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Fitness Club in Ballston Quarter Completes $2 Million Makeover, Gets a New Name

(Updated at 8:45 a.m.) The gym formerly known as Sport & Health in Ballston Quarter now has a new name, to go alongside a bit of a refresh.

US Fitness, the company that owns the fitness club, wrapped up a $2 million renovation of the newly christened “Onelife Fitness” on Tuesday (Nov. 6). A grand opening for the refurbished gym is now set for next Tuesday (Nov. 13) at 5 p.m. to celebrate the completed makeover, according to a press release.

US Fitness operates primarily under the Onelife Fitness brand, but also operates all of the Sport & Health clubs around the D.C. area. “Our brand’s success is driven by our passion and commitment to provide solutions and results for our members. We are always looking for how we can improve by developing or adopting cutting-edge programs and solutions,” Kirk and John Galiani, co-chairmen and founders of US Fitness, said in a statement.

New gear from the makeover includes:

  • cardio equipment
  • treadmills
  • ellipticals
  • stair climbers
  • bikes
  • rowers
  • strength equipment including free weights, circuit and functional training equipment
  • indoor and outdoor turf training spaces

In addition to locker rooms and amenities, the fitness club will also offer an expanded club with a maze for children; a cycle studio with Coach by Color bikes; a new studio with yoga, barre and Pilates; high-intensity training; and a group fitness studio.

The gym remained open during the renovation, which is now complete, Kirk Galiani told ARLnow. The gym is on the third floor of Ballston Quarter (4238 Wilson Blvd), which Forest City is currently revamping. The mall blew past its opening date twice — once in September and again in October.

Virginia is home to more than half of the 30 total Onelife Fitness clubs, which span four states.

Just a few months ago, the American College of Sports Medicine’s American Fitness Index crowned Arlington as “America’s fittest city” for “achieving a balance of both healthy behaviors and community infrastructure.”

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Ballston Shake Shack to Open This Weekend

At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 2018, the new Ballston Shake Shack will open its doors.

The company says it’s planning to open its new location at Ballston Exchange (4201 Wilson Blvd) at 11 a.m. on Sunday, which only coincidentally coincides with the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice.

Shake Shack is donating proceeds from its soft opening and a portion of sales of one of its desserts to Arlington’s Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, the company said in a press release. A t-shirt giveaway will also be held on opening day.

More from the press release:

Spreading the Shack love! Shake Shack® is thrilled to announce it will open the doors to a new location in the heart of Ballston on Sunday, November 11th at 11 a.m. The Shack will be located at 4201 Wilson Blvd Suite 0180, Arlington, Virginia 22203 in the prominent Ballston Exchange development.

Shake Shack is a critically acclaimed, modern day “roadside” burger stand known for its 100% all-natural Angus beef burgers, chicken sandwiches and griddled flat-top dogs (no hormones or antibiotics – ever), fresh-made frozen custard, crispy crinkle cut fries and more. A fun and lively community gathering place with widespread appeal, Shake Shack has earned a cult-like following around the world.

In addition to the classics, the Ballston Shack will be spinning up a unique selection of frozen custard concretes:

  • Pie Oh My: Vanillas custard with a slice of Livin’ the Pie Life seasonal pie
  • Short & Sweet: Vanilla custard, salted caramel sauce, banana and shortbread cookie
  • Shack Attack: Chocolate custard, fudge sauce, chocolate truffle cookie dough, Mast Brothers Shake Shack dark chocolate chunks, topped with chocolate sprinkles

Guests can wash their burgers down with local brews from Port City Brewing Company and DC Brau, plus Shake Shack’s exclusive Brooklyn Brewery ShackMeister® Ale. Wine lovers can enjoy a glass of Shack RedTM and Shack WhiteTM wine from the Gotham Project.

As part of Shake Shack’s mission to Stand For Something Good®, The Ballston Shack will donate all proceeds from soft opening, as well 5% of sales from the Pie Oh My concrete throughout the life of the shack to Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, a volunteer-powered nonprofit dedicated to rescuing homeless, neglected, and abandoned animals from certain euthanasia and finding them loving forever homes.

The 2,803 square-foot Shack will feature an outdoor covered patio and ample seating for guests. In keeping with Shake Shack’s commitment to green architecture and eco-friendly construction, the Ballston Shack’s tabletops will be made by CounterEvolution using reclaimed bowling alley lanes; chairs will be designed by Uhuru using sustainable materials; and booths will be crafted by Staach using lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Snag some swag! The first 100 people in line when doors open at 11AM will receive a custom T-shirt — on us!

Shake Shack is now hiring full-time and part-time team members – no previous experience required! Apply online at ShackCareers.com

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Health Food-Focused ‘Dirt’ Plans Expansion in Ballston Exchange Next Year

A new eatery coming to Ballston is inviting diners to eat “Dirt” — not quite literally, though.

The Miami-based restaurant plans to open its first location outside Florida in the Ballston Exchange development, located at 4121 Wilson Blvd, according to a press release.

Dirt will move into an 1,800-square-foot space in the office building, and expects to be ready for customers by spring 2019. The newly redeveloped building, once home to the National Science Foundation, will welcome a spate of new retailers in the coming months, including a Shake Shack, Philz Coffee and We the Pizza.

The chain’s backers were inspired to move to Ballston by “the energy of the neighborhood,” and the sudden proliferation of new businesses at both the Ballston Exchange and Ballston Quarter developments, the release said.

The restaurant is health-food focused, with offerings including breakfast dishes and toasts (both served all day), salads, bowls, smoothies, juices and even vegan “mylkshakes,” made with almond milk ice cream. Dirt will also offer a “full espresso bar and tea program,” the release said.

The eatery’s founders dub Dirt a “counter casual” restaurant, presenting it as a blend of a sit-down restaurant and up-scale fast food restaurants like Chipotle.

“We have a different service model than the omnipresent Chipotle-style assembly line that people have become inundated with,” JJ McDaniel, the chain’s director of operations, wrote in a statement. “You order at the counter, and although we don’t have formal servers, from there it’s very much a full-service experience. We bring your order to you, with real plates and silverware and linen napkins, check on you during your meal and clean your table after you leave. Trays and bus tubs are purposely absent from the Dirt dining experience.”

The Ballston location will be the chain’s third overall, after opening two restaurants in the Miami area starting in 2015.

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Sichuan Wok in Ballston Appears to Have Closed

The Sichuan Wok Chinese restaurant in Ballston seems to have closed.

The restaurant, located at 901 N. Quincy Street, has been closed during normal business hours for the last two days and caution tape now blocks off its entrance. No one answered the phone at Sichuan Wok this morning (Friday).

Readers first alerted ARLnow to the closure yesterday (Thursday), and one tipster said movers were busy clearing out the restaurant.

The property has long been home to the restaurant, with county records suggesting it’s had the same owners since at least 1987.

County permit records don’t offer any indication of what might take its place.

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Pizza Autentica in Ballston Shuts Down

Pizza Autentica in Ballston has shut down, after serving up slices for roughly eight years in the space.

Workers began emptying out the restaurant today (Wednesday) at its space in the ground floor of an office building at 850 N. Randolph Street.

A sign on the door thanks customers “for your business all these years,” adding that the restaurant’s lease just ended, prompting the permanent closure.

The pizzeria opened in the space back in 2010, and operates seven other restaurants around the D.C. area. Its only other Arlington eatery is located in Crystal City.

County permit records don’t show any other applications for a new business looking to move into the space, as of yet.

H/t Timothy R. 

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Cutting-Edge Tech Company Two Six Labs Expands in Ballston

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

There’s some cool stuff going on inside Two Six Labs, a security technology company based in Ballston.

Two Six Labs works in research and development, primarily with the Department of Defense and other government agencies like DARPA. The company’s offices are a mix of segmented workspaces and mechanical workshops.

The company was founded in 2010 as tech company Invincea’s lab group. The group moved to Ballston in 2013 to be closer to the government clients. In early 2017 the group broke away from Invincea and took on its new name.

Chris Greamo, President and CEO of Two Six Labs, said the group is currently almost entirely supported by government contracts. Over the next few years, Greamo said one of his goals is to shift that balance to about 60 percent supported by government contracts and thirty percent by commercial ones, typically with a private sector variant of the technology developed for government use.

One recent example is Sigma, a low-cost radiation monitoring device. Greamo referenced the unexploded pipe bombs sent across the country last week and said his nightmare would be a radiological version of those bombs. Greamo said enough of them scattered across a wide area can provide a comprehensive net of coverage to catch those types of threats

“Imagine if every police car could monitor for those types of threats,” said Greamo.

DARPA’s contract with Two Six Labs also allows the company to retain the rights to their products, meaning Sigma will soon be commercially available to hospitals or large stadiums.

There was talk that DARPA might leave Ballston, but when the organization stayed Two Six Labs doubled down on their presence in the area. Greamo said the group had continued to grow and expand at its current location on the fourth floor of The Ellipse (4350 Fairfax Drive) but eventually reached a point where they were too large for the building.

Last Wednesday (Oct. 24) the company announced it would be moving to Ballston Metro Center at 901 N. Stuart Street, increasing from 19,000 to 29,798 square feet.

The group has also expanded across the country, with offices in Mount Laurel, San Antonio, Austin and Tacoma, but Ballston remains the central location for the company. Greamo also said the group is hoping to expand in the region and is looking for a new office in Northern Virginia because many employees are finding the commute untenable. Greamo said the group is looking at Reston in particular, likely avoiding Tysons because of the area’s reputation for heavy traffic.

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Rollover Crash Involving Car2Go in Ballston

Only minor injuries were reported after a rollover crash in Ballston Friday morning.

The crash happened around 6:30 a.m. at the intersection of N. Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive. Photos from the scene show a small Car2Go vehicle on its side in the middle of the intersection, with airbags deployed.

Several lanes were closed during the crash response and cleanup.

Photo via @ArlingtonVaFD

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Ballston Quarter Still Not Quite Open for Business

The day of Ballston Quarter’s planned opening has arrived, but the revamped mall doesn’t seem ready for customers quite yet.

Forest City, the developer engineering the complete overhaul of the former Ballston Common mall, initially hoped to open some stores up by September. But a few weeks back, the company revealed that it was pushing the open date, targeting today (Thursday) instead to have at least some sections of the development open for business.

But, as of this morning, the mall is still very much an active construction zone.

Some sections of the sidewalk along Wilson Blvd previously closed to pedestrians have reopened, revealing portions of the Ballston Quarter plaza that were once obscured from view. Yet the development’s doors are still locked, accessible only to people with key cards.

A spokeswoman for Forest City says the developer plans to offer more details soon, but did not immediately provide an update on any revised opening date.

The company originally reported a few construction delays to county officials this summer, though those were associated with the overhaul of the pedestrian bridge connecting Ballston Quarter to 4201 Wilson Blvd and the Ballston Metro station. However, Forest City also recently secured the county’s approval for outdoor seating at six restaurants in its outdoor plaza, and plans to make that area (as well as several other sections of the mall) accessible to customers as the development’s various stores open.

Forest City is aiming to have its full range of restaurants, retailers and other offerings open by spring 2019 or so.

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After Brief Hiatus, Ballston’s Stageplate Bistro Plans to Reopen Next Month

(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Stageplate Bistro in Ballston still plans to reopen following a summer hiatus, though it likely won’t welcome diners once more until late next month.

The restaurant, located at 900 N. Glebe Road, shut its doors back in August, as its owners hoped to take a pause from some lengthy work weeks and revamp the eatery’s web presence. Originally, its proprietors had planned to reopen by Sept. 1, but that date came and went without any news from the restaurant.

General Manager Mary Marchetti told ARLnow that Stageplate is now “shooting for” Nov. 26, the day after Thanksgiving, for a grand reopening. She says she and the restaurant’s executive chef — her husband, Nelly Gonzalez — have spent the last few months working to “take a breath and take stock” of how Stageplate could expand its menu offerings going forward.

The pair opened the restaurant, which primarily serves American cuisine, late last summer on the first floor of the Virginia Tech Research Center. Since then, Marchetti compares the process to one long soft opening, as Stageplate has been primarily focused on lunch. When the restaurant reopens, she plans to focus on dinner, brunch, happy hour and even catering for local businesses.

That will include some additions, like pizza and the Turkish flatbread “pide” to the menu, though she stressed that “all the favorite everyone loved before” will remain on offer. That includes Stageplate’s sangria wine slushies, which she said was a big hit in the restaurant’s first year.

“We just can’t wait to throw open the doors again,” Marchetti said. “Our regulars and the whole community has been so unbelievable and so encouraging.”

Stageplate’s new website is now active as well and Marchetti plans to make full details about the reopening available on that page in the coming weeks.

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Sidewalk to Nowhere Baffles Ballston Pedestrians

Ballston is currently a construction zone, and that construction led to a confusing situation for pedestrians at one particular intersection today.

The intersection of N. Randolph Street and Wilson Blvd is busy throughout the day with vehicle and pedestrian traffic. But both drivers and those on foot have had to navigate a changing landscape of construction equipment and road blocks over the past few months, thanks to sidewalk construction and work on a trio of large projects at three corners of the intersection: Ballston Quarter, Ballston Exchange and Liberty Center.

Today a new batch of work on the northwest corner introduced a new challenge: the work made it impossible for pedestrians to head east to west on Wilson Blvd — in the direction of the Metro station and popular lunchtime restaurants — without either walking into the street or through an active construction zone. The only safe option: walk north to 9th Street N. or south to Glebe Road.

Around lunchtime ARLnow witnessed dozens of pedestrians walk around the construction, down a travel lane of Wilson or Randolph, rather than going several blocks out of the way as a detour. We also saw several people literally walk through the construction zone, hopping over wet concrete as workers watched.

Police received at least one complaint about the construction and an alleged lack of signage this afternoon, according to scanner traffic, but officers did not respond to the scene as it was deemed not a police matter. Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, meanwhile, says it is keeping a close eye on the construction.

“DES is actively monitoring this site several times a day, and giving the developer direction on how to ensure pedestrian safety by requiring proper and clear signage for detours (and other warning signs) associated with the ever-changing construction activities on this site,” said DES spokeswoman Jessica Baxter. “We are actively working with the developer to ensure proper permits are obtained and management of traffic plans are submitted and executed in a timely manner to deal with situations like this one.”

Work on the intersection is expected to wrap up later this week, Baxter said. The project is intended to enlarge the sidewalk and make it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross the street — when completed.

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NoVa Officials Remain Willing to Send County Cash for New Crystal City, Ballston Metro Entrances

A major funder of transportation projects across Northern Virginia isn’t giving up on Arlington’s long-stymied efforts to build second entrances for the Crystal City and Ballston Metro stations, though any substantial progress remains elusive.

For years, the county has planned on paying for the new entrances by pairing its own money with some funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, a group that doles out sales tax revenues to transportation projects around the region.

Transportation planners view second entrances at the stations as crucial to encouraging Metro ridership in each neighborhood, and coping with the rapid pace of development in both areas.

However, Arlington’s plans have come under some serious pressure along two fronts in recent months. The county’s declining revenues and rising expenses have forced officials to pare back funding for some long-range construction projects, and that’s included the second entrances at Ballston, Crystal City and East Falls Church.

Meanwhile, the NVTA took a major funding hit when the landmark deal struck by state lawmakers to provide dedicated funding for Metro diverted tens of millions away from the group each year, a move condemned by Democrats but insisted upon by Republicans as a way to fund Metro without raising taxes.

That’s prevented the NVTA from funding all the projects it might like, including the second entrances. Even still, Monica Backmon, NVTA’s executive director, says that the county remains well positioned to earn the cash it needs to complete the projects from her organization — though, perhaps, not as quickly as its leaders might like.

“When we’ve already invested in projects like these, we want to see them come to fruition,” Backmon told ARLnow. “We still believe in them.”

The second entrance in Crystal City seems particularly likely to earn a bit more cash from the NVTA in the near term, Backmon said. Her group could only hand out about $5 million for the effort in its most recent round of awarding funding for projects, which she expects will fund about “half of the design costs” for the effort.

The county is still settling on the specifics around the second entrance, though it will likely sit at the intersection of Crystal Drive and 18th Street S. Given the substantial new development JBG Smith is already plotting for that location, when combined with the close proximity of the Virginia Railway Express station, Backmon said the NVTA remains quite bullish on the project going forward.

“There’s a lot of development going on in the area, so we know there’s a need,” Backmon said. “Provided they’re advancing on the design work, they can come back and reapply for more funds.”

Backmon even expects that the NVTA could send the county the other half of that design funding as soon as next year. She plans to wait a bit to see what state officials might do — the county has applied for $78 million of the project’s $91 million price tag as part of the state’s “SmartScale” funding program, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board is set to make a decision on that cash by next June.

Then, in July, the NVTA will start its own funding process, allowing Backmon to see whether or not her group needs to step in to give Arlington a boost. By then, officials will also likely know whether they also need to prepare for Amazon’s arrival in Crystal City or not, another key variable in the discussion.

“The density in Arlington really is different than in the outside the Beltway localities,” Backmon said. “That project is important to relieve bottlenecks, on Metro and on roads.”

The process for finding funding for the Ballston second entrance is a bit murkier. The NVTA has already sent the county $12 million to fund a western entrance to the station, though that’s far short of the $72 million Arlington officials hoped to receive for the effort.

Backmon’s group declined to devote any additional cash to the Ballston project this summer, and she notes that the NVTA saw needs elsewhere that were “a little more pressing.” But county officials have been anxious to show some progress on the effort, not only to better prepare to cope with the slew of new developments on N. Glebe Road, but also to ensure that Arlington doesn’t lose out on the state funding it’s already received for the project.

Backmon says she can’t be sure whether the Ballston project will be a strong candidate to earn more NVTA money next year, but she is confident that the existing cash isn’t going anywhere.

“We haven’t given up on the project and still think it’s important,” Backmon said. “The fact that we’ve already invested $12 million in it speaks for itself… so we’re comfortable we’re in a place that the project is advancing. We’re not looking to take away any funds.”

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt the project’s chances either if state lawmakers acted early next year to restore the NVTA to its former funding levels.

She pegs the group’s current annual loss from the Metro funding deal at close to $102 million, a bit up from earlier estimates, and is desperately hoping that the General Assembly follows through on Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposal to bump up a few Northern Virginia tax rates to make the math work for the NVTA.

Northam and his fellow Democrats have already pledged to reexamine the issue next year, though, as Backmon acknowledges, any such effort “in an election year” for the General Assembly will be a tricky one.

“Our statewide funding pots are shrinking, but our needs are growing,” Backmon said. “We want to make sure this is on everyone’s radar, and that people understand that, while we made adjustments, we definitely want to be restored to where we were before.”

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New F45 Training Fitness Studio Looks to Be Coming to Ballston

A new fitness studio looks to be headed to Ballston.

F45 Training has applied for building permits in a 2,230-square-foot space at 3865 Wilson Blvd, according to county records. The office building is also home to a Next Day Blinds show room, though the permit application doesn’t make it clear where in the building the gym would be located.

F45 didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment seeking clarity on when the gym might open, but its website lists the location as “coming soon.” The gym would be F45’s second in Arlington, as the company already operates a location in Pentagon Row.

F45 also offers studios across the rest of the D.C. region, and the country. According to its website, each studio offers “a 45-minute high-intensity, circuit training workout class” for members, with 27 different classes offered in total.

The company applied for the building permits in September, records show.

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DEVELOPING: Police Investigating Fall from Ballston Apartment Building

Arlington County Police are investigating an incident that resulted in a man suffering serious injuries at a Ballston apartment building Monday evening.

Shortly after 4 p.m. police were dispatched to Randolph Towers (4001 9th Street N.) for a report of a person who fell from a 6th floor balcony in the rear of the building onto a ground floor patio below.

The victim was quickly transported to a local trauma center with serious, potentially life-threatening injuries. Police remain at the building, documenting the scene and talking to possible witnesses.

It is unclear if the man accidentally fell or if the fall was in some way intentional.

“The victim was conscious and alert when he was transported to George Washington University Hospital,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow.com. “The investigation into the cause of the fall remains ongoing.”

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Ballston IHOP Remains Closed Following Fire, With Plans to Reopen Soon

The Ballston IHOP remains closed for repairs after catching fire last week, though it should be open again soon.

The restaurant, located at 935 N. Stafford Street, is currently surrounded by repair vans and has signs posted on the door informing would-be diners that it remains closed for renovation work following the fire.

However, an employee told ARLnow that IHOP could reopen as soon as the end of this week, or this weekend.

The blaze started around 2 a.m. last Wednesday (Oct. 3), with smoke seen billowing out of the roof of the restaurant. No one was hurt as a result of the fire.

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Morning Notes

Man Punched Outside Ballston Subway — A man was punched in the face outside the Subway on Fairfax Drive in Ballston yesterday. The assault occurred just before lunchtime and those flocking to the restaurant for footlongs had to step over splatters of blood on the sidewalk. No word yet on what prompted the fight nor whether the suspect, who reportedly fled into the Metro station, was later apprehended. [Twitter]

Tonight: Committee of 100 County Board Debate — The Arlington Committee of 100 will be holding a County Board debate tonight at Marymount University. The program, moderated by ARLnow’s Scott Brodbeck, will start at 8 p.m. after a meet and greet and dinner. [Committee of 100]

History of the W&OD Railroad — Before it was a bike and pedestrian trail, the W&OD was a regional railroad that transported goods and people across Northern Virginia. How would the area and our transportation problems be different if it had stayed a transit corridor, asks a GGW contributor. [Greater Greater Washington]

Local Social Media Influencer Profiled — Clarendon resident and mother of two Angelica Talan “has made a career out of building a loyal following on social media.” She blogs at Clarendon Moms and Angelica in the City and also has done some modeling and acting. [Arlington Magazine]

Tree Group Wants More Trees — The Arlington Tree Action Group replied on Twitter to a posting of the photo above: “Beautiful sky! It would look even better with more trees! #ArlingtonVA #trees.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Alexandrians Worry About Takeout Window — A proposed takeout window for a new Mexican restaurant on King Street prompted a protracted debate among members of the Alexandria city council. Said one opponent on the council, who ultimately lost out on a 4-3 vote: “I think this is maybe one small step in the direction of what we don’t want Old Town to become.” [Washington Business Journal]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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