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New Ballston Quarter Pedestrian Bridge Delayed Until 2019

The developer behind the renovated Ballston Quarter mall is pushing back its plans to open a new pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd, as part of a host of proposed changes to the project.

Forest City had originally hoped to open the overhauled bridge connecting the mall to 4201 Wilson Blvd and the Metro station in time for stores to begin opening this fall. Yet work on the bridge is “currently behind schedule and is now expected to be completed in the winter or early spring of 2019,” according to a report prepared for the County Board.

Accordingly, Forest City is asking the Board to tweak some of the planning documents governing the project to account for the delay, which county staff believe will allow for “additional time for public engagement” around changes to the bridge’s renovation. Staff are recommending that the Board push off any consideration of that request until next month, though Board members won’t get a chance to vote on that recommendation until Saturday (June 16).

County staff also suggest that the Board wait until its July 14 meeting to consider a request from Forest City to add “large media screens” to the development. The big TV screens would face Wilson Blvd as part of Ballston Quarter’s west plaza. A spokeswoman for Forest City said “nothing is yet confirmed” when it comes to the purpose of the screens.

The Board could take some action related to the development on Saturday, however. Forest City is hoping to open six “outdoor cafes” as the mall welcomes back patrons in September, though construction plans originally called for some additional landscaping and construction work to be completed before those restaurants could open.

Staff noted that Forest City’s plans are “not ideal,” but they also didn’t see any “public safety risk” in letting the cafes open first. They’re recommending that the Board approve the request, then consider individual permits for each restaurant over the course of the next month.

The developer has already unveiled a variety of restaurants and retailers that will open at the mall, with plans to release more information in the coming months.

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Ballston Quarter Unveils 12 New Restaurants, Including the Return of Chick-Fil-A

Ballston Quarter mall is unveiling 12 new restaurants with plans to open in the development, bringing the shopping center’s total to 22 confirmed eateries ahead of its scheduled re-opening this fall.

Forest City, the company that owns and manages the under-construction former Ballston Common Mall, announced the line-up of eateries today (Thursday). Some of the restaurants will be located in the development’s 25,000-square-foot “food hall,” while others will be spread throughout the mall or even located in the apartment building attached to the project.

The restaurants announced today include the return of Chick-fil-A, an old staple of the Ballston Common mall, and the first location of D.C. chain Compass Coffee outside the city. Union Kitchen Grocery and Baltimore-based The Local Oyster are also planning a location at Ballston Quarter, as is the previously-announced Ted’s Bulletin.

“Our overall mission for Ballston Quarter is to feature some of the most unique, trendsetting restaurants and reimagined brands possible, with a strong focus on best-in-class regional favorites,” Will Voegele, Forest City’s senior vice president of development, wrote in a statement.

The developer announced the mall’s first retail tenants last month, and several “experience-oriented” businesses in February. Forest City added it plans to announce more restaurants for the development ahead of its opening in the fall.

Full details from a press release on the 12 new restaurants, after the jump.

  • All About Burger: All About Burger is a D.C.-based burger chain known for its vast selection of milkshakes, burgers, hot dogs and cheesesteaks. The 2,793 square-foot Ballston Quarter location will be the eatery’s fifth storefront overall, joining existing locations in Arlington, VA, Southwest and Northwest D.C., and Baltimore.
  • Chick-Fil-A: As one of the largest fast food chains and family-owned businesses in the country, Chick-Fil-A has more than 2,200 locations and 125 locations in Virginia. The beloved family-favorite and an existing Ballston-staple will be returning this fall with its famous chicken-centric menu in a new 2,925 square-foot Ballston Quarter location.
  • Compass Coffee: Compass Coffee was founded in Washington, D.C. by two former Marines who set out to change the way people experience coffee with nine different blends with unique notes and flavors. With seven locations in D.C., the 2,170 square-foot Ballston Quarter location will be located on the ground floor of the residential tower, which will be Compass Coffee’s first location outside of the District.
  • French Exit: French Exit began as a pop-up sandwich shop founded by Chef Matt Baker, which featured a rotating menu of creations including a croque-madame, a Korean braised short rib hoagie and a fried chicken sandwich. The 820 square-foot Quarter Market location will be French Exit’s first brick and mortar store, which will offer similarly inspired dishes.
  • Maizal: Maizal is a South American restaurant serving a fresh take on one of South America’s most coveted street foods, the arepa, a cornmeal patty topped with fresh meats and vegetables and served with sides such as yuca fries and street corn. Maizal’s 843 square-foot Quarter Market restaurant will be Maizal’s first location in Virginia and second location to date.
  • Mezeh: Mezeh is a regional fast casual restaurant serving freshly made-in-house Mediterranean staples such as tabbouleh, hummus, caramelized eggplant and homemade fruit juices prepared in small batches daily, free of preservatives for guaranteed freshness. With eight locations in Maryland and Virginia, the 1,932 square-foot Ballston Quarter location will add to its expanding list of regional eateries.
  • Slapfish: Slapfish is a casual seafood restaurant originally founded by Andrew Gruel in Huntington Beach, California. With roots as a food truck, and 11 locations nationwide, Slapfish features locally-sourced dishes such as fish tacos and sandwiches. The 2,314 square-foot Ballston Quarter location will be the second location on the east coast, joining their Rockville, Maryland restaurant, which is slated to open in June 2018.
  • Sloppy Mama’s BBQ: Sloppy Mama’s BBQ is a family-owned business specializing in authentic American BBQ. Created by a husband and wife duo, Sloppy Mama’s is dedicated to making the best smoked meats in the DMV region. The 195 square-foot Quarter Market location will be Sloppy Mama’s second standalone location, joining the existing storefront in Union Market.
  • South Block: Northern Virginia’s first cold-pressed micro juicery, South Block, opened in 2011, bringing cold-pressed juices, smoothies and acai bowls to its customers sourced with the freshest local ingredients. The 1,231 square-foot Ballston Quarter location will be located in the ground floor of the Ballston Quarter residential tower, and it will be South Block’s tenth location in the D.C. region.
  • Ted’s Bulletin: Ted’s Bulletin first opened in 2010 as a modern American diner offering traditional comfort food dishes. With six locations in the D.C. region, Ted’s Bulletin will open its newest location at 4,534 square feet in Ballston Quarter this fall.
  • The Local Oyster: The Local Oyster is an oyster bar featuring locally sourced ingredients and regionally inspired seafood dishes including crab legs, Old Bay-seasoned shrimp and lobster. The 1,495 square-foot Quarter Market location will be The Local Oyster’s second location since the first restaurant opened in Baltimore, Maryland in 2015.
  • Union Kitchen Grocery: Union Kitchen Grocery offers a selection of locally made gourmet foods with an international flair, including items ranging from house cured meats to freshly-made chocolates. This 2,812 square-foot store will be located on the ground floor of the Ballston Quarter residential tower, and will be Union Kitchen’s fourth expected store in the D.C. region.
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Five Retailers Announce Plans to Open in Ballston Quarter

Ballston Quarter is naming five more shops ahead of its planned opening this fall, with both local and national retailers signing up for space in the new development.

Forest City, the company that owns and manages the former Ballston Common Mall, announced the site’s first round of retail tenants on April 26.

The stores set to move into the 850,000-square-foot development include:

  • Francesca’s: ​A national clothing and jewelry boutique with more than a dozen locations in the D.C. region. The store will be located in a roughly 1,700-square-foot space in Ballston Quarter.
  • Gossip: A women’s fashion boutique “with a West Coast vibe” offering clothing and accessories priced under $100. The store will move out of a Crystal City storefront to set up shop in a 760-square-foot space.
  • Potomac River Running: ​A family-owned, Virginia-based running specialty store. The company plans to relocate its current Ballston location along N. Fairfax Drive to a 1,430-square-foot space in Ballston Quarter.
  • Steadfast Supply: ​A D.C.-based creative retail shop and curated events hub. The store will be the company’s second location in the D.C. region, with a 1,025-square-foot space.
  • Scout and Molly’s: ​A North Carolina-based fashion boutique with 35 locations nationwide. The company will occupy a 1,141-square-foot space at Ballston Quarter.

Some stores at Ballston Quarter are set to start opening this fall, to go alongside holdovers from the old Ballston Common Mall, like the Regal Cinemas and Sport & Health club.

Forest City previously announced that the new development will also feature an 18-restaurant “food hall” and several “experience-oriented” businesses, like a recreational culinary school and an indoor play space.

By the time it’s finished, Ballston Quarter is also set to feature a 22-story, 406-unit apartment building and 176,000 square feet of office space.

Photo courtesy of Forest City

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Photos: Ballston Quarter Construction Coming Along

Construction on the renovated Ballston Quarter mall is coming along.

Signs up at the site still point to a fall 2018 opening for the redeveloped and rebuilt space, formerly known as the Ballston Common Mall.

Recent weeks have seen the announcement that several “experiential tenants,” like cooking class company Cookology and live action adventure venue 5 Wits, have signed on as tenants.

The 360,000 square foot retail space will also include a 25,000 square foot food hall, which reportedly will have 18 restaurants, including Timber Pizza Co. and Buredo. Trendy D.C. spots Himitsu and Gravitas are also said to be considering opening up eateries at the mall.

At least 400 residential units are being constructed as well, though leasing will begin next year.

Ballston Quarter is just one of a number of major construction projects currently underway in the neighborhood. Crews were seen working on Friday directly across the street from another construction site, Liberty Center, at 4040 Wilson Boulevard.

The mixed-use residential, retail, and office space is scheduled to open for mid-2020 and will be the final piece of a five-building development. VIDA Fitness, a “high end fitness center and spa,” is set to open its first non-D.C. location in the building.

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Morning Notes

Wakefield Advances to Championship — The Wakefield High School boys basketball team has advanced to the Virginia Class 5 championship after defeating Edison last night 82-66. The team will face Varina tomorrow at VCU. Meanwhile, Wakefield senior forward A’Mari Cooper has been named Northern Region Class 5 Player of the Year. [Washington Post, InsideNova]

Metro Starts Selling Merch — Despite its reliability issues and subsequent image problem, Metro has launched a new line of clothing and gifts, sold online and at a new gift store at Metro Center. The reaction to the merchandise has been mixed. [WMATA, NBC Washington]

General Assembly Passes Car Seat Bill — “Today, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 708… which would change the commonwealth’s law to require that child safety seats remain rear facing until the age of two, or the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing child restraint device as prescribed by the manufacturer of the device. The bill is now on its way to Governor Northam’s office for his signature. If signed, the new law would become effective July 1, 2019.” [AAA Mid-Atlantic]

More Restaurants Considering Ballston Quarter — Fresh off the announcement that Ted’s Bulletin was coming to Ballston Quarter, the owners of trendy D.C. spots Himitsu and Gravitas are said to be considering opening up eateries at the mall. Also in the works: a donut shop, an arepas stand, an oyster bar, and a barbecue joint. [Washington Business Journal]

Nicecream Expanding to D.C. — Liquid nitrogen-powered ice cream shop Nicecream Factory, which first opened in Clarendon, has since expanded to Alexandria and is now planning to open two D.C. locations, in Adams Morgan and Shaw. [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Gun Reform Discussion — Fred Guttenberg, father of one of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting victims, will speak at an event called “A Conversation About Gun Safety And The Safety Of American Schools” at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria tonight. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is hosting the event, which will discuss “actions we can take to ensure no other parent has to experience this kind of trauma.” [Eventbrite]

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Ted’s Bulletin Coming to Ballston

Chalk up another name-brand restaurant heading to Ballston Quarter mall.

The renovated mall, which is set to open this fall, has announced an 18-restaurant food hall with the likes of Timber Pizza and Ice Cream Jubilee, plus the entertainment-oriented bar Punch Bowl Social.

This morning, regional restaurant chain Ted’s Bulletin announced that it too would be coming to Ballston Quarter. In the announcement, below, the company — which is under new ownership — says the new location will be a “2.0 version of the beloved Ted’s Bulletin experience.”

Ted’s Bulletin today announced the addition of a new location at Ballston Quarter.  Located within this mixed-use development, near the Ballston metro stop, this expansion of Ted’s Bulletin reflects the vision under the new ownership of Salis Holdings, led by Steve Salis, Founder and CEO.

“Tapping into the unrealized potential of Ted’s Bulletin was a top priority when we acquired the company last fall. We are excited to unveil the 2.0 version of the beloved Ted’s Bulletin experience with a vibrant footprint, thoughtful product enhancements and expansion of product offerings,” said Steve Salis, Founder and CEO of Salis Holdings. “As with all Ted’s Bulletin locations, the new restaurant in Ballston Quarter will serve as both a community anchor and destination for guests in the area.”

Expected for delivery in fall 2018, the restaurant will be part of the mall development led by Forest City.

“Our focus with Ballston Quarter is to curate the most unique, beloved restaurants in the region, and we’re thrilled to have Ted’s Bulletin, an iconic D.C. favorite, join our growing lineup of incredible tenants,” said Will Voegele, Forest City’s senior vice president of development.

About Salis Holdings

Salis Holdings, based in Washington, DC, focuses on ideating and acquiring products and brands across a range of hospitality, leisure, real estate and retail businesses. Founded in late 2015, the holding company currently carries businesses and brands that serve millions of guests annually and generates in excess of $85 million in system-wide revenue.

About Ted’s Bulletin

Ted’s Bulletin is a modern American diner with a 1920s/1930s art deco vibe offering patrons multiple comfort food dishes with breakfast available all day.  Its first location opened in 2010 in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC, and the restaurant has expanded to six locations in DC and nearby suburbs including 14th Street (also in Washington DC); Ballston Quarter (fall 2018) Merrifield, Reston, Virginia; and, Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Photo via Facebook

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Ballston Quarter to Be ‘Entertainment Hub’ With Addition of New ‘Experiential’ Tenants

With the addition of new experience-oriented tenants, Ballston Quarter is billing itself as “one of the largest experiential and entertainment hubs in the D.C. area.”

The center is bucking its identity as a mall as construction continues on what was once the Ballston Common Mall. Set to open this fall, Ballston Quarter has already announced hip food options in its 18-restaurant food hall and a marquee entertainment tenant in the planned 25,000 square foot Punch Bowl Social.

This morning, mall owner Forest City announced a handful of new tenants, including:

  • 5 Wits — “A live-action entertainment venue that immerses visitors in realistic, hands-on experiences, similar to escape rooms…”
  • Cookology — A “recreational culinary school” that “offers professionally taught, hands-on cooking classes for adults and kids… perfect venue for families, date nights or corporate outings.”
  • Nook — “A modern indoor play and learning space for young families” that is moving from its current Lee Highway location.

Those are also in addition to the existing Regal Cinemas and Sport&Health club, which are undergoing multi-million dollar renovations.

More from a Forest City press release, after the jump.

Today, Forest City announced the initial group of experiential and entertainment tenants that will be featured at the 850,000 square-foot Ballston Quarter redevelopment project coming to Arlington, VA. Once completed in September 2018, Ballston Quarter will become one of the largest entertainment hubs in the region.

The new tenants and those under renovation will encompass nearly 40 percent of Ballston Quarter, enhancing the development’s inspired, growing lineup of best-in-class entertainment options to the region, including the following:

  • 5 Wits: 5 Wits is a live-action entertainment venue that immerses visitors in realistic, hands-on experiences, similar to escape rooms, but with higher quality environments, special effects and more compelling storytelling. Visitors of all ages feel as though they are an action hero dodging security lasers, tracking down a giant dragon or battling an angry pharaoh. It’s also available for private events such as corporate team-building functions or birthday parties. 5 Wits will open a 11,500 square-foot space in Ballston Quarter in Fall 2018, which will be the company’s seventh location in the country and first in the region.
  • Cookology: Cookology offers professionally taught, hands-on cooking classes for adults and kids, such as gnocchi workshops, family sushi classes and Duck 101, making it the perfect venue for families, date nights or corporate outings. Their professional culinary program offers a 21st century approach to culinary education. Cookology’s second-ever site and closest to the District at Ballston Quarter will include five commercial kitchens located in a 5,700 square-foot space.
  • Nook: Nook, a modern indoor play and learning space for young families, is moving its first location in North Arlington to a 3,500 square foot space in Ballston Quarter in Fall 2018. The space is divided into several different themed play areas, or “nooks,” offering children a calming, sensory-friendly space to engage in self-directed, play-based learning. Nook also features classes, hosts birthday parties and offers a variety of family-friendly programming, from classical music concerts to parent workshops and happy hours.
  • Punch Bowl Social: Punch Bowl Social – a beloved bar, restaurant and entertainment concept – will open a 25,000 square-foot location at Ballston Quarter in Fall 2018, serving as its first location in the D.C. region as part of the company’s nationwide expansion. Beyond incredible food and craft cocktails, Punch Bowl Social will feature eight bowling lanes, one bocce court, three private karaoke rooms and a 360 degree bar where visitors can eat, explore and play.

In addition to these new tenants, Ballston Quarter will also be home to a fully updated Regal Cinemas and Sport&Health, which are both currently undergoing multi-million dollar renovations. The 67,000 square-foot Regal Cinemas features reserved, luxury seating in all 12 theaters and a new box office. Once completed, Sport&Health will feature a new cardio center, barre, spin and group fitness studios, and luxurious locker rooms complete with steam rooms and saunas, among many other new amenities within the 35,000 square-foot space. Both are open through Ballston Quarter’s redevelopment.

“Although dining and retail will certainly be an important aspect of Ballston Quarter, nearly 40 percent of the property will account for experiential offerings such as 5 Wits, Cookology and Regal Cinemas, among others, positioning Ballston as an exciting and fun, go-to entertainment hub of the region,” said Will Voegele, Forest City’s senior vice president of development.

Once complete, Ballston Quarter will feature 360,000 square-feet of retail, an 18-restaurant, 25,000 square-foot food hall, a 22-story, 406-unit residential building, 176,000 square-feet of office space and a completely renovated Ballston Common Mall–all designed with the community in mind and the creation of a true city center in Northern Virginia.

“At Forest City, we specialize in creating mixed-use urban villages with best-in-class residences, dining, retail and entertainment, which are all critical to creating an experience that elevates how people live, work and, of course, play,” said Deborah Ratner Salzberg, president of Forest City Washington. “Once Ballston Quarter is complete, it will achieve this objective threefold, elevating not only Arlington, but the entire D.C. region.”

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Morning Notes

More Stuff Coming to Ballston — Even more hip food-and-drink spots are on the way for Ballston. A 3,000 square foot Union Kitchen Grocery store is coming to the ground floor of the revamped Ballston Quarter mall, at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, while a Compass Coffee cafe will also be opening in the mall. [Washington Business Journal]

Wheels Stolen Off the Lot at Dealership — Someone stole tires from three vehicles parked in the lot of a car dealership on Lee Highway just after midnight Wednesday. “An unknown suspect(s) removed the tires from and tampered with multiple vehicles in the parking lot of a business,” police said in a crime report. There is no suspect description and no surveillance footage, we’re told. There is a Toyota dealership on the 4000 block of Lee Highway, where police said the crime occurred, but also a Honda dealership nearby. [Arlington County]

Garvey Confident About Amazon — Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey is optimistic about Amazon coming to the area. “I think Amazon is very likely coming here,” she said at a Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce conference, shortly after it was announced that Northern Virginia, D.C. and Montgomery County, Maryland were among the top 20 finalists for Amazon’s HQ2. “We have got everything here.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Ballston Quarter Mall to Add 18-Restaurant Food Hall

The renovated Ballston Quarter Mall will have a 25,000-square-foot food hall, developer Forest City announced today (Tuesday).

Called Quarter Market, the food hall will feature 18 restaurants, and officials hope it will serve as the anchor for the revamped mall.

The food hall will be centered around a 5,000-square-foot public plaza, accessible via a walkway from Wilson Blvd. The plaza will include outdoor seating for two restaurants, as well as communal seating and space for other activities.

The first nine restaurants to be announced as food hall tenants include hot dog food truck Swizzler, which will open its first brick-and-mortar location; and fast-casual noodle bar Mi & Yu.

Other restaurants will include locally-owned Asian eatery Buredo, Ice Cream Jubilee’s first Virginia location and Pinch Dumplings, which already operates a stand at Nationals Park. More food hall restaurants will be announced at a later date.

“Quarter Market will bring together some of the District’s most original, best-in-class food operators, giving them the opportunity to tap into the incredible market already established in Arlington,” Deborah Ratner Salzberg, president of Forest City Washington, said in a statement. “Once opened, the food hall will truly reenergize Northern Virginia’s food scene, allowing residents to enjoy the region’s most beloved restaurants.”

Construction on the entire mall project, which will include a high-rise apartment complex with more than 400 units, is scheduled to be completed in fall 2018.

Full details from a press release on the first nine restaurants to be announced are after the jump.

  • Bartaco: Bartaco is a modern Mexican restaurant, featuring fresh and flavorful menu items such as pork belly, duck or falafel tacos and unique cocktails. Sister restaurant to Barcelona Wine Bar, Bartaco describes their offerings as, “Upscale street food with a coastal vibe in a relaxed environment.” Bartaco will be located adjacent to the food hall with an order window connecting it to the common space.
  • Buredo: Buredo is a local DC establishment, owned by two life-long childhood friends and D.C. natives who were looking for a unique, fresh lunch option. The handheld, burrito-size sushi rolls and salads feature Asian and other globally-inspired ingredients and flavors.
  • Cucina Al Volo: Cucina Al Volo, which also has locations in Union Market and Adams Morgan, is growing its regional footprint for the first time into Virginia. The rustic casual Italian eatery will feature a wide variety of to-die-for homemade pastas, such as pappardelle with roasted lamb ragu and ossobuco risotto.
  • Ice Cream Jubilee: Voted as one of the ‘Best Ice Cream Shops in America’ by Food & Wine Magazine, among many other accolades, Ice Cream Jubilee uses all-natural cream and milk from a local creamery, and they offer creative flavors such as coffee & doughnuts and banana bourbon caramel. This will be its first location in Virginia.
  • Mi & Yu Noodle Bar: The Baltimore-based fast casual noodle bar, Mi & Yu Noodle Bar, which has two D.C. locations, features non-traditional ramen and steamed buns, which customers can customize to their liking. Their dishes stand out for their unique ingredients and spices.
  • Pinch Dumplings: Pinch Dumplings serves traditional Chinese dumplings that are made from scratch daily, using high-quality, locally sourced ingredients. Originally started out of Baltimore, this will be the restaurant’s first brick and mortar location in the immediate D.C. area, complementing their stand at Nationals Park.
  • Rice Crook: Rice Crook is the first brick and mortar restaurant concept from the founders of Bun’d Up, a Korean steamed bun food stand based out of the DMV. Rice Crook will offer delicious, home-made Korean rice bowls, featuring local, fresh produce and all-natural meats.
  • Swizzler: Swizzler is one of the most adored D.C. food trucks, known for their corkscrew-shaped hot dogs and decadent, unique toppings. After participating in a restaurant incubator in D.C. this fall, this will be Swizzler’s first brick and mortar location.
  • Timber Pizza Co.: With humble roots selling at farmers markets in the region, Timber Pizza Co. is now a D.C. staple famous for their Neapolitan-style wood-fired pies, with toppings such as chorizo and sweet potato fritters. They have won many accolades, such as ‘Best in D.C.’ from the Washington Post and, they were recently named as one of the ’50 Best New Restaurants in America’ by Bon Appétit.

Courtesy photos

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Construction Update: Ballston Quarter Mall

In about a year, the newly renovated Ballston Quarter mall is expected to open. For now, construction workers are plugging away daily at tearing down parts of the old Ballston Common Mall and building up the new development.

A portion of the mall’s brick facade along Wilson Blvd has been torn down, revealing steel beams, concrete columns and a lot of workers. The hole in the side of the existing structure is part of the plan to transform the previously enclosed mall into a more open design with more street-facing storefronts and a courtyard.

The new overhead pedestrian bridge connecting 4201 Wilson Blvd to the mall will be near the new courtyard.

At the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, where the Macy’s furniture store used to be, upward progress is being made on what will be a high-rise apartment complex. The tower will have more than 400 units and leasing should begin next year, according to the Ballston Quarter website.

In addition to a few holdouts who remain in place during construction — such as CVS Pharmacy and the Regal Ballston Common movie theater — at least two new businesses have committed to opening locations in the renovated mall: fast casual eatery Mi and Yu Noodle Bar and “eatertainment” destination Punch Bowl Social.

The entire Ballston Quarter development is still scheduled to open in fall 2018.

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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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Morning Notes

Commonwealth Joe Gets $2.5 Million — Local nitro cold brew coffee purveyor and Pentagon City cafe operator Commonwealth Joe has landed a $2.5 million round of funding. The Arlington-based firm says it plans to use the investment to expand its cold brew business, which includes distributing kegs of the sweet, smooth chilled coffee to offices. [Washington Business Journal]

Local Holocaust Survivor Reunited — An Arlington man was reunited with a Dutch couple that hid him and his sister, who are both Jewish, from the Nazis in 1945. The reunion took place at the U.S. Holocaust Museum and happened thanks to a high school project undertaken by the couple’s grandson. [NBC Washington]

Raise for Arlington County Board Members? — There is renewed discussion of a significant raise for Arlington County Board members, in recognition that their job, rather than being part time as originally envisioned, now involves full-time hours. There are even “whispers” that Board salaries could be nearly doubled, to reach six-figures, according to one report. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Tax Delinquency Rate Hits Historic Low — Arlington County’s 2017 tax delinquency rate has hit a record low of 0.226 percent, County Treasurer Carla de la Pava announced. That’s the lowest rate in Virginia and the lowest rate ever in Arlington, she said, touting it as “good for the county” and “good for taxpayers.” The news led Del. Patrick Hope to declare de la Pava the “best treasurer in the Commonwealth.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Remembering the Ballston Mall’s Past — First known as Parkington, then Ballston Common Mall, and soon (next year) to be reopened as Ballston Quarter, following extensive renovations, Ballston’s shopping mall has a long history that dates back to the early 1950s. [WETA]

Nearby: Legislation on Confederate Monument — State Sen. Adam Ebbin says he will introduce legislation “to give Alexandria the authority to relocate the Confederate statue in Old Town” Alexandria. “It is past time that we address the impact that lionizing the Confederacy has had on the character of our Commonwealth,” Ebbin said. [Twitter, Twitter]

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Crews Make Emergency Repairs After Sinkhole Opens in Ballston

Emergency repairs to a 6-foot-deep sinkhole near the under-construction Ballston Quarter mall could cause traffic headaches today (Thursday).

The sinkhole opened suddenly yesterday near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, but was quickly covered ahead of repairs to allow cars to keep driving over it.

A contractor at the scene said the hole is about 3 feet wide and 6 feet deep.

To accommodate contractors’ vehicles and tools, the westbound right lane of Wilson Blvd and the parking lane are closed, while the eastbound left-turn lane at the intersection will be used as a westbound lane. With renovations to the former Ballston Common Mall on the other side of the street also closing lanes, it means Wilson Blvd will be down to one lane in each direction.

Originally, there had been plans to close one lane in each direction on N. Randolph Street too, but the contractor said that would no longer be the case.

Complicating matters in that area of Ballston will be the construction crew’s removal of a stoplight just outside the mall. The contractor on the sinkhole repairs warned that the two projects could combine to make traffic a little “hectic” in that section of Wilson Blvd.

Work on repairing the sinkhole is expected to be complete around 4 p.m.

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Ballston Pedestrian Bridge Torn Down

The old Ballston pedestrian bridge is no more.

The bridge was torn down over the weekend, closing part of Wilson Blvd in front of the under-construction Ballston Quarter mall and prompting a new location for the Taste of Arlington festival. The demolition included the use of a large crane to lower sections of the bridge.

Today, a construction crew was working to clear leftover debris, while a large section of the bridge sat largely intact, fenced off along the sidewalk.

Via Twitter, one local resident called the dismantling of the bridge and its “Ballston” sign an “end of an era.” A new pedestrian bridge will be built nearby, however, with its opening set for the fall of 2018.

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Demolition of Ballston Pedestrian Bridge To Begin Next Weekend

The demolition of the pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston is now expected to begin next weekend.

A spokeswoman for Forest City, which is carrying out the revamp of the Ballston Common Mall, said residents will start to see work being done on the bridge on Saturday, May 13.

That day, she said, crews will remove various trees and strip the bridge down to its barebones. On May 14, the spokeswoman said, a crane will be erected to remove the bridge structure. Then on May 20, final remaining bridge components will be demolished, including its columns and footings.

The bridge between Ballston Common Mall and 4201 Wilson Blvd — which houses the soon-to-be-relocated National Science Foundation — closed last year as part of the mall’s renovation.

Wilson Blvd will be shut for construction between N. Stuart Street and N. Randolph Street, with no cars or pedestrians allowed between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. The parking garage at Stafford Place II will remain accessible, as will the pedestrian entrance to CVS from N. Randolph Street.

“Please note that should an unforeseen unsafe condition be encountered that necessitates the operation to extend beyond these hours, we will require the closure to remain in place until such time that the road and sidewalk can be opened to allow for safe passage,” the spokeswoman said in an email.

The bridge is set to reopen with the revamped and rebranded Ballston Quarter mall in fall 2018.

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