County officials are clearing the way for WhyHotel proceed with its plans to set up temporary hotel rooms in two Arlington apartment buildings: one in Ballston, the other along Columbia Pike.
The startup announced in December that it hopes to bring a total of 325 of its pop-up hotel rooms to the county this year, splitting them between the residential tower attached to the Ballston Quarter development and the “Centro Arlington” project, which is taking the place of the old Food Star grocery store off the Pike.
Since then, the company has been working to secure county approvals for its unusual business model. WhyHotel strikes deals with owners of large new residential buildings to rent out blocks of furnished apartments, helping property owners make some extra cash while they work to find more permanent tenants. The firm also brings along a full on-call staff to handle cleaning and other guest needs to each property, providing customers with a bit more than a simple hotel might offer.
The County Board approved the zoning changes necessary for the company to set up its Ballston Quarter rooms on Jan. 26, and the Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday night to recommend that the Board do the same for the Centro Arlington development.
WhyHotel expects to have 175 rooms ready in Ballston by April, with the remaining 150 on the Pike available sometime this summer or fall.
In both cases, the company will have the county’s permission to offer the temporary rooms for the next two years. But WhyHotel executives expect they’ll need much less than that, given the demand for new apartments in Arlington these days.
CEO Jason Fudin told the Planning Commission that the company’s first effort at “The Bartlett” complex in Pentagon City lasted just five months before the building was fully leased out.
“We leave pretty quickly when things go well in Arlington,” Fudin said.
Planning Commissioner Stephen Hughes says the company’s deference to long-term renters eased his mind in considering WhyHotel’s business model. He pointed out that “long-term leaseholders take precedence” in the company’s arrangements with Arlington property owners, which is why WhyHotel tends not to stick around for too long.
“Neighbors, of course, hope to have long-term neighbors,” Hughes said.
But that hesitancy doesn’t mean that county officials are opposed to the idea of short-term guests on the Pike. In fact, Hughes hopes WhyHotel’s stay in Centro Arlington spurs more conversations in the business community about the viability of other hotels in the area.
“The data will now be there for the bankers and investors to see whether a current, flat service parking lot may be a suitable hotel in the future,” Hughes said.
Workers are installing a new and improved pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston this weekend, but that will mean some major road closures.
The new bridge is designed to connect the newly revamped Ballston Quarter with the neighborhood’s Metro station, with a link through the Ballston Exchange development at 4201 Wilson Blvd.
Ballston Quarter’s developer, Forest City, originally hoped to have the bridge ready in time for stores at the former Ballston Common mall to start opening up late last year. But the project ran into a few logistical delays, before ramping up in earnest in December.
Workers have been busily been assembling the bridge in Mosaic Park for the last few months, and they’ll now use a series of cranes to transport the 94-ton bridge to its permanent home over Wilson with road closures starting today (Friday).
County police say they’ll start by closing N. Quincy Street, between Wilson Boulevard and 5th Road N., in both directions at 2 p.m. today.
Then, starting at 7 p.m. tonight and running through noon Saturday, they’ll close the following:
- Wilson Boulevard, between N. Oakland Street and N. Stuart Street
- N. Randolph Street, between 9th Street N. and 5th Road N.
- N. Quincy Street, between 9th Street N. and 5th Road N.
- N. Pollard Street, between 9th Street N. and 6th Street N.
- N. Piedmont Street, between Wilson Boulevard and 7th Street N.
Police say that people living along those roads will be able to enter and exit, but only at the direction of officers.
But the bulk of the work will happen from noon Saturday through 6 p.m. Sunday while the bridge is actually installed. That means Wilson Boulevard will be entirely closed between N. Randolph Street and N. Stuart Street.
Police are also encouraging drivers to use N. Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive as alternate routes to avoid Wilson Boulevard this weekend. Street parking in the area will also be restricted and drivers should be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs.
A nail spa is now on the way for the Ballston Quarter development.
Allure Nails Spa will soon open its doors in the former Ballston Common mall, according to signs posted at the development and a listing on its website.
There’s no exact date listed for the shop’s opening just yet — like many of the other stores at the mall, it’s listed as “coming soon.”
A newly revamped food court will open later this month, according to signs posted around the mall.
The nail spa is also set to open a location in Reston in the coming years, though that development has gone through a few changes recently.
The Keri Shull Team takes you inside 5 Wits’s new location in Ballston Quarter in Arlington! 5 Wits offers hands-on adventures full of cool special effects, compelling cinematic stories, and unlockable secrets. Along the way you’ll solve puzzles, discover secret passages, and receive a score for your group’s performance. Stop by 5 Wits in Ballston Quarter — adventures begin every 15 minutes. 🏃♂️🔍🤖👾🚀
Posted by Keri Shull Team on Thursday, January 31, 2019
This content was written and sponsored by The Keri Shull Team, Arlington’s top producing residential real estate team.
In this video, Libby Bish from the Keri Shull Team takes us inside 5 Wits for a sneak peek at its realistic, hands-on adventures!
Like Walking Into a Movie
Walking into a 5 Wits adventure is like walking into a movie: The door closes behind you, and all outside noise falls silent. Atmospheric lights flicker, pulse and glow.
A compelling cinematic story unfolds, complete with special effects. The adventure’s outcome depends on your actions. When the door shuts behind you, you’re transported to another world.
5 Wits is NOT an escape room — each adventure progresses through a series of rooms and passageways, with a goal of earning a high score and unlocking secrets. Escape rooms didn’t begin to take root in the U.S. until 2012 — but 5 Wits was founded in 2004, before the escape room trend hit the U.S. It’s an entirely different approach.
At 5 Wits’s Ballston location, three adventures await you: Espionage, Drago’s Castle and Tomb.
- In Espionage, you’ll infiltrate an evil corporation by sneaking through the laser security system like a mastery spy and hacking the computer system to unravel their plot.
- In Drago’s Castle you’ll find your way out of a dungeon and through secret passages. Can you stop the dragon?
- In Tomb, you’ll explore and decipher an ancient tomb. Can you learn the secret name of the Pharaoh?
More Realistic Than VR
On each adventure you’ll use teamwork to solve puzzles, overcome challenges and dig deeper into the adventure’s secrets. The actions of your group will change both the difficulty and the ending of the story. If you’re struggling, you’ll get clues. If you’re making fast progress, the games will escalate.
At the end of each adventure your group will receive a score from 1-100.
Each adventure has lots of replay value — if you solved the chess puzzle in Espionage last time, your next run-through is going to require a completely different solution to solve. In the second room of Tomb, not only will the solution to the jar puzzle be different each time but Pharaoh will adjust the complexity and the speed of the puzzle to match your group’s skill.
Manager Dawn Charbonneau says that everybody can go to 5 Wits, but “people seven years old and up” are best — because although the games aren’t designed to be scary, kids under seven might still find the noise a little frightening.
Adventures begin every 15 minutes, and take about 30-60 minutes to complete.
5 Wits opens on February 1, 2019 as part of Ballston Quarter in Arlington.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to watch for our upcoming features as we explore the best entertainment venues Arlington has to offer! If you’re looking to buy or sell a home in the DMV area, The Keri Shull Team is here to help.
A pair of stores that once called the old Ballston Common mall home will soon re-open in the development’s new reincarnation, Ballston Quarter.
Curious Kids Toys and Refresh Therapeutic Massage have both posted signs announcing plans to return to storefronts on the development’s ground floor.
Both stores were forced to close when Ballston Common, located at 4238 Wilson Blvd, shut down in 2016. Developer Forest City has since been hard at work refreshing the mall, luring a host of new restaurants and businesses to the development.
But some shops from the old mall are gradually returning to the location — Chick-fil-A just opened in a brand new space a few weeks back, after the restaurant was long one of the most popular dining options in Ballston Common.
Curious Kids offers a selection of “board games, dolls, trucks, electronic games and more,” according to Ballston Quarter’s website. The store also operates a location in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.
Refresh will “help you de-stress, unwind, or work out a tight spot,” the development’s website says. The new location appears to be the only one in Arlington.
A variety of shops in Ballston Quarter have begun opening to customers over the last few months, though much of the development remains a work in progress. A newly revamped food court still seems set to open sometime next month, according to signs posted around the mall.
A high-end barbershop for men will soon join the new Ballston Quarter development.
The Grooming Store is “coming soon” to the revamped Ballston Common mall (4238 Wilson Blvd), according to the company’s website and Ballston Quarter’s online directory.
The shop applied for a building permit at a 1,300-square-foot space in the development back in November, county records show, though it’s unclear where in the mall it will be located.
The barbershop offers hair cuts and beard trims with online reservations available, according to its website. It also sells a whole host of skincare and haircare products.
The Ballston location will become the company’s second overall: the other is located in Ashburn.
The mall’s new upscale food court is set to open sometime next month, and developer Forest City hopes to have the bulk of stores in the development open by this spring.
After 31 years, Ballston’s annual “Taste of Arlington” street fair will be replaced by a new event focusing on the neighborhood’s largest development: “QuarterFest.”
The Ballston Business Improvement District announced the swap today (Thursday), sketching out plans for a similar spring festival geared around Ballston Quarter, the newly revamped Ballston Common mall.
QuarterFest is slated to be held on May 18-19, 2019, and will be managed by “BallstonGives,” the BID’s charitable arm. Though the event will be more focused on Ballston Quarter, it will still be held in the same general area as Taste of Arlington, largely centered on Wilson Blvd near the mall.
BID CEO Tina Leone told ARLnow that her group decided to make the switch because “we really accomplished what we wanted to do” with Taste of Arlington over the years.
“The goal was always to put the spotlight on Ballston, and now with Ballston Quarter, we have this big draw,” Leone said. “We really wanted to move [the event’s] focus to center more on Ballston and now we have Ballston Quarter, which is a great way to do that.”
By the time QuarterFest rolls around, Leone expects that the new development will be about “80 percent open.” Shops and restaurants in the overhauled mall have been slowly opening for business over the course of the last month, and Leone believes a “big bunch” are hoping to open up by early January or February.
“By May, it’s going to be very active and vibrant around there,” Leone said. “By the time it’s fully open, Ballston will have 90 restaurants in all, so this will just be a great way to get people into the physical space, get them to visit and bring them into all those restaurants.”
Leone said that the change doesn’t mark the end of Taste of Arlington, necessarily. She points out that the BID could always “bring it back or partner with other organizations,” so she views it as being on more of an indefinite “hiatus.”
So while she hopes the new event is “the same amount of fun with the same amount of activity,” she also believes it will mark a new chapter in the county’s evolution.
“To us, this is a whole new festival,” Leone said. “Ballston is going through so many changes right now, and that really represents what’s going on Arlington-wide.”
Starting today (Thursday), Chick-fil-A is back open in Ballston.
The fast food restaurant is welcoming hungry diners once more as part of the new Ballston Quarter development. The new outpost of the chain is located at 671 N. Glebe Road, on the development’s ground level and accessible via both its Glebe and Wilson Blvd entrances.
Chick-fil-A was long one of the most popular spots in the former Ballston Common mall, opening there more than 27 years ago, according to a press release.
Unlike the old location, however, the new space has a 50-seat dining area as well. The restaurant also includes a designated pickup counter for mobile orders.
Anyone swinging by the chain today can expect “a day of Chick–fil-A surprises,” the release said, including giveaways.
The restaurant will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day, except Sundays, and serve breakfast until 10 p.m.
Chick-fil-A joins Punch Bowl Social among the first eateries to open in the new development, with businesses slowly starting to open to customers over the course of the last month. Ballston Quarter’s full “food hall,” an upscale food court, isn’t set to open until February.
The construction of a new pedestrian bridge linking Ballston Quarter to the area’s Metro station is picking up steam.
Workers recently began installing supports for the bridge near the development’s entrances along Wilson Blvd, as well as near the “Ballston Exchange” development at 4201 Wilson Blvd, where the walkway will ultimately connect.
The frame for a new bridge is also taking shape in nearby Mosaic Park, where Ballston Quarter developer Forest City secured permission to start assembling the structure through a deal with county officials.
After tearing down the old bridge over Wilson Blvd last May, Forest City originally planned to have the new walkway ready by the time shops first started opening in the newly renovated Ballston Common mall.
But they reported to the county this summer that construction delays were hampering the process, targeting sometime in 2019 instead. As the new year approaches, a spokeswoman for Forest City says that the bridge is “still slated to deliver in the spring of 2019.”
Forest City has until the end of the month to wrap up work in Mosaic Park under the terms of its current deal with the county. However, the company does have the chance to secure a two-month extension for additional work through the end of February, though that’s contingent on the construction not disrupting the long-awaited overhaul of the park set to start this coming spring.
When the bridge is finished, it’s designed to connect the Ballston Metro station seamlessly to the Ballston Quarter development, helping pedestrians avoid crossing a bevy of busy streets.
A startup offering temporary hotel rooms in new apartment complexes is now planning to expand to two Arlington developments.
WhyHotel announced today (Tuesday) that it will soon offer 175 rooms for rent in the residential tower attached to the Ballston Quarter development, and another 150 rooms in the “Centro Arlington” project, which is taking the place of the Food Star grocery store off Columbia Pike. The company recently scored $10 million in venture funding to power the new projects, in addition to a similar “pop up” hotel in “The Boro” development in Tysons.
Unlike a home-sharing service like Airbnb, WhyHotel strikes agreements directly with the owners of large residential properties to rent out blocks of furnished apartments, bringing along an on-call staff to handle cleaning and other guest needs. The company is hoping to provide a happy medium for customers between staying at a friend’s place and shelling out for a hotel room, while helping developers fill space in new buildings as they lease them out.
Jason Fudin, WhyHotel’s co-founder and CEO, told ARLnow that he was interested in opening up shop more properties around Arlington because of the area’s potent mix of tourism and booming residential development. WhyHotel is aiming to open its first “pop up” in D.C., but Fudin says he never lost sight of the county as a “great place to be.”
“We do expect to be in Arlington in perpetuity,” Fudin said. “And as there’s more and more development, we’re hoping to be the solution people look to as they activate their developments.”
Fudin noted that the company has its roots in Arlington. The concept began as an initiative by developer Vornado Realty Trust at “The Bartlett” complex in Pentagon City, but its backers then struck out on their own, initially joining up with Crystal City startup incubator 1776.
Considering that Fudin viewed the company’s work in Pentagon City as a clear success for all involved, driving plenty of business to retailers near the building in the process, he’s hoping to replicate the same formula in Ballston and along the Pike.
Fudin expects that WhyHotel will have its Ballston Quarter rooms ready by April 1, slightly after the residential section of the development (located at 700 N. Randolph Street) is slated to open up. Some stores in the newly renovated Ballston Common mall have already started opening for business, and Fudin expects that will make the rooms immediately above the development plenty desirable.
Beyond the location’s proximity to D.C., he added that the large number of corporate headquarters in the neighborhood (not to mention federal tenants like DARPA) should bring plenty of travelers to the area.
Fudin conceded that the location on the Pike (950 S. George Mason Drive) is a “less dense urban area” than either D.C. or Ballston, but he said the company was still interested in moving in because of how close it is to the Pentagon.
“You have a tremendous number of people that work in defense or in the federal government who call that area home, so we natural customers in that space,” Fudin said. “It’s a great spot for families who are relocating. When you relocate to city, you don’t instantly have housing, whether you’re military or otherwise, and we see this as a great option for them… The ability to stay in a ‘like-home’ experience rather than a small hotel room is better for everybody.”
The Centro Arlington development, which will be anchored by a Harris Teeter grocery store, is to set to open in earnest midway through 2019, so Fudin expects WhyHotel’s rooms will be available there in “late summer or early fall.”
The County Board is set to sign off on allowing WhyHotel to offer some of its new rooms next week. County staff is recommending the Board’s approval for the temporary hotel use at Ballston Quarter for the next two years or so at a Dec. 15 meeting.
A new bar and restaurant could be on the way for Ballston Quarter, as businesses in the development slowly start to open to customers.
An establishment dubbing itself the “Ballston Service Station” is planning to move into the newly converted Ballston Common mall, according to a permit application.
The restaurant is seeking to serve both wine and beer “on and off premises,” records show, but there aren’t many other details available about the company. However, it does seem to have ties to Andrew Dana, the co-owner of D.C.’s Timber Pizza Company and Call Your Mother Deli — Dana’s phone number is listed as the contact on the Ballston Service Station permit application.
Dana is already planning on bringing a Timber Pizza location to Ballston Quarter, which will be located in the development’s “Quarter Market,” an upscale food court.
It’s unclear if the two restaurants will be connected, however — neither Dana nor a spokeswoman for Forest City, the company backing Ballston Quarter, responded to requests for comment.
Some stores and restaurants in Ballston Quarter have started welcoming their first customers in recent weeks, though the exact timeframe for the rest of the development to open for business remains murky.
The Quarter Market is currently slated to open in February, and Forest City hopes to have everything open by this coming spring.
Anyone looking for a mid-day ice cream fix can swing by Ballston Quarter this afternoon.
Ice Cream Jubilee, a D.C.-based chain which will soon set up shop in the revamped Ballston Common mall, is giving away free scoops at a pop-up location today (Wednesday).
The giveaway will run from noon through 2 p.m., and will be set up on the “M1” level in the Macy’s concourse.
Anyone swinging by will be able to choose between “candy cane pretzel” or “boozy eggnog” ice cream. The shop uses “only local all-natural milk and cream” to create “delicious, exotic flavors inspired by international travels, decadent cocktails and childhood favorites,” according to its website.
Eventually, Ice Cream Jubilee will be located in the development’s large new food court on its ground floor, dubbed “Quarter Market.” Some Ballston Quarter stores began opening up for business last month, but that section likely won’t open until February.
Photo via Facebook
DC Lash Bar, a beauty shop specializing in eyelash and eyebrow enhancement services, is set to open Monday (Dec. 3) in Ballston Quarter.
Located at 4238 Wilson Blvd, the beauty shop salon is behind the CVS on the first floor of the mall. The Ballston Quarter spot is the second location for DC Lash Bar, which has its flagship store in D.C.
The “official” opening date was moved from today (Nov. 28) to Monday. The delay, according to a spokeswoman, was due to some final installations being pushed back to after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Owner and co-founder Josie Philippe decided to expand shortly after the 2016 opening of the original Georgetown shop, according to a press release.
“We’ve seen an incredible response to our eyelash and tanning services,” Philippe said. “Opening a second shop just made sense; we’re excited to expand our capabilities and increase the number of customers served.”
The DC Lash Bar in Ballston Quarter location will offer eyelash extensions in natural, classic, volume and hybrid sets; eyelash lifts and tints; eyebrow shaping; and tinting and henna treatments. Airbrush tanning is currently only available at the Georgetown location.
To celebrate the Ballston Quarter opening, DC Lash Bar will offer ongoing discounts on its signature services at both locations.
Staff members of both stores are legally certified in eyelash extensions and licensed cosmetologists and estheticians.
Drybar, a national hair salon chain that specializes in blowouts, is set to start styling today (Nov. 15) in Ballston Quarter.
Located at 4238 Wilson Blvd, the salon is behind the CVS on the first floor of the mall. It neighbors DC Lash Bar.
“No cuts. No color. Just blowouts,” reads a framed menu with a listing of cocktail-inspired blowouts hanging in the storefront window. Styling available includes the “Manhattan” for sleek and smooth hair, the “Mai Tai” for a messy and beachy look, “Cosmopolitan” for loose curls and “Dirty Martini” for tousled and textured hair, along with three more, the sign says.
This is Drybar’s second location in Virginia, after its Tysons Corner debut in March 2016. The new Ballston Quarter spot is just one of half of a dozen upcoming locations across the country, including North Carolina, Arizona, California and Hawaii.
Drybar announced Jan. 1 on Facebook nearly two dozen locations are set to open in 2018, including the Arlington one and another in Alexandria, which does not have an announced location yet.
The store’s opening makes it among the first new businesses to open up shop in Ballston Quarter following its redevelopment, following a series of delays. A variety of other stores on its first two floors are set to open as soon as today.
Ballston Quarter could open to customers as soon as this week, marking an unofficial end to the years-long redevelopment of the old Ballston Common mall.
Signs posted around the development’s elevator banks list Thursday (Nov. 15) as the site’s opening day. Specifically, the signs advertise that the two main floors of Ballston Quarter — including the first floor with “street-level access” and the second floor with an area dubbed “Instagram alley” — will open this week.
Meanwhile, the third level of the development, which includes Regal Cinemas and the newly rechristened Onelife Fitness, is now open to pedestrian traffic. However, many of the stores on the level remain under construction. The new “Quarter Market,” a 25,000-square-foot food hall, won’t open until February 2019, the signs say.
A spokeswoman for Forest City, the developer spearheading Ballston Quarter, did not respond to a request for comment to confirm those dates.
Forest City initially hoped to open at least some of the stores in the development by the end of September. But delays convinced the developer to aim for late October instead, yet Ballston Quarter has remained closed to public access since then, and Forest City has been conspicuously silent on the matter. The developer has also had to push back plans to open a refurbished pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd to next year.
However, Onelife Fitness, once known as the Sport&Health fitness club, has a grand opening event scheduled for tonight (Tuesday) following its $2 million renovation work and rebranding. Punch Bowl Social, a combination bar and entertainment venue, has also now formally announced plans for a Dec. 8 grand opening event, after posting signs around Ballston advertising the night earlier this month.
Forest City has previously announced a bevy of other shops, restaurants and other businesses set to move into the former mall. The development had roughly 75 percent of its space leased as of the end of September, and the mall has begun maintaining a full list of retailers on its website.