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‘Experiential’ Art Venue, Spanish Restaurant Headed to Ballston Quarter

(Updated at 5:55 p.m.) A Spanish restaurant and an “experiential” art venue with a bar are among the new Ballston Quarter mall tenants announced today.

The occupants will join a first group of restaurants and retail announced for Ballston Quarter earlier this year. The redeveloped shopping center is planning to hold is grand re-opening this fall.

 

The new Ballston Quarter occupants are:

  • Copa: Developed by the team behind Bethesda neighborhood favorites Butchers Alley and Pescadeli, Copa is a new casual neighborhood bar and kitchen, offering a place for friends and family to gather around fresh Spanish flavors and small plates. The restaurant will feature craft cocktails and Spanish beers, along with Spanish flatbreads and tizona skewers. It will also boast a sangria garden featuring homemade sangria.
  • DC Lash Bar: DC Lash Bar is a renowned eyelash extension bar specializing in eyelash extensions, eyelash perming and eyelash tinting. Owner and CEO Josie Philippe, created a beauty retreat that delivers the best quality services and promises old school hospitality. The Ballston Quarter location – the first outside of DC – will occupy 1,300 square feet.
  • WHINO: WHINO is a new experiential venue by the founder of Art Whino, an organization geared toward cultural community service for the arts. The 6000 square-foot space at Ballston Quarter will feature a state-of-the-art chef’s kitchen with seating for 35, full service bar, art gallery, retail space and full immersion murals, providing a multi-dimensional experience unlike any other.

Bash Boxing, a boxing-focused workout studio, also announced yesterday (Wednesday) that it will be opening a second location in the development.

The finished Ballston Quarter project will be a 850,000 square foot development, including a 360,000 square feet of retail, a 25,000 square foot food hall, 176,000 of office space and a new 406-unit apartment building.

“With Ballston Quarter, we are fostering a true community in which people can live, work, shop and be entertained by dynamic and homegrown concepts alongside some of the most exciting national brands to come to this area in a decade,” Will Voegele, Forest City Senior Vice President of Development, wrote in a statement. “We are proud to partner with unique businesses across many industries, whose inspiring spirit form the heart of Ballston Quarter that will give Ballston and the surrounding Arlington County an undeniable pulse.”

Photo courtesy of Forest City

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Woman Spots Worker Tattooed with Nazi Symbols at Ballston Quarter

Taylor Poindexter says she was weaving through the construction at the Ballston Quarter development when she saw something she could hardly believe.

Poindexter was bound for the Sport and Health gym early Tuesday morning (Aug. 14), when she spotted a group of workers near the former mall’s elevators. One of them, she noted, had Nazi symbols tattooed all over his arms and neck.

“I was just surprised a company would allow their worker to wear a tank top with such tattoos on his neck and arms,” Poindexter told ARLnow.

When her workout was wrapped up, Poindexter, who is black, made her frustration with the situation clear to a Ballston Quarter employee nearby. She then grabbed her phone and opened up Twitter to make it clear just how she felt about what she saw.

Because she mentioned the construction company overseeing the work at Ballston Quarter, Clark Construction, in the tweet she says she soon heard from the company that they were investigating the situation, but otherwise heard nothing.

Since then, however, the company says it determined that the man Poindexter saw was an employee of one of its subcontractors at the site. A spokeswoman for Clark did not offer additional details on whether it could confirm what Poindexter saw, but it seems she was not mistaken.

“Clark Construction became aware of a violation of its anti-harassment policy on a job site in Arlington, Virginia and immediately took steps to investigate,” Brian Abt, division president and CEO for Clark’s Mid-Atlantic region, wrote in a statement. “Clark engaged the subcontractor employee who was involved and has taken appropriate action to resolve the situation.”

A spokeswoman for Clark also did not clarify whether that action included firing or otherwise disciplining the employee involved.

File photo

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Bash Boxing Opening Second Gym in Ballston Quarter

Bash Boxing is gearing up to open its second location in the Ballston Quarter development next year.

The boxing-focused workout studio will join the newly renovated Ballston mall “sometime in early 2019,” according to co-owner Scott Parker, who also manages a variety of Arlington restaurants.

Co-owner Alex Trakas adds that the space will be 5,000 square feet in size, and will be located closest to the N. Randolph Street side of the development.

Bash announced plans earlier this year to open its first gym in Rosslyn, in the space formerly occupied by Cafe Asia. Parker and Trakas were initially hoping to start offering classes there this spring, but Trakas says they’re now hoping to get things going sometime this fall.

The studio plans to split its workouts between boxing on a water-filled training bag and “high intensity interval training.” Classes will generally last 45 minutes each.

Ballston Quarter will also eventually be home to a slew of restaurants and retailers, in addition to some “experiential” tenants. Its developer is hoping to open some stores in the development starting this fall, though some parts of the project have run into a few snags recently.

Photo via @bash

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Police Investigating After Woman Assaulted, Robbed Near Ballston

Arlington police are investigating after a woman says she was assaulted and robbed near Ballston Thursday night (Aug. 9).

Police say the woman was walking near the 3900 block of Fairfax Drive around 9 p.m. Thursday when a man came up behind her and shoved her into a wall.

The man then proceeded to rob the woman and assaulted her, though he ran off after a brief struggle. Police say the woman suffered “minor injuries” as a result of the scuffle.

Police describe the suspect as a “white male, approximately 40-45 years old, 5’8″-6’0″ tall, weighing 190-210 lbs., with brown hair.”

Full details from a county crime report:

ROBBERY (late), 2018-08100128, 3900 block of Fairfax Drive. At approximately 12:36  p.m. on August 10, police responded to the late report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 9:00 p.m. on August 9, the victim was walking in the area when an unknown male suspect approached her from behind, shoved her against a wall and stole her personal property. The suspect then assaulted her, however, the victim resisted and a brief struggle ensued before the suspect fled on foot with her property. The victim suffered minor injuries. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 40-45 years old, 5’8″-6’0″ tall, weighing 190-210 lbs., with brown hair. The investigation is ongoing.

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New Protected Bike Lane Opens in Ballston on N. Quincy Street

Workers recently put the finishing touches on a new protected bike lane through Ballston.

The new lane runs along N. Quincy Street, stretching from N. Glebe Road to 9th Street N. The lane was installed as the county’s embarked on some summer paving work, and workers took the opportunity to add protected lanes in several spots around the county.

Protected bike lanes contribute to making our streets calmer, easier to understand, and more useable for people from ages eight to 80,” Erin Potter of Bike Arlington explained in a March blog post. “Well-designed protected bike lanes establish more order and predictability on the streets. Cyclists tend to behave themselves and do a better job of following the rules when they are using properly designed and separated facilities. Drivers also appreciate a sense of order and clarity that the separation provides.”

However, the change has taken some getting used to for some Ballston drivers.

The paving work has also involved some parking changes along 5th Road N. between N. Quincy Street and N. Pollard Street, adjacent to Mosaic Park, changing the parking there to back-in spots on an angle.

Photo via @Blacknell

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JUST IN: Firefighters Extinguish Blaze in Ballston Townhome

Arlington firefighters extinguished a fire at a Ballston townhome this afternoon (Friday).

First responders were called to the 600 block of N. Oxford Street, near Mosaic Park, for a blaze around 3:15 p.m.

The fire was concentrated in the basement, and extinguished without incident. No injuries resulted from the fire.

The fire marshal is still investigating the exact cause of the blaze, but scanner traffic suggests it started due to a washer or dryer in the basement.

Photo via @ArlingtonVaFD

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ART to Close Four Ballston Bus Stops This Weekend

Arlington Transit is closing several bus stops around Ballston to cope with construction this weekend.

Starting tonight (Friday) at 9 p.m. and running through Sunday (Aug. 12) at 7 p.m., the bus service plans to close the following stops along its 41 line:

  • Northbound N. Randolph Street at Wilson Blvd
  • Southbound N. Randolph Street at the Ballston Quarter mall
  • Northbound N. Glebe Road at N. Quincy Street
  • Northbound N. Glebe Road at N. Henderson Road

ART noted in a service alert that some stops along N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd will remain open, should riders need options along the corridor.

The construction work prompting the bus stop closures will require occasional road closures as well, as it’s largely tied to the Ballston Quarter construction and some summer paving work.

Photo via Google Maps

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Stageplate Bistro Closes Temporarily in Ballston, With Plans to Re-Open This Fall

Stageplate Bistro (900 N. Glebe Road) will be closed for the next few weeks, but has plans for a “grand reopening” Saturday, September 1.

“After almost a year of passionately pursuing our dream, we are taking a breath,” a posting to the door reads, in part. The notice is signed by proprietors Mary Marchetti and Nelly Gonzalez, the married duo who serve as the restaurant’s general manager and executive chef, respectively.

That “breath” means instead of pulling 100-hour-plus work weeks, Marchetti and Gonzalez will work from 9 a.m-5 p.m. on some updates, Marchetti said. That will include training, shaping their social media presence and updating the restaurant’s website.

Stageplate Bistro held its grand opening in October after a soft opening last August. Their menu primarily features American cuisine.

“Reflecting on the past year after opening our first restaurant has been really exciting, and one of the biggest takeaways we have is how wonderful this community has been,” Marchetti said.  “We’re so thankful to be in Ballston and we’re so thankful for the community support and our amazing guests.”

Final details about the re-opening will be available on Stageplate Bistro’s website.

“We’re going to finally get everybody together on [Sept. 1] and get our big scissors out and cut our ribbon,” Marchetti said.

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Virginia Tech, Transurban Plan New Research Effort to Make Highways Safer for Motorcyclists

Motorcycle riders represent just a small portion of traffic on the roads, but they’re consistently involved in more fatal accidents than anyone else — some researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute are looking to change that.

VTTI is teaming up with Transurban, the company building and operating toll lanes on Northern Virginia’s busiest highways, to try and spur the development of new technology to make the roads safer for motorcyclists.

Transurban announced at Virginia Tech’s Ballston research center yesterday (Tuesday) that it would be donating $400,000 to VTTI to kick off the “Motorcycle Technology Evaluation Challenge,” known as “MotoTEC.”

The goal is to pair small technology companies and startups working on devices and software that could be used for motorcycle safety with some needed funding and, perhaps more importantly, the expertise of Virginia Tech’s researchers. VTTI hopes to find some promising technology to test along Transurban’s express lanes on highways like I-495 and I-95, giving it a big boost in making it to market.

“This is all about: What can get on the road fastest to make the most impact?” said Andy Schaudt, project director for VTTI’s motorcycle research group.

Schaudt says the current challenge for tech companies looking to make motorcycles safer is that many have gone overlooked, even amidst the global embrace of “connected cars.” After all, he points out that “there aren’t a lot of places to put sensors” on a motorcycle.

That’s where MotoTEC can come in. Schaudt hopes to convene a steering committee made up of transportation researchers and industry experts alike to evaluate technology with potential, then put out a call to companies looking for a boost.

He expects to hold a “pitch competition” if VTTI gets enough of a response, and he hopes to “keep the funnel wide” in accepting all manner of technologies as possibilities. Jennifer Aument, president of Transurban North America, suggested that solutions could include things like a system to connect a rider’s helmet to road sensors or technology to somehow make work zones safer for motorcyclists.

“It’s about finding something with a big impact,” Aument said. “Our single focus is on how to save lives.”

Depending on what technology wins out, Schaudt said testing could start as soon as this fall. Should it need a little more time to develop, however, he said VTTI could instead wait for the next “riding season” to start next spring.

No matter the exact timeline, Schaudt says the goal is that “within one year of program starting, we want results ready to share.” He noted that testing out the efficacy of various technologies can often be “extremely expensive” for small companies, and he thinks VTTI can play a big part in making that process a lot smoother.

“This all goes towards expediting deployment,” Schaudt said. “If they have the right support, they can start putting it on roadways and benefitting motorcycle riders right away.”

Aument added that the research work could even have a more immediate impact along the highways Transurban is working on.

With construction on the I-395 toll lanes picking up in earnest, necessitating work zones that become especially dangerous for drivers and motorcyclists alike, she said her company would be eager to embrace any low-tech solutions VTTI proposes to improve signage or lane markings and make everyone safer on the roads.

“We’re looking for solutions in our work zones right away, so if they find something interesting, we want to hear about it,” Aument said.

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Morning Notes

Virginia Lawmakers Will Have Final Say on Any Amazon HQ2 Incentives — Should Arlington or anywhere else in Northern Virginia win Amazon’s second headquarters, a panel of administration officials and General Assembly members on the Major Employment and Investment Project Approval Commission would have the final chance to review the state’s incentive package for HQ2. The commission’s chair says the group has already approved the broad strokes of what Virginia offered Amazon, but would have to approve any changes. [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Public Schools ‘On Track’ in Teacher Hiring — Superintendent Patrick Murphy says the school system has already managed to hire 300 teachers, who will report to orientation in the coming weeks as the start of classes inches ever closer. [InsideNova]

Podcast Explores Ballston’s History — Before the Metro station and the mall, Ballston was home to “an infamous saloon known as the Bucket of Blood” and a “pro football team known as the Ballston Skulls.” Local historian and journalist Michael Lee Pope explores the neighborhood’s history on the Ballston BID’s podcast. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo via wolfkann

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We, The Pizza Set to Open Ballston Location This Fall

We, The Pizza is gearing up to open a new location in Ballston this fall.

The restaurant is set to be part of the Ballston Exchange building at 4201 Wilson Blvd currently undergoing some big renovations, following the departure of the National Science Foundation.

The Ballston store, located between a Dunkin Donuts and a UPS Store, will be We, The Pizza’s second restaurant in Arlington, with another location open in Crystal City. The chain serves up gourmet pizzas, chicken wings and beer, and was launched by former “Top Chef” contestant Spike Mendelsohn.

The building’s owner, Jamestown LLP, is still in the midst of recruiting new tenants for the property, with plans to wrap up construction by the end of the year.

Shake Shack, Cava and Philz Coffee plan to set up shop as retailers, while the coworking space Industrious recently committed to become the first new tenant in the building’s offices.

Photo courtesy of John Borowiec

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Medina Opens Its Doors in Former Earl’s Ballston Space

The Middle Eastern restaurant Medina has now opened its doors in Ballston.

The eatery first posted signs at the space last month, located at 4215 Fairfax Drive, across from the Ballston Metro station.

The restaurant still doesn’t have an online presence of any kind, but signs promise “shawarma, falafel and beyond” for its menu.

The location was once home to Earl’s Sandwiches, which shuttered back in June. Earl’s still operates a restaurant near Clarendon.

H/t Peter Golkin

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Capitals’ Kettler Iceplex in Ballston is Getting a New Name

The Kettler Iceplex in Ballston, home of the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, is getting a new name.

MedStar Health is taking over as the practice arena’s corporate sponsor, according to a press release from Monumental Sports and Entertainment, the company controlled by Caps owner Ted Leonsis. Effective immediately, the arena will now be known as the MedStar Capitals Iceplex.

The Caps hold their practices in the 137,000-square-foot facility, adjacent to the new Ballston Quarter development, and it’s also home to office space for the team’s staff and executives with the Washington Mystics, the WNBA team owned by Leonsis.

Kettler, a local real estate developer, has sponsored the arena since shortly after it opened atop the Ballston public parking garage in 2006. Even though its name will soon no longer adorn the building, the company “remains a very significant partner of ours,” according to MSE spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield.

She added that work to outfit the building with MedStar signage, both inside and outside, will “get underway soon.”

MedStar will also become the naming rights sponsor for the new practice facility planned for Southeast D.C. to serve the Washington Wizards and the Mystics, as well as for the “new, top-of-the-line esports training facility adjacent to Capital One Arena” that’s home to Leonsis’ esports team.

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Ballston’s SER Hoping to Reopen This Weekend, Following Severe Flooding

Spanish restaurant SER (1110 N. Glebe Road) is closed today after storms led to a partial roof collapse and flooding inside the eatery last night (July 25).

SER aims to be back open this weekend, according to a Twitter statement from restaurant proprietor Javier Candon.

“Last night, our building had a structural failure which resulted in us having to close the restaurant unexpectedly due to flooding,” the statement reads, in part. “As repairs begin, I just want to thank everyone for their support and patience.”

Candon also noted in the statement that no guests were harmed in the incident.

All of Two Ballston Plaza, the building in which SER is located, is closed today because of a power outage, according to a notice on its door. Ballston CrossFit, another tenant, posted on its Facebook page that flooding caused the outage.

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After Pedestrian Crash, Neighbors Turn Up the Pressure in Fight for Bluemont Road Improvements

After a man was struck by a car in the middle of a Bluemont intersection, some of his neighbors see new urgency for their years-long effort to force the county to improve conditions for pedestrians in the area.

County police say Eric Larsen was crossing N. Carlin Springs Road near its intersection with N. Edison Street early in the morning last Monday (July 16), when a car slammed into him. Larsen was taken to George Washington University hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and neighbors say he’s still recovering from some broken bones caused by the crash.

Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage says “charges are pending” against the driver, but people living in the area see the intersection’s design deficiencies as the real cause of the crash.

Lora Strine, who lives in the Arlington Forest neighborhood nearby, says her citizens’ association has pressed the county for changes in the area going back to at least 2016. She points out that Carlin Springs is a popular option for walkers looking to reach the Ballston Metro, as Larsen was at the time of the accident, or even the Safeway near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. George Mason Drive.

Yet Strine says the area lacks clearly marked crosswalks or traffic calming measures to slow drivers, particularly on such a wide road, and she can’t understand why it’s taken the county so long to address the issue.

“This accident is not really an accident,” Strine told ARLnow. “It’s really been years in the making.”

Arlington officials point out that they’re hardly ignoring the area, however.

County transportation spokesman Eric Balliet says workers plan to install a flashing sign that can be activated by pedestrians crossing Carlin Springs near the road’s intersection with N. Harrison Street, just a few blocks from the Larsen crash. That signal should be in place as soon as next month.

Balliet added that the county is also planning some curb extensions and crosswalk improvements all along Carlin Springs, leading up to Edison Street, with work set to start in the spring of 2019 and wrap up the following year.

But Strine feels that’s far too long for the neighborhood to wait, and managed to secure a meeting with county staff and County Board member John Vihstadt to make that argument.

Vihstadt says “the jury is still out” in terms of how, exactly, the Board might be able to speed up the construction, though he certainly agrees with Strine’s assessment of the intersection. He’s spent the last year or so working with Arlington Forest residents on the issue, and he sees a need for the county to act quickly, as development in Ballston continues to ramp up and bring people to the area.

“That’s an awful long time to wait for these measures,” Vihstadt said. said. “I don’t find that  acceptable at all.”

At the very least, Vihstadt hopes to see the county beef up the webpage displaying details about the road improvements to keep neighbors better informed.

But even if Vihstadt can successfully convince officials to speed up construction, Strine worries that the work won’t actually slow cars speeding along Carlin Springs. She’d much rather see an additional stop light in the area, or even a stop sign, to bring speeds down.

“They’re wasting time and money by making changes that we know aren’t going to work,” Strine said. “These are just incremental changes: another Band-Aid, as one of my neighbors said.”

While county officials are confident that their planned changes will indeed slow passing cars, Vihstadt agreed that he wants to see the county do more to take into account “context-specific considerations” raised by neighbors about local road projects.

Overall, he lamented that this latest community clash is indicative of a pattern he’s seen all around Arlington in recent years, and provides a clear example of how the county still struggles to balance traffic congestion and pedestrian safety.

“While we like to say that our public policies like ‘the car-free diet‘ are having a positive impact on Arlington traffic, and I think they are, a lot of neighborhoods don’t yet feel that way,” Vihstadt said.

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