Construction on the large, eight-building Liberty Center project in Ballston has been wrapping up this week, but just temporarily.
Construction barriers have been removed from the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, a new sidewalk is open and construction cranes have come down. However, the project isn’t quite complete: one of the buildings has yet to be built.
As reported by the Washington Business Journal in January, developer Shooshan Co. decided not to built the eighth and final building — a 20-story office building at 4040 Wilson Blvd — without significant lease commitments. With none apparently forthcoming, Shooshan decided against building on “spec” during a period of high office vacancies in Arlington and the rest of the D.C. region.
“The construction has been paused until we have the right deal in place,” Director of Leasing and Marketing Kevin Shooshan told ARLnow.com. “We could start again in a month, or in a year, it all depends on the market and finding our deal.”
Currently, passersby can see the top of a five-level underground parking garage, behind the chain link fence, on the site of what will eventually be 4040 Wilson Blvd.
The tower will eventually be built on top of the garage. Until then, Shooshan says the company is planning to place wrap signage around the site.
The Arlington Food Assistance Center has been exploring ways to serve hungry families in Arlington by partnering with local businesses and larger corporations.
To that end, AFAC recently started Sponsor Purchased Food, a program through which corporations can buy produce, package it and donate it to AFAC as a team-building exercise.
“That helps us in a lot of different ways,” said AFAC executive director Charles Meng. “It certainly gets our name out in the public more. It engenders a donation. And it involves a lot of individuals who then tend to become donors once they find out what we do.”
Meng says the program has been “very successful,” with over 50 corporations participating in the past few months. AFAC plans to continue the program well into next year.
Currently, AFAC serves 2,100 families in the area and dispenses about 86,000 pounds of food per week at 18 distribution sites across Arlington. According to Meng, the number of people AFAC serves has doubled since 2013 and is currently increasing at a rate of about 25 families per month.
Last Friday, July 24, AFAC and Spotluck, a Bethesda company that created an app to connect people with local restaurants, worked together to put on a potluck dinner for 130 Arlington residents in need at the Gates of Ballston apartment complex (4108 4th Street N.)
Twenty-two restaurants around Arlington donated food to the potluck, including Sushi Rock, Don Tito, The Boulevard Woodgrill, Faccia Luna and Whitlow’s on Wilson.
Meng said that the event with Spotluck — documented in the video above — was a success.
“All of those restaurants [that donated] did a fantastic job, and the Spotluck people were really great to work with, and they were really enthusiastic,” said Meng. “When people actually get a chance to hand out food to somebody and see the people they’re helping, it gets the message across a lot easier and a lot more directly to the individual, so it’s really great to have a company like Spotluck working with us.”
Currently, about half of AFAC’s money and food come from individual donations. Of the remaining 50 percent, about eight percent comes from Arlington County, 10 percent come from local religious congregations and the rest come from local businesses, foundations and larger corporations.
“We’ve got tremendous support from a lot of the businesses here in Arlington,” said Meng.
Photos courtesy AFAC. Disclosure: Spotluck is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Pepita, chef Mike Isabella’s new Mexican cantina in Ballston, has announced that it will open Thursday, July 30.
Pepita, located at 4000 Wilson Blvd, will have a “small menu of casual Mexican favorites.”
“About 15 dishes will be featured, including ceviche, Mexican-style corn on the cob, house-made salsas and guacamole, a salad of watermelon, jicama and cucumber, and a Caesar salad dressed with cotija cheese, pepitas and avocado,” according to a press release. “Mexican classics, including a trio of tacos, a torta, enchiladas and a mushroom quesadilla anchor the menu. Dessert items include a Mexican tres leches and frozen, boozy push-pops.”
Despite Isabella’s culinary chops, the cantina’s menu will give a stronger focus to its beverage selection, created by Taha Ismail, Mike Isabella’s beverage director. The 35-item cocktail menu will be a blend of classic Mexican and American cocktails, plus more contemporary creations.
“Tequila and mezcal are two of the main stars, but they share the spotlight with an extensive list of fruit juices that are squeezed in-house daily,” said the press release. “The list includes five margaritas, one of which is frozen, and many classics given a Mexican twist, think old-fashioneds and negronis, plus more contemporary cocktails by Ismail’s bartender friends from around the country.”
One of the restaurant’s distinguishing features is its all-day happy hour, which has drinks and food specials that will rotate in blocks during the day, as opposed to during a set time each evening.
The space, meanwhile, is intended to be reminiscent of something you might find in a Mexican beach town.
“The design is inspired by Mexican coastal cantinas and highlights light wood furniture with a motif of yellow, light green and marigold tiled patterns adding colorful accents to a charcoal and white design,” according to the press release. “A concrete bar will serve tacos and drinks to the 32-seat dining room. The partially-covered patio will be fenced-in and decorated with greenery.”
Starting July 30, Pepita will be open Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Isabella, who has appeared on the TV shows Top Chef and Top Chef All-Star, is the chef and owner of three restaurants in the District and Kapnos Taverna in Arlington, which is next door to Pepita. He’s also planning an opening for a noodle shop called Yona in the same building.
County Seeks Input for County Manager Search — Arlington County is seeking public input as it begins its search for a new county manager. “In the coming months, [executive recruiters] will be evaluating candidates for the position,” the county said in a press release. “They are seeking your input, suggestions, and comments on what will be important in the selection of a County Manager.” The county is conducting an online survey and holding a public meeting on July 20 to gather public input. [Arlington County]
Tejada Attends Trump Protest — Retiring Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada is getting a bit of national media attention after joining other local officials in a demonstration in front of Donald Trump’s under-construction hotel in D.C. The “Dump Trump” protest was held in response to the Republican presidential candidate’s inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants. [CBS News, MyFoxDC]
Bernie Sanders Speaks in Ballston — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders drew a “boisterous crowd” of nearly 500 supporters at a policy forum in Ballston last night. Sanders railed against the political influence of the “billionaire class” while calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage, expanded Social Security, guaranteed health care coverage and free public college tuition. [Washington Post]
Arlington College Student Gets Reality TV Show — Monica Ten-Kate, a 21-year-old Fairlington resident who is currently attending Penn State, has scored her own reality TV series — “Monica the Medium” — on ABC Family. Ten-Kate claims she can talk to the dead, and the “docuseries” will follow her as she balances classes and homework with her part-time profession of charging people money for “readings.” The show will premiere on Aug. 25. [Patch, ABC Family]
Signature to Launch Revamped Singing Competition — Signature Theatre in Shirlington will launch “Signature Voice,” a new singing competition, at its annual open house on Aug. 2. “The new ‘Signature Voice’ competition will replace the popular Signature Idol Competition held over the last five years,” according to a news report. “Held in Signature’s MAX Theatre, the competition will host a panel of three celebrity judges in search of the best undiscovered singers in the DC region.” [Broadway World]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Arlington residents to should start building up an appetite. The third annual D.C. BRGR Bash is coming to Rosslyn’s Gateway Park on Saturday, July 18.
The BRGR Bash is a six hour competition of who can make the best burger, and the judges are the visitors. Each person at the bash gets to try four burgers and then a cast his or her vote for favorite burger.
There will also be craft beers to help wash down the burgers and live music to jam to while eating.
At the end of the day, one burger chef champion will be named, and he or she will walk away with a vacation to Austin, Texas and the Golden BRGR Bash trophy.
The competition was started by Craig Carey, who also started Ballston burger joint Big Buns.
The competition runs from noon to 6 p.m. on July 18, and tickets are $29 per person. A ticket gets a person entry and four burgers. The 16 burgers are broken down into four groups, and each ticket is for one group. D.C. BRGR Bash recommends bringing three other friends so that everyone can taste all 16 burgers. Craft beers are available for $5 at one of the four beer bars.
Vegetarians don’t have to be left out. The competition offers a Veggie Burger ticket for $19, which gets the person entry and a veggie burger. There will also be cider for those with gluten allergies.
Arlingtonians can also attend the bash to support the four local competitors: Willow Restaurant in Ballston, Big Buns in Ballston, Citizen Burger Bar in Clarendon and the combined entry of Liberty Tavern and Lyon Hill in Clarendon.
Photo courtesy of Darren Stauffer
Italian eatery Vapiano’s Ballston location (4401 Wilson Blvd) has closed.
Vapiano had occupied the Ballston location for the past eight years. According to a sign in the building’s window, the last day of business was June 30.
The Vapiano signs on the building’s facade have been removed, and the space is currently being cleaned out in preparation for its next occupant.
The Wilson Blvd location was the only Arlington outpost for the international chain, which is based in Germany.
Vapiano locations in Reston (1875 Explorer Street) and Sterling (21100 Dulles Town Circle) remain open, as well as both of the restaurant’s locations in the District, on M Street NW and in Chinatown.
Arlington County has added eight new buses to its fleet in order to provide more frequent bus service along several routes.
Additional bus service will be added to the ART 41 (Columbia Pike, Ballston and Courthouse), 43 (Crystal City, Rosslyn and Courthouse) and 87 (Pentagon Metro, Army Navy Drive and Shirlington) routes starting Monday, July 6, according to press release.
The new bus service on Columbia Pike is just an initial step in improving transit on the Pike, said Eric Balliet, spokesman for the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services.
“This is definitely one of the first steps we can take to show our commitment to the corridor and our commitment to transit,” he said.
The ART 41 route will have more frequent service with the bus coming every 15 minutes during the day and every 23 minutes during weekday and Saturday nights.
The enhanced service is one way Arlington is addressing the transit needs that remained after the streetcar program was cut, Balliet said.
The ART 43 route will have buses run about every 10 minutes with extended service until 10:35 a.m. during morning rush hour and 7:47 p.m. during the evening commute.
The ART 87 will be getting new Sunday service, which will run from 7:14 a.m. to 7:11 p.m. The route will also have extended service until 11:41 p.m. on weekdays and 11:53 p.m. on Saturdays. On the weekends, the service will run to the Pentagon City Metro Station instead of the Pentagon Metro Station.
The county is also adding a new ART 87P line, which will run between the Pentagon and S. Lang Street. During rush hour, service will alternate every 10 minutes between the full ART 87 line and the ART 87P line.
“Anything we can do to make [commuting] more convenient, we think customers will appreciate,” Balliet said.
In order to provide the advance service, the county added eight new 40-foot buses to the ART fleet. The new buses are 5 feet longer than the standard ART buses, which allow for more seats and more standing room, he said.
The new buses are being added to routes with high ridership.
“These bus service improvements are a first step in meeting the current transit needs for Columbia Pike and Crystal City-Pentagon City, as we work to create vibrant, sustainable neighborhoods along these corridors,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. “Every day ART helps thousands of Arlingtonians get to work, school and other activities, and the additional service will make ART an even more reliable transportation choice all week long.”
Whole Foods Eying Ballston Development? — Whole Foods is reportedly considering leasing a 43,000 square foot retail space in a new 12-story, 431-unit apartment building that’s set to replace the Rosenthal Mazda dealership at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd in Ballston. The organic grocer is said to be “in advanced talks” to fill the space and is “very bullish” on Ballston in general. [Bisnow]
Car Drives Off I-66, Into Woods — A car drove off the eastbound lanes of I-66 and into the woods yesterday afternoon. Nobody was hurt in the accident, which happened between the Monroe Street bridge and Spout Run. [Twitter]
More Opposition to Fire Station Move — Residents of the Old Dominion community aren’t the only ones opposed to a proposal to move Fire Station 8 to the neighborhood. Some residents of the Hall’s Hill/High View Park community, where the fire station is located, say that it is a “hub of the neighborhood” and should stay put. Fire Station 8 has some historic distinction, as the first African-American-run firehouse south of the Mason-Dixon Line. [Falls Church News-Press]
Metro Proposes Blue Line Boost — The good news: Metro is proposing changes to its rush hour service that would have trains on the overcrowded Blue Line run every eight minutes instead of every 12 minutes. The bad news: the proposal would increase the headway between trains on the Orange, Silver, Green and Yellow Lines, from six minutes to eight minutes. [Greater Greater Washington, WAMU]
Arlington Startup Raises $21 Million — Ballston-based Distil Networks, a cybersecurity startup founded in 2011, has raised $21 million in a “Series B” venture round. The company is planning to add 100 new employees over the next 12 months. It has offices in Arlington, San Francisco and Raleigh, N.C., and has plans to open another office somewhere in Northern Virginia. [DC Inno, Tech Crunch]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The discussion, entitled “Rebooting Our Policy Agenda To Reclaim The American Dream,” will take place from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, July 9, at the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association, at 4301 Wilson Blvd.
Sanders will be joined by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), a fellow member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
“This event is a free-of-charge policy discussion by leading progressive voices, not an endorsement of any candidate for public office,” an event page notes.
The event is at capacity and registration has closed.
Photo via Facebook
The wall is an 8 by 12 foot chalkboard with the words ‘I wish I had the courage to…’ stamped across the top. Below are spaces for passersby fill in what they wish they had the courage to face up to, using the chalk that will be made available.
Alexandria native Nancy Belmont first erected the Courage Wall in May, in the Del Ray community, to “create a conversation about fear and allow those passing by to reflect on what is holding them back from achieving their dreams.” It quickly went viral and was featured on Good Morning America and the Today Show.
While in Ballston, the wall will be located in Welburn Square, across from the Ballston Metro station. The current plan is for the wall to stay in the square until July 31.
Piedmont Office Realty Trust and the Ballston Business Improvement District worked together to bring the wall to Arlington. The BID says it hopes the wall will provide “an opportunity for reflection as the community begins celebrating the Fourth of July.”
The wall will be erased when it is full of entries, but prior to that a photo of the filled-in wall will be taken and posted to Facebook and Instagram.
Photo via nancybelmont.me
Those looking for Eastern European food should look no further than Ballston restaurant Rus Uz, which is now offering a specialty market right next door.
According to general manager Abraham Rakhmapullaev, the restaurant owners had been looking to open a specialty Russian/Uzbek market in the area for some time. Opportunity knocked when Cigar Connection — Rus Uz’s next-door neighbor — closed.
After some renovations to the space, Rus Uz Market opened for the first time earlier this week. (The restaurant opened in 2012.)
The market offers a wide range of goods ranging from pasta to deli items to imported Uzbek honey and Russian chocolate. The owners have also applied for a liquor license which they hope will come through within the next couple of months.
Rus Uz Market is located on 1000 N. Randolph Street near the Ballston Metro. Store hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Rakhmapullaev said that an opening ceremony is being planned for sometime in the next two weeks.
Chef Mike Isabella is preparing to open his latest Arlington restaurant later this summer.
Pepita Cantina — located at 4000 Wilson Blvd in Ballston, next to Isabella’s Kapnos Taverna, which opened in January — is holding an “open call” for job seekers today (Tuesday) and tomorrow. Interviews will be conducted at the under-construction restaurant between noon and 6:00 p.m. on both days, according to a Craigslist post.
Servers, bartenders, bussers and barbacks are being sought.
“Pepita Cantina is set to open this summer in Ballston, right by the already open Kapnos Taverna,” the job post notes. “This establishment will be a tequila, mezcal craft cocktail bar along with traditional Mexican food with a twist!”
So far, no official opening date has been set.
“We hope to announce an opening date in the coming weeks,” a PR rep told ARLnow.com “Stay tuned!”
Isabella’s company, Mike Isabella Concepts, is also planning on opening a “full-service, Japanese noodle bar and small plates restaurant” called Yona at 4000 Wilson Blvd, under the leadership of chef Jonah Kim. The ramen-centric eatery is currently under construction and is expected to open in “early fall,” we’re told.
Photos via Twitter
Janitors to Rally with Candidates in Ballston — About 150 part-time janitors will rally in Ballston this afternoon for a new union contract. The rally is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. in front of the National Science Foundation at 4201 Wilson Blvd. Democratic County Board candidates Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey are expected to attend the rally to lend their support, according to a press release from the 32BJ SEIU union.
Arlington Man Killed in D.C. Pedestrian Crash — An Arlington man, 31-year-old George Mina, has died several days after being struck by a car on Wisconsin Avenue NW in D.C. Mina, a pediatric phlebotomist, was struck by the driver of a Jaguar while crossing Wisconsin at Veazy Street NW on June 10. A rally for pedestrian safety was held in the area last night, with advocates calling for D.C. to implement pedestrian safety measures currently in use in Arlington. [NBC Washington]
No Opponent for Commonwealth’s Attorney — A potential independent candidate for Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney came up just a couple of verified petition signatures short of the 140 he needed to qualify for the ballot. Criminal defense attorney Frank Webb said he will drop his bid to get on the ballot. Incumbent Democrat Theo Stamos is now running unopposed. [InsideNova]
WW2 Vets Boogie at DCA — Video posted on YouTube shows a group of World War II veterans, in a Reagan National Airport terminal last month awaiting their honor flight back to Kentucky, dancing to a live rendition of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
(Updated at 12:00 p.m.) The driver of an SUV ran into a forklift on the back of a flatbed tractor trailer in Ballston around 11:00 this morning.
The incident happened on N. Glebe Road near the I-66 ramp. Photos show the hood of the SUV crumpled under the back of the forklift.
As of 11:55 a.m., southbound Glebe Road was closed at 13th Street N. as crews worked to clear the scene. Initial reports suggest one person suffered minor injuries in the wreck.
Photos courtesy Arlington County Police Department, Allan Yankosky/1411 Media Inc.
Saturday will be the last day for Ted’s Montana Grill in Ballston.
The bison-centric restaurant chain decided not to renew its lease at the Ballston Point building at 4300 Wilson Blvd, according to Ted’s President and COO Kristi Martin. It will close this coming Saturday, June 13, and the staff will be transferred to a soon-to-open location in Gaithersburg, Md., Martin said.
The new Ted’s is expected to open in Gaithersburg’s Downtown Crown development in August, said Martin.
“Team members at the Ballston Point location are aware of this closing, and all team members have been offered positions at the Gaithersburg or other Northern Virginia locations,” she said. “We look forward to expanding our Big Sky Spirit to the Gaithersburg community — an area that we see as a strategic fit for the growth and future of our company.”
Ted’s currently has two locations in Arlington — the Ballston location and another at 2200 Crystal Drive in Crystal City. No changes are planned for the Crystal City location, according to a PR rep for the restaurant.
Photo via tedsmontanagrill.com