(Updated at 10:20 a.m.) Signs are up for a pair of new businesses in Crystal City, even as the coronavirus outbreak has left others closed and fighting for survival.
Bowlero — a bowling alley, arcade and restaurant — was hoping to roll into an empty retail space at 320 23rd Street S. in June. It’s not clear whether the opening will be further delayed amid ongoing social distancing measures; Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s new stay-at-home order is tentatively set to expire on June 10.
Nonetheless, construction is continuing and within the past few days a bright blue “Bowlero” sign went up outside its future home.
Also this week, signs for The Freshman went up.
When it opens, The Freshman plans to offer “high-quality coffee, teas, and craft cocktails,” in addition to “breakfast, lunch and dinner options made in-house with fresh local ingredients.”
Owner and local restaurant veteran Nick Freshman tells ARLnow that interior construction stopped as the signs went up and he has no idea when the restaurant will open.
“We’re just trying to lay low and allow this thing to pass, then be one of the first ones to open,” he said. “We’ll meet the community on the other side of this.”
Freshman said that delays that set back the planned Valentine’s Day opening of the restaurant by a few months may end up saving it.
“We’re very fortunate we’re not open,” he said. “The effects of this are going to be devastation. A lot of businesses that people know and love will not return. Businesses that make up the fabric of the community, that people rely on, will close.”
Freshman declined to say how many restaurants he thinks will close permanently, but said others in the industry he’s talked to are predicting anywhere from 10% to 75%.
“It’s real and painful,” he said. “It breaks my heart.”
On the plus side, at least two long-time Crystal City restaurants are planning to reopen when the time comes. Billy Bayne, co-owner of Crystal City Sports Pub and owner of the Crystal City Restaurant gentleman’s club, says both of the 23rd Street S. establishments will be back open.
The Sports Pub, like many local restaurants, has pivoted to offering curbside pickup and delivery, but ultimately it’s game day crowds sipping beers and munching on nachos that pays the bills.
“The restaurant business is a tough business to begin with — this will be devastating,” he said. “Ultimately, the strong will survive. The Sports Pub and Crystal City Restaurant will survive.”
Bayne predicts that 30-40% of all restaurants will close as a result of the coronavirus shutdown.
Gatherings of dozens — let alone thousands — of people are now criminal acts in Virginia, which is helping to put the kibosh on an annual series of spring races in Crystal City.
“At this time we’ve postponed this year’s series and plan to reschedule,” Crystal City Business Improvement District events manager Cassie Hurley told ARLnow last week.
No word yet on a possible return date for the month-long series of races. In the meantime, the governor’s stay-at-home order allows outdoor exercise while practicing social distancing, so solo 5K runs around Crystal City (and anywhere else) can continue.
A 34-year-old resident of the Los Angeles area is in jail here after an incident involving police in Crystal City.
Officers were dispatched to the Americana Hotel, along Richmond Highway, around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday for a report of a trespasser in a hotel room. After police arrived, the suspect resisted arrest and spit on an officer, according to Arlington County Police.
The responding officer called for backup as the suspect resisted, per scanner traffic.
More from an ACPD crime report:
ASSAULT ON LAW ENFORCEMENT, 2020-03240048, 1400 block of Richmond Highway. At approximately 9:31 a.m. on March 24, police were dispatched to the report of a trespasser. Upon arrival, it was determined that prior to police arrival, an employee of a hotel located the suspect asleep inside a room and instructed him to leave, however he refused and began acting disorderly. Arriving officers made contact with the suspect, who continued to yell and refused to identify himself. As they attempted to place the suspect into custody, he actively resisted and spit on an officer. Eric Slocum, 34, of Manhattan Beach, Ca., was arrested and charged with Assault and Battery on Police, Obstruction of Justice, Trespassing and Drunk in Public. He was held on no bond.
Photo via Google Maps
(Updated at 11:15 a.m.) More than 800 new residential units are coming to Crystal City.
The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a site plan for a new development at 1900 Crystal Drive. Developer JBG SMITH is tearing down an aging office building and planning to build two residential towers with ground-floor retail space in its place.
More from a JBG press release:
The proposed development at 1900 Crystal Drive comprises approximately 811 residential units and 40,000 square feet of street-level retail across two new mixed-use buildings. The proposed 27-story southern tower encompasses 472 apartments, while the 26-story northern tower includes 339 apartments. In addition to a private rooftop and green spaces for residents, the approved plan calls for a retail-anchored shared street, a central park, and activated retail via an alley similar to that of Blagden Alley in Northwest DC.
For the purpose of linking together community benefits, the project was approved as part of a Phase Development Site Plan (PDSP), which also includes two towers with residential, office and retail space at 223 23rd Street S., and a new office building at 101 12th Street S. Final approval of each of those site plans will follow, likely in 2021.
Among the community benefits offered by JBG SMITH as part of the PDSP are:
- A 45,000 square foot public Center Park next to the 1900 Crystal Drive project, and $300,000 towards a planning effort for the park
- A 54,500 square foot Gateway Park near where 12th Street S. turns into Crystal Drive, and $300,000 towards a planning effort for the park
- A new 10th Street S., on the northern end of Crystal City, better connecting a portion of street grid
- Roadway improvements, potentially including new bicycle facilities to be determined in a later community process
- Use of about 83,000 square feet of residential space in JBG’s RiverHouse James Building as dedicated affordable housing for 30 years, affordable to renters making 60% of Area Median Income
- About 7,200 square feet of space at 1901 S. Bell Street for a community library or similar amenities, rent-free for 20 years
- LEED Silver sustainability certification for the new buildings
Given the coronavirus outbreak, JBG said in the press release that it “will thoroughly evaluate overall market conditions, construction costs, and other capital allocation opportunities prior to commencing construction” of the 1900 Crystal Drive project. A company rep, however, said at the meeting that work is likely to start shortly after approval, with construction expected to take 2-3 years.
“With Amazon employees already arriving in the area and many locals who want to live in a vibrant downtown, we are thrilled to reach this important milestone in National Landing’s ongoing development and transformation,” Tony Greenberg, Executive Vice President of Development at JBG SMITH, said in a statement. “New apartments and street-level retail are essential for cultivating a thriving 18-hour environment where people can walk from their home or office to their favorite restaurants and amenities.”
Arlington residents in and around Crystal City will be able to make food donations at three drop-off points Saturday morning.
“During this challenging time, we are eager to use FLARE electric shuttles to benefit our neighbors and the Arlington Food Assistance Center. We urge our friends and neighbors to make much-needed food donations to AFAC tomorrow morning, and we’ll deliver the contributions to AFAC,” said FLARE CEO Andres Delgado, in a statement.
Drop-off donations will be accepted this Saturday (March 21) from 8-11 a.m. at 516 25th Street S., 2729 Fort Scott Drive, and 2100 Crystal Drive.
“Food items that are in greatest need are: rice, pasta, low-sugar cereal, canned tomatoes, canned soup, canned tuna fish, and canned beans (no glass),” FLARE noted.
AFAC announced Friday that it is also setting up food collection boxes outside of six (closed) Arlington community centers.
There will be food donation boxes outside 6 @arlparksrec community centers this weekend: Aurora Hills, Barcroft, Fairlington, Langston-Brown, Thomas Jefferson, and Walter Reed. If you have nonperishables to donate, stop by your closest center! #fooddrive #afacfeeds @ArlingtonVA pic.twitter.com/omk3TZcfbx
— AFAC (@AFACfeeds) March 20, 2020
This content was written and sponsored by The Keri Shull Team, Arlington’s top producing residential real estate team.
Crystal City might be known for the extensive underground city that runs beneath its streets, but the skyline is equally impressive, featuring plenty of luxurious condominium highrises that could be your new dream home!
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Update at 10:05 a.m. — This event was cancelled Wednesday night. From the organizers:
Out of an abundance of caution to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus we have made the difficult decision to postpone the 23rd Street Festival. We hope to reschedule the event and are considering Saturday, August 15th or Saturday, August 29th as potential dates… We hope you’re as inspired as we are to keep this momentum. Thank you for your support, and we look forward building with you to make the first-ever 23rd Street Festival a successful production and experience for all when it is rescheduled later this year! Thank you, Amanda + Monica Amanda Rodrigues Smith Monica Rodrigues Smith
Earlier: A new open-air community art and food festival will soon make its debut in Crystal City.
The 23rd Street Festival is set to take place on Saturday, March 21, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. There will be performances from Synetic Theater and other artists and groups, according to the event’s website, plus food from Portofino, Top Thai, Fredrico, and other eateries along the 23rd Street S. restaurant row.
“The 23rd Street Festival invites the DMV’s unique creators and innovators across food, style, art, & music to come together in one interactive outdoor experience,” said an event description. “For one day, we will convert our store-lined Main Street into an open-air block party for you to experience some of Arlington’s oldest and most storied locally owned businesses. From fine cuisine to boutiques and curious shops around every corner, there’s a little something for everyone!”
Event co-producer Amanda Rodrigues Smith said the organizers were inspired by the “opportunity to bring people together.”
The festival will be take place on 23rd Street S. between Eads and Fern streets.
(Updated at 9:15 p.m.) A second office in Crystal City is being sanitized after another coronavirus exposure.
“In the last hour, we were notified of a confirmed case of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) relating to a guest of a tenant occupying space at 2345 Crystal Drive,” said a memo sent by property owner JBG Smith earlier today and obtained by ARLnow. “The tenant is located on the 11th floor of 2345 Crystal Drive. It is our understanding that the guest of the tenant attended a meeting within the tenant’s space for approximately one hour on Thursday, March 5th, and the guest later tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, March 9th.”
“The tenant has notified their staff and has advised any staff that was in contact with the infected individual to self-quarantine,” the memo continued. “The tenant has also engaged an environmental contractor to begin disinfecting their space.”
Amazon has one of its temporary HQ2 offices at the building, but ARLnow hears that the affected office is not Amazon’s.
On Monday ARLnow first reported that another person who had tested positive for coronavirus had visited a pair of offices on the northern end of Crystal City.
This Week’s Crystal City Garage Races Postponed — “Attention garage racers and friends: Tomorrow’s Crystal City races are postponed. We are operating with an abundance of caution after an employee of a tenant in the 201 12th St. S. complex was quarantined because of COVID-19. The complex common areas were cleaned and disinfected, today, but we are holding off before racing again.” [Facebook]
Deep Clean for Rosslyn-Based News Outlet — “Politico has asked several reporters who covered CPAC to self-quarantine over coronavirus concerns. It’s also sanitizing/disinfecting its office.” [Washingtonian, Twitter]
Winter is Over, Unofficially — “Winter was barely perceptible in Washington this year, and now, we can put a fork in it. We see no more potential for enduring cold or substantial snowfall. Spring is here.” [Capital Weather Gang]
Whitlow’s Rooftop Opens — “Rooftop opens for the season tonight at 5 p.m.! How’s that for a Monday?” [Twitter]
Neighborhood College Applications Open — “Learn how to become a neighborhood advocate and effect change through Arlington County’s free Neighborhood College program, which will meet on eight consecutive Thursday evenings beginning April 23.” [Arlington County]
Developers Pitch in to Help Housing Nonprofit — “Absent a budget from a central housing authority, APAH ‘can’t afford not to’ maintain solid relationships with developers — who donate, serve on its board and train future APAH staffers. ‘We’re blessed by their generosity,’ Janopaul says, citing Arlington builders Tim Naughton of AvalonBay Communities Inc., John Shooshan of the Shooshan Co. and Andy VanHorn at JBG Smith.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Photo courtesy Josh Folb
A person who tested positive for coronavirus worked in Crystal City, ARLnow has learned.
Property owner JBG Smith emailed tenants Monday afternoon to say that an employee of one of its tenants was confirmed to have the virus, also known as COVID-19. The employee worked at office buildings located at 201 12th Street S. and 1225 S. Clark Street, according to the email.
“It is our understanding that the tenant has notified their staff and has advised any staff that was in contact with the infected individual to self-quarantine,” the memo said. “The tenant has also engaged an environmental contractor to begin disinfecting their space. As a result of this single tenant space disinfection, some building occupants may detect a slight odor.”
“Our cleaning vendor, BMS, will work to disinfect all common areas on the floors that the tenant occupies, and the building and complex common areas,” the memo continues. “We have maximized the outdoor fresh air in the building. At this time all buildings in the complex will remain open and operating.”
ARLnow hears that the tenant is the Dept. of Defense and the employee is the Marine at Ft. Belvoir previously reported to have tested positive for the virus.
A spokesman for Arlington’s Dept. of Human Services declined to confirm the report, citing Virginia Dept. of Health policy.
Photo via Google Maps
Thanks to some push from local advocates and the county’s Transportation Commission, a new mixed-use development at 1900 Crystal Drive could be required to include protected bike lanes on Crystal Drive, a long time sore spot for bicyclists in the area.
“It’s almost a hoax on bicycle riders to say there’s a bike lane here when as a practical matter there isn’t,” said Transportation Commissioner Jim Lantelme.
At the Transportation Commission meeting Thursday night, the Commission recommended that developer JBG Smith be required to turn the existing bicycle lanes into protected lanes while adding new protected bike lanes to 18th Street S.
“First the Commission recommended that the County Board require JBG Smith to build protected bike lanes on 18th Street either as part of their upcoming 1900 Crystal Drive development or as part of the already-approved Central District Retail development,” Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt said in a press release. “Furthermore the Commission recommended that the County Board direct staff to study an appropriate cross-section for Crystal Drive that would safeguard those on bikes and scooters and, if schedules permit, incorporate the results of that study into the public space designs for 1900 Crystal Drive and any other unbuilt development approved along the Crystal Drive corridor.”
The last recommendation from the Transportation Commission was that the County and JBG develop a temporary southbound protected bike lane on Crystal Drive if the public process isn’t completed in time to be incorporated into the 1900 Crystal Drive plans.
County staff said in their report that making the lanes protected would require further traffic studies and analysis, with staff noting that a new bike lane would carve out part of the street and would have an impact on open space, traffic, or parking. That kind of impact would require a public process that would take additional time.
The developer said they hope to start construction at the end of March, with the streetscape being one of the last parts of the project to be completed.
“I worry there is the possibility we would not have a final decision-ready on Crystal Drive ready before this window closes,” Slatt said.
“There’s a lot of good, new information heard tonight,” said Gillian Burgess, chair of the Bicycle Advisory Committee. “Crystal Drive bike lanes are blocked so often that they’ve become the test case for new apps and data collection that seek to test how often bike lanes are blocked.”
With three site plans in the area, Burgess said the County has a rare opportunity to improve the conditions for cyclists and other road users there.
The 1900 Crystal Drive proposal is set to be discussed by the Planning Commission tonight (Monday).
Photo via Google Maps