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Ballston Construction Projects Continue to Progress

Construction is ongoing for several major projects in Ballston, though at least two should be up and running by the end of the year.

Ballston Quarter, a transformation of Ballston Common Mall, plans to open its shopping and entertainment center in the fall, according to a news release from the county. The completion of a pedestrian bridge that will connect Ballston Quarter to 4201 Wilson Blvd and the Metro station has been pushed back to 2019, however.

Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone said Ballston Quarter will likely be fully leased within a year. So far, several eateries, retailers and entertainment-oriented tenants have signed on to the development. Retailers including Macy’s and Regal Cinemas have remained open during construction.

“That property has just been critical to how Ballston has developed over the last couple of generations,” Leone said. “Ballston Quarter really catalyzed these other developments to occur.”

Ballston Exchange, located in the former headquarters of the National Science Foundation at 4121 and 4201 Wilson Blvd, plans to include collaborative workspaces and first-floor retail.

That project is slated to be completed near the end of 2018, according to the Ballston BID. Restaurants already committed to Ballston Exchange include Shake Shack, We The Pizza and CAVA. A New York-based coworking space became the development’s first new office tenant last month.

A number of the current projects in Ballston include residential space — Ballston Quarter, for instance, will include a 393-unit residential tower, according to Ballston BID.

And 4040 Wilson Boulevard, the final piece in Liberty Center, will feature office, retail and residential space. The Shooshan Company, that site’s developer, plans to wrap up construction by January 2020.

Also set for delivery in early 2020 is The Waycroft (750 N. Glebe Road), to include residential units and an on-site Target and Silver Diner.

As Ballston continues to develop, “what we really want to achieve is a greater sense of neighborhood and a greater sense of community,” Leone said.

A full list of developments in Ballston can be found here.

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Podcast: Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone

Plenty of big changes are on the way for Ballston, and Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone has a front seat to all the latest developments.

Join Leone and ARLnow’s Alex Koma for a conversation about the future of the Ballston Quarter development, the shifting landscape of the neighborhood’s transportation needs and much more.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

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Art Gallery to Open in Ballston This Weekend

A new art gallery is opening in Ballston on Saturday (May 12).

The Fred Schnider Art Gallery, which is backed by D.C. area real estate investment and development firm Fred Schnider Investment Group, is planning a grand opening event from 6-9 p.m. at the Residences at Liberty Center (888 N. Quincy Street).

The gallery opening will feature the work of award-winning artist and longtime Marymount University professor David Carlson. He will display his “Out of My Mind” paintings and drawings from his “Fields and Transformation” series.

The 850-square-foot gallery will display seven exhibits a year, with each exhibit appearing for six weeks at a time. Normal exhibit hours will be from 2-7 p.m. Thursday through Sunday until July 8.

The gallery plans to collaborate with local universities to incorporate an educational setting into the space. It will also host events with the Ballston Business Improvement District and the Arlington Commission for the Arts.

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Morning Notes

Crystal City Could Be Big Budget Winner — Commercial real estate analysts expect Crystal City and the Dulles Toll Road corridor to be the big winners from the new spending bill that was signed into law last week, boosting domestic and military budgets. Crystal City is also among the Northern Virginia locales under consideration for Amazon’s HQ2. [Bisnow]

Park Police Chief Cancels Meeting with BeyerUpdated at 12:30 p.m. — The chief of the U.S. Park Police cancelled a scheduled meeting yesterday with Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Beyer and Norton are seeking answers in the fatal Park Police shooting of Bijan Ghaisar, who fled from a reported crash and then from officers before being shot in Fairfax County. USPP later released a statement explaining the chief’s decision. [WUSA 9, PDF]

Ballston to Hold Puppy Party Tomorrow — “Didn’t feel the love on Valentines Day? Join the Ballston BID for a puppy pick-me-up. All dogs present available for adoption through our partner, Homeward Trails. They bring the furry friends. Earl’s will bring the food.” [Ballston BID]

Charlie Clark on Arlington and Its History — “Clark compared the local population to the cast of the NBC show ‘Parks and Recreation,’ a group of honest, do-gooders who try their best but things still go awry. They’re a body of citizens that aren’t afraid to challenge their local governance on issues, pointing in particular to the struggle put up by local citizens last year when Arlington worked to relocate Fire Station 8.” [Arlington Connection]

Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Reservations — Procrastinators rejoice, a number of Arlington restaurants were, at last check, still taking reservations for Valentine’s Day dinner tonight. [Patch]

Flickr pool photo by Tim Brown

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Software Company Moves Headquarters to Ballston

OpenWater, a company that develops a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution for award ceremonies such as the TONY and James Beard awards, has move its headquarters from the District to the Ballston neighborhood.

The 35-person company signed a seven year lease at 4401 Fairfax Drive and moved in earlier this year, according to a press release by the company. OpenWater previously resided in D.C. for 8 years and was able to expand its footprint by 120 percent as a result of the move.

The company was named one of Inc’s 5000 fastest growing companies in 2017 and reported $2.5 million in revenue in 2016. On top of providing management software for awards ceremonies, their software is also compatible for other application review processes such as selecting board members, grants and scholarships.

The company also plans to open up the new space for technology forums and networking events.

OpenWater is a company that thrives on constant and consistent innovation, making them a perfect fit for the robust and fast-growing tech scene in Ballston,” said Tina Leone, CEO of the Ballston Business Improvement District, in a press release. “Ballston continues to lead the push for innovative technologies in the DC metro area because of companies like OpenWater and we are thrilled to have them in our neighborhood.”

Images via OpenWater

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Arlington Premiere Event to Honor New County Businesses

A sold-out reception in Ballston tomorrow will celebrate the new businesses that have moved into Arlington County.

Arlington Economic Development is hosting Arlington Premiere at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex (627 N. Glebe Road) from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 29.

Attendees can “welcome new business owners and network with other key business and community leaders as we celebrate our growing business community,” a blurb on the event, which is sponsored by the Ballston Business Improvement District, says. Registration is no longer available as the event has reached capacity.

Also at the event, AED will reveal the winners of the Arlington’s First Four competition. The contest honors locally-based businesses that have shown revenue growth over a three-year period.

“The Arlington Premiere is a great way for you to meet our new businesses and strengthen your relationship with other county and community leaders,” AED director Victor Hoskins wrote in an email to the public.

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Morning Notes

Ballston May Be Next ‘Hot’ Neighborhood — Thanks to new development, the renovation of Ballston Common Mall, and the efforts of the Ballston Business Improvement District and others, Ballston is being mentioned as the region’s “next hottest neighborhood.” [Washington Post]

Wegmans Coming to Alexandria — A Wegmans grocery store is finally set to open within a reasonably short drive of at least some parts of Arlington. Per WBJ, the Rochester, NY-based chain will open an 84,000-square-foot store at Hoffman Town Center in Alexandria, not far from where the National Science Foundation recently moved. [Washington Business Journal]

Decal Deadline is Today — Today is the deadline to display the new 2017-2018 Arlington County vehicle decal. “Beginning November 16, you will be at risk of receiving a parking ticket if your decal is not displayed on your windshield,” says the county. [Arlington County]

‘News Dude’ Finds Human Seat — NBC 4’s Adam Tuss was able to catch up with the man who wore a seat costume in Virginia Tech and Ford’s unusual “driverless” car experiment in Arlington. The researcher said he was “pretty stressed out” after Tuss ran up to him at an intersection and asked what he was doing dressed as a car seat in a van. [NBC Washington, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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Morning Notes

County Focused on Child Care — “Demand for child care in Arlington is high and the County is working with business owners and families to meet the increasing needs. Preliminary steps also are underway to map out a comprehensive Child Care Initiative that establishes an action plan to advance the availability, accessibility, and quality of childcare in Arlington.” [Arlington County]

GGW Urges Support for Accessory Apartments — The website Greater Greater Washington is urging its readers to write to the Arlington County Board in support of two proposals: lowering parking minimums for buildings near Metro stations, and “reforming overly burdensome regulations on accessory apartments.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Yankee Stadium Operator to Run Rosslyn Observation Deck — JBG Smith has hired New York City-based Legends to run the public observation deck at the top of its Central Place tower in Rosslyn. Legends also operates Yankee Stadium, Angel Stadium in Anaheim, AT&T Stadium in Dallas and the One World Observatory at One World Trade Center. The 12,000 square foot Central Place observation deck will feature “an outdoor cantilevered terrace and full food and beverage program,” plus panoramic views. [Washington Business Journal]

Ballston Building Sells for $72 Million — New York-based property investment group Westbrook Partners has acquired the Two Liberty Center office building, at 4075 Wilson Blvd in Ballston, for $72 million. [Commercial Property Executive]

Ballston BID CEO on Redevelopment — Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone says changes along the Ballston corridor, including extensive renovations to the former Ballston Common Mall (now Ballston Quarter), are having a ripple effect. “This redevelopment has spurred on like 10 other projects here,” she said. “The face of Ballston is going to change again in the next three to five years, it’s going to look so different. I know it’s just going to be better.” [Washington Business Journal]

Reminder: No Parking Meter Enforcement Today — Parking meters in Arlington will not be enforced today, due to the Veterans Day observation, but meters will be enforced tomorrow. [ARLnow]

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Silver Diner Coming to Ballston

A new Silver Diner restaurant will be opening in Ballston.

The 6,700-square-foot eatery will join Target and Enterprise Rent-A-Car as retail tenants in the currently under-construction 750 N. Glebe development. Set to open in 2020, 750 N. Glebe will be a 12-story building with nearly 500 apartments, across from Ballston Quarter mall.

The new Ballston location will be the 14th Silver Diner in the D.C. area. The company has an existing Arlington location at 3200 Wilson Blvd in the Clarendon area.

The Washington Business Journal reports that, at least for now, Silver Diner plans to operate both Arlington locations simultaneously. (It has a long-term lease in Clarendon.)

Current plans are to operate both Ballston and Clarendon, although [Silver Diner founder Bob] Giaimo has acknowledged in the past that site where the Clarendon Silver Diner sits at 3200 Wilson Blvd., would likely be the subject of redevelopment at some point, putting the diner’s future there in flux.

More about the lease signing from a Ballston Business Improvement District press release, after the jump.

Saul Centers announced this morning that Silver Diner has signed a lease at 750 N. Glebe, a mixed-use development project located at the intersection of North Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard in Ballston. Silver Diner will be the development’s third retail tenant, joining previously announced tenants Target and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Construction began during the first quarter of 2017 and 750 N. Glebe is expected to deliver in the spring of 2020.

The Ballston Business Improvement District (BID) helped facilitate bringing in what will be the 14th Silver Diner location in the Greater Washington D.C. region. The BID orchestrated an all-day meeting in their office between Silver Diner management and several Ballston landlords where BID CEO Tina Leone provided neighborhood insights and statistics to demonstrate to Silver Diner that the Ballston community was the right fit for their next location.

“Silver Diner is a regional institution and we are thrilled to have them join us in Ballston,” says Tina Leone, CEO of the Ballston BID. “With 33% of Ballston’s workforce eating lunch out three times a week, Silver Diner will be welcomed with open arms. Their addition bolsters the strength of our growing dining scene of over 60 restaurants and gives the community another great option for a family brunch, business breakfast meeting, and late-night fare.”

Silver Diner will occupy 6,700 square feet of 750 N. Glebe’s 61,000 square feet of first floor retail space. Earlier this year Saul Centers landed Target to be the site’s retail anchor with a 41,500-square-foot lease. “With the addition of Silver Diner to our tenant roster, 750 N. Glebe now has 80% of its retail space fully leased – we couldn’t be happier with the tenants we’ve secured thus far. Silver Diner’s commitment to chef-driven and locally-sourced farm-to-table food makes them a perfect fit for the neighborhood,” said Saul Centers’ President J. Page Lansdale.

Situated on the old Rosenthal Mazda dealership site, 750 N. Glebe will be a 12-story mixed-use development, containing 491 luxury rental apartment units plus the 61,000 square feet of retail space. Located in the heart of Ballston, 750 N. Glebe is across the street from the Ballston Quarter redevelopment and three blocks from the Ballston Metro Station, with access to the Orange and Silver lines.

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Ballston BID Faces Up to ‘First Real Challenge’ of NSF Departure

Ballston is prepared to cope with the imminent departure of the National Science Foundation, a major local employer, says Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone.

The NSF is set to finish moving from Stafford Place on Wilson Blvd to Alexandria later this year, and began to move employees earlier this month.

But with a number of new construction projects ongoing in Ballston, and the upcoming opening of the renovated Ballston Quarter mall, Leone said the neighborhood is going to be just fine without a federal tenant and its more than 2,000 employees, even though she said it will add about 1 percent to Arlington’s office vacancy rate.

“This is our first real challenge, I believe,” she said. “Ballston has been very much growing and sustaining organically, it’s always been a place where people can live and work very easily. And now this is probably our first big challenge, I believe.”

Leone said the reason for her optimism lies in the major development projects underway, especially the redeveloping Ballston Common Mall, rebranded as Ballston Quarter.

Demolition of the mall to make way for a new apartment tower and retail space has been ongoing for just over a year, and Leone said once that project is done in 2018 it can anchor the rest of the neighborhood.

Leone also pointed to the likes of Marymount University’s “Newside” building, construction of new mixed-use developments at 750 N. Glebe Road and the former Carpool building, as well as developer Jamestown LP’s revamp of the NSF’s current home for new tenants, as other examples of the neighborhood’s continued growth.

Ballston will also be home to a revamped Central United Methodist Church that will include affordable housing, as well as several other new apartment buildings.

“The Ballston Quarter development has helped spur on these other developments,” Leone said. “Once developers knew that this project was a go, they said, ‘okay, now we can push the button on our projects too.’ Who doesn’t want to live next to a beautiful new open air retail, restaurants, 360,000 square feet of fun? That’s what really pulled the trigger on many of these other developments, for sure.”

The county’s office vacancy rate remains an ongoing concern as it hovers between 18 and 20 percent, but Leone said she is hopeful that new tenants and businesses can be wooed to Ballston. Uncertainty about attracting new office tenants temporarily halted construction of the final building in the eight-building Liberty Center project in 2015.

Given its optimal location between Dulles International Airport and downtown D.C., Leone said the BID is looking to help attract companies from overseas that wish to expand their operations into the United States.

Leone said the BID also remains focused on building a sense of community among Ballston’s residents and those who work in the neighborhood. That effort began in March with the introduction of free Wi-Fi throughout the BID’s area, which Leone said will soon integrate seamlessly with the county’s first responders to allow them to use the fast network whenever they are in Ballston.

That sense of community also comes from a string of events the BID hosts throughout the year, including yoga classes, the farmers market and Taste of Arlington.

“We want to connect people and make people really love Ballston,” Leone said. “Part of that is having all these amenities and everything and great transportation and location and all that. But the other part of it is having a sense of community, which is what we’re really focused on…You’ve heard about being a Smart City. We are being a smart neighborhood in the region. That’s our goal.”

And in the coming decades, Leone said, Ballston will continue to prosper and evolve — to a point.

“I think Ballston is going to become a much better place to be,” Leone said. “I don’t think the landscape of it is going to change much. Arlington is really good about keeping density around the Metro, so I don’t think you’re going to see an expansion of these huge buildings going throughout. But what you’re going to see is better. Everything’s going to be better.”

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Katie Cristol to Attend Happy Hour To Promote Millennial Civic Engagement

A happy hour and listening session tomorrow (May 31) will look to encourage more young people to get involved in Arlington’s local government. County Board vice chair Katie Cristol is among those set to attend.

According to a brief blurb on the event, attendees can expect “an evening of lively conversation and discussion of the issues and topics of interest to millennials and young professionals in Arlington.”

Arlington was recently named the best city for millennials by website Niche.com, with its report card noting the good public schools, commute, health and fitness and other factors.

The event is from 6-8 p.m. at the offices of the Ballston Business Improvement District (4600 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100).

The event is nonpartisan and is expected to be attended by those on both sides of the political aisle. In an email to supporters, Arlington-Falls Church Young Republicans chair emeritus Matthew Hurtt said young people can play a key role in helping shape county policy. He pointed to the legalization of Airbnb last year and the AFCYRs’ role in helping beat back some proposed regulations on rentals.

“Whether you realize it or not, the AFCYRs is the largest Arlington-focused millennial political organization in Arlington — even bigger than the Arlington Young Democrats, according to club election statistics,” Hurtt wrote. “During the community conversation about legalizing Airbnb, AFCYRs made up a significant portion of the community feedback, rebuffing a number of destructive (and ridiculous) regulations. AFCYRs played a key role in the favorable outcome of that debate.”

The event is jointly sponsored by the county’s Office of Communications and Public Engagement and the Ballston Business Improvement District. Those interested in attending can register online.

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Revamped Road Medians Coming to Fairfax Drive in Ballston

Construction has begun on new, more aesthetically-pleasing road medians in Ballston.

Work kicked off yesterday on the medians along Fairfax Drive, from N. Quincy Street to Glebe Road. The improvements include a decorative fence, solar-powered “gateway signage” and “more plantings of annuals and perennials while maintaining the stately Bald Cypress trees.”

The Ballston Business Improvement District is spearheading the initiative as part of its placemaking efforts.

More from the BID:

A new pedestrian fence inspired by Ballston’s distinctive brand will increase pedestrian safety, solar-powered gateway signs will welcome all to the neighborhood, and an artistic design will be created on the median noses using the iconic Ballston-orange.

Initial work will include some demolition, repair and replacement of existing medians. The pedestrian fence installation will commence mid-May, and the final stages of work including painting, signage and plantings will follow in early June. Work will take place after morning rush and before evening rush hours with a vehicle lane closure on each side of the medians from Glebe Road to Fairfax Drive.

First image via Ballston BID. Second image via Google Maps

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First Best of Ballston Awards Will Honor Neighborhood’s Hidden Stars

The Ballston Business Improvement District’s annual meeting will have a new twist this year, as it hands out the first Best of Ballston Awards.

The awards will be in three categories for those in the neighborhood: property manager, innovator and broker.

Nominations are being accepted through May 1, ahead of the event on June 21 at the Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel at 801 N. Glebe Road.

“Talented, creative, smart and savvy people walk the streets of our neighborhood — this event is our time to share their success stories!” reads the online nomination page.

The Property Managers Award will be presented to a neighborhood property manager who connects tenants to services, products and programs that help build their business and retain or grow their presence in Ballston.

The Best of Ballston Innovation Award is for a Ballston tenant who has developed an innovative product or service, and the Best of Ballston Broker Award will go to a local real estate broker that has leased space, attracted the greatest number of new tenants, or leased the greatest square feet of space.

In addition to the awards, BallstonGives, the charitable subsidiary of the Ballston BID, will give the donation check from the Taste of Arlington food festival to the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

And the Robert Ball Award, named after the Ball family for which the neighborhood is named, will be presented to developer John Shooshan in recognition of his contributions to Ballston and Arlington.

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Taste of Arlington To Be Ticketed Event For First Time

(Updated at 2:30 p.m. on 3/29/17) You’ll need a paid wristband to get into Taste of Arlington this year.

Previously a free event, attendees at this year’s festival on May 21 will need to pay $5-15 for admission ($5 is the current early bird price) then pay an additional $5 for each drink ticket and $1-5 for each taste, paid directly to the restaurant or food truck.

Tickets can be bought online or on the BallstonConnect mobile app before the festival, or in person on the day. Admission to the event’s Family Zone will be free.

Many restaurants and food trucks will accept cash and credit cards, although some may only take cash. A number of ATMs will be on site.

Previously, attendees had to buy a $30-40 book of tickets to sample the food at the various restaurant booths; now it’s a la carte. The drink ticket is $1-3 less expensive than an equivalent pour last year, a spokesman pointed out.

Also a change from previous years is the Family Zone, which will combine the once separate KidZone and BarkPark into one area at Oakland Park. Admission fees will be charged for both.

More than 50 restaurants, food trucks and chefs are expected to participate, including international cuisine.

Restaurants will compete in the “Best of the Best” food competition in the following categories: Best Appetizer, Best Brunch, Best Fast Casual Entrée, Best Fine Dining Entrée, Best Dessert and Fan Favorite. Winners will be announced at 5 p.m. on the main concert stage.

This year’s festival has also moved closer to the Virginia Square Metro station on Wilson Boulevard, and stretches along Wilson from N. Randolph Street to N. Nelson Street. It will last from noon to 6 p.m.

Among the musicians performing are His Dream Of Lions, Jeff From AccountingBurnt Sienna and the Jack Diamond-Jim Steed Band.

Last year, Taste of Arlington raised $40,000 for BallstonGives, the charitable arm of the Ballston Business Improvement District, and the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

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Randolph Street to Close in Ballston for Crane Assembly

Ballston Quarter road closure (photo via Ballston BID)

A busy street in Ballston will be closed this weekend while crews work to erect a construction crane.

N. Randolph Street is set to be blocked off between Wilson Blvd and the Ballston mall parking garage starting at 9 a.m. Saturday. The massive crane will be assisting with the construction of the new residential tower, which is part of the Ballston Quarter project.

More from the Ballston BID:

Clark Construction Group and their subcontractors will be erecting the tower crane for the Ballston Quarter Residential Tower this weekend on Saturday (3/18) and Sunday (3/19).

They will be closing N. Randolph Street between Wilson Blvd. and the Arlington County Parking Garage starting Saturday, 3/18, at 9 AM. and will be reopened upon completion. Vehicles will be detoured from N. Randolph St. for the entire duration of the closure. (Note: The County parking garage entrance on N. Randolph St. will remain open.) You will find a diagram of this condition for your above.

Off-duty police officers will be present to help enforce the closures and field and questions.

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