The summer bike rides, featuring hundreds of cyclists who ride from the store to hilly Military Road and back with an Arlington County Police escort, will return tonight (June 2). Cyclists will meet at Mosaic Park, just behind the store, and depart at 6:30 p.m.
After originally blaming county staff and a few resident complaints for the ride’s cancellation, Freshbikes is now effusive with praise for the county and the cycling community that rallied around the rides.
“A heartfelt Thank You to the great folks at the Arlington County Special Events Committee for working with us, helping ensure the ride will be safer than ever and speeding our permit through after Freshbikes admittedly submitted paperwork late,” Freshbikes said in an email to riders. “Also, I would be remiss not to give a huge shout out to the cycling community for your passion!”
(The county said that while there have been complaints from residents about the ride, the delay in issuing the ride’s special event permit was due to Freshbikes submitting its paperwork late.)
New this year, Freshbikes has codified a code of rider responsibility for the event. The rules and regulations include “stop at all stop signs and obey traffic signals without exceptions,” “ride no more than two rides abreast,” “never, ever, ever pass the police motorcycles” and “do not swarm cars that may be on the route.”
“After this hard winter, we want to ride!” the email said. “Freshbikes really wants to eliminate as many complaints from the community at large as possible, and keep this community ride viable and supported.”
A new world record may have been set in Arlington over the weekend.
A D.C. man claims to have set the world record for most pullups done in a 24 hour period, recording the feat on video at the Ballston Crossfit gym at 1110 N. Glebe Road.
John Bocek, a D.C. resident, reported completed 5,801 pullups, setting a new unofficial record. The Guinness World Records still has to approve Bocek’s record before it is an official world record, said Tucker Jones, the owner of Ballston Crossfit.
The last official record was 5,101 pullups set by Michael Tufo on May 3 of this year.
“He smashed the record,” Jones said of Bocek.
Bocek started his pullups at the crossfit gym at 6 p.m. on Saturday and finished at 6 p.m. on Sunday. He initially set out two years ago to break the world record, but the number of pullups for the record increased a couple of times, he said.
His original goal was 5,000 pullups but last month the record was broken again, prompting Bocek to raise his goal to 6,000. While he did not reach that goal, he was very happy with 5,801 repetitions.
“That’s a lot of pullups over 24 hours,” Jones said.
Three hours from the end of his record attempt, an article surfaced saying another unofficial record of more than 5,700 pullups had been set, so Bocek knew he had to make it past that mark to set the record.
At that point, he was past his physical limit but the support from family, friends and viewers around the world kept him going.
“It was probably the toughest thing I’ve done,” Bocek said.
Via donations, the record attempt raised money for a cause championed by Bocek: the Panama Mission Foundation, a non-profit that builds churches and works to spread the Christian gospel in Panamanian rainforest villages.
Bocek says he trained throughout the two years for the pullup challenge, training at different gyms and at least once a week at Ballston Crossfit. He would go to the gym in the middle of the night and train for about six hours, Jones recounted. Training in the middle of the night helped him get ready for doing pullups for 24 hours without sleep.
The training was more intense than his prior preparation for the 100-mile marathons, Bocek said. His strategy for breaking the record was to do 2,500 pullups in the first seven hours, which he was confident of because of his training, then sets of 500 between 15 minute breaks.
As he neared the end, it got increasingly difficult, and Bocek said there were repetitions that didn’t count because he couldn’t get his chin above the bar.
Although he reported being very sore on Monday, Bocek said would “absolutely” be up for another world record attempt, should anyone break his new record.
Screen capture via YouTube
A new sushi restaurant is now open just steps away from the Ballston Metro station.
Sushi 2Go, named for its daily selection of carryout sushi, is located in the former Primo Fresh Deli space in the Metro plaza at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Stuart Street.
The restaurant’s menu includes nigiri, classic sushi rolls, and a range of specialty rolls. Patrons can either order freshly made sushi at the counter, or grab a pre-made roll from a to-go cooler.
To celebrate its opening, Sushi 2Go is offering reduced prices until May 30. Under the special, nigiri and sushi rolls are currently both $4, and specialty rolls cost either $6 or $8.
Owner Unsook Kim says she got the idea for the to-go concept after visiting a Wasabi franchise in New York City. After seeing how popular the franchise was, Kim decided to open her own take on the sushi-to-go concept.
“This is my own style,” Kim says. “Young people love sushi.”
Kim says that by this winter, she’ll add other Korean and Japanese specialties like bibimbap, yakisoba noodles, and teriyaki dishes to the menu.
Ballston Common Mall, set to undergo a major renovation project next year, will be rebranded as “Ballston Quarter.”
Mall owner Forest City revealed the new name at the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas on Monday, as first reported by Bisnow.
The new mall’s most defining feature will be an open-air plaza running through the middle of what is now enclosed shopping space.
- “An open-air, urban environment coupled with a remodeled interior concourse”
- “An open-air, public plaza gathering space and an intimate mews entrance along Wilson Boulevard”
- “Activated streetscape to engage the community including street-entry stores and restaurants, some with sidewalk, terrace or rooftop dining options”
- “A unique and vibrant mix of stores, restaurants, entertainment venues – 365,000 SF in addition to Macy’s”
- “A residential tower with over 380 apartment homes and stunning amenities will top the new Ballston Quarter”
Macy’s, Rock Bottom Brewery, Panera Bread, Sport & Health, Regis Hair Salon, Regal Cinema, Noodles and Company, CVS, Kettler Capitals Iceplex and Shiki Sushi are all expected to remain open during the renovations. Most other mall retailers are expected to close after the end of the year.
This year, Taste of Arlington will feature 49 restaurants and a beer and wine garden that’s bigger than ever. Booklets of tickets for tasting and drinking are on sale now.
Stop by the Ballston farmer’s market tomorrow evening, from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. at 901 N. Taylor Street, for a $25 packet of 10 tickets. If you purchase on the Ballston Connect mobile, app, a packet costs $30. Packets purchase online are $35 and packets purchased at the festival will be $40. Tickets to the VIP pavilion, with unlimited beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres provided by SER, cost $100 online, and $110 at the festival.
The festival will close down the streets of Ballston all day: Wilson Blvd from N. Glebe Road to Quincy Street and Stuart and Randolph streets from Wilson to 9th Street N.
In addition to the restaurant booths, beer and wine garden and VIP pavilion, there will be three stages for live music, a Kids Zone with games and face painting and the return of the World Pup Tournament, which costs $10 to enter one’s dog to participate.
The restaurants in attendance will compete for a “Best of the Best” food title in the following categories: Best Appetizer, Best Fast Casual Entrée, Best Fine Dining Entrée and Best Dessert. The judging will be held at 3:00 p.m. in the VIP pavilion and the winners will be announced at 4:00 p.m. on the main stage.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Arlington Food Assistance Center. The restaurants participating and competing are as follows:
- Westover Beer Garden
- Sehkraft Beer Garden
- Thunder Beast
- Tasty 6
- Naan Stop DC
- Pepita Cantina
- Water & Wall
- Rito Loco
- Postmodern Foods
- Curley’s BBQ
- Sweet Fix DC
- Bracket Room
- Orient Bowl
- Don Tito
- Sushi Rock
- Urban Bumpkin BBQ
- Ben’s Chili Bowl
- American Tap Room
- Dolce Sweets
- Pizza Vinoteca
- Koolzone Ice and Treats
- Mac’s Donuts
- Northside Social
- Lyon Hall
- Mussel Bar & Grille
- Liberty Tavern
- Commonwealth Joe
- Epic Smokehouse
- RedRocks Pizzeria
- The Melting Pot
- Which Wich
- The Front Page
- P.F. Chang’s
- Nando’s Peri-Peri
- La Tasca
- Il Forno
- World of Beer
- Fuego Cocina y Tequileria
- Kapnos Taverna
- Big Buns
- A-Town Bar and Grill
- Lebanese Taverna
File photo. Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Renderings of Proposed Ballston High-Rise — Ahead of Wednesday’s Arlington Site Plan Review Committee meeting, developers Lionstone and Penzance have released new renderings of the 22-story, 330-unit apartment tower they’re proposing to build on the Carpool site in Ballston. The tower is sleek metal and glass, with a retail pavilion on the ground floor. In a second phase, the developers are proposing to replace an aging, adjacent office building with another 22-story, 362-unit residential building. [Washington Business Journal]
Free Cone Day at Haagen-Dazs — The Haagen-Dazs store at Pentagon City mall is offering free ice cream today from 4:00-8:00 p.m. as part of the company’s nationwide Free Cone Day. [Facebook]
Coalition for Minority Affairs Honors Students — Eighty-seven African and African-American Arlington Public Schools students were honored last week by the Civic Coalition for Minority Affairs. The Northern Virginia group “endeavors to foster high academic achievement through its annual awards ceremony.” [Arlington Public Schools]
The popular Tuesday Night Rides that take hundreds of cyclists from Ballston to N. Military Road during the summer will not be canceled and were only postponed because the organizer applied for the permit too late, county officials say.
The rides have been organized by FreshBikes owner Scott McAhren for eight years, growing from a few dozen people to as many as 500, and in recent years they have been accompanied by a police escort. The first ride was scheduled for this week, but it was cancelled after McAhren didn’t secure a permit.
On Tuesday, McAhren told ARLnow.com that he reached out to the county “earlier this year” when a special events staffer told him “there’s almost a zero percent chance we’re going to approve it every week again.”
Now, on FreshBikes’ website, McAhren wrote he applied for a permit April 22, less than three weeks before the first ride was scheduled. Special events permits typically take 90 days to process.
“The May 5 ride was canceled because the County got the Special Event Permit on April 22, which was too short notice to process the event with all the appropriate County departments,” he wrote on the website.
Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius said county staff was surprised to read ARLnow.com’s story on Tuesday, considering their most recent conversations with McAhren.
“He said to us that he woke up in the middle of the night and realized he forgot to file the permit application,” Curtius said. “This is not about if we were thinking about killing the bike program.”
McAhren and the county are planning on holding a permit hearing on May 19, when representatives from the parks department, police, fire and rescue and other counties will weigh in on what support the event will require and how much compensation the county would need from the organizer. The county anticipates approval, with the rides starting up again next month.
“We approve virtually every permit for a special event,” Curtius said. “It has to go through the process, it goes through fire, police, water and streets. That has to all be assessed and then they issue the permit. Almost always permits get issued.
“It is true that there have been complaints about this event, there have been complaints about other events too,” she continued. “But what happens in that case is we work with the event organizer. The whole emphasis and the whole bias is toward finding a way to making these events happen, and that’s certainly true when it comes to bicycling events, because we’re a very bike-friendly community.”
Advanced Towing Featured on GMA — Complaints against Arlington’s Advanced Towing have gone national, again. This time, ABC’s Good Morning America ran a feature on “predatory towing,” featuring video of Advanced from local station WJLA. The video shows a car being towed from a shopping center lot on Columbia Pike after two women parked there and walked to a restaurant outside the shopping center. The tow was reportedly facilitated by a “spotter” in an unmarked car. [ABC News – WARNING: Auto-play video]
Fisette to Propose Towing Changes — Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette says he will recommend changes to the county’s Towing Advisory Board to “address complaints about the process.” The County is also going to consider requiring commercial property owners to sign off on each tow. However, Fisette says he will not propose outlawing towing “spotters.” Fisette said it’s not the government’s role to tell tow companies how aggressively they can enforce legal trespass towing. [WTOP]
Washingtonian: Arlington Utopia No More? — “Recent developments in Arlington suggest that its time as an urbanist’s utopia might be doomed,” writes Benjamin Freed on Washingtonian Magazine’s website. Freed cites the closing of Artisphere, the cancellation of Arlington’s streetcar project and, most recently, the indefinite postponement of Fresh Bikes’ Tuesday Night Rides. [Washingtonian]
Arlington Company Files for IPO — Ballston-based Evolent Health, developers of an electronic healthcare data platform, have filed for a $100 million initial public stock offering. Evolent has chosen the NYSE ticker symbol EVH. [DCInno]
Update: Tuesday Night Rides are expected to resume in June after organizer Scott McAhren admitted he submitted the special events permit less than two weeks before May 5.
(Earlier) Driver complaints have pushed Arlington County to reconsider the future of Tuesday Night Rides, the weekly mass-cycling event in Ballston Tuesday evenings during the summer, according to the ride’s organizer.
Steve McAhren, the owner of Fresh Bikes on Wilson Blvd between N. Pollard and Quincy Streets, has organized the weekly rides since May 2006. When they started, he said, there were just 15-20 cyclists participating.
By 2010, as many as 500 people would come to ride up and down their route, primarily along Military Road, and McAhren had a weekly permit with the county and paid for the expense of a police escort.
McAhren told ARLnow.com this afternoon that he reached out to the county earlier this year to make sure the permit would be renewed again, and the county staff told him the permit was unlikely to be renewed.
“[Special events staff] said there’s almost a zero percent chance we’re going to approve it every week again,” McAhren said. “In the past, they just kind of rubber-stamped it because the county was so pro-cycling.”
McAhren said he agreed to reduce the rides to once a month, but he said the county was planning to still put the permit’s renewal before the County Board, and asked him if he could move the time to the weekends to reduce traffic impacts.
“It became kind of a critical mass thing,” McAhren said. “Long story short, they got a few complaints last season and I think they got six complaints over the last month from people who remember the ride from last year. It’s the kind of stuff I can’t really believe would affect their decision.”
County staff did not immediately return requests for comment this afternoon.
McAhren sent an email to the Tuesday Night Rides group at about 1:00 p.m. and told them to contact the county and post on this website advocating for the county to approve its permit renewal.
“If we can get 1,000 people saying that they like the ride and want to keep it,” he said, “hopefully that will outweigh the handful of complaints.”
The rides have run at 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday from the first Tuesday in May — which would be tonight — to about mid-September. Since they’ve grown, Fresh Bikes has continued to offer them for free and has served burritos and played music outside their shop, where the ride begins and ends.
Once the rides started to get police support — and the police were very supportive of the rides back in 2010, McAhren pointed out — they grew in popularity.
“Word got out around the Beltway and we had people come all the way from Maryland for the ride,” McAhren said.
Two cyclists were sent to the hospital during a ride last May, he said, the only major injury they’ve had since the rides began eight years ago.
Just because the ride has been officially postponed doesn’t mean Ballston drivers have no more cyclists to navigate around this evening — while the police escort and official store support will not be in place tonight, McAhren said he believes hundreds of cyclists will continue the ride on their own.
“The ride’s going to happen anyways, all that’s really going to happen is it’s not going to be sanctioned by me or a police escort,” he said. “Unless lightning strikes right at 6:30 p.m. there are going to be 200 cyclists in Ballston, and it will be even more unsafe.”
More Details in Aurora Highlands Slaying — Investigators have sent hairs found in the hands of murder victim Bonnie Black to a lab for DNA testing. Police have also thoroughly searched the house of Black’s estranged husband, confiscating items like a Swiss Army knife, computers and a hair brush. [Washington Post]
DCA Terminal Proposal Unveiled — Officials have unveiled a $800 million plan to build a new commuter aircraft terminal at Reagan National Airport. The terminal would be built to the north of the existing terminals, replacing a headquarters building and a hangar. Currently, 5,000 commuter jet passengers a day use a single gate and are bussed to their planes. [InsideNova]
Silver Line Phase 2 Delayed — The second phase of Metro’s Silver Line is delayed by just over a year, officials announced Monday. The Silver Line is now not expected to reach Dulles Airport until late 2019 or 2020. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is building the Silver Line, blames project changes intended to enhance safety. [NBC Washington]
Ballston Tech Firm Acquired — Ballston-based Applied Predictive Technologies has been bought by MasterCard for $600 million. The company “uses cloud-based analytics to help clients measure marketing, merchandising and operations efforts.” [Bloomberg]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
(Updated at 5:00 p.m.) The approval process for Ballston Common Mall’s massive renovation plans is still months away, but many stores are likely to close after the end of the year.
Forest City, which owns the mall, has coordinated leases for many of their shops on the mall’s interior to expire by the end of this year. This would pave the way for the mall’s renovation in 2016 once it’s approved, according to spokesman Gary McManus.
“We are currently in the process of positioning the mall for this demolition period by steadily vacating store units by the end of this year that will be impacted by early phases of demolition/redevelopment activity,” McManus told ARLnow.com in an email.
“To that end,” he continued, “we decided more than a year ago to institute lease terms for many of these store tenants that would not stretch into 2016 in order to give us the flexibility to start on the site work sooner than later, once the approvals process has been completed.”
McManus couldn’t specify which stores would be closing because of ongoing negotiations, but he said every business with an outside entrance will remain open throughout the entire renovation. That means Macy’s, Regal Cinemas, Rock Bottom Brewery, Noodles & Co., Panera Bread, Sport&Health Club and the CVS Pharmacy will be able to stay open, but everything else could be on the chopping block.
Forest City submitted three different site plan amendments with Arlington County last summer: one to renovate the mall’s interior, another to construct a 393 unit, 29-story residential tower with ground floor retail at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and N. Randolph Street, and a third to renovate the office building above the mall.
All of those applications are under staff review and no dates have been set for meetings of the Site Plan Review Committee, the Arlington Planning Commission or the County Board. While many site plan amendments take within 12 months to work through the process, the grand scope of Forest City’s plans dictate a longer review period, county planning staff said.
“The timeline has been due to the nature and complexity of the proposal,” Community Planning, Housing and Development spokeswoman Gina Wimpey said in an email. ” We want to ensure that, given that there are three separate applications for the redevelopment of the block that are interrelated, an appropriate review process is determined.”
McManus said he can’t speculate on a development timetable until Forest City has its plans approved, but he said it will go before the Board “hopefully by late 2015.”
Before that happens, Forest City will be selling national retailers on the future of Ballston Common Mall — which will be rebranded, but, McManus said, may not carry the previously circulated “Ballston Center” moniker — at industry conventions, in particular the ICSC conference in Las Vegas.
“Many retailers not currently located in the mall have expressed excitement and interest in learning more about our plans at this event,” McManus said. “So overall, the redevelopment plans for Ballston Common are on track and proceeding smoothly. This is a complex process and we are very excited about the anticipated results. Believe me when I say that no one is more eager to complete the redevelopment process at Ballston Common than Forest City Washington.”
Manhattan Bagel, which has served bagels, coffee and sandwiches to Ballston for more than a decade, will close its doors after this weekend.
The small shop at 4201 Wilson Blvd remained a bustle of activity this morning, when the family who owns the franchise told ARLnow.com that they had “lost the lease” and were closing for good.
According to emails from customers, the bagel shop’s business has continued to thrive despite Dunkin Donuts opening up in the same building, two storefronts over, last summer.
The shop’s last day will be Sunday, April 26. The closest Manhattan Bagel franchise is in Vienna.
Australian Restaurant Coming to Clarendon — Oz, a new Australian restaurant, will be opening in the former La Tagliatella space in Clarendon late this summer. The restaurant is owned by Australian native Michael Darby, co-founder of Monument Realty, and his wife Ashley Darby, the 2011 Miss District of Columbia winner. [Washington Business Journal]
New Ballston Apartment Project in the Works — Saul Centers, which developed the Clarendon Center project, is planning a new residential and retail development on the Orange Line. The developer is in the early stages of proposing a 12-story, 431-unit apartment building to replace the Rosenthal Mazda dealership at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd. [Washington Business Journal]
Parking Lot Hit-and-Run Case in Court — A court hearing was held Monday for Alexandra Mendez, the woman accused of running over a man in a Columbia Pike parking lot and then fleeing the scene. Prosecutors showed the court a cell phone video of the incident, which nearly killed 40-year-old Noormustafa “Noor” Shaikh. A doctor testified that Shaikh’s “bones were like shards” after being run over by Mendez in her SUV. [WJLA]
Arlington Highly Ranked by AARP — Arlington County is the 6th most livable place in the U.S. with a population between 100,000 and 500,000, according to a new survey by AARP. Also in the AARP survey, Arlington ranked No. 1 in the “Best Cities for Staying Healthy” category, thanks to an abundance of exercise opportunities. The survey targeted Americans age 50 and older. [WTOP]
VHC and County Considering Land Swap — Virginia Hospital Center and Arlington County have started discussing a possible land swap. The swap would trade soon-to-be-vacated county properties adjacent to the hospital — which would allow VHC to expand — for hospital property elsewhere in the county. Virginia Hospital Center, meanwhile, is getting kudos from the federal government. According to new hospital rankings from Medicare, VHC is the only “four star” hospital in the D.C. area. [InsideNova, Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by J. Peterson
Mosaic Park, the largely unused green space in Ballston along N. Quincy Street next to the Gold’s Gym parking lot, is close to taking the next step toward its planned redesign.
Arlington County is still planning on adding a public plaza, interactive water feature, multipurpose court, tree plantings and walkways. On the Arlington County Board’s agenda this Saturday is a public hearing for a rezoning, changing the park, at 544 N. Pollard Street, from a residential zoning to “public,” which allows construction to begin on the new features.
“Currently, construction drawings are near completion and the County will soon be prepared to go to bid,” the staff report reads. The Shooshan Company has agreed to fund the $6.6 million costs of Phase I construction.
In 2012, in our last update on the future of Mosaic Park, we reported that the county still needed to acquire land to build the park. According to the latest staff report, the county has acquired four of the five parcels that make up the park, and a portion of the fifth.
The FroZenYo in Ballston, which has been closed all winter to await the return of warm weather, now appears likely to not reopen at all.
The FroZenYo in Crystal City (2231 Crystal Drive) reopened this week, according to the D.C.-based company’s Facebook page. On that same page, the company posted in a comment that the Ballston location is likely closed.
“Unfortunately it doesn’t look like we will be reopening the Ballston store this year, sorry about that,” the comment reads.
The Ballston FroZenYo store opened in 2012.