Arlington, VA

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnowStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Tower).

Crystal City-based Second Front Systems, a startup that helps connect government agencies to commercially-developed technologies, recently received $6 million in seed funding to boost its startup technology assessment program.

Atlas Fulcrum is Second Front Systems’ platform that helps to catalog and organize venture capital-backed technologies and track market trends. The goal is to make it easier for the national security organizations to identify the latest new technological advances from startups in the private sector rather than relying on sometimes outdated technology from larger companies.

“I came back from combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan where my men and I were hamstrung by outdated technology that negated what should have been an advantage against insurgent adversaries,” said Second Front CEO Peter Dixon in a statement. “Subsequently, at the Pentagon, I watched as billions of dollars were awarded to traditional defense companies, many of whom were unable to deliver usable technology to front-line troops.”

“This venture financing and initial partnerships gives Second Front the velocity to build a new type of ‘lean systems integrator’ that can harness the innovations of the American entrepreneurial ecosystem where the traditional defense firms have failed,” Dixon said of the new round of investment.

Second Front Systems is a veteran-owned business with a Board of Directors boasting former Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace and former Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

The new funding was led by Artis Ventures, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm that invested in YouTube in 2006 and has partnered with controversial defense contractor Palantir since 2014.

“The venture funding will be used to expand the capabilities of Second Front’s software platform, Atlas Fulcrum, which has recently received a major contract award from the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Air Force’s AFWERX,” the company said in a press release. “The U.S. military recognizes that commercially driven tech, such as autonomy, cyber, biotech, and AI, has surpassed the defense base in relevance to national security in the 21st century.”

Image via Second Front Systems

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Four major transportation projects in Arlington will receive tens of millions in regional funding, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority announced today.

The projects, all of which are in the planning stages, will bring multimodal upgrades to Crystal City and Rosslyn, as well as to the W&OD Trail. In all, the NTVA is providing more than a half billion dollars in funding to 21 projects around the region.

“On the evening of July 9th, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority adopted the FY 2020-2025 Six Year Program, the Authority’s fifth funding program and the most competitive to date,” the regional governmental body said in a press release. “$1.44 billion in multimodal transportation funding was requested by 13 Northern Virginia localities and agencies – including Arlington County – with $539 million in Authority regional revenues available.”

“The Authority unanimously voted to fund 21 of the 41 transportation projects submitted for funding consideration,” the press release continues. “Arlington County was awarded $29.874 million in regional revenues on the following projects aimed at reducing congestion and getting people to their destinations faster.”

The projects being funded in Arlington include:

The “CC2DCA” pedestrian bridge from Crystal City to Reagan National Airport, which is envisioned as providing a “High Line“-like experience as it spans the GW Parkway and makes walking to the airport more feasible for those in the National Landing area.

The project is set to receive $18 million from NVTA, of the total estimated project cost of $36.2 million.

The project will create a pedestrian connection between Crystal City and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). It would provide an additional transportation access point to the airport, which is less than one-half mile away from Crystal Drive, but is practically inaccessible by foot today. In addition to the potential reduction in vehicular traffic between the two destinations, the project is located roughly two blocks from the under-design Crystal City Metrorail Station East Entrance and provides a direct connection to bus service on the Crystal City-Potomac Yard Transitway. The CC2DCA Intermodal Connector is intended to connect to the future relocated VRE commuter rail station. The CC2DCA Intermodal Connector project builds upon a recently completed feasibility study prepared by the Crystal City Business Improvement District (CCBID). This project will further evaluate alternatives, complete environmental documentation and approvals, engineering design, and ultimately construct a pedestrian connection between Crystal Drive and the terminals of DCA. The NVTA funding would be leveraged with both State and local funds to completely fund design and construction of the project; the Commonwealth has committed $9,500,000 to the CC2DCA Intermodal Connector.

Rosslyn Multimodal Network Improvements, which is an extension of the Core of Rosslyn study. The study, which was completed last year, calls for major changes to Rosslyn’s road and pedestrian network, including removal of the Fort Myer Drive tunnel under Wilson Blvd and upgrades to crosswalks, sidewalks and bike lanes.

The project is set to receive $11.9 million from NVTA, its full estimated cost, though the project description does not mention the tunnel removal.

Design and construct a suite of complementary bicycle and pedestrian improvements largely taken from the recommended implementation projects in the draft Core of Rosslyn study. Collectively as a package, the projects significantly improve access to employment, housing, and transit within the Rosslyn regional activity center, and improve regional connections between Rosslyn and Georgetown, DC.

The long-planned VRE Crystal City Station Improvements project, which would building a new, upgraded Virginia Railway Express station in Crystal City, the last VRE stop before D.C.

The project is set to receive $15.8 million of its estimated total $49.9 million cost.

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The final plans are in for a trio of road projects in Arlington, and two out of three involve the removal of travel lanes.

The projects — in Rosslyn, Dominion Hills and Crystal City/Potomac Yard — are all part of the county’s 2020 road repaving schedule. Each has been singled out for changes to the lane striping via the county’s Resurfacing Projects for Complete Streets program, which aims to make streets safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians via inexpensive means during the regular repaving cycle.

The first project is planned in Rosslyn along Clarendon Blvd, from N. Rhodes Street to N. Oak Street, near the standalone Starbucks. The plans call for new sections of buffered and protected bike lanes, green paint for bike lanes through intersections, upgraded signage, and no reduction in travel lanes — though it will remove seven of 78 on-street parking spaces.

The Clarendon Blvd project is set to start construction this month.

The second project will reconfigure Potomac Avenue in the Potomac Yard area of Crystal City, from Crystal Drive to the county line. The project calls for upgraded bike lanes, an interim on-street pedestrian zone along a construction site, new turn lanes, and 34 new parking spaces. One of two travel lanes in each direction will be removed, though the road has relatively light traffic.

The Potomac Avenue project is also set to start construction this month, and is reportedly now underway.

Finally, the last project will make changes to Wilson Blvd through the Dominion Hills neighborhood, from Bon Air Park to the county line. It calls for the addition of turn lanes, dedicated school and transit bus stop lanes, curb extensions for shorter crossing distances, buffered bike lanes, and marked bike lanes through intersections. It adds one parking spot to the stretch but removes one of two travel lanes in each direction.

The removal of lanes follows a prior, similar project along sections of Wilson Blvd from Bluemont to Bon Air Park, which was somewhat controversial at the time but only resulted in minimal traffic impacts for the average rush hour commuter.

The Wilson Blvd project is set to start construction later this summer or in the early fall.

The design process for the three projects involved two virtual open houses and rounds of public feedback, through which a number of modifications to the plans were made.

File photo (top). Street view images (1) (2) and (3) via Google Maps.

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After years of planning and some delays, Bowlero (320 23rd Street S.) in Crystal City is ready to rock and bowl.

The combination bowling alley and restaurant has hit a few snags, not the least of which was the most recent global pandemic, and staff said that’s also impacted the business’s opening.

Alan Morrison, district manager for Bowlero, said that after yesterday’s ribbon-cutting around 25 customers came in the early afternoon to bowl, drink, or play in the arcade. In other circumstances that might have seemed low, but Morrison said the bowling alley — like other new businesses — is having to adapt to different expectations.

“The pandemic has affected us,” Morrison said. “People aren’t coming out and rightfully so. We’re adhering to guidelines and seeing less traffic than normal, but I’m confident once it’s passed they will.”

Morrison said the bowling alley has a “three-tier” approach to trying to combat the spread of a virus in sport that’s inherently very hands-on.

Every fifteen minutes staff sweep through the facility and clean all of the balls and equipment. There are supplies at the lanes to help facilitate cleaning equipment between use, and there are sanitation stations throughout the facility with disinfectants.

All employees and guests at the facility are required to wear face masks, Morrison said, and the seating is set up at every other lane.

“Folks are nice and spaced out,” Morrison said. “It’s a huge venue so we can seat people pretty far apart. We have directional arrows to stop people from getting close to each other, and that’s worked pretty well so far.”

Still, like many in Arlington, Morrison is hoping sometime soon people will be able to gather and roll at Bowlero without concerns about spreading COVID-19.

“We’re looking forward to folks in the neighborhood being able to check us out,” Morrison said. “And if you’re in the mood to just come in and have a drink we have an awesome bar.”

Photos courtesy Bowlero

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(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) A road was closed in Crystal City this morning due to a suspicious package investigation.

Police blocked off 26th Street S. between Crystal Drive and S. Clark Street, and are also working to block Crystal Drive.

The Arlington County Fire Department bomb squad responded to the scene to investigate the reported suspicious object, but ultimately officers from the Pentagon Force Protection Agency examined it and gave the all-clear, an ACFD spokesman said.

The area is home to a number of government and military offices.

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Morning Notes

March Planned Tonight in Crystal City — “This Tuesday (6/30) we will be gathering in Crystal City Courtyard Green to march to Pentagon City in defense of Black womxn.” [Twitter]

Petition for APS to Require Masks — “To maximize the chances of success for Arlington Public Schools (Virginia) hybrid return to school model we urge the School Board and Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán to make face coverings compulsory for both students and teachers during the days they are at school for in-person learning. Those who object to wearing masks can always choose the distance-learning option.” [Change.org]

Local Church to Feed Thousands — “On Wednesday, July 1, 2020, Our Lady Queen of Peace (OLQP) in south Arlington is working with José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen (WCK) to feed families in need of food assistance. World Central Kitchen is providing 3,500 meals to OLQP for distribution to the community. Meals will be offered to take home in conjunction with pre-packed food the OLQP food pantry distributes every Wednesday morning. This is the second time WCK will be providing meals to OLQP during the pandemic.” [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]

Catholic Churches Enter ‘Phase 3’ — “All 70 parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington will move into phase three of Virginia’s reopening plan on Wednesday. Officials announced Monday that each parish is ‘able, but not mandated, to celebrate public Mass with capacity restrictions lifted’ beginning on July 1.” [Fox 5]

County Adjusts Committee Meeting Rules — “After facing a rebellion from members and chairs of advisory commissions, the Arlington County Board has revised rules for holding meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps the two biggest changes from the original plans: Commission chairs (apparently) will no longer have to seek county-staff permission to hold meetings. Advisory-group meetings will be allowed in-person or in a hybrid format, in addition to the previously announced “virtual”-only arrangement.” [InsideNova]

New Construction Contract for VHC Inked — “Skanska USA has inked more work with Virginia Hospital Center as the Arlington hospital soldiers on with its $250 million expansion project. The construction company said Monday it signed a contract worth $96 million for site work for the new outpatient pavilion and parking garage at the hospital. That’s on top of a $37 million contract with VHC it grabbed late last year.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Chain gastropub Bar Louie appears to have permanently closed its location on 23rd Street S. in Crystal City.

“Space for lease” signs now cover the windows of the former after-work watering hole, which opened in late 2013.

Though coronavirus closures have caused significant financial hardship for bars and restaurants, Bar Louie’s troubles started before the pandemic: it filed for bankruptcy in January.

The chain’s marquee location in D.C., adjacent to Capital One Arena, closed in January amid the bankruptcy filing. Other Bar Louie locations have recently closed in Massachusetts, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

While Bar Louie has closed, Crystal City is set to get a new nightlife option on the same block in the near future: bowling alley Bowlero.

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For the second time in as many days, a carjacking has been reported in Arlington.

The latest incident happened in a parking garage on the 1400 block of Crystal Drive in Crystal City, around 3:30 a.m. this morning.

Police say a pair of gun-toting suspects stole a rental car and cell phone from a man who had been sleeping in the vehicle — described as a white BMW compact SUV.

More from today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

CARJACKING, 2020-06240033, 1400 block of Crystal Drive. At approximately 3:33 a.m. on June 24, police were dispatched to the report of a carjacking just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was asleep in his rental vehicle in a garage when he was awoken by two unknown suspects brandishing firearms. Suspect One allegedly grabbed the victim’s shirt and demanded money, while Suspect Two rummaged through the contents of the vehicle. The suspects stole the victim’s wallet and items of value from his person, before fleeing the scene in the victim’s vehicle. Suspect One is described as a Black male, 20-30 years old, heavily tattooed, approximately 5’10” and 180 lbs., with black dreads, wearing a white tank top, black jeans and a white medical mask. Suspect Two is described as a Black male, approximately 5’10” and 180 lbs., wearing a black hoodie, black pants, black balaclava and a black t-shirt tied around his head. The vehicle is described as a white 2020 BMW X1 with an unknown license plate. The investigation is ongoing.

Also in today’s crime report, ACPD says another pair of suspects tried to steal a car that was left running near the Pentagon City Costco.

ATTEMPTED GRAND LARCENY AUTO, 2020-06220148, 900 block of 15th Street S. At approximately 6:40 p.m. on June 22, police were dispatched to the report of an attempted grand larceny auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that two unknown male suspects allegedly entered an unoccupied, running vehicle. The victim observed this, opened the vehicle’s door and a brief struggle ensued. The suspects stole the victim’s cell phone before fleeing the scene in a silver Mercedes SUV driven by a third suspect. Suspect One is described as a Black male in his 20’s wearing a red hat, white tank top and red sweatpants. Suspect Two is described as a Black male in his 20’s, shirtless and wearing camouflage pants. The investigation is ongoing

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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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(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) A second entrance to the Crystal City Metro station could be built and opened by the end of 2023, under a proposal under consideration by the Arlington County Board.

Developer JBG Smith, the preeminent property owner in Crystal City, has proposed a public-private partnership that would accelerate the construction of the station entrance by at least 1-2 years. The proposal is set to be discussed at this weekend’s County Board meeting and potentially voted upon in mid-July.

The new entrance — a long-standing goal of county transportation planners — would be located adjacent to JBG property at the intersection of Crystal Drive and 18th Street, a block from the existing entrance and across the street from the Virginia Railway Express station.

The unsolicited proposal would have JBG and its contractors first conduct preliminary engineering and design work from October to April 2021. The cost of the work is projected at $3.73 million and would be funded by an existing $5 million Northern Virginia Transportation Authority grant.

“The scope of work includes further development of the design from the Basic Concept stage that has been developed by WMATA in coordination with the County to the 30% design of the additional station entrance at 18th Street and Crystal Drive,” notes a county staff report. “The new entrance will include elevators, stairs, a fare payment area with fare vending machines, a kiosk, and a passageway to a new mezzanine.”

Should the County and WMATA then approve the design and cost estimate, JBG would proceed with final design work, before construction of the new entrance starts in the early spring of 2022. Construction is then expected to wrap up by the end of 2023, according to a project schedule.

The staff report notes that the unsolicited proposal from JBG was submitted in May 2019, and the county has not received any competing proposals since.

“The [public-private partnership] process is advantageous because it will move up the overall design process and ultimately the construction by as much as 12-18 months as compared to traditional project delivery methods which can help ensure the Project is completed by 2025 to meet the County’s commitment on the Project to its funding partners,” the staff report says.

The state and federal governments have previously pledged tens of millions of dollars to the project, as part of the incentive package put forth to land Amazon’s second headquarters.

“Funding includes $82.5 million of federal and state transportation grants associated with the State’s Amazon commitment for transportation infrastructure,” the report says.

HQ2 is temporarily located in office space in Crystal City leased from JBG; the company is coordinating the development of Amazon’s permanent campus, which the tech giant will own, in nearby Pentagon City.

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The Armed Forces Cycling Classic, an annual series of cycling races around Clarendon and Crystal City, has been cancelled by the pandemic.

In its place, however, organizers are using a pair of apps — Strava and Zwift — to host virtual rides this coming Saturday.

More from a press release:

Armed Forces Cycling Classic will kick off the weekend with a virtual Challenge Ride on their Strava Club. For those in the Washington D.C. area, three routes have been created to enjoy while riding safe and solo. For anyone outside of the D.C. area, we encourage them to ride, and we ask all participants to post photos to the AFCC Strava Club page or Instagram and tag @af_cyclingclassic to show that we are all riding together.

Saturday, May 30th at 11am, Armed Forces Cycling Classic will host a no-drop ZWIFT ride in partnership with Rapha. Athletes Justin and Cory Williams of Legion of Los Angeles will serve as ride leaders for this exclusive virtual event. AFCC and race announcer Brad Sohner will also host an Instagram Live during the event at instagram.com/af_cyclingclassic.

There will be no fees to participate in any of the Virtual Ride options and we do encourage participants to fundraise for our beneficiary, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). All riders who raise $200 or more will receive a limited edition Team TAPS jersey. Interested riders can set up their fundraising page at http://team.taps.org/cyclingclassic.

For those who want to relive last year’s Armed Forces Cycling Classic, video coverage of the races is available for free online.

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