A decade later, Politico is a major force in the news industry and VandeHei has moved on to found another media startup: Axios.
Launched in January and based (for now) at MakeOffices in Clarendon, Axios has made some big hires, broken some big stories and is growing rapidly, thanks in part to investment from major media companies.
In this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we talked with Jim about his vision for Axios, the current state of the media industry and his take on what’s happening inside the Trump White House.
Some of the initial headlines about Axios, before it launched, revolved around a number VandeHei threw out as a potential price for a subscription: $10,000 per year.
“It could be that number, it could be higher,” VandeHei told us. Large companies and lobbying groups, he said, have that kind of money to pay for information that’s valuable to their business.
For those of us who don’t have thousands to spend on enterprise-focused news and analysis (the subscription service will be launched at a later date) the site and its email newsletters, from marquee names like co-founder Mike Allen and former Fortune columnist Dan Primack, are free. The first thing you’ll notice: the emphasis on brevity. It’s a key ethos at Axios and VandeHei says the goal is to give busy people only the facts they need — “long enough to give you what you need but not so long that it bores you and turns you off.”
In addition to the subscription business, Axios is making money by holding events and by selling advertising to blue chip advertisers like Bank of America, Walmart and BP. VandeHei said that at a time when Facebook and Google are vacuuming up many of the dollars streaming into digital advertising, a diversified revenue stream is important.
On the topic of Trump, VandeHei was candid about what he described as “an unprecedented presidency.” We asked him what might happen to Arlington and the D.C. area under Trump, given the president’s rhetoric about “draining the swamp” and reducing the size of government.
“I don’t know, and I don’t know because the president doesn’t know,” VandeHei said. “I think people assume he came with a very specific plan and a very team that would carry it out, and none of those things is true. They’re making it up on the go.”
VandeHei, who together with Allen interviewed Trump last month, said the president does not have “a strong ideology” outside of immigration and trade. Other issues, he said, are “fully negotiable.”
Lest an optimist think that Trump will get his administration to stabilize and function more like those before it, after a rocky first few weeks in office, it probably isn’t going to happen, according to VandeHei.
“People need to pinch themselves,” he said. “This is not normal.”
“Having had pretty good visibility into this White House, it’s a mess and I’d say it’s arguably worse than you think it is,” VandeHei said. “It’s just competing factions, no trust… it’s a tough way to run a White House. We’re three weeks in, half the people at the senior level think they’re on thin ice and going to lose their job, the other half are angling for a better job that they can have, and none of them are focused on carrying out an agenda that’s going to be awesome for America.”
“The idea that he’s going to suddenly change and that he’s suddenly going to run a more stable White House or that he’s going have a very clear vision of where he wants things to go… there’s a very low percentage chance that that happens. I would just anticipate this level of volatility and this level of insanity until further notice.”
That all said, VandeHei defended Axios’ Trump Tower interview and Mar-a-Lago visit from others in the journalism world who criticized it for appearing too cozy with the incoming administration.
“I find a lot of these arguments silly,” VandeHei said when asked about that and about the turmoil over the news organizations pulling out of the White House Correspondents Dinner now that Trump is president.
“Most reporters are liberal, no doubt about it. Most of them are being egged on to take a very hostile stand against Trump and Republicans,” he said. “But guess what, Republicans run town, they have the House, they have the Senate, they have the White House, they’re about to have the judiciary, they have almost every state government. This is a Republican-run country and you darn well better figure out what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.”
VandeHei had the following advice for journalists in the Trump era: focus on facts, hold people accountable, avoid media “self-flogging” and “maybe stay off Twitter.”
Photo courtesy Axios
Police say the incident happened around 7:40 p.m. on the 2700 block of Clarendon Blvd, near the Whole Foods store.
“The victim was a rideshare driver and, following a verbal altercation over the phone regarding the pickup location of the fare, the suspect assaulted the driver,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
More from this week’s ACPD crime report:
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2017-02110254, 2700 block of Clarendon Boulevard. At approximately 7:40 p.m. on February 11, officers responded to the report of a fight in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that a male victim rolled down the window of his vehicle to speak to the male suspect, when the suspect began assaulting the victim through the driver side window. The suspect then fled the scene on foot. Medics arrived on scene and treated the victim. Warrants have been obtained for malicious wounding. The investigation is ongoing.
The rest of the past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.
The new owner of Market Common Clarendon is proposing major changes to the sprawling development.
Regency Centers has filed a preliminary site plan to rezone and redevelop a group of buildings along the 2800 blocks of Clarendon and Wilson Blvds. The affected properties include an office building, IOTA Club and Cafe, the former A&R Engravers storefront and the Baja Fresh restaurant.
The redevelopment would mean the partial demolition of the building that holds IOTA and the former engraver’s shop, while preserving and restoring the shop’s “historic facade.” The work would likely force IOTA — a well-loved cafe, outdoor bar and live music venue — to close its doors or relocate.
When asked about the plans, IOTA co-owner Jane Negrey Inge said she did not expect the renovations to happen “any time… soon.”
Over the years we’ve seen a lot of excitement around us. In our first couple years Arlington County sold the public alley behind us to the owners of the Sears Building and we became landlocked! It was disappointing but we worked things out and over the years we’ve maintained a spirit of cooperation with our neighbors and various land-owners. As far as we know changes are coming again with new owners but I don’t think 2832 Wilson will come crashing down on our heads any time real soon. Spring is going [to] spring into gear, and we’ll be glad to re-open the IOTA Back Alley for the season and enjoy good weather, good beer, good friends — which sounds like a good development plan to me!
Additionally, under the plan, the renovation would add a fourth floor and approximately 26,784 square feet of additional space to the office building at 2801 Clarendon Blvd. Regency seeks to upgrade the office building’s facade, redesign the first two floors for office or retail use, add new storefronts on the ground floor and possibly use the basement for public self-storage.
The plan also calls for improvements to the open space at the corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Edgewood Street, new private outdoor roof terraces and the installation of a “partial green roof.”
“The design and condition of the existing office building, which predates Market Common Clarendon redevelopment by many years, is not consistent with the remainder of the development,” the preliminary site plan filing says. “With the improvements proposed by the Applicant, the office building will be more effectively integrated into Market Common Clarendon and will allow for the much-needed repositioning of the vacant office space in order to attract new commercial tenants.”
“This [proposed redevelopment] creates newly competitive office and retail space in a building with high-quality architecture within easy walking distance to many community amenities in Clarendon,” the filing adds.
A representative for Regency Centers didn’t immediately provide more information about the proposed redevelopment, which is still in its early stages.
To move forward, the plan must be reviewed by the Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC), then be presented to both the Arlington Planning Commission and the County Board.
Just before 1 a.m., police say a suspect tried to throw a glass bottle at a restaurant employee, who ducked out of the way just in time to avoid the projectile. The suspect took off on foot as police gave chase, but after a brief pursuit he was taken into custody.
The incident happened on the 1100 block of N. Highland Street, according to a crime report; that’s the same block as Clarendon Grill.
More on the charges Justice is facing, below, from an Arlington County Police Department crime report.
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2017-02110017, 1100 block of N. Highland Street. At approximately 12:55 a.m. on February 11, officers witnessed a male subject throw a glass bottle at a restaurant employee. The employee was able to move out of the way and was not struck by the bottle. Officers attempted to take the male suspect into custody but he tried to flee the area on foot. Following a brief foot pursuit, the suspect was taken into custody. Adam Rhodes Justice, 26, of Fairfax Va, was arrested and charged with attempted malicious wounding, obstruction of justice, and drunk in public.
It’s an old cliche that firefighters rescue cats from trees. But furniture?
Apparently so: The Arlington County Fire Department was called to the 1200 block of N. Herndon Street for a couch that got stuck in a tree sometime this morning. Officials said the seat, a wicker sofa, could pose a public hazard.
Today’s unusually high winds apparently blew the furniture off of a roof deck at the nearby Clarendon Apartments. Firefighters pulled it down around 9:45 a.m., but not before snapping a few candid shots on their phones.
“Here’s your photo opportunity,” joked one Arlington County Police officer while taking a picture of his own.
The couch was last seen being hauled back into the apartment building.
New Clarendon Cafe Has ‘Oatmeal Program’ — Baba, the new Balkan-themed cafe in the basement of Ambar in Clarendon, has an “oatmeal program,” says its owner. Baba will serve La Colombe coffee, two types of “fancy oatmeal,” as well as oatmeal packages for takeout. [Washingtonian]
School Board Wants to Lift Pay Cap — It’s unclear why the Virginia General Assembly capped the pay of Arlington School Board members at $25,000, but the School Board is hopeful that a measure making its way through the legislature will pass, allowing members to raise their salaries in 2021. [InsideNova]
Accenture Acquires Part of Endgame — Consulting and professional services firm Accenture has acquired the federal government services business of Arlington-based startup Endgame for an undisclosed sum. [WTOP]
Longtime Arlington Teacher Dies — Margaret (Peggy) Huddleston, a Washington-Lee grad and longtime W-L teacher and guidance counselor, has died at the age of 92. [Falls Church News-Press]
Delays Likely at DCA — Between high winds in the D.C. area, and flight cancellations and delays due to the snowstorm in the Northeast, there may be significant impacts on flights at Reagan National Airport today. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The company behind a Clarendon cycling shop has a new owner and a new name.
Local bike and clothing chain Revolution Cycles is now the “Trek Bicycle Store.” The name change is part of a sale to the Trek Bicycle Corporation, a Wisconsin-based retailer of bicycles and riding accessories.
Workers will soon install signs with the company’s new name at the former Revolution Cycles at 2731 Wilson Blvd in Clarendon as well as at the locations in Georgetown, Rockville and Stafford.
“We have plans to expand and continue to improve everything that has made these stores so important to the communities they serve,” Trek spokesman Eric Bjorling told ARLnow.com. “Along with us will come a dedication to creating a great environment for local cyclists through local cycling advocacy and we will be focused on finding all the opportunities we can to create unforgettable retail experiences.”
Revolution founders Mike Hamannwright and Santiago “Pinkey” Gonzalez thanked the store’s longtime customers in an email yesterday.
The full email is below.
Twenty years ago, a couple guys set out on a mission to fulfill a personal dream, namely to turn our passion for bicycles, serving customers and wearing shorts to work into a livelihood. Thus was born Revolution Cycles at the foot of the Key Bridge in Georgetown.
The time has come for us to pass the baton and move into the next chapter of our lives. We’ve been honored to serve the Washington D.C. community and have watched our dream grow into a successful and vibrant family of four stores stretching from Rockville, Maryland, to Stafford, Virginia. From your house to the White Hose, we’ve always strived to exceed expectations. In this journey, we’ve been carried by a tide of amazing customers and a dedicated and talented staff.
We love the business we’ve all built together, and as we planned for the future, our priority was finding a partner who shared our core values and would commit to building upon what we’ve developed. We believe the best part of our business wears shoes; the customers and our tremendous staff. We needed to know that Revolution Cycles would be in the caring hands of people who have a passion for cycling, a reputation for excellent customer service, and a dedication to giving back to the community through advocacy.
We have found that partner in Trek Bicycle. We know they will do a great job and that your experience with your shops and cycling in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia will continue to improve under their guidance and leadership.
There truly aren’t words that adequately say “thank you” for all the support you’ve given us through the years. Owning a small business is a ride like no other. Without your support, there is no revolution cycles. Over the years we’ve drawn inspiration and our drive from the energy of our customers and hundreds of staff who’ve worn the Revolution Cycles black and red polo.
We are forever grateful you chose us to be your local bike shop.
Mike and Pinkey
(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) A Manassas-based brewery and coffee roaster has plans to open a new Clarendon brewpub later this month.
Heritage Brewing’s Arlington outpost is scheduled to open its doors at 2900 Wilson Blvd by the end of February, according to Sean Arroyo, the company’s chief executive officer. The company launched a Kickstarter campaign last November to help open the restaurant.
When it opens to the public, the gastropub will serve small-batch beers in addition to a lineup of IPAs, pale ales and wheat beers.
“We’ll have a brew pilot system there,” Arroyo said. “We’ll do small batches and exclusive beers for the Arlington community.”
Though the food menu isn’t yet finalized, it will be more than “your typical pub and grub,” Arroyo said. Dishes from executive chef Donal Crosbie will include roasted chicken, steak, burgers and fish.
“There’s a lot of thought in the menu and in the dishes,” Arroyo said. “Everything is fresh. We’re purchasing local ingredients. You’ll see Virginia chicken and beef.”
Another idea Heritage plans to implement is to serve beef from cattle that were fed some of the brewery’s spent grains.
“It’s the ultimate farm-to-table,” Arroyo joked.
Inside the eatery, repurposed wooden barrels, brick walls and reclaimed wood will help create a style Arroyo calls “barn chic meets industrial rustic.”
“All of the benches and booths that are in there are made from barrels that once aged whiskey and then aged our beer,” he said. “We want you to feel all-encompassed while being comfortable.”
Above all else, Arroyo said he’s just excited to start serving food and beer in Arlington.
“Most of our consumers are from Arlington,” he said. “We know that we will have a great community there.”
A national purveyor of women’s clothing has quietly shuttered its shop in Clarendon.
The Chico’s at Market Common Clarendon (2700 Clarendon Blvd) is now closed. The store’s exterior sign has been removed and its windows are now covered with paper. The location also is no longer listed on the company’s website.
It wasn’t clear what might replace the clothing retailer. Arlington County has not recently issued any building permits for the address.
A Chico’s representative wasn’t immediately available for comment. The company currently has another Arlington location at 1101 S. Joyce Street on Pentagon Row.
(Updated at 10:53 a.m.) A new fitness studio is now open on the ground floor of the Beacon at Clarendon apartment building.
The business, Neighborhood Barre, opened its doors at 1148 N. Irving Street about two weeks ago, according to franchise owner Eileen McCarthy.
Neighborhood Barre offers workouts that mix dance conditioning, pilates and isometric exercise techniques. This is the first D.C.-area gym for the company, which has locations in Tennessee and Alabama.
McCarthy, a longtime barre enthusiast, said she got the idea to open the studio after many years of trying different kinds of exercise routines.
“I had been doing barre workouts on my own,” McCarthy said. “It was a big stress reliever for me. It’s intense, but it’s not off-the-wall intense.”
The ballet-inspired barre workouts are suitable for people of any fitness level, she added.
Though she considered several other locations, McCarthy said opening a fitness studio in Clarendon was a “no brainer.”
“It’s just such a good mix of people and densely populated,” she said.
Neighborhood Barre currently offers five classes each weekday and three classes on Saturday and Sunday, but more classes are on the way, McCarthy said.
Vanessa Reisis, along with her husband and kids, have been running Goody’s Pizza (3125 Wilson Blvd) since it opened in Clarendon in 2006.
When we checked in with “Momma Goody” last summer, she said the family-owned shop was struggling to keep up with high rent and lots of competition.
But there’s good news: since then business has picked up and Reisis is confident that Goody’s will be able to renew its lease and keep serving the shop’s loyal customers for years to come.
Also, be sure to check out this week’s sponsor, Crystal Couture, which starts next Thursday, Feb. 2, in Crystal City.
The Arlington County Board is considering giving its blessing to several easements needed for a long-awaited plan to revamp a tricky intersection in Clarendon.
If approved, the county will pay the Catholic Diocese of Arlington nearly $25,000 for permanent and temporary easements on a portion of church property along Washington Blvd, to be used for sidewalk, curb, gutter, utilities and drainage purposes.
The overall plan calls for improvements to “access and safety for those who walk, bike and drive.” The project’s goals include upgrades such as improved traffic signals and streetlights, wider center medians, shorter pedestrian crossings, bike lanes and curb extensions.
“Current travel across the intersection can be difficult due to its extreme width and the skewed alignment of its roadways,” according to a County webpage. “North Irving Street also enters the circle area in two offset locations, further complicating the traffic pattern.”
This wasn’t the only idea that Arlington County considered. Roundabouts, one-way street couplets and other alternative designs all were analyzed, but the County found those elements “would have negative impacts on all modes of transportation, especially for pedestrians.”
If all goes according to plan, the engineering design will be completed this spring, clearing the way for construction to begin next summer. Project completion is pegged for the summer of 2019.
(Updated on Friday at 5:06 p.m.) Clarendon restaurant Ambar will open a sister cafe, restaurant and cocktail lounge called Baba next week.
The business, named after the Serbian word for grandmother, is slated to open in the basement level of 2901 Wilson Blvd by Wednesday, Feb. 1.
Owner Ivan Iricanin said the new hangout is meant to conjure the kind of warm, homey feeling one might get when visiting their grandmother’s house.
“You get fed well, you get treated well, you always have a fire,” Iricanin said. “It’s a rustic feel, but very comfortable.”
In the morning, Baba’s chefs will whip up a breakfast and brunch menu that includes pastries, french toast, oatmeal, customizable grain and veggie bowls, sandwiches and La Colombe coffee. Then, later in the day, the lights dim and the spot becomes a spot for cocktails, sliders and music.
“Grandma here is a little bit modern and a little bit edgy,” Iricanin joked. “It’s very transformative.”
One of the eatery’s specialties will be Rakia, a boozy Balkan beverage made from distilled, fermented fruit juice. Patrons can also order cocktails made from various liquors alongside house-made tinctures and infusions and 20 kinds of wine from countries such as Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia.
“We want you to come here, drink cocktails, get a few bites of this, a few bites of that,” said Iricanin.
But it’s also the kind of place where patrons might want to hang out, he added. The restaurant will feature free Wi-Fi, and outlets with USB ports under every seat.
The 2,400-square foot interior, which was designed by Iricanin’s wife, Nya Gill, features a mix of vintage and modern materials, eclectic artwork and antique glass chandeliers. Going along with the comfortable theme, the bar also has a real working fireplace flanked by two leather “king chairs,” as Iricanin calls them.
“You won’t want to leave,” said Iricanin. “Again, think grandma.”
One needs only take a drive through Arlington to see that specialty gyms are all the rage these days.
But at one of Arlington’s newest specialty gyms, the focus isn’t trendy workouts or buzzy rash diets, it’s a dedication to form. Or at least, that’s how Corbin Jennings, owner of MADabolic at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, pitches the business, which opened to the public on Labor Day last year.
Located below street level, across from the Clarendon Metro station, MADabolic specializes in 50-minute workouts where groups lift weights, squat, do burpees and run suicides to help bolster their endurance and fitness level. During classes — which are capped at 20 — trainers instruct their clients how to move their bodies.
“If there is one thing I’d say differentiates us from a lot of other programs out there, it’s attention to form,” Jennings said. “Our trainers are not in here on a microphone in dimly lit lights trying to be a cheerleader.”
The workouts aren’t glamorous, nor are they fun. But they’re effective, Jennings said.
“It’s not the fashionable thing to do,” he added. “It’s not trendy, but we’re doing what’s right for the consumer at the end of the day.”
The gym is part of a fitness chain with locations in Charlottesville, Va., along with several others in North Carolina and South Carolina. The name MADabolic contains an acronym that stands for momentum, anaerobic and durability — the core tenets behind the training regimen, Jennings said.
“This is all stuff they were doing while they were playing hockey,” said Jennings. “We train you like an athlete and typically the results are like an athlete.”
Currently, the gym has about 100 members, but Jennings hopes to add more in the coming year. Those interested in signing up for classes can visit MADabolic’s website or call the business at 571-319-0172.
Duane “Dog” Chapman visited Don Tito (3165 Wilson Blvd) in Clarendon over the weekend.
The bounty hunter and reality show star stopped by the restaurant on Saturday and ordered a plate of fajitas for lunch, we’re told. After chowing down, but before riding away in a black SUV, Chapman posed for a couple of photos.
Chapman was in town with his wife, Beth, attending presidential inauguration events. Beth Chapman, who is politically active as president of the Professional Bail Agents of the United States, donated to the campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump.