Arlington, VA

When the area’s largest indoor sports and recreation facility celebrates its first anniversary, it’s not just a party, it’s a Homecoming.

The 450,000 square foot complex, The St. James winds up its debut year with a family-friendly open house on Saturday, September 21, from 1-5 p.m.

The sports club — which boasts two full-size turf fields, two NHL regulation-sized ice rinks, an Olympic-sized pool, hardwood basketball and volleyball courts, a climbing and bouldering wall, a 50,000-square-foot fitness center and a waterpark for kids — is just off I-95 and I-495 in Springfield.

On Saturday, the 20-acre facility opens its doors in a Homecoming celebration, with field-day games, live music, swag giveaways and meet-and-greet appearances by Washington Redskins players Derrius Guice and Dwayne Haskins. Activities include Zorb soccer, life-size foozball and freeze tag; the Squash & Golf House will be the scene of simulated closest-to-the-pin and longest-drive contests; “halftime” sees a performance by a local marching band.

Energizing Grab-and-Go Bites, prepared by Chef Spike Mendelsohn’s Vim & Victor, and beverages will be on hand.

As a bonus, complimentary admission to the water park runs from 5-8 p.m.

Register for the Homecoming here!

The St. James is located at 6805 Industrial Road, Springfield. For information, call 703-239-6870 or visit thestjames.com. Stay up to date on Facebook and Twitter.

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The redevelopment of the Westmont Shopping Center could be one step closer to reality after this weekend.

The Arlington County Board is scheduled to vote on moving the project forward during their meeting this Saturday, September 21. Developer Republic Properties Corporation (RPC) is seeking a use permit for the project, which aims to build six-story mixed use building with 250 housing units on the site and 22,500 square feet of retail space.

County staff have recommended Board members approve the permit, per a staff report to the Board.

Plans to demolish the current single-story strip mall and parking lot, located at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Glebe Road, have been discussed for a year.

The 1.82 acre lot lies within an area designated for revitalization, subject to Columbia Pike Form Based Code, which is intended to streamline development within certain parameters.

The code lays out guidelines which cap a building’s stories to six and include other standards for projects along the Pike. In the case of this development, it allows the developer to build all market-rate housing, eschewing committed affordable units despite the county’s dwindling stock of affordable housing.

RPC is also planning to build a two-story parking garage with 343 parking spaces for cars, in addition to 60 above ground spaces. The garage will include 104 bike parking spaces, with 90 reserved for residents, per plans submitted to the county. Inside the donut-shaped building will be a courtyard with amenities for residents.

County staff issued a report stating that the new housing would only cause “minor increases in delay” for traffic at nearby intersections. As part of the project, RPC has promised to add three bus stops to the area, two along S. Glebe Road and the other along the Pike.

Elsewhere along the Columbia Pike corridor, developers have also proposed to bulldoze the Fillmore Gardens Shopping Center, which is currently home to tenants like Turkish restaurant Atilla’s, dance studio the Salsa Room, and the beloved Burritos Bros food stand. Replacing it would also be a six-story, mixed-used building made up of housing units and ground floor retail.

Images 1-2 via Arlington County, 3-4 via Arlington County, Image 5 by Alex Koma

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A time capsule in Ballston that has been largely forgotten to time is set to be opened at some point next year, and no one seems to know what’s inside.

An inconspicuous plaque on the side of the Fairgate office building (1005 N. Glebe Road) announces the time capsule.

“A time capsule celebrating Arlington County and the building of Ballston, placed by the Rouse and Associates in 1988, to be opened in 2020,” the plaque reads.

A lot has happened since 1988, however. For one, Rouse and Associates no longer exists. In 1994 it was sold and the company, based in suburban Philadelphia, is now known as Liberty Property Trust.

“Oh wow, that would be us [behind the plaque],” says Jeanne Leonard, vice president of Liberty Property Trust. Over the phone, she detailed how Rouse and Associates did have a Northern Virginia office at one point, but it was shuttered several decades ago.

“We developed this office building in 1986,” Leonard said, confirming the site of the capsule. “But we have not owned it in many years. Unfortunately, there is no one here now who was with our Northern Virginia operation back in the 80s. I’ve got no idea what could be in it.”

Per county records, the building was sold in 2012 to WashREIT, a D.C.-based real estate company. Deanna Schmidt, a communications official at WashREIT, confirmed that the firm knows about the capsule and said they are exploring the best ways to celebrate the capsule come 2020.

They aren’t quite sure how to go about opening it and said they will update their plans once that detail is figured out.

As for what’s in there?

“No idea,” said Schmidt.

A reader first tipped ARLnow off about the plaque, which can be seen from the corner of 11th Street N. and N. Vermont Street. Representatives for the Ballston Business Improvement District, Arlington County and Arlington Public Library’s Center for Local History were similarly unable to find any information on the time capsule.

“I’ve probably walked past that plaque 100 times without noticing,” said Peter Golkin, spokesman for the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services.

Update on 9/20/19 — We now know at least some of what is in the capsule.

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The pop-up plaza next to the county’s surface parking lot in Courthouse has been adorned with a new piece of public art.

The mural is the creation of local graphic designer and artist Marc Pekala. Set to debut tomorrow (Friday) at Courthouse’s PARK(ing) Day celebration, at the corner of 15th Street N. and N. Uhle Street, the abstract art combines eight of Pekala’s paintings of signs from iconic Arlington businesses such as Weenie Beenie and the former Bob Peck Chevrolet.

The design was chosen through the “Arlington Abstracted” contest, in which people were invited to visit the Arlington Art Truck and scramble Pekala’s artwork. The winning design, by Arlington resident Brandon Bailey, was chosen by Arlington Arts to be brought to life by Pekala as the new Courthouse mural.

“The whole process with the Arlington Art Truck was wonderful,” said Pekala. “Listening to people share their memories of Arlington brought back by the older signs may have been my favorite part. So often I work in solitude, and the feeling of community and the pleasure of sharing was a real treat.”

PARK(ing) Day is a national event that asks the public to reconsider the use of parking spaces as public land. Pekala’s mural will span across three former parking spaces, the “last remaining vestige of the original Arlington County Courthouse site from 1898,” according to a release from Arlington Arts.

The public is “invited to celebrate the mural” and meet the artist Friday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The event will include an opportunity for attendees to create their own miniature, take-home versions of the mural, according to Arlington Arts.

Photo (3) courtesy of Arlington Arts 

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(Updated at 9:05 a.m.) A crash along S. Glebe Road is snarling late morning rush hour traffic near the I-395 interchange.

The crash between a pickup truck and a rental van happened at the intersection of S. Glebe Road and 26th Road S.

The pickup suffered heavy front-end damage and, as of 9 a.m., was still in the middle of the intersection, blocking at least one lane of each road. The force of the collision appears to have pushed the van partially onto the sidewalk.

No serious injuries have been reported. Drivers should expect delays in the area.

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Morning Notes

Construction Underway on Hospital Expansion — “Shovels are in the ground and buildings are coming down as Virginia Hospital Center embarks on the nitty-gritty of a three-year, quarter-billion-dollar expansion effort.” [InsideNova]

Marymount Launches Intrapreneurship Initiative — “Marymount University’s School of Business and Technology (SBT) has launched an initiative to address one of the most significant talent gaps in the greater Washington region – a shortage of graduates who are prepared to use entrepreneurial skills to help employers grow and meet the challenges of an ever-changing world.” [Press Release]

Courthouse Office Building Sold — “Another Arlington office building has traded hands with the buyer citing Amazon HQ2 as a reason for optimism.  American Real Estate Partners, in partnership with Rockwood Capital, announced Tuesday it acquired the Arlington Plaza office building at 2000 15th St. North.” [Bisnow]

Metro Seeking Feedback on Bus Changes — “Metro is proposing service changes to selected bus routes based on input from customers and local governments, to increase on-time performance and ridership, and respond to planning studies and market changes.” Changes are proposed for the 3Y, 7F and 7Y routes. [WMATA]

Why Hoskins Left for Fairfax — “Victor Hoskins may be done working on Amazon HQ2 in Arlington County, but he’s certainly not done talking about it. The former head of Arlington Economic Development, in an interview with Bisnow, cited post-Amazon fatigue as one of the reasons he decided to leave and take a new job as CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. ” [Bisnow]

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As parents, we all want our kids to meet their full potential, today and as they grow into adults.

One of the most effective ways to realize that goal is to make sure that every child in every school has access to healthy, high-quality food.

At its best, school food not only combats hunger and obesity, it improves academic and athletic performance, reduces disciplinary problems, and teaches kids a life skill as fundamental as math and reading.

Since 2010, local nonprofit Real Food for Kids has championed healthy food and nutrition education in Arlington, Fairfax and other D.C. area school districts. Real Food for Kids has engaged thousands of area students in its educational programs, and successfully advocated for new salad bars, healthy entrees and elimination of sodas in vending machines in Fairfax County schools.

To kick-off the new year, we’re throwing a Back to School celebration and you’re invited!

Join Real Food for Kids Executive Director Jenn Yates and TV-personality/Chef David Guas at his award-winning Bayou Bakery in Courthouse on Thursday, October 3, 5-7 p.m. for a fun evening of apps, drinks and a dash of southern charm!

This event supports Real Food for Kids’ efforts to fight childhood hunger and obesity, and to ensure access to healthy foods and nutrition education in schools.

Real Food for Kids pursues this mission by:

  • Working with school leaders to identify and overcome challenges faced by food service departments
  • Teaching Pre-K through high school students healthy eating habits through fun activities and events
  • Uniting parents, school and elected officials to prioritize our kids’ health

Come raise a glass with parents, elected officials and other community leaders from across the region, and learn more about Real Food for Kids’ advocacy for healthy kids.

For more information and to register, visit https://bit.ly/2lNcBeF.

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Arlington County has debuted signage for the newly-renamed “Boeing Fields at Long Bridge Park” in recognition of Boeing Company’s donation of $10 million to the county park.

The new sign at the athletic complex was unveiled today (Wednesday) during a ceremony at the park. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, County Board Chair Christian Dorsey and County Manager Mark Schwartz spoke at the event.

Boeing’s donation will help to cover the maintenance and operation expenses of Long Bridge Park, which is adjacent to the aerospace giant’s D.C. area headquarters in Crystal City.

“Sometimes these corporate partnerships don’t feel like a decent match, but with Boeing Fields, they’re right here, they’re in the community, so it made sense,” said Dorsey.

The funding also provides free access to the forthcoming Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center for active-duty military and their families, according to a county press release. Once completed, the 50-meter pool inside the aquatics center will also be named after Boeing.

“Boeing is committed to making a difference in the community and is proud to support members of the military who give so much to keep us safe,” said Tim Keating, Boeing’s Executive Vice President for Government Operations.

Following the announcement earlier this year, the County Board is set to officially accept the donation at its upcoming meeting on Saturday, Sept. 21.

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