Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Crystal City Water Park to Get Big Upgrade — “JBG Smith Properties is pitching a major makeover for a small park at the heart of its Crystal City holdings, envisioning some new retail and even a bar atop a water feature. The developer filed plans with Arlington County earlier this month requesting an additional 6,100 square feet of density for the 1.6-acre park, located across the street from JBG Smith’s massive ‘Central District’ project at 1770 Crystal Drive.” [Washington Business Journal, Twitter]

Vote By Mail Facts — “The first round of vote-by-mail ballots have been sent to people who requested them, but it’s not too late to request yours. Ballot applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Oct. 23. To help you understand how voting by mail works — and feel confident in submitting your ballot — we’ve broken down the facts you need to know.” [Arlington County]

Deer Rescued from Country Club Fence — “On Tuesday night, a curious fawn tried to get through a metal fence in the Washington Golf and Country Club. Unfortunately her adventurous plan backfired, and the fawn ended up stuck and stranded. The country club called animal control, which is under the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, and that’s when Officer Shannon Rose sprung to action.” [Washingtonian]

Weekday Afternoon Robbery in Ballston — “At approximately 4:21 p.m. on September 23, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business, approached the front counter, and passed the employee a note demanding money and threatening them if they didn’t comply. The victim complied, and the suspect stole an undisclosed amount of cash, then fled on foot prior to police arrival.” [Arlington County]

National Landing Food Program Extended — “Thanks to generous support from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), Amazon, JBG SMITH, Equity Residential and individual Arlington residents, the National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) announced today that its Farm-to-Families food assistance program will be extended through the fall.” [Press Release]

Addiction Recovery Org Rebrands — “The name will change but the mission will remain the same – working to help those struggling with addiction turn their lives around. Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic announced Sept. 16 that it would change its name to National Capital Treatment and Recovery, following its split last year from the national Phoenix House organization.” [InsideNova]

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The National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) is expanding its Farm-to-Families food program to allow for public donations.

The program, which launched in June, gives a weekly supply of fresh fruits and vegetables to families in need with children attending Wakefield High School, Gunston Middle and Hoffman-Boston Elementary.

Members of the public can now help fund this effort. The BID said in a press release that a $15 donation will buy a week’s worth of produce for one family, and $60 will buy enough for a month.

Public contributions will supplement existing funds to give Farm-to-Families greater reach in the National Landing, Shirlington and Columbia Pike communities. (National Landing refers collectively to the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods in Arlington.)

The press release said the BID has so far dedicated $10,000 to the program, which has allowed 150 families to receive the weekly produce supply.

FRESHFARM, a nonprofit that operates farmers markets in the D.C. region, supplies Farm-to-Families with the produce through their local vendors. The BID is also partnered with Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture and parent-teacher associations for Wakefield, Gunston and Hoffman-Boston.

“We continue to be inspired by the giving nature of the Arlington community and encouraged by all the ways that people have stepped up to lend a hand to their neighbors,” said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, president and executive director of the BID. “The BID and our many partners are excited to now generate community support for Farm-to-Families and further our collective mission to create a healthier community, especially at this difficult time.”

The BID is also working with the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, which recently started a food assistance program of its own, to further expand food access in South Arlington.

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Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard are still separate neighborhoods — but the business improvement district that serves them has a new name today.

The Crystal City Business Improvement District has been officially renamed the National Landing Business Improvement District. The BID has a new website, a new video and a new logo, which gives a visual nod to the area’s “Metrorail lines… abundant natural green spaces and parks, and the water of the Potomac River nearby.”

The name change coincides with two separate events that happened in parallel: the expansion of the BID’s boundaries to include portions of Pentagon City and Potomac Yard, and the arrival of Amazon’s HQ2. The initial HQ2 announcement caught people off guard as it referred to “National Landing,” a term coined by economic development officials in the pitch to Amazon but to that point never revealed to residents.

At the BID’s annual meeting this morning, during which the name change was approved, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey spoke on the broader topics of racial equity and recovery from the pandemic.

“As we come through this we are going to be a stronger Arlington, more equitable, more innovative and more resilient,” Garvey said in prepared remarks. “There is no place I’d rather be in the world than here in Arlington, and a lot of that right now is simply because of this community. We are strong, we are smart, and we are caring.”

More on the name change from a press release:

The Crystal City Business Improvement District is officially renamed the National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) following an action by its voting membership at its annual meeting today. The virtual event included remarks from National Landing BID President and Executive Director Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey and American Diabetes Association President & CEO Tracey Brown.

The organization’s adoption of the National Landing name is the culmination of a robust, years-long community engagement process in which the BID sought and received positive feedback from residents, civic associations and stakeholders, and attained approval from the Arlington County Board.

The name and coinciding brand assets, which were unveiled for the first time at the meeting, aim to better reflect the BID’s enlarged boundaries and to foster a more cohesive identity for National Landing, which is comprised of Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard-Arlington. The National Landing area encompasses nearly 12 million square feet of office space in a mixed-use, walkable urban center that includes more than 26,000 residents, nearly 5,900 hotel rooms and over 450 restaurants and shops.

The new visual identity for the organization and unified district includes a new logo and corresponding digital assets including a video, website (Nationallanding.org), and social handles (@NationalLanding on Twitter & Instagram, @NationalLandingBID on Facebook). The branding features an iconic “N” comprised of bright yellow, blue and green, which reference the Metrorail lines, the area’s abundant natural green spaces and parks, and the water of the Potomac River nearby. In a nod to National Landing’s unparalleled connectivity, the logo’s clean, rounded edges reflect transit systems, the airport and motion. To reinforce the unified spirit of the area, all three neighborhood names are included in the logo.

In her remarks, Ms. Gabriel reflected on the BID’s accomplishments over the past year, which include achieving its longstanding goal of expansion.  “At nearly one square mile or 60 blocks, an expanded BID geography enables us to promote the area’s unified identity as a vibrant, nationally-recognized urban center and to shape and manage growth and investment in ways that enhance the quality of life for those who live, work and visit here,” said Ms. Gabriel.  The BID also worked with local organizations and businesses to produce its signature lineup of programs and events and introduced new art installations and beautification projects this year.

Ms. Gabriel addressed the BID’s ongoing work to support the community during the COVID-19 crisis, which included a $100,000 contribution to Arlington’s Small Business Emergency GRANT Program to help National Landing establishments whose operations were impacted by the pandemic. The BID also shifted to a lineup of virtual programming; launched its “Hometown Heroes” program to recognize inspiring community members; and created the #LoveNationalLanding campaign, an ongoing partnership with local artists to enliven the streets, highlight small businesses and foster neighborhood spirit.

Ms. Gabriel stated that the BID is more committed than ever to guiding the area’s growth in ways that promote equity and inclusion. In addition to providing its core set of services to the entire National Landing area, the BID is prepared to assist through the various stages of reopening and recovery and continues to explore civic partnerships to serve the humanitarian needs of the community. To accomplish its goals, the BID will grow its staff as it continues to settle into its new offices at 2011 Crystal Drive.

Despite the year’s challenges, the BID underscored optimism for National Landing’s future, highlighted by the construction of Amazon’s second headquarters and the company’s hiring efforts, planned park improvements and the area’s robust residential development pipeline.  In addition, continued funding for transformative infrastructure projects like the CC2DCA intermodal connector and Route 1’s conversion to an urban boulevard will deliver next generation mobility.

Through these projects and other strategic efforts, Ms. Gabriel remarked that, “The National Landing area is poised to serve existing and future residents, employees and visitors who appreciate a community that offers convenience, urban amenities and a vibrant and transforming public realm.”

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Over the next three weeks, Ballston streets might look a little more colorful than before thanks to a new series of murals commissioned by BallstonGives, a charitable subsidiary of the Ballston Business Improvement District.

Artist Patrick Owens was commissioned to do a series of chalk images on the sidewalk over the next three weeks. The first was completed earlier this week outside Randolph Towers (4001 9th Street N.).

“We are ever-inspired by the resiliency of our Ballston community and businesses and are delighted to celebrate the workers who have continued to keep this neighborhood running during the pandemic,” said Tina Leone, CEO of the Ballston BID, in a press release. “We truly regard them as our hometown heroes, so we felt it was fitting to honor them as such across several industries while injecting color onto the streets for passersby to enjoy.”

The Ballston BID said Owens will be going around Ballston and working on other murals over the next few weeks, weather dependent. Check out the art while you can, given the rain in the forecast over the next few days.

Photo courtesy Ballston BID

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Morning Notes

Arlington Nat’l Cemetery Time Capsule Opened — “An interdisciplinary team recently unsealed a memorabilia box more than a 100 years old at Arlington National Cemetery, in honor of the Memorial Amphitheater’s centennial. And now, a peek inside the old copper box, along with its historic relics, are available virtually, as ANC hosts it’s first-ever online exhibit starting this week.” [U.S. Army, Washington Post]

Bus Protest on I-395 — A caravan of buses made its way up I-395, through Arlington and into D.C. yesterday. The buses were heading the the National Mall to protest a lack of federal help for the motorcoach industry. [@hhowardWTOP/Twitter, @STATter911/Twitter]

Whitlow’s Reopening Friday — “Open for carry out daily starting this Friday from 4-8pm! Cocktails, Jell-O shots, frozen boozy slushees and a limited menu! Check out the menu and our new online ordering store.” [Facebook]

Rosslyn BID Offering Reopening Consulting — “Today, the Rosslyn BID announced the launch of Rosslyn Ready, a multifaceted program to support and organize businesses in promoting proper safety measures when people are welcomed back into the neighborhood… In just under a week since launch, 90 businesses and restaurants have signed up to be part of the program.” [Press Release]

New Org Looking for Drivers — “Cooperative for a Hunger Free Arlington is looking for volunteers to deliver meals to local Arlingtonians on Thursdays and Fridays for the next few weeks. You must have your own car and a valid license.” [Facebook]

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Morning Notes

County Board Defends COVID-19 Response — “Arlington leaders continue to push back against accusations they could be doing more to address the COVID-19 crisis within the county’s 26 square miles. A number of civic-activists used the public-comment period of the County Board’s April 25 meeting (held ‘virtually’ after the government received state authority to do so) to rap officials for not imposing more aggressive regulation of daily life.” [InsideNova]

More Contributions for Small Biz Grant Fund — “The Arlington County Industrial Development Authority has joined Arlington Economic Development’s (AED) efforts to help small businesses… [The authority] approved a contribution of $326,000 of its own funding. Together with the $674,000 of funding from the County, and the recently announced contributions of $100,000 each by the Crystal City and Rosslyn Business Improvement Districts, total GRANT program funding has reached $1.2 million.” [Arlington County, Rosslyn BID]

Ballston Hotel Donates Rooms to Healthcare Workers — “The Ballston BID is collaborating with local organizations to coordinate free accommodations at the Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston for essential healthcare workers in the community. Chesapeake Hospitality, which manages the Ballston-based Holiday Inn on North Fairfax, is donating a complimentary block of 50 rooms per day… to frontline medical staff, their families, and those most vulnerable within the community.” [Press Release]

Arlington Gets Okay Social Distancing Marks — “Falls Church has a C+, Fairfax County has a C and Arlington gets a B- in social distancing grades from @Unacast. Virginia’s grade is D- and the U.S. as a whole gets a D+.” [Falls Church News-Press, Twitter]

New Deputy Chief for ACPD — “Arlington County Police Chief M. Jay Farr is pleased to announce the appointment of Captain Adrienne Quigley to the position of Deputy Chief of Police, effective Sunday, May 10, 2020. Deputy Chief Quigley will assume command of the Systems Management Division at a later date.” [Arlington County]

Historic Home and Huge Lot Not for Sale, Yet — “Long coveted by developers and planners for schools and parks, the home built just after the Civil War has stirred interest since the death in 2017 of owner Randy Rouse, the homebuilder and equestrian. But his widow still lives in the home. And this week, it appears that some speculation on marketing the house was premature, the chances that the county could purchase it almost nil.” [Falls Church News-Press]

COVID Case Shuts Down Credit Union Branch — “The Arlington Community Federal Credit Union is closing one of their branches after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, the credit union announced Monday morning.” [Patch]

Bankruptcy for Hair Cuttery, Bubbles — “Ratner Cos., the Vienna-based parent company of hair salon chains including the Hair Cuttery, Bubbles and Cielo, has filed for bankruptcy protection after closing more than 80 locations across the country in March. The company and related entities, including Creative Hairdressers Inc., filed for Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

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People singing and playing music from their balconies has been something of a trend during the quarantine, and the Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) wants to get it started in Arlington.

The Crystal City BID is starting Front Porch Fridays tomorrow (Friday) afternoon.

“We may not all have a front porch — we may not all even have a balcony — but what we do have is our community,” the Crystal City BID said on the event page. “Music has always brought people together and now is no different. We can still gather together to listen (virtually)!”

The BID is encouraging residents to open their windows or bring a radio to their porch or balcony, tune to the same station and crank up the volume.

This week, the station is Hot 99.5 at 4:20 p.m. Next week it’s DC 101.1 at noon.

“The station will change each week, but the party atmosphere stays the same,” the BID said. “And best of all — we want you to select the playlist! Visit our Facebook page each week Monday-Wednesday to vote on the songs you want to hear. Then listen in on Friday to see if your pick made the cut!”

The music will be commercial-free, courtesy of the BID.

Videos of people singing in the streets went viral early on in the pandemic, though results to replicate that have sometimes been mixed.

Separately, the BID announced Thursday that it would be donating $100,000 to Arlington’s small business grant fund.

“Small businesses throughout National Landing have adjusted their operations to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Just as they have supported us, we are focusing our efforts on ways to assist and enhance the long-term viability of these businesses,” Crystal City BID President Tracy Sayegh Gabriel said in a statement. “We are pleased to contribute to Arlington County’s GRANT Program, which will enable countless small businesses to stay afloat, retain their staff and continue to serve the community.”

File photo

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Update at 1:40 p.m. — The County Board meeting scheduled for this weekend has been delayed until Saturday, April 25.

At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board is set to consider a construction contract for upgrades to a portion of 23rd Street S. in Crystal City.

As part of the first phase of a two-phase project, the county is planning to “widen the sidewalk and retail parking areas on the south side of 23rd Street” between Route 1 and S. Eads Street. That will mean improved pedestrian safety and better ease of use for the existing parking lot that serves Young Chow restaurant, the Crystal City Restaurant gentlemen’s club, and 7-Eleven.

“Lane widths will be reduced, but the number of travel lanes will remain the same as today,” a county staff report says. “The new curb re-alignment will create more room for vehicles in the shopping plaza to maneuver without encroaching onto the sidewalk.”

Additionally, the $1.33 million construction contract will add new landscaping, crosswalks, ADA-accessible curb ramps and upgraded traffic signals at the intersection of 23rd and Eads. The overall project cost for Phase 1 is about $2.1 million, which will be funded by a regional Northern Virginia Transportation Authority grant.

“Upon approval by the county board, construction is expected to begin Summer of 2020 and to be complete in Winter of 2021,” says the staff report.

Phase 2 of the project is still in design but is expected to upgrade 23rd Street S. between Route 1 and Crystal Drive, with new sidewalks and trees on either side, while removing the grassy median in the middle. That project being planned in conjunction with JBG Smith’s major redevelopment project on the north side of 23rd Street.

“Phase 2 of the project is anticipated to implement similar improvements on 23rd Street South east of Richmond Highway to Crystal Drive,” the staff report notes. “Phase 2 is currently in 30% design and is being coordinated with private sector redevelopment efforts along 23rd Street South.”

The stretch of 23rd Street S. between Arlington Ridge Road and Crystal Drive, which includes the Crystal City’s well-known restaurant row, is seeing a series of infrastructure changes as Amazon arrives in the neighborhood. A project to replace a major water main along 23rd Street is currently underway, and the county recently finished closing an underground pedestrian tunnel under Route 1.

Separately, the County Board on Saturday will also take up the renaming of the Crystal City Business Improvement District to the “The Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard at National Landing Business Improvement Service District.”

Street view via Google Maps

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Alternately billing it as a happy hour for renters and a millennial outreach event, a pair of Crystal City organizations is hosting an event geared toward younger residents tomorrow night.

The Crystal City Civic Association and the neighborhood’s business improvement district are co-hosting the event to engage renters in the quickly changing community.

More from Arlington County:

Co-hosted by the Crystal City Civic Association and Crystal City Business Improvement District, this happy hour is your opportunity to get engaged, get involved, and get a little refreshment in the process. Featuring special remarks from Katie Cristol, Arlington County Board member and former Crystal City resident. This event is targeted for renters in the 22202 area to promote how to get involved in civic engagement and advocacy, with the rapid changes in the neighborhood. Free drinks and light refreshments will be served. Find out more by checking out the Facebook event here.

Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol is expected to deliver remarks at the free event, which is being held at the JBG National Landing Marketing Center (241 18th Street S.) from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Attendees are asked to RSVP online.

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(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) The name “National Landing” is becoming official.

The Board of Directors of the Crystal City Business Improvement District voted yesterday to change the organization’s name to the National Landing Business Improvement District. The new name will now be voted on by the BID’s general membership and the Arlington County Board.

The name change follows the September approval of the BID’s boundary expansion to serve portions of the Pentagon City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods.

Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, president and executive director of the to-be-renamed BID, emphasized in a statement (below) that National Landing is an umbrella term and that the names of the individual neighborhoods are not changing.

We are pleased to report that on January 23 our Board of Directors approved a resolution to change our organizational name to the National Landing Business Improvement District. The Board opted for the new name in recognition of the BID’s upcoming geographic expansion and as a reflection of the increasingly interconnected character of the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard communities. This resolution marks the culmination of a robust public process in which the BID sought and received broad support from area residents and local civic organizations.

Pending approval by the Arlington County Board and a formal vote by the BID’s full members at our Annual Meeting this spring, the National Landing name will be utilized as an umbrella term for Virginia’s most vibrant and largest walkable downtown. It will not replace the existing neighborhood names of Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard, which each maintain their own unique identities and distinct characteristics.

The BID is also seeking to change the term those in economic development and commercial real estate use to refer to the area — from the “Jefferson Davis Corridor,” after the former name of Route 1, to National Landing. Gabriel said the Confederate president’s name “did not represent a desirable monicker for the area.”

In an phone interview with ARLnow this morning, Gabriel acknowledged that the initial rollout of the National Landing name — when Amazon arbitrarily announced that HQ2 was coming to “National Landing” before members of the public had heard of the name — was “not ideal.” She noted, however, that the name was actually created by Arlington and Alexandria officials as part of the local governments’ joint effort to woo Amazon and the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus.

The BID, meanwhile, has been working to change its name since before Amazon’s announcement.

“We’ve been thinking about finding a collective name for our downtown since 2018, even before the arrival of Amazon and the expansion of the BID,” Gabriel said. “With the expansion of the BID we’ve had a renewed effort to have a public conversation about the name.”

“Since the name has come out, we’ve done extensive public outreach. We put out 18,000 flyers, 16,000 of which were mailed to all of the households in the 22202 zip code,” she noted. Other outreach included “numerous open houses about the vision for the neighborhood, as well as focus groups and open office hours.”

There were other possible names floated, we’re told, but none garnered more public support than National Landing. Among the alternative names considered were “Future Cities,” “Lower Arlington” and “Penn-Crystal.”

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The Arlington County Board is set to vote this weekend on a funding agreement that would advance the proposed Crystal City-National Airport pedestrian connector to a preliminary design phase.

The county plans to use up to $9.5 million in federal funds for an environmental impact study and preliminary design work.

The design work is expected to be complex: figuring out how to connect pedestrians along Crystal Drive, and potentially the VRE station, with the airport Metro station — across active train tracks, the GW Parkway and National Park Service land.

“The goal of the project is to create an intermodal connection, focusing on pedestrian access from the core of the Crystal City business district to DCA,” says a county staff report. “The funding agreement allows the County to use Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality federal funding, distributed through VDOT, to develop the required documents and level of design required for federally funded projects.”

“Although the terminals are less than 2,000 feet from Crystal Drive, current pedestrian access is a circuitous network of trails and road crossings that is difficult to traverse,” the report adds.

The project has been championed by the Crystal City Business Improvement District, which envisions a High Line-esque bridge, with park-like features. The primary goal, however, is to make it easy for people to get from Crystal City to the airport without a Metro or car trip — which is seen as an attractive amenity for office tenants and residents. The design work will determine whether a bridge or a tunnel is the best solution for that.

“This weekend’s Arlington County Board vote represents a key step towards advancing our vision for a bold new connection linking Virginia’s largest downtown and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport,” said Robert Mandle, Chief Operating Officer of the BID. “CC2DCA provides a unique opportunity to leverage existing transportation assets into a multi-modal hub, while also delivering a truly special and iconic piece of urban infrastructure.”

The state’s Commonwealth Transportation Board identified $9.5 million in federal funding in the wake of the Amazon HQ2 announcement. That’s on top of $500,000 in local funding previously allocated.

Once the funding is secured and this phase gets underway, the next phases for the Board to consider will be final design and construction. Last year a study by the BID estimated that construction would cost about $38 million, with annual maintenance fees of $100,000.

Map via Google Maps

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