As the minutes tick down to the start of the Super Bowl, more than 3,100 Dominion customers are currently without power in Arlington.
Dominion’s website says the cause of the widespread outage, centered around the Ballston and Bluemont neighborhoods, is “pending investigation.” Restoration of power is estimated between 7-9 p.m.
As the lights and traffic signals went out around Ballston, the fire department was called to investigate a possible fire at the under-renovation Ballston Common Mall. In the end it was determined to be a false alarm, possibly prompted by smoke from the mall’s rooftop generators as they kicked in.
Photo courtesy Katie Pyzyk
First Board Meeting With New Rule — Saturday will be the Arlington County Board’s first meeting with a new public participation rule. Whereas members of the public could previously request that any “consent agenda” item be pulled and discussed individually at the next Board meeting, the new rule requires at least one Board member to concur with the action. [InsideNova]
A Note on InsideNova Links — The desktop version of InsideNova’s website features popup ads and multiple autoplay videos with the audio on. It is not recommended for users in quiet environments or with older computers that may slow down or crash as a result of the videos and ads.
GW Gets Donation for Baseball Clubhouse — George Washington University has received an anonymous $2 million gift that will fund a new proposed clubhouse at Tucker Field in Arlington’s Barcroft Park. The clubhouse will feature “on-site locker facilities, indoor practice space with batting cages and pitching tunnels, meeting rooms and a sports medicine area.” [GW Sports]
Teen’s Hair Lit on Fire at Inauguration — A 17-year-old Arlington girl’s hair was lit on fire at an inauguration protest in D.C. It happened on Inauguration Day, near the National Archives, as the girl posed in front of protesters while wearing pro-Trump apparel. [Buzzfeed]
Clement, Roosevelt to Run for Office — Independent Audrey Clement has filed to run again for Arlington County Board this year. Meanwhile, 24-year-old Army veteran Adam Roosevelt, a Republican, is challenging Del. Alfonso Lopez (D). [InsideNova, InsideNova]
D.C. Area Snow Drought — Will we see any significant snowfall this winter? It’s looking increasingly bleak for snow lovers, with only a few flurries in the forecast during what should be our peak snow period. [Washington Post]
Punch Bowl Social says it will be opening a 25,000 square foot space at the mall in June 2018.
“Already a hit in other cities and a proven millennial magnet, Punch Bowl Social Ballston will include eight bowling lanes, one bocce court, three private karaoke rooms, a custom built 360 degree bar and various lounging and gathering spots — for groups both large and small — housed in an eclectic space melding mountain lodge, Victorian and modern industrial design themes,” the company said in a press release.
The full press release is below.
Punch Bowl Social, the leader in the “eatertainment” movement, announced today that it will open a 25,000 square-foot restaurant, bar and entertainment concept in Arlington’s Ballston Quarter in June 2018. Punch Bowl Social pairs a Hugh Acheson designed, scratch-made menu and craft beverage program with “old-school” social activities like vintage video games, shuffleboard, private karaoke rooms, bowling, Ping-Pong, bocce and skee-ball.
Already a hit in other cities and a proven millennial magnet, Punch Bowl Social Ballston will include eight bowling lanes, one bocce court, three private karaoke rooms, a custom built 360 degree bar and various lounging and gathering spots – for groups both large and small – housed in an eclectic space melding mountain lodge, Victorian and modern industrial design themes.
Punch Bowl Social founder & CEO Robert Thompson noted that Ballston Quarter is exactly the type of development where Punch Bowl Social flourishes. “The Ballston Quarter is poised to become the urban village for Arlington and the surrounding metro area,” he said. “The team behind the project is curating a unique, elevated experience that emphasizes attention to detail and quality offerings. These are the same considerations that drive Punch Bowl Social.”
The elevated experiences that Thompson references are what have ensured Punch Bowl Social’s singular position atop the “eatertainment” industry’s leadership roster. As noted in a multi-page spread in Inc. Magazine’s December/January issue, Punch Bowl Social has “broken from the pack.” The article pays homage to the brand and to Thompson’s uncanny – one could argue unparalleled – ability to market to the often elusive millennial, now the country’s largest demographic and a group sure to descend upon Ballston Quarter.
Joe Boehm, Executive Vice President, Real Estate at Forest City Realty Trust, the development company behind the Ballson Quarter, notes that it was these very factors that drew Forest City to Punch Bowl Social. “The Ballston Quarter will offer an experience that is purposeful, thoughtful and uncommon,” Boehm said. “We support this goal by partnering with anchor tenants capable of delivering on this promise. Punch Bowl Social is an industry leader with a proven track record. But more importantly, it offers an authentic experience that resonates across demographic groupings, literally offering something for everyone.”
Punch Bowl Social has made a name for itself with its remarkably balanced execution of the eat, drink, play concept. The brand prides itself on its food-forward approach, with an inspired menu created by the company’s culinary partner, celebrity chef Hugh Acheson. Acheson, a restauranteur, cookbook author, Top Chef judge and James Beard award winner, leads the ongoing culinary direction of the growing restaurant concept while underscoring its commitment to a seasonally inspired, scratch kitchen.
Punch Bowl Social Ballston marks the company’s first east coast location. Other cities include, among others, Detroit; Cleveland; Portland, Ore; Austin; and Denver, Colorado, where Punch Bowl Social originated.
PUNCH BOWL SOCIAL
Punch Bowl Social brings classic entertainment and real culinary chops together under the same roof, in an environment that is playful and surprisingly intimate. Punch Bowl Social’s scratch kitchen serves weekend brunch, lunch, dinner and late-night snacks while the in-house mixologists focus on serving up craft beverages. For more information, visit www.punchbowlsocial.com
The pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston will be closing to the public on Wednesday, according to a sign at the bridge’s entrance.
The bridge, which connects Ballston Common Mall with the Ballston Metro station, is set for demolition as part of the mall’s ongoing renovation project.
There’s no word yet on a specific date for the demolition.
“No final date has been determined, but they are targeting the end of November or early December,” county spokesman Andrew Pribulka told ARLnow.com.
The bridge will be reconstructed with a new, modern design. The new bridge is expected to open by the fall of 2018.
The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and the under-renovation Ballston Quarter mall will allowed to have more signs, larger signs and temporary projected images.
The County Board voted unanimously to make the changes to the county zoning ordinance.
From an Arlington County press release:
Citing the unique challenges Arlington’s regional shopping centers face in an evolving retail market, the Arlington County Board today approved new, tailored sign regulations that will apply to Ballston Common Mall (the future Ballston Quarter) and Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.
The Zoning Ordinance changes adopted by the Board include the type of signs allowed at urban regional shopping centers; the amount of sign area; placement and sign characteristics. Under the amendments, regional shopping centers will be allowed a larger amount of sign area and more flexibility in where signs are placed. They also will be allowed to have freestanding signs and temporary projected images.
“Our two big malls are important to Arlington’s economy and are centers of activity in the Ballston and Pentagon City neighborhoods,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “The County listened to the business community and the neighborhoods and I’m pleased that we were able to move quickly to adopt common-sense changes to the Zoning Ordinance that will encourage these shopping centers to increase their placemaking, be creative with their signage and stay regionally competitive.”
The Board voted unanimously to approve the changes to the Zoning Ordinance.
Following recommendations of 2015 Retail Plan
The Board’s actions follow the recommendations of the Arlington County Retail Plan, adopted by the Board in July 2015. The plan calls for studying opportunities to reposition and redevelop aging urban regional shopping centers.
The Retail Plan recommends that Ballston Common Mall and Fashion Centre increase placemaking efforts by pulling storefronts to the street; creating multiple entry points and creating activity and attractions on the outside as well as inside. Ballston Mall is currently being redeveloped into Ballston Quarter, incorporating many of the Retail Plan’s recommendations. Fashion Centre also is being expanded and remodeled. To support the redevelopment and repositioning, staff studied the centers’ characteristics and looked at examples throughout the country.
The new regulations are tailored to the unique character of these centers — their built form and the concentration of retail, entertainment and restaurants they offer. They also support the transformation recommended by the Retail Plan by providing more sign area and placement flexibility on facades that have been opened up to the street. The regulations could be used by an urban regional shopping center through an administratively approved comprehensive sign plan.
The Zoning Ordinance amendments were discussed at a public meeting on April 7, 2016. The amendments also were reviewed by the Zoning Committee of the Planning Commission as well as a number of other stakeholder groups and commissions including the Economic Development Commission, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Committee, the Planning Commission and the Commercial Real Estate Development Group.
(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) A new pedestrian bridge for those heading to and from the renovated Ballston Quarter mall and the Ballston Metro station has cleared a regulatory hurdle.
The Arlington County Board yesterday voted unanimously to approve a site plan amendment for the bridge, which will replace an existing pedestrian bridge. The old bridge is, in the eyes of the mall owners and the county, fairly pedestrian appearance-wise.
The latest design renderings for the new bridge, from bridge architect StudioTECHNE, show a geometric steel-and-glass design that crosses above Wilson Blvd at an angle. Among the words used to describe the design in a presentation to the County Board were “sophisticated,” “iconic,” “vibrant,” “safe,” “well lighted” and “experiential.”
The bridge will feature the following improvements, according to the presentation:
- “Climate-controlled space with less slope that will improve safety and comfort of bridge crossing.”
- “Opportunities for sitting and viewing areas along the traverse of the bridge.”
- “Planters and sitting areas integrated into the bridge design at the sidewalk.”
- “An architecturally memorable design that blends function and artistic expression and creates an iconic civic presence in the heart of Ballston.”
“The new bridge will be not only more functional, but also more beautiful — it will be a real asset to Ballston Quarter and our community,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said, in a statement.
The existing bridge is expected to close to pedestrians mid-October, with demolition expected to begin shortly thereafter. Construction of the next bridge is expected to start at the beginning of March, following a public process to finalize the design. The newly-renovated mall and pedestrian bridge are scheduled to open on Sept. 13, 2018.
The old bridge’s demolition will allow for major changes to the façade of what’s currently known as Ballston Common Mall. From a press release:
Demolition of the existing pedestrian bridge will make way for a public plaza that is a key community benefit of the Ballston Quarter redevelopment.
Once the existing pedestrian bridge is removed, the mall façade that fronts on Wilson Boulevard will be transformed and the existing entrance to the mall will be eliminated. A 3,386 sq. ft. public plaza will be created at street level on Wilson Boulevard with steps and seating areas leading into another 2,500 sq. ft. of sunken, public plaza space with outdoor restaurant seating and event space.
Forest City Enterprises, developer of Ballston Quarter, will construct the new bridge with funding provided through the partnership between the County and Forest City. The reconstructed bridge will have public access easements that do not exist today, and it will be more functional and aesthetically pleasing than the current bridge.
Inside, instead of a traditional food court, the new mall will feature an “‘experiential food hub’ that will combine eat-in dining, prepared food sales and market elements,” perhaps similar to D.C.’s Union Market, the Washington Business Journal reported today.
The County Board also voted yesterday to formalize its public-private partnership with mall owner Forest City. The partnership means that a county-created Community Development Authority will pay up to $55.5 million in public infrastructure costs associated with the mall project, while receiving a portion of any increase in tax revenues associated with the mall.
(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) Heavy demolition is underway at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, as portions of the old Ballston Common Mall are demolished to make way for the renovated Ballston Quarter shopping center and apartment tower.
Demolition crews from Celtic Demolition are at work tearing down the corner of the building that contained one of the mall’s main entrances and the former Macy’s furniture store. Crews are hosing down the debris with water to reduce dust.
One tipster who works across the street from the mall, at the National Science Foundation, said yesterday — after demolition started — that the close proximity of the demolition to moving traffic was concerning.
“You have to see the way they are demolishing the Ballston Mall,” the tipster said. “It is such a recipe for disaster. The debris is falling onto [the street] as cars and buses are driving by.”
The extensive renovation project is expected to wrap up in 2018.
Update at 4:50 p.m. — One lane of northbound Glebe Road has been reopened, but major backups on Glebe are being reported.
Update at 4:30 p.m. — Firefighters say they’ve located the likely source of the smoke, in a mechanical room. No fire was found. Units are starting to clear from the scene.
Arlington County firefighters have shut down Glebe Road at Wilson Blvd as they investigate why the second floor of the Ballston Common Mall Macy’s store has filled with smoke.
Numerous fire department units are responding to the scene, but so far the source of the smoke has not been found. No flames have been seen and firefighters are checking the building’s HVAC system.
Drivers should expect traffic impacts in the area.
— LincolnACFD (@LincolnACFD) August 17, 2016
A pair of stores are coming to a couple of once-vacant storefronts on Pentagon Row.
The store offers “fine jewelry, watches, jewelry repair, watch repair, battery and band replacement, custom-designed jewelry, restringing, appraisals and eyeglass frame repair.” It is “getting close” to opening, according to a Facebook post.
Next door, a menswear and tuxedo rental store is coming to the former Denim Bar space, according to a tipster who chatted up the owner over the weekend. That store may open as soon as mid-month, we’re told.
The renovation of the Ballston Common Mall have forced the closure of a sidewalk near the building, disrupting the flow of pedestrian traffic there.
As part of the construction, a fence now blocks off the sidewalk around the former entrance on Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, forcing pedestrians to either walk on the street or cross to the other side — the latter being the safer, recommended course of action, but many pedestrians seem to be choosing the former.
When an ARLnow.com reporter visited the construction site yesterday, numerous pedestrians were spotted walking along Wilson Boulevard in front of the mall, within a few feet of moving vehicles.
Along with the sidewalk closure, Arlington Transit has had to move one of its bus stops 100-150 feet south of its usual location.
So far, the sidewalk closure has ruffled a few feathers. A tweet from a concerned resident says the ongoing work puts pedestrians in danger and calls for the construction of a temporary walkway.
— Gerard Barile (@GerardBarile) August 3, 2016
Arts Truck, Grants Approved — The Arlington County Board last night approved $215,810 in grants to local arts organizations and nearly $70,000 for the purchase and deployment of a new mobile art studio. [Arlington County]
Snow Plowing Policy Change — Starting this winter, Arlington County will plow residential streets at the outset of snowstorms, reversing its previous policy of only focusing on major arterial routes before moving on to residential streets after the snow stops and major roads are clear. [InsideNova]
Ballston Mall Redevelopment Authority Approved — Arlington County is creating its first Community Development Authority. The CDA will be focused on making infrastructure improvements around the future Ballston Quarter mall — the new identity of Ballston Common Mall, which is being renovated. As part of a public-private partnership, the county plans to spend around $55 million to improve local roads, public plazas and the public Ballston parking garage. [Arlington County]
Chamber Supports Aquatics Center Plan — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has penned a letter in support of building a scaled-down version of the Long Bridge Park aquatics center. “One of Arlington’s main assets is the employee talent pool we have residing in our county,” wrote the Chamber’s president. “The proposed facility will help attract and retain this talent, as well as the businesses looking to employ them.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
The Panera Bread restaurant in Ballston has closed.
The store’s signage is down and the inside is vacant. The location also no longer shows up on Panera Bread’s website.
When calling the store’s phone number, an automated message states that the Ballston location has permanently closed and that their “customer’s business has been appreciated.”
No word yet on what ultimately led to the permanent closure of the store.
Memorial Day Traffic to Peak Thursday — Heading out of town for Memorial Day? Try to avoid driving Thursday afternoon or evening, which is expected to have the worst traffic of the holiday period. A better time to leave is between 8 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. Friday. [Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments]
Ideas for Making Arlington More Bike Friendly — Chris Slatt, chair of the Arlington Transportation Commission, has 10 “big ideas” for making Arlington even more bicycle friendly. [Greater Greater Washington]
French Program at Wakefield Honored — Wakefield High School’s French program is one of 10 such programs in the country this year to receive the Exemplary Program Honors award from the American Association of Teachers of French. Enrollment in Wakefield’s French program has reportedly doubled since 2011. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
New Traffic Pattern on Route 1 — There’s a new traffic pattern for the lefthand turn from southbound Route 1 (Jefferson Davis Highway) to 23rd Street S. in Crystal City. The change was necessitated by operations of the new Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway. [Facebook]
Aurora Hills Library Eyed As School Site — The current Aurora Hills library and senior center is being looked at by Arlington Public Schools as a possible site for a new elementary school. Meanwhile, even though nearby Oakridge Elementary is over capacity, Superintendent Patrick Murphy says there’s actually a more pressing need for additional elementary capacity in north Arlington due to population growth around the Rosslyn-Ballston and Lee Highway corridors. [InsideNova]
Australian Company Says G’Day to Ballston — The Australian investment firm QIC has taken a 49 percent stake in Ballston Quarter, the soon-to-be-renovated shopping center currently known as Ballston Common Mall. The majority of the mall is still owned by Cleveland-based Forest City. [Washington Business Journal, Crain’s Cleveland Business]
Local Named New Jersey Cherry Blossom Princess — The 2016 New Jersey Cherry Blossom Princess is a 24-year-old Hoboken native who now lives in the D.C. area and works at Rosslyn-based CEB. [Hudson Reporter]
CEB Acquires Portland Firm — Rosslyn-based CEB is getting bigger. The company is acquiring Portland, Oregon-based Evanta Ventures for $275 million. CEB will be moving into a new namesake CEB Tower in Rosslyn after construction wraps up in 2018. [StreetInsider]
Arlington’s Top Bond Rating Affirmed — Arlington County has once again earned the highest bond rating from the three major rating agencies. “The County works hard to maintain these AAA ratings to finance critical County infrastructure projects with bonds that carry the lowest interest rates available,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. [Arlington County]
Photo via @WLHSIBProgram
Major Rosslyn Development Approved — A sweeping five-phase redevelopment of 7.65 acres of prime Rosslyn real estate was approved unanimously by the Arlington County Board on Saturday. The Board approved the framework for the development, though final approval will be necessary for each phase. Developers Vornado and Gould Property Company expect to complete the project over the course of 25 years. [Arlington County]
Gun Store Saga Continues — Who owns NOVA Armory, the gun store that’s planning to open in Lyon Park despite community opposition? The man who speaks on behalf of the business and holds its federal firearms sales license isn’t saying, exactly. Dennis Pratte declined further questions after describing it as “a female, minority-owned business” and stating “I may or may not be the owner.” Meanwhile, county leaders say there’s nothing they can legally do to prevent the store from opening. NOVA Armory is planning to a grand opening on March 26. [Washington Post, InsideNova]
Teen Tourist Scammed at Pentagon City Mall — A California teenager on a school trip to Washington was reportedly scammed out of $97 by an armed man at the Pentagon City mall. The man compelled the teen to give him $97 in exchange for what turned out to be a counterfeit $100 bill. [NBC Washington]
Arlington Natives Live Blog Day at Ballston Common Mall — Two friends who grew up in Arlington’s Bluemont neighborhood decided to spend all of Saturday at Ballston Common Mall, ahead of its imminent demise, and live-blog their experience. The blog mixes nostalgia for time spent shopping and working at the mall with observations about the current mix of largely chain restaurants and small, quirky stores. [Things Remembered: A Day at Ballston]
Other County Board Action — On Saturday, the Arlington County Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding to partner with Virginia Tech and join the national MetroLab Network, and voted to accept $731,813 in state funding to support the county’s permanent supportive housing program. [Arlington County, Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman