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by ARLnow.com November 17, 2017 at 8:30 am 0

Beyer Blasts GOP Tax Bill — Says Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) regarding the tax bill that passed the House yesterday: “I am adamantly opposed to the House Republican tax bill, H.R.1. The bill will raise taxes on millions of middle class Americans in order to fund tax cuts for the wealthy, and yet still manages to explode the deficit.” [Rep. Don Beyer]

Crystal City Scores 320 Jobs — A Georgetown-based nonprofit is moving much of its staff to a new office in Crystal City, leasing 90,000 square feet and adding 320 jobs in Arlington County. The move was announced by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who approved a $500,000 state grant to assist Arlington with the project. [Virginia Business, Bisnow]

Dems Seek Ways to Defeat Vihstadt — “John Vihstadt, who in 2014 broke the Democratic stranglehold on the Arlington County Board, is ready to go back to the voters in 2018. And Arlington Democrats already are strategizing on how to oust him from office.” [InsideNova]

Charges Dropped Against ‘Laughing Librarian’ — Arlington librarian and Code Pink activist Desirée Fairooz, who was arrested after laughing during the confirmation hearing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has had the case against her dropped by the Justice Department. [American Libraries, NPR]

Incident at Kenmore Middle School — A tipster tells ARLnow.com that a Kenmore Middle School student was arrested yesterday afternoon for assaulting a PE teacher. An Arlington Public Schools spokesman, however, did not confirm that an arrest was made, saying: “There was an incident earlier today between a student and a teacher. Staff is following normal disciplinary procedures. But beyond that, we can’t disclose anymore because it is a student matter.”

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

by Chris Teale November 15, 2017 at 4:35 pm 0

High-tech workshop TechShop filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy today (Wednesday), with all its locations, including in Crystal City, now closed.

TechShop, which had a 20,000-square-foot space at 2110-B Crystal Drive, opened in Arlington County in 2014. The company was founded in 2006, and at one stage had 10 locations in the United States and four more overseas.

It offered access to high-tech equipment like 3D printers and laser cutters, and had monthly and annual memberships for use of its facilities, as well as classes for non-members to learn how to use the equipment.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy means a court-appointed trustee will now sell all TechShop’s assets. Anyone who left personal items in one of its locations will be contacted with a time to come and collect them.

In a statement, founder Jim Newton said the business was no longer financially viable.

“I’m very proud of what my team and I did to build TechShop,” Newton said. “I’m very sad that we were not able to make TechShop into a sustainable business. It is my prayer that each of the people we touched will take those little sparks they received while they worked on their dreams at TechShop, and turn them into their own grand experiment.”

According to figures provided by the company, TechShop provided access to over $1.4 million of high quality tools and machinery to its users for a membership fee of less than $4 per day. It had more than 9,000 active members in the United States, and engaged more than 100,000 people, including through memberships, classes and youth programs. It also helped train more than 3,000 veterans.

“As a veteran myself, I’m proud to say that TechShop has provided membership and training to over three thousand returning veterans,” TechShop CEO Dan Woods said in a statement. “This program enabled veterans to develop skills and experience–preparing them for jobs in advanced manufacturing and helping dozens of vets to launch their own companies.”

by ARLnow.com November 15, 2017 at 2:35 pm 0

Arlington County and seemingly every other place in North America is competing to host Amazon’s second corporate headquarters. But while the odds seem long, Crystal City actually has a good shot at being one of the finalists in Amazon’s search.

The D.C. area is widely regarded as a likely contender for “HQ2,” but sources tell ARLnow.com that the District itself is unlikely to get the headquarters, in part due to high taxes, high real estate costs, a lack of available contiguous space that meets Amazon’s expectations and a lack of congressional representation.

That would leave the areas surrounding D.C. as contenders, and none has the available space and is more accessible to downtown, transit and an airport than Crystal City.

Specifically, commercial real estate sources tell us, Crystal City and Potomac Yard are, in combination, regarded by many as the region’s best chance at landing HQ2. Among the advantages:

  • Available contiguous office space and developable land, thanks to BRAC and the development of Potomac Yard.
  • Only having to deal with one primary property owner, JBG Smith, which owns much of Crystal City and Potomac Yard. (The company did submit a bid, the Washington Business Journal confirmed this week.)
  • Proximity to Metro’s Yellow and Blue lines.
  • Close proximity to a major airport, Reagan National.
  • An urban “downtown”-like setting with restaurants, hotels, shopping and other amenities within walking distance.
  • Congressional representation.
  • Low state taxes.

As outlined by Washingtonian, Crystal City also comes with all of the benefits of the D.C. region: ample tech talent and universities nearby, proximity to the federal government, and an easy drive for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos from his new Kalorama mansion. It also comes with some of the negatives: higher real estate costs than smaller cities, high cost of living for workers and thus higher salary costs.

Fresh off of its big win in attracting Nestle’s U.S. headquarters, Rosslyn has also tossed its hat into the HQ2 ring, sources tell us. Rosslyn has many of Crystal City’s pluses but, we’re told, lacks developable space and would be tight quarters for the online giant.

Sites in Fairfax and Loudoun counties — near existing Amazon data centers and offices — have been pitched, but sources expect a site closer to the District to be more attractive to Amazon for HQ2.

Arlington Economic Development, meanwhile, is keeping its pitch to Amazon close to the vest, publicly revealing few details. Likewise Angela Fox, CEO of the Crystal City Business Improvement District, declined to comment for this article.

by Chris Teale November 14, 2017 at 10:45 am 0

The findings of a study on the feasibility of a pedestrian link between Crystal City and Reagan National Airport are set to be unveiled at a public meeting Wednesday.

The Crystal City Business Improvement District and civil engineering firm VHB will host a public meeting from 1-2:30 p.m. and again from 6:30-8 p.m. on November 15, on the 11th floor of 2011 Crystal Drive.

There, they will present the findings of a feasibility study on the project commissioned earlier this year, as well as several renderings of possible pedestrian links.

Those unable to attend can watch the presentation on Facebook Live, while the presentation slides will be uploaded to the project website after the meeting.

Crystal City BID CEO Angela Fox has said previously that a “new pedestrian connection will bring the airport even closer, from a 15-minute walk to a four-minute walk.”

Courtesy photo

by Chris Teale November 6, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Making the Case for Amazon in Crystal City — Amazon’s planned second headquarters would find a good home in Crystal City, according to Washingtonian magazine writer Dan Reed. He said the combination of a major airport close by, good transit links from Metro and the fact that it remains “underutilized” after Base Realignment and Closure makes it an attractive option. Reed also suggested Poplar Point on the Anacostia waterfront in D.C. or the Discovery District in College Park, Md. as other places that fit the bill. [Washingtonian]

More Than 40 Drone Flights Detected at Fort Myer — A study to detect unmanned aircraft found that 43 drone flights were picked up over Fort Myer over a 30-day period beginning in August. It is in the middle of a no-drone zone, with flights requiring specific permission from the Federal Aviation Administration. The report suggests the flights could have been from “well-intentioned” tourists at the nearby Arlington National Cemetery and other National Parks. [WTOP]

Leaf Collection Begins Next Week — “The Arlington County government’s vacuum-leaf-collection program is slated to begin November 13 and run through December 22. Each civic-association area is slated to get two passes during the cycle, with signs posted three to seven days before each pass, government officials said. Schedules also will be posted online. Residents wishing leaves to be vacuumed away should place them at the curb by the posted date, but avoid putting them under low-hanging wires or near parked cars.” [Inside NOVA]

APS to Slow Down Planning for Instructional Focus of New High School Seats — Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington School Board agreed to slow down the process of determining an instructional focus for the 500-600 new high school seats at the Education Center until a task force looking at the school’s strategic plan has finished its work. The plan had been for Superintendent Patrick Murphy to bring initial ideas for the site to the Board in December, but staff said slowing down would allow a “big-picture view of all high-school needs in the county.” [Inside NOVA]

Virginia Man Tried to Board Plane With Loaded Gun at Reagan National Airport — A Manassas man tried to board a plane at Reagan National Airport last Thursday with a loaded gun. The Transportation Security Administration detected the 9mm semi-automatic handgun during security checks, confiscated the firearm and cited the man on a weapons charge. It was loaded with seven bullets. [WJLA, WRC]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by Chris Teale November 1, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

The restaurant group behind Pamplona and Bar Bao in Clarendon has opened an outdoor food stand in the Crystal City Water Park (1601 Crystal Drive).

Called The Stand, it features a rotating menu of what it describes as “the best new food trends the area has to offer, right in the comfort of your own neighborhood.” It officially opened for business today (Wednesday).

The Social Restaurant Group partnered with venture capital firm Catalyst Venture Group on the project. It opened a few months after the water park’s former concession stand was forced to close when landlord Vornado declined to renew the lease.

November’s line-up at The Stand is as follows:

  • All day, every day: Breakfast with B Doughnut and La Colombe Coffee
  • November 1-3: Cookie Dough & Co. (cookies)
  • November 6-10: Capital Chicken & Waffle (comfort food)
  • November 13-17: Donburi (Japanese)
  • November 20-22: Pinch Dumplings (traditional Chinese)
  • November 27- December 1: Timber Pizza (pizza)

The partners are also behind the upcoming Common Ground Food Hall in Rosslyn, set to open in late 2018.

“We are so excited to introduce The Stand in Crystal City,” said Zi-Heng Zhu, co-founder of Common Ground Food Hall, in a statement. “Crystal City is full of creative people with an appetite for discoverable new kinds of food. It’s the perfect canvas for our chefs to share and test ideas in a fresh outdoor setting.”

https://twitter.com/ArlingtonVaPD/status/925788938391998464

by ARLnow.com October 31, 2017 at 8:30 am 0

New Protected Bike Lane — The stretch of Army Navy Drive between S. Joyce Street and Army Navy Country Club, near Pentagon City, has a received a new, protected bike lane. “Both the protected lane and the buffered bike lane enhance bicycle safety and connectivity in the area, and also serve to narrow the relatively wide street and calm vehicle speeds,” county transportation officials said. [Arlington County]

Runner With Cerebral Palsy Training for Marathon — Arlington resident Jamie Watts, a regular at local 5K and 10K races, is now training hard for the New Jersey Marathon in April. Watts, who has cerebral palsy, runs with a cane and is being allowed to start the race early. [WUSA 9]

Rosslyn-Based Home Builder Purchased — CalAtlantic Group, a large national home builder based in Rosslyn, is being acquired by Lennar Corp. to form the nation’s largest home builder. [Associated Press]

Top 3 Developments in Crystal City — Bisnow has ranked the top three developments in Crystal City and come up with this list, from first to third: JBG’s proposed Central District development; Lowe’s planned 2351 Jefferson Davis Hwy residential tower; and the Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center, which is still in the design phase. [Bisnow]

County Seeks Design Nominations — “Arlington County’s biennial design awards program, DESIGNArlington, is now accepting submissions for great design in new construction, renovations, additions or adaptive re-use projects. Established in 2009, DESIGNArlington seeks to highlight excellence and diversity in the County’s built environment.” [Arlington County, PDF]

Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4

by ARLnow.com October 27, 2017 at 8:35 am 0

Arlington Startup to Appear on Shark Tank — SmartGurlz, an Arlington-based company that makes “a line of dolls that ride robotic scooters, controlled by an app built to teach girls to code,” is set to appear on an episode of ABC’s Shark Tank next month. At least one other Arlington startup has pitched investors on the show, successfully: Zoobean received an investment from Mark Cuban after appearing on the show in 2014. [Washington Business Journal]

Pop-Up Food Venue to Open in Crystal City — What was once an unassuming concession stand in the Crystal City Water Park on Crystal Drive has been renovated and is reopening on Wednesday, Nov. 1 as “The Stand,” featuring a “rotating lineup of pop-ups from the hottest local food vendors.” Among the vendors expected to take up temporary residence are La Columbe coffee, Cookie Dough & Co., B Doughnut, Capital Chicken & Waffle, Timber Pizza Company and Pinch Chinese dumplings. [Eater, The Stand]

Arlington Launches New Tourism Website — Arlington County has relaunched its tourism website. Per a press release: “The new website has the latest features, including responsive design… an enhanced regional events calendar integrating community events from Virginia.org and EventBrite; persistent mapping tied to local business listings; intuitive social media integration; HTML5 full-screen video and more.” [Arlington County, StayArlington]

Gutshall Endorsed by GGW — The urbanist website Greater Greater Washington has endorsed Democrat Erik Gutshall in the upcoming Arlington County Board general election. “Erik isn’t just for smart growth, he has deep experience and a strong track record from his time on Arlington’s Planning Commission and Transportation Commission,” the website wrote. “He’s a strong advocate for missing middle housing, bike infrastructure and transit-oriented development.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Clement Supports ADUs at Board Meeting — Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement spoke in favor of loosening regulations on Accessory Dwelling Units at this past weekend’s Board meeting. “As a tenant in one of the few remaining affordable garden apartments in Westover Village, I welcome the prospect of moving to an ADU as opposed to a flat in an outlying suburb once my building is demolished,” Clement said. [Audrey Clement]

‘Breakfast With the Chief’ — Arlington County Police Chief Jay Farr will be hosting a breakfast for member of the local business community Monday morning in Rosslyn. “The event will provide information on the police department’s engagement with the business community to resolve public safety concerns, crime prevention and safety tips and a presentation by the FBI Cyber Security Task Force,” said ACPD. [Arlington County]

by Chris Teale October 26, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

(Updated 12 p.m.) As elementary school students, blind triplets Leo, Nick and Steven Cantos were bullied, had few friends and no role models.

But that changed when, at the age of 10, blind attorney and Crystal City resident Ollie Cantos became their mentor after learning about them through a friend at church. He legally adopted them two years ago, and turned their lives around.

“I didn’t have friends, my brothers were the only people, that was it,” Nick Cantos said. “I was essentially shut in for seven years, and I was a violent kid. I got into fights with people, because I was being bullied in school. It ended up getting so bad that I wanted to end [my life]. Dad really saved my life.”

A ceremony on Wednesday night marked how far they have come, having also graduated from Wakefield High School earlier this year. At The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Alexandria, the brothers became the first ever blind triplets to be honored as Eagle Scouts in the history of Boy Scouts of America.

To become Eagle Scouts, the highest honor in scouting, candidates must complete a slew of assignments, including tasks like first aid, knot-tying, leadership and orientation. It also requires community service, and six months or more spent in leadership positions at their troop.

Each also had to lead a community service project. Steven Cantos collected school supplies for low-income schoolchildren for nonprofit Aspire! Afterschool. He already volunteered with the organization, which helps children improve their reading, and had intended to collect enough supplies for 90 students.

When the supply drive was over, he had collected enough for 130 students.

“They go in and help kids read in a more advanced way, since they feel that reading is the first thing that kids need to learn, and then they learn other things if they can read better,” Steven Cantos said. “The project stemmed from the fact that I’d already volunteered a bit of time to them, so I wanted to give some more time… I decided that education is important, so let’s give them school supplies.”

Leo Cantos collected blood and blankets for INOVA Fairfax Hospital, a children’s hospital where he spent a month re-learning how to walk. He finished with 88 units of blood and 77 blankets, all donated by local people he had recruited.

“I wanted to give back to the kids, because I saw the kids there and I saw how they were not doing too well,” Leo Cantos said. “I wanted to give them a better experience, kind of like the one I had in the hospital but extended to them as well.”

And Nick Cantos collected donations of hygiene supplies for nonprofit Doorways for Women and Families, which helps people out of homelessness and away from domestic violence and sexual assault. He collected about $2,000 worth of supplies to donate to the organization.

“It took a lot of planning, it took a lot of work and papers,” Nick Cantos said. “The craziest part was seeing all my scout friends and leaders and brothers helping me to do this, and me managing this thing.”

(more…)

by Chris Teale October 25, 2017 at 4:15 pm 0

With Halloween around the corner, Arlingtonians will have several chances to celebrate the upcoming holiday.

The Ballston Halloween Market is set for tomorrow (Thursday, October 26) at Welburn Square (901 N. Taylor Street).

This week’s market, part of the neighborhood’s regular farmers market, will include a beer and wine garden with live music, as well as pumpkin decorating and face painting. The market is open from 3-7 p.m., with attendees encouraged to wear a spooky costume.

And the last of Crystal City’s Fridays at the Fountain events for the season will have a Halloween theme too, with pumpkin painting, seasonal drinks and candy available at the beer and wine garden on Friday, October 27 from 5-9 p.m. at the Crystal City Water Park (1750 Crystal Drive).

Meanwhile, Rosslyn will host its first harvest festival on Friday, October 27 from 4-10 p.m. and Saturday, October 28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Continental Beer Garden, Central Place Plaza and Gateway Park East.

More than 20 vendors will sell various crafts and gifts, while there will be live entertainment and activities including a pie eating contest, corn hole, a pumpkin toss, costumes contests for children and pets.

by Chris Teale October 19, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

The four possible designs for the next phase of the Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center have been released.

The revamped center at 475 Long Bridge Drive will have a 50-meter pool; diving platforms from one, three and five meters up; a family pool; and health and fitness spaces. The contractor can then add extra features from a “menu” of potential options, so long as it stays within budget.

That “menu” could include advanced energy efficiency, a therapy pool, a 10-meter dive tower and more spectator seats, among other enhancements.

The project, plagued by a years-long delay caused by anticipated cost overruns has a scaled-down aquatics and fitness center from previous plans. The county will be using a design-build approach, which keeps costs down by establishing a budget at the start that the contractor must not exceed.

“We are incredibly excited about these designs,” County Manager Mark Schwartz said in a statement. “We’ve got four nationally recognized design and construction firms who are putting together their best ideas, based on their creativity and knowledge, for project options for Arlington. By using the Design-Build method, we can focus on the community’s needs while completing the project within budget.”

Links to videos showcasing the designs of the four bidders are below.

Members of the public can give feedback on the four design concepts in several ways between now and October 29:

  • Attend a public event on Thursday, October 19 from 7-10 p.m. at 2011 Crystal Drive, 11th Floor. Watch the presentations, ask the firms questions and share feedback.
  • Visit the Courthouse Plaza lobby (2100 Clarendon Blvd.) from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays (from October 19 to 29) to watch the videos of the designs, view schematic drawings and share feedback.
  • Starting today, go online to watch the videos of the designs and share feedback.

Following community feedback, the park’s Selection Advisory Committee will recommend the contract award based on written proposals, interviews, review of concepts, public feedback and negotiations.

The firm that is awarded the contract will complete its design and construction documents next year, with construction set to start as early as next July.

by Chris Teale October 17, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

A driver was transported to the hospital after colliding with a police cruiser in Crystal City this morning.

The collision happened near the intersection of 15th Street S. and Crystal Drive just after 9 a.m. A black Hyundai rear-ended the cruiser, with both vehicles suffering minor damage.

The driver of the Hyundai was transported to the hospital with a reported injury, possibly the result of the airbag in the car deploying, while the police officer driving the SUV was not hurt.

Police blocked the right lane of 15th Street S. to investigate, but traffic otherwise moved relatively freely.

by ARLnow.com October 10, 2017 at 1:00 pm 0

A man was robbed at knifepoint along the row of restaurants and shops on 23rd Street S. in Crystal City.

The robbery was reported early Monday morning, after the restaurants had closed.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

ROBBERY, 2017-10090029, 500 block of 23rd Street S. At approximately 2:43 a.m. on October 9, police responded to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that a male victim was walking in the area when he was approached by a suspect with a knife. The suspect stole the victim’s personal belongings and fled on foot. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 6’2, 225 pounds, clean shaven, wearing a blue and white striped shirt and white shorts. The investigation is ongoing.

by ARLnow.com October 5, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

A cigarette reportedly sparked a fire that has closed the patio at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City.

The fire was reported last night around 10:30 p.m. The fire department quickly arrived on scene and extinguished the flames, which scorched parts of the patio and its awning, owner Freddie Lutz told ARLnow.com.

Patrons were evacuated during the fire and no injuries were reported.

The bar, located at 555 23rd Street S., expects to open as usual at 4 p.m. today, though the patio will remain closed indefinitely, pending repairs, Lutz said.

by Chris Teale September 27, 2017 at 9:45 am 0

A former Afghan restaurant in Crystal City is set to become a pawn shop.

A “Royal Pawn” store is coming to the former restaurant at 507 23rd Street S., according to signs and a permit application.

An existing store with the same name and logo is open at 6116-A Franconia Road in Alexandria, south of the Beltway in Fairfax County. It sells jewelry, electronics and instruments, tools and precious metals like gold, silver and platinum.

As of Tuesday, much of the restaurant’s furniture and decorations were still inside and a temporary Royal Pawn sign was covering the former “Grill Kabob” sign. Grill Kabob first opened in September 2015.

Previously, a restaurant and dance club called “Sin and Saint” was expected to replace Grill Kabob. The establishment was to have a dance floor and DJ on the second floor for Friday and Saturday nights, though those plans appear to have fallen through.

Royal Pawn will be at least the third pawn shop in Arlington. Two First Cash Pawn stores are already in the county, on Lee Highway and on N. Glebe Road in Buckingham.

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