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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that highlights Arlington-based startups, founders, and local tech news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

(Updated 12:40 p.m. on 10/11/22) If you own a local restaurant, grocery co-op or healthcare clinic in an underinvested neighborhood, there’s a good chance that Arlington-based Capital Impact Partners can help find money to assist your business.

Capital Impact Partners (CIP), which has been in Crystal City for 40 years, is a Community Development Financial Institution aimed at helping lower-income and racially diverse communities secure loans as well as capital and financial assistance.

And this summer, CIP joined forces with lender CDC Small Business Finance and lending software company Ventures Lending Technologies to help clients more effectively. They are together known as Momentus Capital. The new group is already heating up the region’s economy, according to the Washington Business Journal, which named it as an honoree of its 2022 Inno on Fire Awards program.

“Small business owners, developers, and other local leaders are the engines of job creation and economic activity in communities across the country. When these leaders have the opportunity to succeed, their communities, their residents — and our country — thrive,” said Ellis Carr, president and CEO of Momentus Capital, in a statement. “We need bold thinking and a holistic approach to unleash solutions for underestimated communities. Momentus Capital was created to meet that challenge.”

Carr, who led CIP, and Kurt Chilcott, at the time the leader of CDC Small Business Finance and now the chair of both organizations’ boards, began developing the idea for Momentus in 2019. Under the new umbrella organization, the companies will still operate as one, although they will be maintained as separate legal entities, providing but their clients will now have access to more resources and products.

A small food business that Capital Impact Partners helped fund as part of Nourish DC (courtesy of Capital Impact Partners)

For instance, Momentus is developing new lending and investing products aimed at helping people who have historically been denied access to funding. It provides borrowers with training, mentorship and networking opportunities and also provides technical support to community-based organizations and lenders.

This is the kind of work that CIP has been doing since its founding in 1982. Now a national organization, with offices in Oakland, Detroit, Austin and New York, the company got its start in Crystal City, where its headquarters remain at 1400 Crystal Drive.

“We are always thinking about racial equity, the racial wealth gap, what was our role in that as lenders, and how can we create more access to capital in a more holistic way, deep in communities,” says Alison Powers, director of economic opportunities at Capital Impact Partners. “I like to think we’ve been one of the leaders when it comes to thinking about those questions.”

That might mean helping to secure a loan for a family-owned pharmacy in Green Valley or pinpointing a grant that might assist with staffing at a small, immigrant-owned restaurant on Columbia Pike.

Powers said this work reverses exclusionary systems in the U.S., such as redlining, which prevented communities of color and low-income families from getting home loans because their neighborhoods were deemed too risky for investment.

“How we think about credit and risk and underwriting has really been influenced by the history of the U.S. and who is perceived as being good candidates for access to certain financial products,” she says.

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When one Bank of America branch closes on Columbia Pike, another one opens.

The Bank of America branch at 3401 Columbia Pike is set to close in late November, per the bank’s website. The building it is housed in at the intersection of S. Glebe Road is likely on its way to being demolished to make way for a six-story, 250-unit residential development with ground-floor retail.

The office building at 3401 Columbia Pike was last sold in December 2020 to Marcus Partners for nearly $15 million, county property records show. That’s a $10 million over what it sold for in 2015.

The bank branch occupies most of the building, with a doctor’s office and an immigration law office also at that location. It’s not immediately clear when those businesses might be moving or closing.

Those looking to make deposits won’t have to go far, though.

A new Bank of America branch is set to open soon after the other one closes just a block away at 3532 Columbia Pike. It’s moving into the former home of a Capital One Bank. That branch was in the news over the years due to it being robbed twice, including one incident that was investigated by the FBI. It closed more than three years ago.

The new Bank of America branch is planning to open by the end of the year, but that timeline is “dependent on construction completion” a company spokesperson told ARLnow.

“The new center has been designed to highlight our high-tech high-touch approach, which helps us best serve all of our clients’ financial needs,” the spokesperson said.

Customers with safe deposit boxes in the existing branch are being urged to retrieve them by October 7, according to a letter from Bank of America shared with ARLnow by a reader.

Arlington has eight Bank of America financial centers and ATM locations, according to the bank’s website. This includes the locations inside of the Pentagon and a State Department facility on Arlington Blvd, which both may require “authorization to enter.”

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(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) We now know which bank is coming to the former G.O.A.T. sports bar space in Clarendon.

TD Bank is moving across the street to the highly-visible space near the Metro station, the company has confirmed to ARLnow. We reported in January that a bank was under construction on the first floor of 3028 Wilson Blvd, but could not confirm which bank was opening in the space until now.

“TD Bank will close the 3101 Wilson Blvd. store on Oct. 27 and will open the new 3028 Wilson Blvd. store location on Oct. 28,” a TD Bank spokesperson tells ARLnow.

Customers were informed of the move in letters sent last week.

The new, 2,081 square foot branch “will feature an advice center format, which allows colleagues to have advice conversations with customers about their financial goals along with conducting routine banking activities and account openings,” the spokesperson said. It will also have “sit-stand workstations that enable our colleagues to adapt them based on the type of conversation we’re having with a customer or the amount of traffic we expect on a given day.”

The move across the street comes as the existing branch’s lease is expiring.

“We have an expiring lease at our 3101 Wilson Blvd store, which gave us an opportunity to move to a location that better suits our customers’ needs and enhance[s] their banking experience with us,” said the spokesperson.

Construction permits suggest that the bank will be located on the first floor. So far, there’s no word on what might eventually come to the second floor of the building. The G.O.A.T. and its predecessor, Hard Times Cafe, previously used both floors.

There’s also no word as what might replace the branch on the ground floor of the office building at 3101 Wilson Blvd.

Hat tip to Ken K.

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Morning Notes

Clouds, Nestle and Nixon at an observation deck in Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Bank Booting Xmas Tree Sale from Lot — “Optimist members tell 7News On Your Side that [Wells Fargo] bank officials told them in late 2021 that their parking lot would not be available to the Optimists for liability reasons. This concern was bewildering to club members as they say over the years they’ve never had any serious accidents or issues. The Optimists are now scrambling to find another space.” [WJLA]

Real Estate Agents Making Less — “Northern Virginia Realtors shared roughly $30 million less in compensation during the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2021 despite rising home prices, according to a new Sun Gazette analysis. Year-over-year sales for the first half of 2022 were down 12.2 percent, according to figures reported by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.” [Sun Gazette]

Expanded Bikeshare Station in Ballston — From Capital Bikeshare: “Our teams have expanded and replaced the station at Glebe Rd & 11th St N in Arlington. Happy riding!” [Twitter]

Firefighters Rescue Stuck Bird — “The Arlington Fire and Rescue Department helped save a blue jay stuck in a tree on Monday — and the video is heartwarming. The bird appeared to have a piece of plastic material wrapped around its leg.” [WJLA, Twitter]

Arlington Seeks Feedback on Bay Plan — “The County is updating its Chesapeake Bay Preservation Plan, which speaks to effective land use management practices as required by the state. Read on, chime in.” [Twitter, Arlington County]

Local Company Making New Acquisition — “Evolent Health Inc. is taking steps to expand its arsenal of services for health care providers, starting with an acquisition that will move it into the lucrative area of musculoskeletal care. The Arlington company, which helps health systems and insurance companies manage their costs and improve care, charges into the second half of 2022 on the cusp of closing its purchase of Alpharetta, Georgia’s IPG.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Burger Restaurant at DCA — “Elevation Burger has opened a new restaurant in Terminal E at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington. Founded in 2002, Elevation Burger uses USDA-certified organic, 100-percent grass-fed beef and fresh-cut fries cooked in heart-healthy olive oil.” [Patch]

It’s Thursday — Humid and mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 88 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:07 am and sunset at 8:25 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A bank could be coming to the former The G.O.A.T. space across the street from the Clarendon Metro station, a reliable source has told ARLnow.

A year ago, the sports bar closed after about three years in operation at 3028 Wilson Blvd. Previously, it was the chili-serving Hard Times Cafe before that closed in 2016.

But earlier this month, an ARLnow reader tipped us off that construction was going on at the space. An issued Arlington County permit confirms that interior renovations are ongoing, including removing the once-prominent staircase at the front connecting the first and second floors.

There were thoughts the space was being renovated for a new venture by The G.O.A.T. co-owners local serial entrepreneur Scott Parker and chef Mike Cordero, or, even, a hotly anticipated rebirth of Whitlow’s on Wilson. Neither appear to be the case.

Both Parker and Cordero confirmed they are no longer tenants and not involved in the revamping of the space. Parker also owns nearby Don Tito, Bearded Goat Barber, the soon-to-open Nighthawk Pizza, and a number of other local businesses. Cordero owns Taco Rock, including the location in Rosslyn.

Former Whitlow’s manager Jon Williams also said the beloved now-shuttered watering hole wasn’t making a comeback quite yet.

“I’m still looking for the right place,” he wrote to ARLnow. “Hopefully soon.”

The Whitlow’s former space seems set to become two separate entities, a Five Guys and restaurant, as well as possibly live entertainment concept “B Live” from Michael Bramson.

At the moment, it’s unclear the exact bank that would occupy the prime location on Wilson Blvd or when it could open.

The source said it’s likely that the bank would only occupy the first floor, leaving the second floor potentially available for a local venture.

ARLnow reached out to the Rappaport Company, which is the leasing agent for the Underwood Building (named after the former owners), for confirmation and more details, but a company representative declined to provide comment.

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The Williamsburg Shopping Center is looking for a new bank to take up tenancy where United Bank once had a branch.

Leasing agent Nora Eways said the bank location at 6500 Williamsburg Blvd shuttered on Jan. 15 but did not give a reason for the closure. The shopping center’s owner is hoping to find another bank to fill the space, perhaps in part due to the large metal bank vault that appears in interior photos.

“The landlord’s main preference is for another bank,” Eways said.

While the search continues for another bank, she said other potential tenants, including medical groups, have expressed interest in the spot.

“This space is in a very affluent area in Arlington,” she said, of the shopping center’s proximity to North Arlington neighborhoods like Williamsburg and East Falls Church. “It’s a great neighborhood center where we’ve had very few vacancies in general.”

Eways said pre-pandemic, the shopping center was fully leased “for a while.” United Bank’s departure was one of two COVID-19-era vacancies, she said, referencing the closure of the Zinga! frozen yogurt spot in October.

“Banks and frozen yogurt shops are two businesses that are decreasing in size throughout the nation,” she said, adding that mobile banking has led some banks to consolidate their physical locations.

Photo (1) via Google Maps, (2-3) via Renaud Consulting

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Arlington resident Celia Edwards Karam is at the top of her game.

She is the Chief Audit Officer for Capital One, and was just named the first independent member of the Board of Directors for Zola, a popular online one-stop-shop for wedding planning services.

Zola’s founder, Shan-Lyn Ma, tapped Karam for the position, and after a series of conversations with the company’s leadership, Karam was officially in.

“I guess I must have done okay in those interviews,” she said, laughing.

While she got married before anything like Zola existed, Karam said she is joining the board to help Zola find opportunities for growth and new corners of the $55 billion wedding industry to explore.

The appointment adds to a resume that includes degrees from Harvard and Stanford universities, 14 years at Capital One and volunteer work with the nonprofit Commonwealth, which helps vulnerable people achieve financial security.

Her achievements seem to flow from one source. “It all comes back to [the question], ‘How might we make choices that are actually helping people get to better outcomes?'” she said.

Karam draws inspiration from her experience as a Jamaican immigrant. She came to the U.S. with her family when she was five years old, and watched her parents work hard to give her and her siblings access to education and better opportunities.

“Financially speaking, we didn’t have a lot to work with,” she said. “The sense you get instilled is one of gratitude and one to give back.”

This sense manifests in Karam’s concern for people, and making their lives easier. She says Capital One, Zola and Commonwealth share this customer-centered pursuit.

But these companies also share Karam.

In recent years, the chief audit officer has grown more confident in sharing her perspective as a Black woman — something that she did not always do. As a child, she was taught that the way to achieve equality was by ignoring color.

“The way to succeed, in my mind, was for my bosses not to notice the differences,” she said. That changed five years ago.

“I came to what might sound like a ridiculous conclusion: The fact that I am a Black woman actually makes me different,” she said.

Keeping in mind her bad experiences suppressing her identity, today she encourages business leaders to show employees that their perspectives, informed by their diverse identities, are valued. It is one reason she said she admires and wants to work with Ma — one of the relatively few women running successful new tech companies.

“If you don’t have the numbers, there’s nowhere to go from there,” she said. “But you only get a diversity of perspective if the people who are there feel like they can actually share what’s on their minds.”

Karam jokes that outside her work, she does not have too many hobbies she can pursue because she has three kids — ages seven, 10 and 12 — who she shuttles to “what feels like hundreds of sports activities.”

In the 10th month of remote work since the shutdown this March, she said she and her kids have started taking lots of walks with the family dog through Arlington. She, her husband and kids have called Arlington home since 2007.

“Arlington is actually a pretty amazing place to live,” she said. “It’s exactly right mix of urban and suburban for our family.”

Photo courtesy Celia Edwards Karam

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The SunTrust Bank branch at 4710 Lee Highway, near the Lee Heights Shops, is set to close later this year.

The bank notified customers of the impending closure in a recent letter. The branch is scheduled to close its doors at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 8.

Those who avidly follow corporate mergers and acquisitions might have noticed that SunTrust and BB&T have branches across the street from one another on that block of Lee Highway. That’s of note because the two banks announced a $66 billion merger last year, with BB&T buying SunTrust in an all-stock deal. The combined company is now known as Truist.

As might have been predicted, the branches are now being combined, with the current BB&T branch at 4707 Lee Highway set to serve customers of both banks starting on Monday, Nov. 9.

“At our blended branch you’ll continue to receive the personal care you’ve come to expect from SunTrust teammates, whether you visit us in the lobby or use the drive-thru lanes,” the letter said. “There will also be BB&T teammates on hand to assist BB&T customers. There will be no changes to the ATM.”

Those with safe deposit boxes at the SunTrust bank branch will receive instructions on transferring them to a new location, the letter says.

Photos via Google Maps

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Two new businesses are setting up shop right next to an entrance to the Pentagon City Metro station

As previously reported, chicken nugget and sandwich purveyor Chick-fil-A is coming to the ground floor of the new Whitmer apartment building at the corner of S. Hayes Street and 12th Street S. The space is currently under construction.

Also coming to 710 12th Street S. is a new Chase bank branch. Construction workers could be seen inside the future bank this morning.

There is no word yet on when either will open. Chick-fil-A previously refused to confirm that it was coming to Pentagon City, even after “Chick-fil-A coming soon” signs were put up. (They were later removed.)

The Chick-fil-A and Chase will joining the recently-opened Wiseguy Pizza on the ground floor of the apartment building, which is directly adjacent to the Metro station’s eastern entrance, across from the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall and two blocks from Amazon’s under-construction permanent HQ2.

Hat tips to @KalinaNewman and @Calebfiles

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Morning Notes

New N. Va. Unemployment Claims Drop — “New claims for unemployment benefits filed by Northern Virginia residents fell last week to their lowest level since pandemic-related business shutdowns began, even as thousands of area residents continue collecting unemployment.” Arlington had 352 new claims and 5,280 continuing claims. [InsideNova]

Developers ‘Double Dip’ PPP Loans — Companies affiliated with major local developers received million in PPP loans, in some cases with multiple loans backing individual properties in Arlington, D.C. and elsewhere. [Washington Business Journal]

Another Flash Flood Watch TodayUpdated at 8 a.m. — “More thunderstorms with heavy rain are expected today. A Flash Flood Watch is in effect again this afternoon and tonight for much of our area.” [Twitter]

Citizen’s Police Academy Seeking Participants — “The Arlington County Police Department is now accepting applications for the 24th Citizen’s Police Academy (CPA). The CPA is an educational program designed to create better understanding and communication between police and the community they serve.” [Arlington County]

New Mural in Crystal City — “Last week, the @gensler_design team helped JBG SMITH paint a mural at 2250 Crystal Drive in National Landing to remind our neighbors that ‘even through tough times, the sun will always rise.'” [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Vincent

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On March 25, the owner of ARLnow’s parent company — which also owns ALXnow, Tysons Reporter and Reston Now — sent an email to the manager of our local bank branch.

“My understanding is that banks will be offering some form of SBA loan for payroll support, with a provision for the payroll costs to be forgiven after a few months,” said the email, sent two days before the CARES Act was signed into law. “That is something we both very much need and want. Can you put me in line to apply for it when the bill passes and we know what the terms are?”

Four weeks later, all $349 billion of the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program is spoken for and ARLnow’s application is still listed opaquely as “under review” by our bank, PNC.

We’re not alone, millions of small business — including Ben’s Chili Bowl — are facing the same reality. And while the program is likely to be replenished by Congress soon, those left behind still have the uncertainty of not knowing whether we’ll get the loans this time around, and whether it will be too late to save the business as it exists now, even if we eventually do qualify.

Thanks to the loyalty of our long-time advertisers and the generous contributions of our readers, ARLnow will weather this storm in one form or another. But a PPP loan would make a big difference in our ability to retain our workforce and our level of original reporting going forward.

For those interested in the nitty gritty, the following is an account of our experience with PPP. Hopefully it can be instructive for those trying to understand how it worked (and did not work), or cathartic for small business owners in the same boat.

But first, three caveats:

  1. It’s not unique. Lots of small businesses also were left high and dry.
  2. It’s just a snapshot. We only applied through one bank, so those who applied through other banks would have different experiences.
  3. Plenty of businesses did get PPP loans. Clarendon-based media company Axios announced today that it qualified for a $5 million PPP loan. Shake Shack got $10 million, but is giving it back amid a backlash. Tens of thousands of businesses in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. collectively received $16.5 billion. And those that bank at smaller community banks seem to have fared better than those who use big banks.

Friday, April 3

We emailed the person we were told was our main point of contact at PNC’s main Arlington office, on the day that the Small Business Administration was slated to open up its PPP loan processing window.

“It sounds like banks can start lending under the Payroll Protection Program in the CARES Act.” we asked. “How can we move forward with that?”

Our PNC contact responded promptly, letting us know that “like other financial institutions, we are reviewing the additional guidance from the U.S. Treasury and waiting for the final guidelines and details from the Small Business Administration.” This would be the last time we would hear from a human at PNC until a check-in email on April 16, the day the program ran out of money.

Applying with PNC made the most sense for us. We’ve banked there for the past decade as a business, and our owner has banked there personally since he was a teenager in the 1990s. Plus myriad articles on the subject of PPP said that business owners would have the most luck applying with their existing bank, which is more familiar with their financial history.

The fact that we also have a lending relationship with PNC, in the form of a long-standing line of credit, would also help, theoretically.

PNC opened applications on its website Friday night, but did not announce it to customers (at least not to us) via email.

Monday, April 6 

Not wanting to wait to hear back, we checked the PNC website, and after clicking around a bit found out that the bank was accepting applications online. Do not try to apply with a branch, the website is the only way to submit an application, it said.

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