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by Chris Teale — April 21, 2017 at 3:00 pm 0

In what is a first for the annual event, Artomatic will combine performance art with a wedding ceremony tomorrow in Crystal City.

The ceremony is for Teddy Grant and Che Monique Young, who met at the arts showcase in 2015 when it was hosted in Hyattsville, Md., where Young was exhibiting burlesque art.

The pair have planned a ceremony that will include the traditional exchange of vows, cake cutting and bouquet tossing and a wide variety of music and dance, with a string quartet, jazz singer, African drummer and a belly dancer.

The 10 bridesmaids will also be wearing dresses made by local designers.

“There is something magical about Artomatic and all of the community around it,” said Young, the bride-to-be. “I met Teddy in 2015 at Artomatic. Many of our first dates involved him helping me with my exhibit so it feels like going back to the first time we met. To me it’s all about celebrating with the community, and we welcome everyone to join our families and partake in the celebration — I can’t wait to have the first Artomatic wedding, MY WEDDING!”

The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. on the sixth-floor stage at 1800 S. Bell Street and is open to the public.

by Chris Teale — April 17, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

It promises to be a busy few months for local nonprofit Phoenix Bikes as it celebrates 10 years since its founding.

The organization — which lists its mission as promoting bicycling, building community and educating young people — marks its 10-year anniversary today.

It will celebrate on Thursday night from 6:30 p.m. with its Makers’ Ball at 1750 Crystal Drive. The evening will include music, food, drink, an auction of art and other hand-made craft, a bicycle showcase and more.

Later this year, Phoenix Bikes will take center stage once again as it hosts this year’s Youth Bike Summit on October 6-8 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City.

The summit is geared toward youth, bikes, education, advocacy and leadership, and it features a number of workshops and seminars as well as keynote speakers and networking.

“By creating a space where voices of all bicyclists can be heard, the Youth Bike Summit fosters an inclusive national dialogue that addresses the issues, rights, and concerns of all bicyclists,” Phoenix Bikes posted on its website.

Phoenix Bikes currently is located in Barcroft Park, where it provides its community bike shop to help recycle, mend and repurpose used bicycles. But before the end of the year, the organization will relocate to the ground floor of the Arlington Mill Community Center. Such a move has supporters very excited.

“It is an exciting step for Phoenix Bikes, the youth they serve and our Arlington community,” County Board member Libby Garvey, also a Phoenix Bikes board member, wrote in an email to supporters.

Photos via Facebook

by Chris Teale — April 14, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Arlington will again be alive with the sound of thousands of pedaling cyclists, as the Armed Forces Cycling Classic returns in June.

Previously known as the Air Force Association Cycling Classic, the event will celebrate its 20th anniversary when it takes place on June 10 and 11.

Presented by The Boeing Company, the event benefits members of the U.S. armed forces.

“For two decades, the Cycling Classic has paid tribute to the men and women in uniform who serve courageously to protect America at home and around the world,” said Boeing chairman, president and CEO Dennis Muilenburg in a statement. “Throughout our 100-year history, Boeing has a proud tradition of partnering with the U.S. military, and we’re honored to support this year’s event, which benefits active-duty and retired veterans and their families.”

The weekend begins with the Clarendon Cup, in the heart of Clarendon. The following day, the Challenge Ride offers a closed course to cycling enthusiasts of all abilities in and around the Pentagon, Crystal City and the Air Force Memorial.

The race for the Crystal Cup follows on Sunday in Crystal City, pitting professional and amateur racers from around the world in a series of races. Free races for children aged 9 and under also will be held both days, in addition to the lifestyle and sponsor expo.

“We’re proud to celebrate our involvement with the Armed Forces Cycling Classic,” said Angela Fox, president and CEO of the Crystal City Business Improvement District, in a statement. “Over the past decade, we’ve watched both the professional races and community Challenge Rides grow while providing an exciting and transformative experience for participants and spectators alike.”

Photo via Armed Forces Cycling Classic

by Chris Teale — April 10, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Think of private investigators, and you might think of Magnum P.I. or Sherlock Holmes.

But from its new Crystal City headquarters, Trustify is looking to challenge those perceptions. Open since March 2015, it has now moved into a new space in Arlington, where it matches up private investigators with customers.

Trustify co-founder Jen Mellon said the company’s diverse staff — more than half are women — has helped make it more accessible to more people.

“There’s a lot of brand debt,” Mellon said. “We’ve worked hard to change the face of the industry. I think a lot of our success is because our team looks like their consumer.”

Trustify allows anyone to run background checks, investigate fraud, locate missing children, check for infidelity and more from their web browser or the phone app. A consultation with a private investigator takes place over Trustify’s chat application, then investigators choose whether to pursue a case.

Company co-founder Danny Boice said that while about half of investigators’ work is done using standard surveillance techniques, much of it now is done through investigations of someone’s online presence and on the dark web.

“The internet makes a great accelerator for dishonesty,” he said. “For all the things it provides exponential growth, it also provides the perfect catalyst for puffing up your Facebook profile or LinkedIn or lying about not being in a relationship when you’re on Tinder, all those things.”

Mellon said Trustify recruits a lot among ex-law enforcement officers, including police and those retiring from agencies like the FBI and CIA. She said that the company conducts its own vetting of applicants to ensure their credentials and experience stack up, and that there are no black marks on their record.

Once someone is employed at Trustify, they step into an office culture that aims to make everyone feel comfortable. Employees have a designated space on the walls for photographs, while behind hidden doors are rooms for nursing mothers and other relaxation spaces.

Mellon said it was imperative to make employees feel valued internally, while externally, being surrounded by other technology firms and startups adds value too.

“We wanted a space not only to support our team, but support the work that we do,” Mellon said. “It’s nice to be a part of that technology community. It’s so conducive to the work we’re doing. We don’t have a lot of time to go somewhere else, so it’s nice to be in this concentrated technology corridor that we’re proud to be a part of.”

Trustify employed architecture firm Wingate Hughes to design its new office space, a process that took about eight weeks before another 12 weeks of construction.

Gavin Daniels, co-founding principal at Wingate Hughes, said the firm wanted Trustify employees to feel comfortable in their new space, while at the same time making it unique.

“I wanted something for them that was badass,” Daniels said. “I wanted someone to walk in and have that visceral reaction of, ‘Holy s–t. This is an office building? I can’t believe I’m standing here in an office building.’ I wanted people to get their breath taken away, smile and feel something.”

With the use of technology in a welcoming office environment, Boice said they are working hard to change how people view private investigation.

“We analyzed the market and found it’s an old industry that’s white male dominated, it’s a 1 percenter service,” he said. “We saw that if you changed how it could be consumed and made it accessible to everyone, then it could be this very large, new industry.”

More photos of Trustify’s new Crystal City office:

Danny Boice photo via Trustify

by Chris Teale — April 4, 2017 at 2:15 pm 0

Designs for the project to improve 12th Street S. in Crystal City are coming together, and now the public can take a look themselves.

The “Ask the Project Team” event for the Complete Street project between Clark and Eads streets is scheduled to take place on Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. at The Connection pop-up library at 2100 Crystal Drive. The designs are 30 percent complete, so this event means residents can provide feedback on any major concerns in the plans.

The project will help create dedicated bus lanes for the Crystal City/Potomac Yard Transitway in that section of 12th Street S. — the same stretch in which a commuter bus crashed into an apartment building last week — as well as provide pedestrian improvements.

It will add two-way bicycle lanes under the Route 1 bridge, which will link a future two-way bicycle track on Army Navy Drive to a planned two-way bike lane along S. Bell Street heading toward the Crystal City Metro station. Those new bicycle facilities will then link to Long Bridge Drive.

The design will also include improved landscaping, sidewalks, pedestrian ramps and streetlights, as well as new north/south crosswalks at Army Navy Drive. It is adjacent to the 12th Street S. extension project from S. Eads Street to S. Fern Street in Pentagon City.

After the meeting, the project display boards will remain at the library for public viewing until April 15.

by Chris Teale — March 30, 2017 at 4:15 pm 0

The region’s “fittest happy hour” will return to Crystal City next month.

Each Friday in April beginning at 6:30 p.m., the Crystal City 5K Fridays series will take runners on a USA Track & Field-certified course along Crystal Drive and past Long Bridge Park. The start and finish line is located at 2121 Crystal Drive.

And after the race, runners can enjoy area bar and restaurant specials exclusively for them.

The series is presented by the Crystal City Business Improvement District in partnership with developer Vornado/Charles E. Smith and the Pacers Running store.

Through tomorrow, attendees can register for $20 per race or $75 for the four-race series. After today, registration costs $25 per race or $90 for the series. All registration fees include a technical T-shirt.

Those interested can learn more and register online.

Arlington County police will close some roads in the neighborhood to accommodate the events, from 6:15 to 8:15 p.m. every Friday.

Between those times, northbound lanes of Crystal Drive between 26th Street S. and 12th Street S., northbound and southbound lanes of Long Bridge Drive as well as all traffic around 6th Street S, 10th Street S. and S. Ball Street will be closed. Southbound lanes of Crystal Drive will remain open.

In addition to closures, street parking will also be restricted. Illegally parked cars may be ticketed or towed.

by Chris Teale — March 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

The national political climate and art are colliding this year at Artomatic.

The free six-week art extravaganza debuts tonight in Crystal City. Among the politically-inspired pieces: a large paper mache President Trump with a Russian flag lapel pin and a Gollum-like Vladimir Putin on his shoulder.

Meanwhile, a display that gained national attention during the 2016 campaign season encourages attendees to take photographs of their own backsides in a cut-out “Rump” poster. And dueling portraits feature two politicians holding their fingers to their lips, telling each other to be quiet.

By and large, however, the event is more eclectic than political. Other works include giant plywood street art rabbits and a painting of a nude woman wielding a sword.

Artomatic kicks off tonight for its third stint in Crystal City. The event includes the work of 600 artists across seven floors of vacant office space at 1800 S. Bell Street — 100,000 square feet of visual artwork, film, performance art, three stages of live music and free art workshops. It will also host the first Artomatic wedding on April 22.

“Artomatic has a very simple mission: to build community among artists,” Artomatic board chair emeritus George Koch said at a preview event Friday morning.

Among the collaborators this year is the Crystal City Business Improvement District, which partnered with Artomatic and developer Vornado to make the space available. Crystal City previously hosted Artomatic in 2007 and 2012.

Crystal City BID president and CEO Angela Fox said that as the neighborhood evolves, such events help “give it a soul.”

“We pave the way, then get out the way and Artomatic comes in here, all volunteers and transforms this space,” Fox said.

Artomatic begins Friday with its opening night party, starting at 7 p.m. It will be open Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 10 p.m., and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to midnight. The exhibits are closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

by Chris Teale — March 22, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

2231 Crystal Drive SineWaveA venture capital fund seeking to help grow new technology businesses in Crystal City will receive economic development funds from Arlington County.

The County Board unanimously approved an incentive-based economic development grant for SineWave Ventures at its Tuesday meeting.

Up to $250,000 would be paid over five years to SineWave under the terms of the deal, depending on performance.

The agreement states that SineWave must attract five capital providers and partner companies to lease office space, and create at least 391 new full-time jobs. There are other goals for investment reviews and the provision of educational events for local entrepreneurs.

Sinewave graphicSineWave is aiming to develop a central hub of similar tech-focused venture capital firms at 2231 Crystal Drive, to invest in new companies. It will be in the same building as startup incubator 1776, and close to open-access workshop TechShop and coworking space Eastern Foundry.

A “sense of collaboration, advisement and mentorship” will come from the companies all being located in Crystal City, said Christina Winn, director of Arlington Economic Development’s Business Investment Group.

Board member John Vihstadt said such grants will help the county be less reliant on the federal government.

“This may seem like small potatoes to some, but frankly it’s part of the story where we really are working very hard to diversify Arlington’s economy away from federal contractors, away from the defense industry and towards really a 21st century economy, which is where the action hopefully is going to be,” he said.

Winn said AED spent two years developing the plan and ensuring there is little financial risk to the county. Board member Christian Dorsey said the requirement that SineWave repay the money if it fails to hit its targets is wise.

“These are not investments of the international high-risk equity variety,” he said. “These are of the safe variety, as if they don’t pan out we get our money back, which is the best investment to make because you can’t really lose.”

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

2231 Crystal Drive SineWaveA venture capital fund could get a grant to set up an investment hub in Crystal City hub.

At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board will consider a proposed agreement with SineWave Ventures for an incentive-based economic development grant.

Up to $250,000 would be paid over five years under the terms of the deal, depending on performance.

SineWave is aiming to develop a central hub of similar tech-focused venture capital firms, in an office building at 2231 Crystal Drive, to invest in new companies. SineWave provides early-stage investment in businesses that develop technology for potential use in the public sector, including in the fields of cybersecurity, data and networking.

The agreement stipulates that SineWave must attract five capital providers and partner companies to lease office space, and create at least 391 new full-time jobs. There are other goals for investment reviews and the provision of educational events for local entrepreneurs.

If SineWave has not achieved 90 percent of its targets, it will be required to pay the grant money back to the county. A staff report on the plan estimates Arlington will receive $430,000 gross tax benefit over 10 years; or $180,000 net tax benefit after the full grant is paid.

County staff wrote that the plan will help fill vacant office space in the area and attract new businesses.

“With respect to Arlington’s ongoing vacancy challenges, the Crystal City submarket continues to need companies and investment to diversify and rebuild its tenant base,” staff wrote. “The proposed partnership with SineWave aligns with the County’s economic development strategy to attract key co-working operators, business incubators/accelerators and venture funds; SineWave adds another critical piece to the budding technology ecosystem in Crystal City.”

Image via Vornado

by Chris Teale — March 13, 2017 at 12:45 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Passengers at the region’s airports could have an easier time during their travels thanks to a new partnership between the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and Crystal City startup incubator 1776.

1776 front deskThe partnership, announced last month, means the two organizations will work together to find and mentor firms that look to use technology to make air travel more efficient. That technology includes proposals that can benefit airports, transit agencies and more.

MWAA operates Ronald Reagan Washington National and Dulles airports, as well as the Dulles Airport Access Highway and the Dulles Toll Road. It also manages construction of the Silver Line project into Loudoun County.

“In today’s rapidly changing world of business and commerce, it is imperative that transportation providers, such as airports, take advantage of new technologies that help us meet the demands and expectations of our increasingly mobile customers,” said MWAA president and CEO Jack Potter in a statement.

Already, 1776 is affiliated with companies that look to improve the travel experience in and around airports. The startup incubator, which has an office at 2231 Crystal Drive in Crystal City, partnered with mobile application company Airside Mobile to add Automated Passport Control devices that help international passengers arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport be processed more quickly.

Reagan Airport (file photo)MWAA also has been innovating through a partnership with CLEAR, a firm that helps its members move quickly through airport security lines and advances the use of biometric technology for security screening.

Additionally, the authority has invested in mobile app technology to aid security screening and airport signage, and is developing patented processes and technologies to make airport operations more efficient.

“Startups and new technologies continue to rapidly disrupt the way we travel from point A to point B,” said Evan Burfield, cofounder and CEO of 1776, in a statement. “1776 is excited to partner with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to harness the latest innovations within the transportation and aviation industry.”

by ARLnow.com — March 10, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

What’s it like racing around an expansive Crystal City parking garage on a bike?

Kind of like a videogame, as a video (above) from this week’s edition of Crystal City’s Wednesday Night Spins demonstrates.

The events are taking place on Wednesdays from 6-9 p.m., on the G3 and G4 level of the parking garage at 201 12th Street S., through the end of March. The races are free for spectators and around $15 for participants.

by Tim Regan — March 3, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Photo via Crystal City BIDA bike race series that lets cyclists pedal through an underground parking garage has started up again in Crystal City.

The “Wednesday Night Spins” indoor race series held its first match of the year on March 1, according to the event’s organizers.

Though last year’s races were held at the complex at 2345 Crystal Drive, this year’s events are taking place on the G3 and G4 level of the parking garage at 201 12th Street S.

“Wednesday Night Spins hosts races for elites and amateurs with participants in each category competing for weekly prizes and points in pursuit of the Series Title,” the Crystal City BID said on its website.

According to the BID, the races last approximately 35 minutes and take place every Wednesday in March from 6-9 p.m. Each night’s schedule is as follows:

  • 6:00 p.m. — Onsite Registration/Check-in
  • 6:30 p.m. — Beginner Race
  • 7:25 p.m. — Women’s Open Race
  • 8:25 p.m. — Open Race

On the final evening of the series, organizers will combine the beginner and open races and add three more competitions: the “Anything Goes Race,” “Feds Vs. Contractors,” and the “Fixed-Gear Finale.”

Cyclists who want to participate in any of the scheduled races can sign up online. Registration is generally $15 per race, though some are more or less, depending on the match.

The race is free for spectators, who will have access to a wine and beer garden in the building’s lounge.

Photo via Crystal City BID

by Chris Teale — March 3, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

The redevelopment of North Potomac Yard in Alexandria gathered more steam last week, and residents in Crystal City are keeping an eye on its potential impacts.

North Potomac Yard is in the northeast corner of Alexandria, just across the Arlington County line, near a planned Potomac Yard Metro station. It is currently occupied by a Regal movie theater, a Target and other big box stores and restaurants.

The City of Alexandria is in the planning process for a massive mixed-use development at the 69-acre site, to include retail, residential units, a hotel and office space.

On February 22, city staff released the first draft three chapters of the updated plan, then the following day met with the Crystal City Civic Association at its general meeting.

Association president Christer Ahl told ARLnow.com that his members are most concerned that Crystal City will be left behind as nearby developments spring up in Arlington and Alexandria.

“Perhaps the larger issue which the project raises is whether it could contribute to the notion of Crystal City becoming a ‘backwater,’ stuck with many old buildings which at best might be renovated, while the Rosslyn/Ballston corridor and Potomac Yard in two very different ways will be full of exciting new development,” he said.

“Of course, this depends a lot on the attitude and priorities of the county, JBG/Smith and other developers, together with the near-term market situation.”

Ahl added that many in the area are also concerned with the impact on traffic along Crystal Drive and Route 1 from the new development, which could total as much as 7.5 million square feet.

The Alexandria City Council voted to approve the new Metro station in May 2015, to be located on the Yellow and Blue lines between the Braddock Road and National Airport stops.

While the new Metro station and the Metroway bus rapid transit route along Route 1 could take care of a lot of traffic impact, Ahl said, there were still concerns about the number of cars to hit the roads with the new development.

“If we assume that the new development goes hand-in-hand with the new Metro station, that should take care of a lot of the concerns,” Ahl said. “Alexandria very strongly focuses on being as pedestrian, bike and transit-friendly as possible, and conversely avoiding car dependency. In terms of vehicular traffic on U.S. Route 1 or Potomac Avenue leading into Crystal City, I guess the proof in the pudding is hard to predict.”

One other aspect that Ahl said troubled some association members is the potential loss of amenities like the movie theater and Target, which are major draws. But he said members will continue to monitor the situation and see how it evolves.

“To some extent, it becomes wait and see,” Ahl said. “Depending on their own inclinations and their own preferences, we’re speculating on whether it will be positive or negative in some sense. Some people would hate to see losing some of their existing favorite places, although they emphasized in our meeting that Target has a lease in place until 2028, so that might be the last thing that happens down there.”

According to a timeline, an advisory group tasked with updating the North Potomac Yard plan will present its final recommendations in April.

Images via City of Alexandria

by Tim Regan — March 2, 2017 at 10:50 am 0

A truck caught fire in Crystal City this morning, prompting a response from the Arlington County Fire Department.

The blaze broke out in a box truck carrying shredded material before 10:30 a.m. this morning. The truck was parked in front of a building on the 200 block of 12th Street S.

Arlington County firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the small fire, which was in the back of the truck. The truck itself did not catch fire, according to scanner traffic.

by Tim Regan — February 24, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

Police car lightsSomeone phoned in a bomb threat to a building in Crystal City earlier this week, prompting a police search.

The threat was called in to a residential building on the 1900 block of S. Eads Street — the same block as the large Crystal House apartment complex — just after 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

Arlington County Police officers with bomb-sniffing dogs swept the building, but no explosives were found. The building was not evacuated.

Police are still looking for the person who called in the threat.

From an ACPD crime report:

BOMB THREAT, 2017-02220081, 1900 block of S. Eads Street. At approximately 8:38 a.m. on February 22, an unknown subject called in a bomb threat. A K9 sweep was conducted with negative results. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

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