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by Chris Teale — May 11, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

Next Friday, thousands of area commuters will celebrate Bike to Work Day, including at sites across Arlington.

The free event is open to all area commuters, who are encouraged to meet up with neighbors and co-workers at one of 85 pit stops across the region and ride bicycles to work in a commuter convoy.

In Arlington, seven sites will provide food and drink, as well as nearby Capital Bikeshare stations for the easy docking of bikes. In the mornings, the pit stops will be open from 6:30-9 a.m., while those open in the afternoons will last from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Rosslyn’s morning pit stop will be hosted at Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway), while in the afternoon it will be at the Heavy Seas Alehouse (1501 Wilson Blvd). Shirlington will also hold pit stops in the morning at the Shirlington Library (4200 Campbell Ave) and in the afternoon at New District Brewing (2709 S. Oakland Street).

Pit stops can also be found in the mornings at FreshBikes Bike Shop (3924 Wilson Blvd) in Ballston, Penrose Square at 2503 Columbia Pike, the East Falls Church Metro station (2001 N. Sycamore Street) and the Crystal City Water Park (1750 Crystal Drive).

Registration is required for the pit stops, which enters attendees into local and regional raffles and guarantees a free Bike To Work Day T-shirt.

The regional event is organized by Commuter Connections, a program of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments that promotes bicycling to work, ridesharing and other alternatives to driving. More than 17,500 bicyclists are expected to register across the D.C. area.

“Each year, Bike to Work Day attracts commuters who choose to bike to work for the very first time, and after the event, 10 percent of them continue to bike to work an average of 1.4 days per week,” said Nicholas Ramfos, director of Commuter Connections, in a statement. “That’s an impressive conversion rate and it’s why we are committed to making every Bike to Work Day bigger and better than the one before it.”

by Chris Teale — May 8, 2017 at 2:55 pm 0

Those in charge at Stageplate Bistro in Ballston say the new restaurant’s opening is just days away, now all its required permits are approved.

The eatery at 900 N. Glebe Road, on the first floor of the Virginia Tech Research Center, is the successor to Backstage Bistro Cafe near Dulles International Airport that closed last October. Backstage also hosted a catering company that specialized in events and providing food for touring entertainment acts.

With its certificates of occupancy finalized and having hosted some small functions for investors to give its food a test-run, general manager Mary Marchetti said a full opening is just days away.

The menu will feature mostly American cuisine, with some subtle differences. Instead of serving pizza, Stageplate will serve Turkish pide, a street food version of pizza that can be filled with various different ingredients.

“Pide is one of those things that you can do really fun ingredients, like fill it up with fun and interesting things,” Marchetti said. “It’s almost like a cross between a Stromboli and an artisanal pizza. You can do roasted butternut squash, red onion, delicious cheeses and stuff like that.”

In addition, Marchetti said guests can expect pasta, sandwiches, soups and salads. In the evenings, she said the menu will likely have other rotating options in its bistro entrees.

The restaurant will have around 125 seats indoors, 28 outside on the patio and nine at the bar, while a back room can be hired out for small events and functions of no more than about 50.

Stageplate joins a crowded area of Ballston, with an Applebee’s nearby as well as World of Beer and P.F. Chang’s. Marchetti said the newcomer has put some thought into how it will fit in with the rest of its neighbors.

“We’re so lucky to be in the middle of all these great restaurants,” she said. “With everybody that’s on the street, we tried to say, ‘Okay, what can we do that will complement and help hopefully bring more people to the area?’ We were really cognizant of the beers we put on tap, the wines we’re going to serve and the food we’re going to serve.”

by Chris Teale — May 5, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

The demolition of the pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston is now expected to begin next weekend.

A spokeswoman for Forest City, which is carrying out the revamp of the Ballston Common Mall, said residents will start to see work being done on the bridge on Saturday, May 13.

That day, she said, crews will remove various trees and strip the bridge down to its barebones. On May 14, the spokeswoman said, a crane will be erected to remove the bridge structure. Then on May 20, final remaining bridge components will be demolished, including its columns and footings.

The bridge between Ballston Common Mall and 4201 Wilson Blvd — which houses the soon-to-be-relocated National Science Foundation — closed last year as part of the mall’s renovation.

Wilson Blvd will be shut for construction between N. Stuart Street and N. Randolph Street, with no cars or pedestrians allowed between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. The parking garage at Stafford Place II will remain accessible, as will the pedestrian entrance to CVS from N. Randolph Street.

“Please note that should an unforeseen unsafe condition be encountered that necessitates the operation to extend beyond these hours, we will require the closure to remain in place until such time that the road and sidewalk can be opened to allow for safe passage,” the spokeswoman said in an email.

The bridge is set to reopen with the revamped and rebranded Ballston Quarter mall in fall 2018.

by ARLnow.com — May 2, 2017 at 10:05 am 0

Construction has begun on new, more aesthetically-pleasing road medians in Ballston.

Work kicked off yesterday on the medians along Fairfax Drive, from N. Quincy Street to Glebe Road. The improvements include a decorative fence, solar-powered “gateway signage” and “more plantings of annuals and perennials while maintaining the stately Bald Cypress trees.”

The Ballston Business Improvement District is spearheading the initiative as part of its placemaking efforts.

More from the BID:

A new pedestrian fence inspired by Ballston’s distinctive brand will increase pedestrian safety, solar-powered gateway signs will welcome all to the neighborhood, and an artistic design will be created on the median noses using the iconic Ballston-orange.

Initial work will include some demolition, repair and replacement of existing medians. The pedestrian fence installation will commence mid-May, and the final stages of work including painting, signage and plantings will follow in early June. Work will take place after morning rush and before evening rush hours with a vehicle lane closure on each side of the medians from Glebe Road to Fairfax Drive.

First image via Ballston BID. Second image via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com — April 26, 2017 at 8:55 am 0

Park Upgrades Approved — At its meeting last night, the Arlington County Board approved contracts that will “upgrade the playgrounds and picnic shelter at Oakgrove Park and add a restroom/picnic pavilion and futsal court at Tyrol Hills Park.” The contracts total around $1.7 million. [Arlington County]

TJ Construction to Take Away Theater Parking — Construction of a new elementary school next to the Thomas Jefferson community center and middle school will mean a loss of parking for the community theater used by a number of local performing arts troupes. Those troupes, including The Arlington Players and Ballet Nova, will now have to decide whether to relocate to another community theater or stay and deal with the lack of parking. [InsideNova]

New Location for Children’s School Approved — Last night the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a site plan amendment allowing the Children’s School, a co-op child care center for Arlington Public School employees, to occupy two floors of a Ballston office building. The center is moving from an APS-owned building in Westover to make way for what’s expected to be a new elementary school. Some Ballston condominium residents expressed concerns about the child care center, primarily related to traffic; County Board member Christian Dorsey pointed out that the space it’s moving into was formerly used by a for-profit college. [Arlington County]

Ballston Profiled by WaPo — “With an array of amenities, it’s easy to see why Ballston is one of the area’s hottest markets,” says a real estate-focused profile of the neighborhood. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by Chris Teale — April 20, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

The long-planned demolition of the pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston should begin soon, according to a spokeswoman for the developer.

The bridge between Ballston Common Mall and 4201 Wilson Blvd — which houses the soon-to-be-relocated National Science Foundation — closed last year as part of the mall’s renovation.

An anonymous tipster reported seeing bricks being removed at the base of the bridge’s pillars where it connects to the mall, and wondered if demolition was beginning.

But a spokeswoman for developer Forest City, which is carrying out the mall’s revamp, said last week it is not doing any work on the bridge at this time. She added that demolition is scheduled to start soon.

“We are not doing any construction on the structural components that would affect the bridge,” the spokeswoman said. “The demolition should begin within the next 30 days, but we will notify the public once we have a solid date.”

The bridge is still on track to be reconstructed and reopened in time for the revamped mall’s opening in fall 2018.

by Katie Pyzyk — April 19, 2017 at 11:50 am 0

Two men made an early morning entry into a department store on the 700 block of Glebe Road in Ballston.

This morning just before 4 a.m., police responded to a burglar alarm at the property and found that two men had entered the store. The suspects fled shortly after police arrived.

Although police do not release the names of affected businesses, Macy’s is the only remaining department store on that block while the Ballston mall undergoes renovation.

It doesn’t appear that the suspects took any items. More from the ACPD crime report:

UNLAWFUL ENTRY, 2017-04190032, 700 block of N. Glebe Road. At approximately 3:47 a.m. on April 19, officers responded to an audible burglary alarm. Upon arrival, it was determined two unknown male subjects entered a business. The subjects then fled the scene on foot shortly after. No items appear to be missing. The first subject is described as a black male, with a slim to medium build and was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt. The second subject is described as a black male, with a slim to medium build and was wearing a dark shirt. The investigation is ongoing.

More highlights from this week’s relatively thin crime report, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.

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by Katie Pyzyk — April 18, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

Police are ready to hand out more tickets as a way to boost awareness of pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

On Friday, police will set up at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Kenmore Street from 3-5 p.m. to enforce traffic laws. They’ll ticket any driver, cyclist or pedestrian who commits a violation. On May 2, they’ll do the same at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Oakland Street from noon to 2 p.m.

ACPD will conduct the enforcement events as part of a larger D.C.-area safety campaign to reduce injuries and deaths by changing pedestrian, cyclist and driver behaviors. That campaign started yesterday and runs through mid-May.

Police note that cyclists and pedestrians make up nearly a quarter of the region’s traffic fatalities each year. They encourage everyone to safely share the roads and pay attention to one another.

by Katie Pyzyk — April 18, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

(Updated at 10:45 a.m. on 4/19/17) CarPool only has been closed for two weeks, but we’re now getting a closer look at the building that will replace the long-time Ballston establishment.

Developer Jefferson Apartment Group has released new renderings and information about the structure that will occupy 4000 Fairfax Drive.

The 22-story luxury high rise will have up to 330 residential units and 264 underground parking spaces, along with a rooftop swimming pool and sundeck. The ground level will house 8,260 square feet of retail. Plans for the surrounding outdoor area include a landscaped plaza with seating.

Penzance originally had been the developer for this project when the County Board approved it in 2015, but it sold the site to Jefferson Apartment Group, who has partnered with Mitsui Fudosan America.

The property will be built and maintained to LEED Gold standards. The developers expect to break ground late this year.

by Chris Teale — April 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

Construction is almost complete at Marymount University’s “Newside” building, and it has landed its first retail tenant.

Permit applications filed with the county indicate that Starbucks will move into the property at 1000 N. Glebe Road in Ballston.

The coffee giant would be the first to commit to moving into the new building’s 5,000 square feet of retail space. The structure replaces the “Blue Goose” that was demolished in 2015.

Two buildings are under construction on the site: a nine-story office building and a 12-story, 267-unit residential building.

The former will be owned by Marymount University, with the university using six floors as office and educational space. The top three floors will be leased out as office space.

Between the two buildings, there will also be a 10,600-square-foot public plaza and pedestrian passageway.

Construction is expected to be completed this summer.

by ARLnow.com — April 3, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Baba Now Open — Baba, the comfy bar and cafe in the basement of Ambar in Clarendon, is now open after some unexpected delays. The “big draw” of Baba, according to the Post’s Maura Judkis, is its made-from-scratch cocktails. [Washington Post]

Ballston Wi-Fi to Launch Today — The “BLinked” gigabit wi-fi service in Ballston is expected to launch today. The free service will offer a high-speed and seamless internet connection throughout public spaces in Ballston. [Twitter]

Signature Theatre 2017-18 Season Announced — Shirlington’s Signature Theatre has announced the lineup for its 2017-18 season, with eight marquee shows and six short-run cabarets. [Signature Theatre]

Reminder: Storm Drains Empty to Waterways — “Our local waterways literally go with the flow. That means rain water heads into nearby storm drains and then quickly ends up in local streams like Four Mile Run. Those streams flow into the Potomac River, the source for much of the region’s drinking water.” [Arlington County]

Obit: William Coleman — William T. Coleman, Jr., a civil rights lawyer and cabinet member who broke racial barriers, has died. Coleman is noted in Arlington for his role, as U.S. Secretary of Transportation, in authorizing the controversial construction of I-66 inside the Beltway. [NBC News]

Arlington Players Rack Up WATCH Awards — The Arlington Players have received seven Washington Area Theatre Community Honors awards, tying an Alexandria theater company for the highest award total of 2017. [InsideNova]

Hat tip to Eric Dobson. Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by Chris Teale — March 31, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

The Ballston Business Improvement District’s annual meeting will have a new twist this year, as it hands out the first Best of Ballston Awards.

The awards will be in three categories for those in the neighborhood: property manager, innovator and broker.

Nominations are being accepted through May 1, ahead of the event on June 21 at the Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel at 801 N. Glebe Road.

“Talented, creative, smart and savvy people walk the streets of our neighborhood — this event is our time to share their success stories!” reads the online nomination page.

The Property Managers Award will be presented to a neighborhood property manager who connects tenants to services, products and programs that help build their business and retain or grow their presence in Ballston.

The Best of Ballston Innovation Award is for a Ballston tenant who has developed an innovative product or service, and the Best of Ballston Broker Award will go to a local real estate broker that has leased space, attracted the greatest number of new tenants, or leased the greatest square feet of space.

In addition to the awards, BallstonGives, the charitable subsidiary of the Ballston BID, will give the donation check from the Taste of Arlington food festival to the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

And the Robert Ball Award, named after the Ball family for which the neighborhood is named, will be presented to developer John Shooshan in recognition of his contributions to Ballston and Arlington.

by Chris Teale — March 28, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

(Updated at 2:30 p.m. on 3/29/17) You’ll need a paid wristband to get into Taste of Arlington this year.

Previously a free event, attendees at this year’s festival on May 21 will need to pay $5-15 for admission ($5 is the current early bird price) then pay an additional $5 for each drink ticket and $1-5 for each taste, paid directly to the restaurant or food truck.

Tickets can be bought online or on the BallstonConnect mobile app before the festival, or in person on the day. Admission to the event’s Family Zone will be free.

Many restaurants and food trucks will accept cash and credit cards, although some may only take cash. A number of ATMs will be on site.

Previously, attendees had to buy a $30-40 book of tickets to sample the food at the various restaurant booths; now it’s a la carte. The drink ticket is $1-3 less expensive than an equivalent pour last year, a spokesman pointed out.

Also a change from previous years is the Family Zone, which will combine the once separate KidZone and BarkPark into one area at Oakland Park. Admission fees will be charged for both.

More than 50 restaurants, food trucks and chefs are expected to participate, including international cuisine.

Restaurants will compete in the “Best of the Best” food competition in the following categories: Best Appetizer, Best Brunch, Best Fast Casual Entrée, Best Fine Dining Entrée, Best Dessert and Fan Favorite. Winners will be announced at 5 p.m. on the main concert stage.

This year’s festival has also moved closer to the Virginia Square Metro station on Wilson Boulevard, and stretches along Wilson from N. Randolph Street to N. Nelson Street. It will last from noon to 6 p.m.

Among the musicians performing are His Dream Of Lions, Jeff From AccountingBurnt Sienna and the Jack Diamond-Jim Steed Band.

Last year, Taste of Arlington raised $40,000 for BallstonGives, the charitable arm of the Ballston Business Improvement District, and the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

by Chris Teale — March 27, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup 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.

Starting in late April, cat and dog owners can track their pets and find animal-friendly places to eat and stay in one place.

Set to hit major app stores next month, Roaming Tails will provide one platform for all pet owners’ biggest needs. Ballston resident Jaime Bowerman founded the company in 2014, inspired by Flipflop, her Daschund.

“In talking to many other pet parents, they seemed to have similar sorts of problems, and there’s really no good place to find accurate data that tells us where we can take our pets,” Bowerman said. “She also had a mind of her own like most dogs do, and there had been a time where I thought she was missing, which was kind of scary.”

Pets are connected to their owners through a tag around their neck, which connects to the app via Bluetooth. That tag then integrates with the app to provide medical records, and has a long battery life of upwards of a year.

The app will be available for free download. Tag services would be available for a one-off payment of $39.99, but no monthly fees.

And while the Bluetooth capabilities limit the range of separation between an owner and their pet to about 50 yards, Bowerman said there has progress on that front.

In January, company employees attended the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and agreed to partner with a major tag provider to have tags that use Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth.

Bowerman said that combined with the Ballston Business Improvement District’s initiative to deliver free wi-fi in the neighborhood’s public spaces can help grow the product’s use.

“What we’re really hoping to do on launch in early April is to make [Ballston] the most pet-friendly place possible that we can,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting technology.”

With the launch a matter of weeks away, Bowerman said she and her colleagues are working to get the app as perfect as possible by testing it among themselves. But with hopes of partnerships with pet stores and veterinarians, they have grand ambitions.

Roaming Tails also could be at the forefront of partnerships with local pet-friendly restaurants, Bowerman said.

“Let’s say you’re walking past a restaurant with our tag, what happens is your phone will bark at you and say, ‘Bring Fido in for two-for-one drinks,'” she said. “It really is a way for restaurants to easily market to people with pets and to easily set up rewards programs and things like that.”

Bowerman said with the way the relationship is evolving between pets and their owners, this app can fill a valuable need in one place.

“Technology is changing the way we life live with our pets, but unfortunately it just takes a lot of apps to enhance the quality of life or change that,” she said. “What we have done is taken most features and put them on one platform that allows you to do these things.”

by Chris Teale — March 24, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

A Baltimore-based fast casual noodle bar will arrive next year at the redeveloped Ballston Quarter mall.

Mi and Yu Noodle Bar announced earlier this week on Facebook it has signed a lease to open a location in Ballston around September 2018, once redevelopment is complete.

With locations already open in the Federal Hill and Mount Vernon neighborhoods of Baltimore and another set for Hampden in September, owner Edward Kim said he expects the new spot in Arlington to continue the success he’s found in Charm City.

“The deal is right, I think the area is really good,” Kim said. “It’s very dense with good foot traffic, energy and good demographics.”

Kim said Mi and Yu is different from other Asian eateries, as customers can build their own noodle bowls, choosing from a variety of broths, noodles and proteins. The menu of Chinese steam bun sandwiches — known as bao — is extensive too, and customers can again customize.

“It’s basically a build your own concept, like you would do at Panera Bread or Chipotle,” Kim said. “It’s definitely not a traditional place.”

Mi and Yu has joined the likes of Punch Bowl Social in leasing space at the mall, where renovations are currently underway.

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