The shops, which rely largely on foot traffic from Crystal City office workers, have been struggling during the pandemic. But with Amazon’s arrival spurring new development, some local groups have been brainstorming a new future for the half-mile corridor.
Last week, the best ideas were proclaimed winners of the “Underground Challenge,” developed by Livability 22202, a group that includes the Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands and Crystal City civic associations.
“The Underground Challenge was organized to spur creative thinking about the Crystal City Underground and its future with the change and new development now happening in Crystal City and National Landing,” said Livability 22202’s press release. The group said that subterranean shops are “much loved by local residents.”
The challenge was sponsored by JBG Smith, which owns the shopping center, and the National Landing Business Improvement District, which serves the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods. The three groups founded a working group to liven up the sparse hallways.
People submitted creative writing pieces, videos or business plans to revitalize the buildings, corridors and plazas that were built a half-century ago.
“Entrants celebrated their fondness for the underground, pointed out its quirks and features, and proposed new ideas for its future,” said the press release.
These ideas included libraries, museums, urban farms or spaces for kid-friendly STEM activities.
Patricia Heath’s “Underground Energy” won first place in the “Write Underground” category:
“There are myriad issues to be addressed, and I don’t have all the answers (and likely don’t know all the challenges),” Heath wrote. “What I do know is this: the Water Park may be the outdoor personification of our Crystal City urban village, but the Underground is its beating heart and circulatory system, literally and figuratively.”
Runners-up in the creative writing category included Neena Gupta’s “In Search of a Protagonist” and Matthew Mercado’s “Dr. Mercado’s Diagnosis.”
Kari Klaus won the video category with a vision of a Las Vegas-inspired Underground.
Business plan category winner Matt McKinstry suggested the “Under Grange,” a network of indoor hydroponic farms and agri-tech startups that grow vegetables, greens and herbs, and support cheesemaking and beekeeping, to supply local restaurants.
Runners-up included Michael Hong, who suggested a Museum of Science Fiction and venues for live music, and John Chapin, who imagined security-related businesses settling into the Underground.
“The community’s robust level of engagement in the ‘Underground Challenge’ truly reflects their passion for great places and appetite for continuous reinvention,” said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, the president and executive director of the National Landing BID, in a statement. “National Landing is fortunate to have such a committed community of residents focused on positive efforts that will improve the neighborhood for all.”
The contest’s judges included Robert Siegel, former co-host of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered; Arlington videographer Eric Courtney; and Arlington authors Rick Hodges and Kim O’Connell.
Livability 22202 said it plans to share ideas from the Challenge in future discussions about the underground.
Coronavirus Outbreak at Marymount — A COVID-19 outbreak has been reported at Marymount University in Arlington. “Initially, cases were identified over Columbus Day weekend and we’ve seen a decline in the total number of cases since October 21,” university spokesman Nicholas Munson told Patch. “To date over the more than two-week period, 31 students have tested positive.” [Patch]
New Charges Against Arlington Resident — “Prosecutors in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, on Tuesday unveiled 15 felony charges against a pair of right-wing operatives over a recent robocall aimed at discouraging minority voters from casting their ballots by mail, similar to an indictment filed earlier this month by authorities in Michigan… The Ohio robocall claimed to be the work of the 1599 Project, an outfit that Burkman and Wohl run out of Burkman’s home in Arlington, Virginia.” [StateScoop]
Missing Middle Housing Event Tonight — “The Missing Middle Housing Study will explore how new housing types could help address Arlington’s shortfall in housing supply and gaps in housing choices. All members of the community are invited to virtually attend the study’s kick off” from 7-9 p.m. tonight. [Arlington County]
Home Sale Prices Still Going Up — “The housing market in Arlington County, Virginia, is not cooling off, with sales and prices showing among the biggest gains in the nation in September. The median price of what sold in Arlington County last month was $710,000. That’s the highest county-level median price in Northern Virginia, and up 21% from last September.” [WTOP]
Library Pumpkin Decorating Winners — “We are thrilled to have received 42 pumpkin submissions for our first virtual Pumpkin Decorating Contest! It was hard to choose the winners, as we adored so many. Thank you for submitting, attending the virtual decorating programs and carving out fun with the folks at the library!” [Arlington Public Library]
Local Lawyer Pens New Novel — “By day, Jim Irving is a sixty-something, buttoned-up attorney, a partner in a prestigious Northern Virginia law firm. By night, he is a writer tapping into his past experiences as a private eye and criminal lawyer. In his debut novel, Friends Like These: A Joth Proctor Fixer Mystery, the first in a planned trilogy, Irving draws heavily on his Arlington environs in crafting the adventures of his protagonist.” [Washington Independent Review of Books]
Rosslyn Outdoor Coworking Space Update — “Arlingtonians have about a month left to enjoy outdoor office space provided by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID). The space, dubbed O2, was created after the pandemic pushed employees out of their cubicles and into their home offices… Reservations are free of charge and can be made on the O2 website. Masks are required for entry and tables are six feet apart.” [WDVM]
One of the submission happens to be from an Arlington fourth grader.
Barrett Elementary student Oliver (a last name was not provided) submitted a name that has become a finalist in the contest: ENDURANCE.
Here’s what Oliver wrote about the name in an essay:
“Endurance” is the right name for the Mars 2020 Rover. The Endurance was the ship of Ernest Shackleton, a great leader and one of the first Antarctic explorers. Antarctica and Mars both have a harsh and unforgiving surface and environment. The Endurance was on a scientific mission, just like Mars 2020. No matter what went wrong, Shackleton stuck with it. I know the NASA team will do the same for the Mars 2020 mission.
I think about space all the time. I love watching NASA TV. My favorite events were New Horizons, ISS space walks, and the Mars Insight landing. My school was the first NASA Explorer School in the state of Virginia.
Shackleton’s journey inspired kids to explore over a century ago, but “Endurance” needs a second chance to survive! Today, we are so excited for Mars exploration and soon, the first human to step foot on Mars.
Oliver’s was among more than 28,000 essays submitted. Other finalists include CLARITY, TENACITY, INGENUITY, VISION, PROMISE, PERSEVERANCE, FORTITUDE, and COURAGE.
Voting closes at midnight tonight.
Arlington wants residents to pick the new “I Voted” sticker design for the 2019 elections.
The Arlington County Office of Elections posted on its website five colorful designs vying for your favor, which range from the modern to historically-minded.
Voters have must enter an Arlington address to view the designs, and are then directed to order them from top to least favorite.
The winning design will be featured on the 2019 “I Voted” stickers given to those who cast their ballots in the general election on November 5. (Currently, the county is in the middle of a primary election, which decides the candidates for the November election.)
County election officials partnered with the Arlington Artists Alliance and Arlington Public Library to select the top five designs earlier this month, per the contest announcement.
Images via Arlington County
Arlington is asking residents to submit nature photos in a contest for which locality can log the most nature sightings in urban environments.
This year, challenge runs from Friday to Sunday and Arlington is hosting hourly spotting events at local parks where participants can learn to use the app and log their nature observations.
“The Arlington Regional Master Naturalists are sponsoring a series of events and need your help to get better data about our environment,” said Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreations on its website, adding that participants can “help biologists understand the biodiversity of Northern Virginia by documenting the organisms” they find during the events.
Thirteen events are planned in Arlington throughout the weekend. The events planned for tomorrow (Friday) are:
- Barcoft Park from 10 a.m.-1 p.m, with a focus on looking for insects, fish, and more species.
- Benjamin Banneker Park from 2-4 p.m.
- Fort C.F. Smith from 8-9:30 a.m. spotting birds with naturalist David Farner
- Woodlawn Park from 2-4 p.m.
After the observation period closes, the challenge is inviting participants to help out between April 30 and May 5 to identify the species spotted, per the event’s D.C. area website.
Last year, the Greater Washington area entered as one region in the challenge and placed fifth among 68 competing cities, according to the parks department. However, the D.C. area was awarded fourth place for participation with 876 people in the region logging nature sightings in the app.
Image via City Nature Challenge
‘I Voted’ Sticker Design Competition — “The Arlington Electoral Board is teaming up with the Arlington Artists Alliance and the county library system on its first-ever ‘I Voted’ decal competition. Modeled on a similar effort in New York City, the contest encourages Arlington residents to submit designs for the decal that will be distributed to voters on Election Day and used in a variety of outreach campaigns.” [InsideNova]
Crystal City Startup Implodes — “One of Trustify’s investors is asking Delaware’s Chancery Court to appoint a receiver to oversee the company, claiming in court documents that founder and CEO Danny Boice ‘misappropriated Trustify corporate funds for personal use’ and effectively abandoned the business.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington No. 1 for Working Moms — Arlington is the No. 1 best “city” for working moms, according to a new study. “Women in Arlington earn a median salary of $76,438, and the pay gap is narrower than the U.S. average,” the study notes. [Haven Life]
Local Gov’t Contractor Makes Acquisition — Clarendon-based By Light Professional IT Services LLC yesterday “announced the acquisition of [Tysons-based] Phacil, Inc., a diversified software, cybersecurity, systems engineering and managed services provider to the US Government. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.” [PR Newswire]
Family Surprised to Learn Pet Was a Snapping Turtle — “An Arlington family took in a box turtle to be the new family pet recently — only to find out that it was actually a snapping turtle. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington tweeted out a photo of the turtle, noting that their officers had seized the turtle from the unwitting family.” [Patch, Twitter]
APS Delays Release of Construction Cost Report — “Arlington residents will have to wait a little longer for an analysis of the reasons behind the high costs of school construction in the county. The audit committees of the County Board and School Board had been slated to meet Aug. 7 in a joint session to discuss a report by school-system auditor John Mickevice on school-construction costs. That meeting, however, was called off.” [InsideNova]
TSA Keeps Finding Guns in Carry-ons at DCA — Earlier this month, in two separate incidents, TSA agents at Reagan National Airport seized loaded handguns from two men trying to carry them onto planes. The guns were the seventh and eighth seized at the airport so far this year. The men are now facing weapons charges. [Patch]
Jail Holds Creative Writing Contest — A 26-year-old man who’s in jail on a heroin possession charge won the Arlington County lockup’s first-ever creative writing contest yesterday. His prize-winning poem, in part: “I dream about the future. I dream about the past. I dream about the mountains. I dream about the sea. I dream of all the places that I would rather be.” [NBC Washington]
InsideNova Not Available in Europe — More than 1,000 U.S. news websites are blocking users from Europe after the EU implemented strict new privacy regulations known as GDPR on May 25. Among the sites that are no longer accessible from Europe, as seen in this screen shot from last month: InsideNova, which publishes articles from the Arlington Sun Gazette newspaper. [Nieman Journalism Lab]
(Updated 7/2 at 12:05 pm) Aspiring Arlington soccer stars will soon have the opportunity to show off their dribbling, shooting, juggling and passing skills.
Next Saturday (July 7) from 4-8 p.m., the International Champions Cup Skills Challenge comes to Williamsburg Middle School.
The competition is divided into male and female divisions, which are each broken up by age (U12, U16 and open). Competitors receive a 45-minute time slot to navigate a dribbling course, score goals, juggle for as long as possible and quickly complete difficult passes.
The top entrant in each category will receive two free tickets to the Aug. 4 Juventus v. Real Madrid ICC match at FedEx Field and be recognized on the field during halftime.
Those interested can register online. Participation is free.
Photo via Facebook
The owners of a new Rosslyn observation deck are holding a contest to give people the opportunity to catch a first glimpse of the views from the space at CEB Tower at Central Place before it officially opens this summer.
Four winners will be able bring up to four guests each to tour the observation deck, located at 1201 Wilson Blvd. Entry for the contest ends Thursday.
Views from the 12,000 square foot deck feature much of the Georgetown waterfront, the Washington Monument, the U.S. Capitol building and more. According to the Washington Post, the space — expected to be a major tourist attraction — will also offer fourteen 55-inch touch screens that will highlight local landmarks. There will also be a bar with light food options.
Once it officially opens, the deck will charge $21 for admission, with reduced rates for students, seniors, children and the military. Admission will be free for Arlington residents.
Photo courtesy of Rosslyn BID
Arlington County is encouraging residents to get outside this weekend and help spot plant and animal species as part of the global City Nature Challenge.
The contest pits communities around the world against each other to identify as many plant and animal species as possible within their borders from April 27-30. Those participating are encouraged to use the iNaturalist app, which allows users to upload photos of plants and animals for the rest of the community to help identify.
For this contest, Arlington is classified within the greater D.C. area, and any species identification made within the county will count toward that group. Last year, the region placed seventh out of more than 75 global cities in the City Nature Challenge.
As a part of the challenge, county naturalists held a free guided walk this morning, and they’ll hold another one this afternoon from 2-2:30 at Gulf Branch Nature Center. Tomorrow (April 21) participants can learn how to use the iNaturalist app from 10-11:30 a.m. at Gulf Branch Nature Center. The free training is recommended for any nature enthusiasts at least eight years of age.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles opened online voting today for a license plate design contest intended to help combat distracted driving.
Voters in the Take Action Against Distraction contest have a choice between eight license plate designs created by Virginia high school students. Each license plate aims to raise awareness about distracted driving, whether it be by texting or drivers failing to keep their eyes on the road.
In 2016, distracted driving caused thousands of crashes and claimed 175 lives in Virginia, according to one report.
Voting will be open through March 20, and the winner will be awarded $1,000, courtesy of AAA Mid-Atlantic, the contest’s co-sponsor. Users can vote once every 24 hours.
“We’re so proud of the winners and their excellent license plate designs,” said Martha Meade, spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, in a press release. “AAA Mid-Atlantic is proud to partner with DMV for this effort to bring distracted driving issues to the forefront.”