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Toy Store, Massage Therapist Set to Return to Ballston Quarter

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.

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New Men’s Barbershop Bound for Ballston Quarter

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 Grooming Store becomes the latest retailer to join Ballston Quarter, with stores in the development slowly opening to customers over the course of the last two months.

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.

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Ballston’s Algernon Solutions Provides Niche Services to Behavioral Healthcare Providers

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.

The founder of a small, Ballston-based healthcare startup says breaking things is his company’s key goal.

Algernon Solutions is a consulting firm working with behavioral healthcare providers to improve the use of their patient databases, thus enabling physicians and their support staff to provide a better standard of care.

In order to that, things have to be broken, said Jeff Cubeta, the company’s founder.

“We just go screw things up, break things and build them better,” he said. “There are lots of people in pain out there; there are people who are suffering despite all the best efforts and we can’t really reverse the tide.”

Cubeta and his chief engineer, Michael Schappacher, are both behavioral health practitioners, so creating a company focused on that field is fitting. They believe that means they understand their clientele and speak their same language, making problem solving easier.

He and Schappacher are the company’s two employees, Cubeta said, but in a sense there’s a third “employee,” named Algernon.

Algernon is not a who but a what; the firm refers to its Clinical Intelligence Platform (CIP) as Algernon.

“Algernon was our attempt to fix the most pressing problems we saw in our daily practice,” Cubeta said. “None of those problems stemmed from the actual treatment [of patients] but from the information and the workflows around it.”

Algernon can be thought of as a giant sponge, absorbing information from data sources such as Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems.

“We don’t build EHRs, we make them better,” said Cubeta, adding that there are already plenty of health records and data systems out there: some bad, some good.

The data is collected and routed to the appropriate sources, which isn’t necessarily the healthcare provider, but the people who support the healthcare providers’ practice, freeing up time for humans to actually focus on patients and not a computer screen.

Providing solutions to individual healthcare providers and hospitals is a large field, but providing solutions specifically to behavioral healthcare providers is a much smaller field, Cubeta said.

“We don’t have any direct competitors,” he said, adding that it took a “fair bit of looking,” to find a company offering similar services.

Algernon Solutions relocated from Fairfax County to Arlington because of its proximity and luxury office spaces.

“It’s the first time I’ve had an office with windows,” Cubeta said of the firm’s Wilson Boulevard location in the TechSpace co-working offices. “We’re fresh out of the box.” The company celebrated its first anniversary on Dec. 6.

There are quite a few reasons tech startups choose Arlington, including the variety of office space options, said Christina Winn, director of business investment for Arlington Economic Development.

Cubeta said Arlington’s proximity to its Washington, D.C.-based clients is another perk.

There are also a number of research agencies in Ballston, and the county more broadly, Winn said.

Many clients and potential clients incorrectly assume the name “Algernon Solutions” is taken from a fictional book about a pharmaceutical company researching treatments for the mentally disabled, Cubeta said. “Flowers for Algernon,” by Daniels Keyes, is controversial but acclaimed, and required reading in many public secondary schools.

“They kept saying, ‘the flowers’ and we were like, ‘what’s the flowers?'” Cubeta said. “They said, ‘you should go read it because everyone in the world is going to think you named this company after the book.’ It turns out they were right.”

The company’s namesake is actually Algernon Moncrieff, Cubeta’s mentor.

Cubeta and Schappacher say the goal is to one day have pharmaceutical companies as clients. For now, Cubeta said, the focus is on behavioral healthcare providers.

Photo of Algernon founder Jeff Cubeta and logo both via Algernon

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New Soup-Focused Restaurant On the Way in Ballston

A new soup and salad-focused restaurant is on the way in Ballston.

Signs posted at the base of an office building at 4401 Fairfax drive advises all “soupies and foodies” that “Zoup! Eatery” plans to open in the space soon.

The restaurant could open its doors as soon as spring 2019, according to Zoup’s website.

The chain, which offers dozens of different soup, salad and sandwich options, operates locations across the country.

Yet the Ballston space would be its first in Arlington, and second in the Northern Virginia area — there’s another Zoup! out in Sterling.

The building set to welcome the restaurant was once home to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, one of a variety of federal agencies to leave Arlington over the last few years.

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Second Amazon ‘Listening Session’ to Be Held in Ballston Tomorrow

Arlington leaders are convening their second “community listening session” on Amazon’s new headquarters in Ballston tomorrow (Saturday).

The event is set to run from 9:30-11 a.m., held at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association building at 4301 Wilson Blvd and designed as a chance to let county residents air their concerns about the tech giant as it prepares to move into space in Crystal City and Pentagon City in the coming months.

County spokeswoman Jennifer Smith says officials are closely “watching the forecasts,” but they currently expect they’ll be able to squeeze the event in before the weekend’s snow storm hits.

The County Board and other local officials last convened a similar gathering on Dec. 17 at Gunston Middle School, as part of a broader push to accept community feedback on Amazon in person. The first meeting largely centered on debates over the company’s impact on housing, transportation and the labor force in the coming years, all concerns raised by supporters and opponents of the tech firm alike.

Since then, the county has attracted some criticism for its handling of the town halls, particularly when it comes to making meeting materials available in Spanish and offering translators at each event.

However, the county’s meeting advisory does say that language interpretation services will be available upon request.

Saturday’s listening session could well be the last chance for the Board to hear directly from the public on Amazon before it holds a vote to approve an incentive package (hammered out largely by state officials) that helped convince the company to choose Arlington for the new offices.

Board members have long planned to vote in February on the topic, no sooner than the group’s meeting on Feb. 23, though the debate is largely expected to be a mere formality. State lawmakers will also sign off on other elements of the incentive package over the next few weeks, during the current General Assembly session.

Photo via @SURJ_NoVa

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Morning Notes

Snow Coming This Weekend — Gas up the snowblowers: accumulating snow is likely this weekend. By county ordinance, all snowfall under 6 inches must be removed from sidewalks within 24 hours of the last flakes. That gets bumped up to 36 hours for 6 or more inches of snow. [Capital Weather Gang]

New ‘Best of Arlington’ List — The 2019 “Best of Arlington” list is in. Among food-related winners, Ambar was named Best Restaurant, Barley Mac was named Best for Date Night and Matt Hill of Liberty Tavern Group and Hungry was named Best Chef. [Arlington Magazine]

AWLA Dog Featured in People Magazine — “One of our AWLA alums, Lucy, is featured in People Magazine this week! Here’s the online article about her weight loss journey after being adopted — her owner helped her go from 26 lbs to 14 lbs.” [Twitter, People]

Case of the Disintegrating Coffee Cups — On four separate occasions, a Washington Business Journal reporter had a coffee cup from Compass Coffee in Rosslyn start to disintegrate and leak in her hand. The company says they were sent a bad batch of paper cups and are working to remove all of the faulty cups from their cafes. [Washington Business Journal]

Va. Legislature to Consider Housing Bills — “A new surge in development in parts of Northern Virginia could come next year under a proposal to overhaul 2016 proffer legislation in this year’s General Assembly… Another proposal would ban discrimination by local governments through land use decisions against low-income or other specific types of development.” [WTOP]

Power Issue at Ballston Metro Station — There are reports that power was out at the Ballston Metro station this morning, meaning no working elevators, escalators or fare kiosks, and only minimal lighting. [Twitter, Twitter]

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Parking Emerges as Key Concern as Virginia Square American Legion Redevelopment Advances

As plans advance for the redevelopment of the American Legion post in Virginia Square, neighbors are raising a familiar question for developers in Arlington’s densest areas: what about parking?

The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing hopes to eventually buy the 1.3-acre property at 3445 Washington Blvd and transform the current home of American Legion Post 139 into a building with 160 affordable apartments. The nonprofit would set aside space on the ground floor of the development for a new Legion post, and it even plans to reserve half of its homes for veterans.

APAH has been working to make the project a reality since the American Legion agreed to these plans back in 2016, and the proposal is very nearly ready to earn some key county approvals — the county’s Site Plan Review Committee will scrutinize the project at a meeting for the third time tonight (Monday), and the group could soon advance the proposal to the Planning Commission.

But it seems the nonprofit has yet to allay the concerns of nervous Ballston and Virginia Square neighbors worried that the new development will bring more cars parking on their streets.

“We are concerned that given the number of 2- and 3-bedroom apartments planned, the expectation that families will live in them, and the fact that our neighborhood does not have access to walkable elementary or middle schools, it’s not feasible to assume residents without a car or that even one car per unit will be sufficient,” Cara Troup, the treasurer of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association, wrote in a Dec. 7 email to county staff.

APAH plans to build a one-story underground garage with 96 parking spaces in total, and the developer does acknowledge that it’s providing less parking than the county’s zoning standards demand.

However, the nonprofit believes that the development’s proximity to public transit options should mean that most residents won’t rely on cars. A transportation study of the site commissioned by APAH points out that the property may not quite be along a Metro corridor, but does sit “directly across” from the busy Fairfax Drive and its nearby Virginia Square Metro station.

APAH also sought to reassure the SPRC that it generally restricts residents to one car per household and will offer them reduced rates on bikeshare memberships, according to notes from the committee’s Dec. 10 meeting.

The nonprofit plans to set aside 20 spaces to serve visitors and staff for the American Legion post specifically, so it doesn’t expect that the group’s new headquarters (set to include new space for a variety of support services for veterans) will put a strain on parking on the area. But neighbors remain convinced that there just isn’t enough room for the people who will live in the new building, perhaps prompting more cars to push for space in the neighborhoods behind the development on 13th and 14th Street N.

Many of the streets in area are already subject to parking restrictions under the county’s permit program. But zoned parking in the county only bars unauthorized cars from neighborhoods from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays — the program was originally designed as a way to bar commuters from D.C.-adjacent areas.

That’s prompted Troup to push for new parking restrictions running from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, in order to ensure that APAH’s new residents don’t simply drive their cars to work and then park them on nearby streets at night. She even envisions that change coming as a condition of the county approving the development.

County officials are currently eyeing changes to the residential parking program as part of a two-year study of its efficacy, likely making any such change an uphill battle. But, until that work wraps up later this year, neighbors are adamant that they want to see more parking required for developments like APAH’s new building.

“Arlington’s zoned parking regulations need to be updated to reflect these present day conditions to include restricted parking into the evenings and on weekends,” Lyon Village Citizens’ Association  President John Carten wrote in a letter to county planners. “It may be the case that lifestyles and transportation options today are such that the parking ratios for certain projects do not need to be what they were in the past. However, until county parking policies are updated to increase restricted parking hours beyond the outdated business hours approach, Lyon Village and similarly situated neighborhoods are being put in a very difficult position when [asked] to support projects with parking ratios lower than historical norms.”

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New Pilates Studio Opens Its Doors in Ballston

A new pilates studio has just opened its doors in Ballston, led by an instructor who formerly taught classes at a now-shuttered studio in Shirlington.

Praxi Pilates started offering classes over the last few weeks after moving into a space at 4141 N. Henderson Road late last year, owner and lead instructor Carey Galst Cavalcante told ARLnow. The studio is located in a mixed-use building off of N. Glebe Road, near the neighborhood’s Harris Teeter store.

Cavalcante says she’s been teaching pilates since moving to the D.C. area from California back in 2012, with the bulk of her classes located at the “My Thrive Pilates” studio in Shirlington.

But when the pilates chain shuttered last spring, closing locations in Courthouse and Falls Church as well, Cavalcante said she started “looking for places to continue teaching” and increasingly became convinced that she should simply strike out on her own.

“The majority of my clientele had lived in Arlington, North Alexandria, those kinds of areas, so Arlington made sense,” Cavalcante said. “And this new space is a little bit hidden, but it’s really ideal.”

Cavalcante concedes that the 3,400-square-foot studio lacks “street presence,” considering that it faces a courtyard off the street, but that makes it ideal for participants looking to center themselves during classes.

She’s already offering both group and private classes in the space, with reformer, mat and circuit pilates on offer.

“We’ve got a good group together from the other studio already, simply because many of these folks have known each other for many years and come to class together,” Cavalcante said. “Now, we’re just trying to build from there and get clients in the door.”

To that end, Cavalcante plans to hold an “open house” for curious potential clients. The event will run from 1-4 p.m. on Jan. 27.

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The Salt Line Plans Expansion to Ballston Office Building Next Year

The Salt Line seafood restaurant is planning an expansion to Ballston next year.

The eatery is now set to open at the base of an office building at 4040 Wilson Blvd, part of the Liberty Center development, according to a news release. Chef Kyle Bailey is aiming to have the new location open by spring 2020.

Bailey opened up his first Salt Line location, specializing in oysters and other creative fish offerings, in D.C.’s Navy Yard in 2017, and it’s since earned a slew of accolades from diners and critics.

Bailey and his partners at Long Shot Hospitality are aiming for the Ballston restaurant to be about the same size as the original, with room for 100 patrons inside and another 100 diners in an outdoor patio space during warmer months.

“We’re especially excited to activate the great outdoor space here in downtown Ballston, replicating the open-air plaza that’s been so popular at the D.C. location,” Long Shot Hospitality’s Gavin Coleman wrote in a statement. “It’s going be a real neighborhood gathering place.”

The Shooshan Company is still hard at work constructing the building at 4040 Wilson, with plans to eventually open the entire 20-story structure for residential, retail and office tenants sometime next year.

The company also owns several other mixed-use buildings in the area as part of the six-block Liberty Center development.

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Food Corner Kabob House Set to Open New Location in Ballston

A local kabob chain appears to be opening a new location in the base of a Ballston apartment building.

Signs posted at the space at 933 N. Quincy Street indicate that “Food Corner Kabob House” will soon open its doors in the area.

Banners promise both gyros and “famous Afghan kabobs” will be offered at the new eatery. Food Corner also operates locations in Annandale, Centreville, Vienna, Springfield and Dupont Circle, according to its website.

The space, located on the ground floor of the Quincy Plaza Apartment building, hasn’t been especially kind to restaurants over the last few years.

The Lebanese restaurant Badaro shuttered there in November after roughly a year in business. A NKD Pizza location there also closed in May 2017.

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JUST IN: Former A-Town Space in Ballston Set to be Transformed into German Food Hall

The owners of the recently shuttered A-Town Bar and Grill in Ballston now say they’re transforming the restaurant into a German food hall.

The space at 4100 Fairfax Drive will soon become “Bronson,” offering up craft beer and traditional German fare, co-owner and chef Mike Cordero announced in a news release today (Wednesday).

Cordero and his partners opted to shut down A-Town late last year, after opening its doors back in 2012. Co-owner Scott Parker chalked the change up to the fact that the bar’s lease was set to expire when 2019 rolled around and the building’s landlord was interested in giving the location a bit of a refresh.

The swap will involve the full renovation of the space, including the addition of “large communal tables” and expansion of its seating capacity to hold about 250 people in all.

“We’ve had seven great years at A-Town Bar and Grill but it’s time for a change,” Cordero said in a statement. “We look forward to the new year with introducing the new Bronson business model, innovative design and fun atmosphere and serving the Arlington community.”

Bronson “will offer German-American casual cuisine, specialty cocktails and craft draft beer, which can be served at the restaurant or for sale as a take away in traditional German growlers,” the release said. The bar will also include “popular taproom games, including foosball, cornhole, darts, bocce and shuffleboard.”

Cordero said that construction on the new eatery is kicking off right away, and he hopes to have it open by “early April.”

Parker and Cordero are partners on a whole host of other popular Arlington night life spots, from The GOAT and Don Tito in Clarendon to Barley Mac in Rosslyn.

Photo courtesy of Mike Cordero

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New Ballston Quarter-Focused Street Fair Created to Replace ‘Taste of Arlington’ 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.”

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Industrious Coming to Ballston Exchange in January

Industrious, the largest premium coworking and flexible workspace provider in the U.S., will officially open its Ballston location on January 7, growing its presence in the D.C. Metro area.

Industrious is known for its beautiful and professional workspaces which are customized for entrepreneurs and mature startups through Fortune 500 companies. Its flexible workspaces are designed for optimal productivity and happiness — with everything from natural light and greenery to a mix of spaces that cater to all types of work and personalities.

The new office will be located in the heart of Ballston — on the third floor of 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Ballston Exchange’s 4201 tower. Within the space, members will find single desks, large conference rooms, luxurious common areas meant for building a strong community, a private nursing room and a kitchen filled with locally sourced coffee and snacks. The property also offers a direct connection to the Ballston Metro Station for seamless commutes and is located right across from Ballston Quarter, a new place for folks to gather, dine and shop.

Industrious offers workspace consultations and virtual tours for those interested in learning more about the different workspace solutions Industrious offers. Industrious will also host a Select Preview week from January 7-11, where members of the community can test out the space and join us for a week of networking, office tours and events to introduce and celebrate the new space. And if you refer a friend, Industrious will say thanks with up to $2,000 and also give new members a discount credit of equal value.

Check out the Industrious website for more information on the company that brings you a great day at work, everyday.

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Mike Isabella’s Three Ballston Restaurants Have Shut Down, As ‘Top Chef’ Star Dissolves Company

Three Ballston restaurants owned by chef Mike Isabella have now shuttered, marking the latest fallout from a scandal that has helped sink Isabella’s once-expansive network of D.C. restaurants.

Signs posted at Kapnos Taverna, Pepita Cantina and Yona inform would-be diners that all three eateries have closed, as of this morning (Monday). Eater first reported that the restaurants, all located in the base of an apartment building at 4000 Wilson Blvd, shut down this weekend.

“We are closed,” a sign on Kapnos’ door reads. “Thank you for the love and support. We will miss you all.”

The Arlington eateries have faced an uncertain future ever since Isabella’s company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September, after one of the “Top Chef” star’s former managers filed a sexual harassment suit against his company.

Though Isabella settled the suit this spring, revelations about the company’s business practices damaged Isabella’s reputation tremendously. He decided to shutter some of his restaurants in D.C. and Tysons alike in the aftermath, including Graffiato, Isabella’s first restaurant in the District.

Last week, Isabella revealed in court filings that he’d shutting down his entire company, suggesting that most of his remaining restaurants would close up shop by Dec. 27. But within days of the news breaking, people living nearby told ARLnow that they heard rumors that the Ballston restaurants would be closing much sooner than that.

All three restaurants in the building, known as The View at Liberty Center, opened back in 2015. Kapnos offered Greek fare, Pepita served up Mexican food and Yona cooked up ramen and Asian small plates.

At least one eatery with a location nearby is already offering to help out employees displaced by the closures.

It’s been a difficult year for retailers operating in the base of the high-rise — Taylor Gourmet also shut down its location in the building back in September.

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Holiday Market to Pop Up in Ballston Apartment Building Tomorrow

Local retailers will set up shop for a holiday market pop-up tomorrow (Saturday) in The View at Liberty Center at 4000 Wilson Blvd.

Gifts from the clothing boutique Mission Edit, Wine Time Crafts, stationary shop Creations by Sasha and other local businesses will be available for purchase from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Shoppers can also munch on holiday cookies with a cup of hot chocolate.

The first 300 people outside The View on the corner of N. Quincy Street and Wilson Blvd will get to take home a wreath from Merrifield Garden Center, which is located in Falls Church.

The View is encouraging visitors to bring new, unwrapped toys to support local Toys for Tots efforts by the U.S. Marine Corps. The apartment building also plans to raffle off holiday pies from D.C.-based bakery Whisked! to benefit Toys for Tots.

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