blue on the men’s side.
Macy’s will be providing sheets in blues and greens for the beds, Sibert said, making the accommodations slightly less spartan.
“Anita [Friedman], the director of Department of Human Services, and I were really intent that this wouldn’t look like an institute,” she said.
The color extends to the bathrooms, which have blue or green tiles instead of gray, said Scott Miller, senior director of development at A-SPAN.
“Color costs nothing,” he said. “Let’s make this place welcoming.”
The center will replace the emergency winter shelter two blocks away in Courthouse, which was open from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m. Other homeless services, including meals, will also be done at the new shelter.
“We’re going to have everything in one place, which is awesome,” Sibert said.
Having the shelter open 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the year means A-SPAN will rely on volunteers to help keep things running, in addition to the 30 A-SPAN staff members, Miller said.
“We gobble up 15,000 volunteer hours here,” he said.
The new shelter is located directly across of the police station and near some Courthouse condominiums. Neighbors had voiced security concerns about having the shelter so close to their homes.
In response, A-SPAN hired security officers to patrol inside and outside of the building and installed cameras. People at the shelter will be allowed to go out for smoke breaks, but A-SPAN will limit it to three or four people going on a break at a time.
“Here’s the thing. You’ve got to remember that they’re people, too,” Sibert said.
There may still be occasional problems that arise, admits DHS spokesman Kurt Larrick, but A-SPAN and the County are working hard to take preventative measures.
“We want to be good neighbors,” he said.
Concerned residents can call Sibert or the homeless shelter to report problems, she said. There is also a Homeless Services Center Neighborhood Advisory Committee to help keep positive communication between the county and neighbors regarding issues with the shelter.
The county has worked with the police department to train about half of its offices on crisis intervention techniques, which help officers identify people with possible mental illnesses and bring them to a hospital instead of jail.
“Many, many officers have that training and are good at working with mental illnesses,” Larrick said.
About one-third of homeless people in Arlington have a mental illness, including substance abuse or general anxiety, Sibert said, adding that the homeless shelter has therapists and doctors to help provide support.
Getting people into a stable home situation also helps people deal with mental illness, Larrick said.
“So many mental illnesses are treated by medications, but its hard to stay on medications when you are on the street,” he said.
Ultimately, the goal of the homeless shelter is to help end homelessness by helping people get off the street and into homes, Sibert said. A-SPAN does this by providing case managers who follow each person throughout the process.
“[The shelter] is really a bridge so people don’t have to live on the street,” she said.
The owners of Conte’s Bike Shop are planning to open a new location at 3449 Wilson Blvd in Virginia Square by March 2016, said co-owner David Conte.
“We have always wanted to open up company owned stores in this market. My wife Angela is a graduate of George Mason University and we have many great friends in the area,” Conte said.
“We are opening in Northern Virginia because the market is still underserved,” Conte said. “There is some really good bicycle retailers in the market and then [there] are not, we believe that we will not only succeed but thrive in these markets.”
Conte’s will be the third cycling shop near the Virginia Square-Ballston area. Hybrid Pedals is located at 822 N. Kenmore Street, and Freshbikes is just down the road at 3924 Wilson Blvd. Freshbikes had been a Conte’s franchise until it changed its name in 2011.
The new store offers services for all cyclists, from those who ride competitively to the everyday recreational cyclist, Conte said. The shop sells top of the line road bikes, including from manufacturer S-Works, Giant and Specialized, as well as kids bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes and electric bikes.
“We are a cycling store for everybody, not just enthusiasts but mostly for the recreation cyclist in particular,” he said.
Conte plans to get involved with local Arlington cycling events once the store is open in the spring, he said.
“We do ride support for charity rides and all kinds of cycling related events, and if it has two wheels and needs the help from Conte’s we will be there,” he said. “Bike race events are another animal in its own and with a lot of events that happen in a great cycling city like Arlington, if we can be involved we will do our best to help.”
Two new outposts of trendy local chain restaurants — Sweetgreen and Taylor Gourmet — are under construction in Crystal City.
Located in the former Corner Bakery space on the 2100 block of Crystal Drive, the restaurants are both expected this winter.
“The Crystal City location should be opening by the end of the year, though we don’t have a firm date to share just yet,” said a PR rep for Sweetgreen.
“We are thinking early 2016 right now,” Hilary Chattler of Taylor Gourmet told ARLnow.com last week.
This will be the second Arlington location for the two eateries; both have existing locations in Ballston. Corner Bakery closed in June.
Tacos El Chilango parks at the corner of 14th Street N. and N. Quinn Street nearly every day. From the truck, people can see drivers whiz by on Route 50. Before customers get a $2.50 taco (or five), they might stand in a line that goes down the block. The menu is limited to only six kinds of meat tacos and a small selection of drinks. But no one is complaining.
Making Yelp’s Top 100 List in 2014 was no easy feat. Engineers from Yelp took into account number of reviews and star ratings to reveal the most popular spots in the country, over the past 10 years that Yelp had been up and running. Tacos El Chilango made number 58.
Jesus and Juan Antonio Santacruz opened the truck together in Arlington in 2007. Juan Antonio now runs El Chilango’s D.C. location (1119 V. Street NW), which opened in 2012. It has a somewhat larger menu including veggie options and indoor and outdoor seating space.
When the two first opened shop, they were inspired by their parents, who moved from Central Mexico to Mexico City in the 1950s and opened their first taco business.
“My parents had the house, and in the front they had the business, so we practically lived there. We are eight siblings and we all have taco shops,” Juan Antonio said.
Five taco stores are in Mexico, and three are in the U.S.– the two El Chilango locations, and Tacos El Papi, another truck, owned by their eldest brother, is parked on Columbia Pike in Arlington.
Juan Antonio and Jesus established their space because Jesus lives nearby, and one winter they got snowed into the spot. People started noticing the truck because there aren’t really other businesses around. And so they stayed.
What makes these tacos special? People could look to the 349 Yelp reviews (only five of which are under three stars) or ask someone who took to the street at lunchtime today.
Maurice Dayton calls himself a “religious patron” of El Chilango. He said he comes to get his lunch at the truck at least twice a week. He’s not the only super fan — 55 Yelp reviews used the word “love” to describe their feelings for the fresh tacos.
“I’m not lying, I’m from Texas and I know a thing about tacos, this is the closest I’ve come to being back home with tacos, and I have to say, it’s even better,” Dayton said.
Jesus says the secret to the tacos is never changing the recipe — and keeping ingredients fresh every day.
“A lot of people ask for sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes and we say ‘no.’ We like to keep them authentic, the way we grew up with them, the way we make them in Mexico. We make everything pretty much every day,” Santacruz said.
Dayton lives in Maryland but works in a nearby State Department office, where he says everyone makes the walk down to the truck. He mentioned a few other spots he said had good tacos, but they didn’t compare.
“I just absolutely love coming here. You have to try the El Mixto. They’re some of the absolute best tacos anywhere. I wish I could franchise this place,” Dayton said, laughing.
Matt Evans is a longtime patron of the truck who just moved in Arlington, just blocks away from El Chilango’s parking spot — a move he’s very excited about.
“I have a lot of coworkers who are super into District Taco, and hands-down this is way better than District Taco. It’s that authentic, it’s like California tacos,” Evans said.
It makes sense that they would be authentic, as “Chilango” is a Mexican slang word meaning the people who live in or come from Mexico City. And Juan Antonio says even though there is the most business on Fridays and Saturdays, the truck is busy year-round.
“Even when it’s so hot or so cold, people want tacos,” he said.
After numerous accounts of coyotes spotted in the northern half of Arlington, one has been spotted while apparently en route to South Arlington.
Eliana Kee snapped the photos above while heading westbound on Washington Blvd, just before the Fort Myer exit, around 6 p.m. Tuesday night.
“It was just sniffing around, close to a heavily trafficked road and not very hidden as you can see from the pictures, and didn’t seem to be in a hurry to get back to the cover of the undergrowth,” relayed Brian Kee.
The closest thing to a recent coyote spotting in South Arlington happened last fall, when a dead coyote was found on Route 110 near Arlington National Cemetery. It had been struck by a car.
Coyotes are relatively rare in Arlington but experts say they don’t present a danger to humans.
“These animals learn to live next to humans and not mess with humans,” Arlington Natural Resource Manager Alonso Abugattas told ARLnow.com last year. “There have been cases, however, where feral cats and loose dogs, coyotes will occasionally eat a smaller dog, both as a competitor and as prey. Cats are considered prey as well. That’s the only way that they might affect the public.”
(Updated at 2:00 p.m.) The Boston Market store at 2046 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse has closed.
A sign on the door says the restaurant closed on Sept. 20. A reason for the closing is not listed. The sign directs customers to the Boston Market at 3233 Columbia Pike, which remains open.
The low-rise commercial building that housed Boston Market is just a block from the Courthouse Metro station and has been said to be a likely target for future redevelopment.
The restaurant business in Courthouse is no tea party: restaurant owners have been complaining that food trucks are hurting their lunch business, which is critical to their survival amid high rents.
Hat tip to Eric LeKuch
This week, a very determined rat that was caught on video dragging a slice of pizza down the stairs of a New York City subway station made viral headlines across the country.
Arlington now has its own version of the pizza rat.
Local resident Valerie Crotty says she spotted a squirrel (above) trying to bring a slice of pizza home with it. In lieu of a video, she relayed an eyewitness account.
“Well, he did not go to the Metro because the Silver, Blue and Orange lines were delayed,” Crotty said. “But, I did watch him drag the pizza into bushes on 16th Road so that I would not take it away from him.”
When one is used to scarfing down nuts all day long, a piece of pizza sounds like a nice change of pace that’s well worth the effort.
The 20-page booklet, “African American History in Arlington, Virginia: A Guide to the Historic Sites of a Long and Proud Heritage,” was first published in 2001. It was a joint project between the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service, the Chamber of Commerce and the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington.
The funding for the booklet comes from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, in the form of a $3,000 grant that was accepted by the County Board.
Print copies of the guide ran out several years ago, but the booklet is still available online in a PDF.
According to a press release, the booklet was popular among Arlington residents and visitors who wanted to explore memorials such as Arlington House, the historic neighborhoods of Nauck, Hall’s Hill and Butler Holmes and various celebrated churches and historical homes.
Cynthia Liccese-Torres, Arlington County historic preservation planner, said that her office has found “quite a bit of new additional research” that will enhance the guide.
The still-operating Green Valley Pharmacy in Nauck will be featured in the new edition. It was opened in 1952 and served African Americans who were refused service in Arlington’s segregated drug stores.
Also included will be dozens of graves previously considered “lost” that have been identified in the cemetery at Calloway United Methodist Church.
Liccese-Torres estimates that the guide will be completed and ready for distribution in spring 2016.
Karen Bate, founder of communication firm KB Concepts, was part of multiple entrepreneurial groups in Arlington, but none were just for women. So she decided to start her own organization, now called Arlington Women Entrepreneurs.
The group has quickly grown since it started in 2014, with the 100th member having just joined the group this week, Bate said.
“I just know all these amazing business owners,” she said.
Bate started the group with an event for women entrepreneurs, inviting her friends and people she worked with to come to her house and bring other business owners. She expected it to be a small gathering, but had a large group of people show up on her doorstep.
“They were so happy to have a place where they could share their experience as solo business owners,” Bate said.
From the first event at Bate’s house, Arlington Women Entrepreneurs became a group of women who meet monthly to network and talk about running businesses.
The group is capping itself at 100 members and does not accept more than five members in each industry to allow the meetings to be useful for each member, according to the group’s website.
There is already a waiting list, as there are at least five industries that have five members, Bate said.
“I have such an interesting group of women,” Bate said.
Members include a woman who does mobile veterinary calls, artists, boutique owners, graphic designers, restaurant owners, include the women behind Lebanese Taverna, Trade Routes, Two the Moon and Nicecream Factory.
Meetings take place in member homes or businesses and include time to socialize with each other and a speaker who talks about some aspect of owning a business.
Previous speakers have included Tara Palacios, the director of BizLaunch of Arlington Economic Development, Liz Nohra from Leadership Arlington and County Treasurer Carla de la Pava.
Meetings give the women a chance to chat with one another, and most talk about being entrepreneurs and share their experiences, Bate said.
“They talk about a variety of things, but a lot of them talk passionately about their businesses,” she said.
At the meetings, the female business owners are also able to collaborate with each other on their businesses or find ways to give back to the community through various service projects, Bate said.
Helping each other is one thing that Bate has noticed about working with female business owners.
“I believe women owners are extremely generous about supporting one another,” she said.
Members brainstorm and collaborate with the other women in their industry, which helps the women come up with new ideas or solve challenges facing their businesses, according to AWE’s website.
Starting a new business can be challenging, Bate said, adding that she has found many women do it for the flexibility. Arlington County is very welcoming to new businesses, and some of the speakers at meeting are people involved with the county’s initiatives to help businesses, including the Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Arlington and Arlington Economic Development.
“I can’t say enough about how supportive Arlington is with starting new businesses,” she said.
Taking the leap and starting a business can be challenging, Bate said, adding that she had a lot of support from her family, who were also all entrepreneurs.
Working with women of AWE, Bate has noticed that many of the female business owners share similar traits, beyond wanting more flexibility with work, she said.
“Studies and anecdotal evidence reveal that many were not your traditional stellar students or over-achievers. A majority weren’t motivated by good grades or the approval of others, in school or in their early jobs and careers. Instead, they found what motivated them, followed their own path, and turned that inner need into a thriving business,” Bate said on her blog.
(Updated at 1:20 p.m.) Starbucks will be opening a new cafe in Rosslyn this fall, with the opening of the new TargetExpress store.
The coffee shop will be located inside the store, at 1500 Wilson Blvd, which is expected to open next month. A quick peek inside the glass doors yesterday revealed that much of the familiar Target interior is already complete, with workers continuing to work on fixtures like security cameras.
Curiously, this will be the third Starbucks location within a one block radius. Shoppers sipping their latte from the store will be able to look out the big glass windows and see two Starbucks across the street, one inside the Safeway (1501 17th Street N.) and the other freestanding (1525 Wilson Blvd).
A fourth Rosslyn Starbucks is down the hill on N. Lynn Street, about a quarter mile away.
Such dense placement of Starbucks stores is not unprecedented, and Arlington is noted for its love of Starbucks, but it does seem a bit excessive even for Manhattan on the Potomac. The Columbia Pike corridor, for instance, only just got its first Starbucks.
“As a standard course of business, Starbucks continually evaluates our store portfolio, using various criteria to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers,” a Starbucks spokeswoman told ARLnow.com.
To help celebrate Mexican Independence Day and its own 15 year anniversary, Guajillo in Rosslyn will be giving customers the chance to scarf down a burrito the size of a small newborn baby.
The Mexican restaurant in the Colonial Village Shopping Center (1727 Wilson Blvd) will hold its annual burrito eating contest this coming Saturday, Sept. 19, at 4 p.m. Up to six contestants will attempt to eat a 16-inch, seven-pound burrito called El Cachudo for a chance to win a future dinner for two, said Guajillo spokeswoman Joahna Hernandez.
“El Cachudo is a 16-inch long burrito made with flour tortilla, filled with Mexican rice, refried pinto beans, Oaxaca cheese, pork carnitas, shredded beef, shredded chicken, lightly battered tilapia and most importantly, voodoo salsa made with a blend of fresh habaneros and garlic. It is served with pico de gallo and sour cream on the side,” Hernandez said.
The current record to beat is 20 minutes, which was set by an 18-year-old named Ian, she said. Guajillo co-owner Rolando Juarez started the contest in 2009 and named the burrito El Cachudo, which is a slang word for devil in Spanish, Hernandez said.
In addition to its large size, El Cachudo also has a spicy kick due to the homemade voodoo habanero salsa.
“As for the spicy level, you only need to pour a few drops [of the salsa] on a taco to give it a spicy kick; a little goes a long way!” Hernandez said in an email. “As you may know, an habanero chiles are even hotter than thai peppers and serranos.”
Anyone brave enough to sign up for the burrito eating contest can call 703-807-0840 or email [email protected] for more information.
Guajillo will also be holding specials starting today through Sept. 19 in honor of the Mexican holiday and its anniversary. The restaurant will serve $15 El Taconayo, a build-your-own taco meal, $15 tequila and Mezcal flights and $4 Coronas and Pacificos today. On Saturday, the restaurant will serve brunch starting at 11:30 a.m. with $5 spicy margaritas, according to a press release.
The full press release, after the jump.
“Our whole concept that we’re working for is casual elegance,” said Tony Wagner, who took over on Aug. 10.
Wagner wants the place to be welcoming, with good quality food at “neighborhood prices,” he said. With his new concept of “casual elegance” in mind, Wagner and his staff have added new small plates, dishes and craft beers to the restaurant’s menu.
In addition to the small plates, which include new crab cakes, Wagner’s kitchen staff has also added flatbreads.
“We overhauled the menu completely,” Wagner said. “[We added] small plates that are absolutely delicious and pair well with the drinks.”
Wine, and to a lesser extent beer, have been the main attractions of Twisted Vines since it was opened in 2010 by previous owners Sybil and Josh Robinson. Wagner is expanding the drink menu by adding whiskey and bourbon drinks, as well as a new Bloody Mary for brunch, he said.
Under Wagner’s leadership, the restaurant has also started opening on Mondays, from 4-10 p.m., according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Twisted Vines is the first restaurant Wagner has owned, he said. The restaurant’s foundation had already been established by the Robinsons, giving him a good base to build on, he said.
Owning a restaurant has been “a passion for a while and the opportunity presented itself,” Wagner said.
Arlington’s first responders gathered outside of the county office building at Courthouse Plaza this morning to mark the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Meanwhile, at the Pentagon, the military held a remembrance ceremony for the 184 lives lost when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the west side of the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m., on Sept. 11, 2001.
The attacks in Arlington, New York and the crash of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. claimed the lives of 2,996. The attacks spurred America to war, and since 9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the lives of more than 6,700 Americans.
That number doesn’t include the lives of veterans lost since returning home from the battlefield. Veteran suicide remains a problem, including in Arlington. Often individual suicides go unreported in the news, but it is a grim reality that families and local first responders have to deal with every hour of every day in the U.S.
If you are a veteran and you’re having thoughts of suicide, help and compassion is a phone call away. The Veterans Crisis Line can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1.
If you are not a veteran, but you’re thinking of harming yourself or otherwise need help, the Arlington-based CrisisLink hotline is available 24/7, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
It’s a weekend filled with enjoyable local events — the Rosslyn Jazz Festival, the annual Arlington Police, Fire and Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K, the Yorktown-Wakefield high school football game, to name a few — but it’s worth taking a minute, at some point, to remember the lives lost since 9/11. It’s also worth thinking how you might be able to help, to make sure more lives are not lost needlessly.
With that, feel free to discuss your memories of 9/11 in Arlington, or any other local topic of interest, in the comments.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf