A new bar and restaurant bound for the ground floor of the CEB Tower in Rosslyn is pushing back its opening date slightly, now aiming to start serving patrons next year.
The Metropolitan Hospitality Group, which also operates Circa Bistro in Clarendon, announced plans to bring a second “Open Road” restaurant to the area last summer. The firm had hoped to open it up sometime this fall, but MHG President Matt Carlin told ARLnow that “the permit process has definitely taken longer than we thought.”
But he says the project is still moving forward, and the company is “expecting our permit at the end of the month.”
“Then it will be approximately [a] six-month buildout,” Carlin wrote in an email. “And [we’re] hoping to open in May/June 2019.”
The company first brought the concept, which features a vast beer selection and Southern-style menu options, to Merrifield several years ago. However, Carlin says the Rosslyn location will be a bit different than the original.
The restaurant itself will be located in the plaza area directly in front of the building, with awnings and outdoor seating accompanying it. Then, below the plaza, MHG is also planning a separate bar attached to the restaurant dubbed “Salt,” which will be accessible via N. Lynn Street.
The tower itself is the largest building in Rosslyn, and only just opened last year. It’s currently in the process of adding new office tenants, and has already signed other retailers including Compass Coffee and Cava.
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Concerns about the wisdom of doling out millions in incentives to lure Amazon to Arlington have abounded ever since rumors first kicked up that the company could head to the county — but Tuesday’s celebration of the move in Pentagon City didn’t betray much trepidation among state and local leaders.
Instead, Gov. Ralph Northam and a cadre of others devoted the afternoon to hailing the tech giant’s decision to bring a new headquarters to Arlington as a transformative one for the region.
Crystal City and its surrounding neighborhoods have long struggled with a high office vacancy rate, ever since the military and other federal agencies fled the area years ago, a problem that vanished virtually as soon as Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s leaders tabbed the newly dubbed “National Landing” for half of their planned “HQ2.” Accordingly, the mood among local leaders was positively ebullient — even as they persistently sought to quell a nervous public’s fears about the company’s impact on the region.
“This proposal to Amazon represents a new model for economic development in the 21st century,” Northam told a crowd of more than hundred elected officials, business leaders and members of the media. “This recognizes the need to minimize impacts on the region… and these incentives we’ve proposed will generate a net positive return from day one.”
Certainly, no aspect of the county’s pursuit of the tech giant has attracted quite as much scrutiny as the incentive package it would offer to help Arlington stand out over the bevy of other suitors interested in earning Amazon’s attention. Critics from all along the political spectrum feared that the state and county could well give away so many tax breaks to the company as to make the project’s benefits on the local economy negligible at best.
But with the deal finally out in the open, after Amazon forced officials into silence for months, Arlington leaders are ready to make the case that they help broker a fair deal for the new headquarters.
“There’s a lot of people who had a worst-case scenario for what they expected to happen, and I think any clear, objective analysis shows that has not been realized,” County Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey told ARLnow. “I don’t want to make this rosy; we’re going to have housing challenges, transportation challenges, land use challenges, we’re going to have to deal with all of that stuff. But hopefully people recognize the incentives aren’t crippling our commitment to our residents.”
In all, the state and county will combine to give Amazon about $819 million in tax breaks and other investments, with about $23 million in grant money coming from the county over the next 15 years. Arlington will pull that money away from an existing tax on hotel rooms for the $23 million, but all the incentives Amazon receives are contingent on it creating at least 25,000 jobs in the area over the coming years. The company could even reach more than 37,000 jobs by 2034.
However, when the company announced that it would be halving its initial proposal to bring 50,000 jobs to whichever area it selected for a new “HQ2”, cries grew louder that the state might be paying for only half of the investment it was initially promised.
Northam told reporters only that the state “had to make some modifications” in response to that development, but did not elaborate further. But even with Arlington splitting the new headquarters with Long Island City, he praised the deal for its potential to “diversify our economy” away from dependence on the federal government in a transformative way.
Arlington leaders certainly agree with that sentiment.
Victor Hoskins, director of Arlington Economic Development, remembers shouting “yahoo!” when he and his staff received confirmation of the good news last night. He added that the county recently learned that Apple has since started looking elsewhere for its new headquarters, eyeing Fairfax County instead, but that hardly matters given the size of the county’s Amazon deal.
“What’s great about it is it also opens the door to other businesses, because there are other businesses that like to follow Amazon, there are businesses that support Amazon, and there are some businesses that support the community,” Hoskins said. “All of that is going to happen too, and for us that’s the larger opportunity.”
Other officials pointed out that other nearby states put forward incentive packages worth billions, while Virginia’s offer primarily focuses on investments in transportation and education improvements. The deal with Amazon calls for new state investments in everything from Metro infrastructure to new high-tech education programs at Virginia Tech and George Mason University.
“We long ago thought, when we heard New Jersey and Maryland were putting billions of dollars on the table, there’s no way we’re going to compete with that,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. “Our package is 95 percent investments that we were going to do already, and there’s a small increment there in the [hotel tax], which is paid by people who visit Arlington and not people who live in Arlington, so we’re pretty happy with what we were able to do.”
Still, Dorsey acknowledged that county officials have plenty of work to do to make the sell to the community. The Board is set sign off on portions of its deal with Amazon in February, leaving plenty of time for critics to have their say.
“The taxpayer funded subsidy offers made to Amazon by the state of Virginia have been completely hidden, and there has yet to be any opportunity for local community input on this deal,” Roshan Abraham, an organizer with Our Revolution Arlington representing a coalition of opponents to Amazon’s plans, wrote in a statement. “We oppose a massive state gift to a company headed by the world’s richest person.”
The General Assembly will also get the chance to scrutinize the deal, though the exact details of how it might do so remain murky. A commission of both state senators and delegates convened to review major economic development proposals has already lent the deal its approval, but Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th District) says all 140 state lawmakers will get a chance to vote on the incentive package in next year’s legislative session. Some of the budget amendments to power the proposed investments included in the deal will also go before the General Assembly in the coming years, Hope added.
But Del. Lee Carter (D-50th District), an ardent critic of the company’s potential impact on the region, isn’t holding out much hope that his colleagues will do anything other than simply “rubber stamp” the deal Northam helped broker.
“This deal was put together in shady back rooms, not only out of the public’s sight, but out of the sight of most legislators,” Carter said. “That’s why I think the General Assembly needs to act very differently than it has in the past. We need to actually take the reins back and legislate, instead of letting executive branch do this for us.”
Ballston Quarter could open to customers as soon as this week, marking an unofficial end to the years-long redevelopment of the old Ballston Common mall.
Signs posted around the development’s elevator banks list Thursday (Nov. 15) as the site’s opening day. Specifically, the signs advertise that the two main floors of Ballston Quarter — including the first floor with “street-level access” and the second floor with an area dubbed “Instagram alley” — will open this week.
Meanwhile, the third level of the development, which includes Regal Cinemas and the newly rechristened Onelife Fitness, is now open to pedestrian traffic. However, many of the stores on the level remain under construction. The new “Quarter Market,” a 25,000-square-foot food hall, won’t open until February 2019, the signs say.
A spokeswoman for Forest City, the developer spearheading Ballston Quarter, did not respond to a request for comment to confirm those dates.
Forest City initially hoped to open at least some of the stores in the development by the end of September. But delays convinced the developer to aim for late October instead, yet Ballston Quarter has remained closed to public access since then, and Forest City has been conspicuously silent on the matter. The developer has also had to push back plans to open a refurbished pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd to next year.
However, Onelife Fitness, once known as the Sport&Health fitness club, has a grand opening event scheduled for tonight (Tuesday) following its $2 million renovation work and rebranding. Punch Bowl Social, a combination bar and entertainment venue, has also now formally announced plans for a Dec. 8 grand opening event, after posting signs around Ballston advertising the night earlier this month.
Forest City has previously announced a bevy of other shops, restaurants and other businesses set to move into the former mall. The development had roughly 75 percent of its space leased as of the end of September, and the mall has begun maintaining a full list of retailers on its website.
WWI Commemoration Sunday — “At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, World War I ended with the signing of the armistice. One hundred years later, we are gathering to commemorate the end of the Great War with a ceremony at the Clarendon War Memorial to mark the hour and day the armistice was signed.” [Arlington County, Arlington County]
County Board Election Map — In Tuesday Arlington County Board election, John Vihstadt captured most of the precincts in residential North Arlington, as well as few in South Arlington — including Aurora Hills and Fairlington — but Matt de Ferranti won by capturing the precincts along the Metro corridors and around Columbia Pike. [Blue Virginia]
De Ferranti Says Economic Development is Top Priority — “My top priority will be to work on bringing down the office-vacancy rate so that we can afford to invest in our schools and Arlington’s future,” de Ferranti told the Sun Gazette. “The other priorities – housing affordability, renewable energy and child hunger – will also be areas I will work on, but the majority of my time preparing to serve will be thinking about how we can grow and attract businesses to help us grow and afford the investments we need for our future.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Spots Make ’50 Best Restaurants’ List — Half a dozen Arlington establishments made Northern Virginia Magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants list for 2018. They are: Ambar, Green Pig Bistro, Nam-Viet, Peter Chang, Ray’s the Steaks and SER. None, however, cracked the top 10. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Arlington Ranks No. 2 on ‘Hardest Working’ List — Arlington is the No. 2 hardest-working “city” in America, second only to the San Francisco suburb of Walnut Creek, according to a new study. Arlington residents spend an average of 41.8 hours per week working and another 4.9 hours commuting, with 16.3 percent of the population leaving work before 7 a.m., the study found. [Haven Life]
ACPD Participates in Alzheimer’s Awareness — “Each year, the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) encounters memory-impaired individuals, including regular contact with those enrolled in the Project Lifesaver program… Recognizing the importance of education and awareness about this disease for both officers and the community, ACPD is joining the many landmarks, cities and agencies who are members of Project Lifesaver around the globe taking part in Light the World Teal Day by wearing teal ribbons on their uniforms on November 8.” [Arlington County]
HQ2 in Crystal City Would Benefit Tysons, Too — The Tysons area is expected to see increased demand for housing and commercial real estate should Amazon open a large new office complex in Crystal City. “I think Tysons will reap the benefits without having to suffer from the traffic issues that may come as a result,” said one university professor. [Tysons Reporter]
The Wendy’s on Columbia Pike has temporarily closed for major renovations.
Workers are currently in the process of fully overhauling the fast food restaurant, located at 3431 Columbia Pike, stripping away some of its exterior and clearing out its interior as well.
Signs on the property say that the Wendy’s is “closed for a refresh” and will be “opening soon.” A tipster first alerted ARLnow to the closure on Monday (Nov. 5).
The Wendy’s is one of three in the county, with other locations at 5050 S. Chesterfield Road and 5066 Lee Highway.
There’s also a restaurant just over the Fairfax County line in Seven Corners at 6349 Seven Corners Center.
Suspect and Murdered Wife Both Marines — “A woman found dead in [an Arlington] hotel room on Saturday and the man arrested in connection with her murder are both U.S. Marines… The two were seen earlier in the evening at the Marriott while attending their unit’s military ball to commemorate the Marine Corps’ 243rd birthday.” [Newsweek, Task and Purpose]
Arlingtonian Named ABC 7’s Hero of the Week — “In his dedication to the community, Aaron Codispoti switches gears constantly — in the truest sense of the word. He manages a team of more than a thousand people within the State Department, volunteers as an auxiliary police officer with Arlington County — often on bike patrol — and organizes blood drives twice a year.” [WJLA]
Crafthouse Going National — Ballston restaurant Crafthouse is taking its craft beer and elevated pub food formula national. The company, which also has locations in Fairfax and Reston, is preparing for rapid expansion via franchising. [Reston Now]
Local Entrepreneurs Mostly Looking Forward to Amazon — Though Amazon’s anticipated arrival in Crystal City could come with rent and hiring challenges, local entrepreneurs are mostly looking forward to the excitement and amenities the tech giant will bring to the area. [Forbes]
Amazon May Make Defense Hiring Harder — “If Amazon.com Inc. puts part of its second headquarters in Crystal City — as signs are pointing to this week — it could make defense hiring in the region even more competitive. The Seattle-based e-commerce and cloud computing company is already pursuing new deals in the defense and intelligence sectors, industry execs tell The Wall Street Journal, and an expanded presence in Greater Washington — home to thousands of government contractors — would put a strain on a market stretched by a dearth of workers holding proper security clearances.” [Washington Business Journal]
Police Looking for Driver Who Brandished Gun — Arlington County Police are investigating a road rage incident along Columbia Pike in which one driver “pulled over, exited his vehicle, and following a verbal dispute, allegedly brandished a firearm and threatened the other driver.” [Arlington County]
A new eatery coming to Ballston is inviting diners to eat “Dirt” — not quite literally, though.
The Miami-based restaurant plans to open its first location outside Florida in the Ballston Exchange development, located at 4121 Wilson Blvd, according to a press release.
Dirt will move into an 1,800-square-foot space in the office building, and expects to be ready for customers by spring 2019. The newly redeveloped building, once home to the National Science Foundation, will welcome a spate of new retailers in the coming months, including a Shake Shack, Philz Coffee and We the Pizza.
The chain’s backers were inspired to move to Ballston by “the energy of the neighborhood,” and the sudden proliferation of new businesses at both the Ballston Exchange and Ballston Quarter developments, the release said.
The restaurant is health-food focused, with offerings including breakfast dishes and toasts (both served all day), salads, bowls, smoothies, juices and even vegan “mylkshakes,” made with almond milk ice cream. Dirt will also offer a “full espresso bar and tea program,” the release said.
The eatery’s founders dub Dirt a “counter casual” restaurant, presenting it as a blend of a sit-down restaurant and up-scale fast food restaurants like Chipotle.
“We have a different service model than the omnipresent Chipotle-style assembly line that people have become inundated with,” JJ McDaniel, the chain’s director of operations, wrote in a statement. “You order at the counter, and although we don’t have formal servers, from there it’s very much a full-service experience. We bring your order to you, with real plates and silverware and linen napkins, check on you during your meal and clean your table after you leave. Trays and bus tubs are purposely absent from the Dirt dining experience.”
The Ballston location will be the chain’s third overall, after opening two restaurants in the Miami area starting in 2015.
The original Bob and Edith’s Diner on Columbia Pike is back open after a brief closure for maintenance, and its owner is looking to reassure nervous fans that the restaurant isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
The diner closed for maintenance last Tuesday (Oct. 30), leaving would-be patrons a bit mystified. But Ryan Brown, a lawyer for Bob and Edith’s owner Greg Bolton, told ARLnow that the closure only lasted two days, to allow for the installation of a new grease trap.
He also stressed that the diner, located at 2310 Columbia Pike, “is subject to a long-term commercial lease,” in a bid to quell speculation that the restaurant could soon be on the move. Those rumors first started churning when the diner and its property was listed for lease in late September, but Brown made it clear that the nearly 50-year-old eatery isn’t in any danger.
“Bob and Edith’s has no plans to relocate or close that location, or any of its other locations,” Brown wrote in an email.
Brown added that Bolton will have an update on that new eatery in the “near future.” He initially predicted that the new location could open either before the year is out, or in early 2019.
Beyond the Columbia Pike location and the planned expansion on Lee Highway, Bob and Edith’s operates restaurants in Crystal City, Alexandria and Springfield.
A new shop serving up smoothies, coffee and “superfood” recently opened in the lobby of an office building in Clarendon.
The Waterhouse Coffee and Juice Bar debuted last Tuesday (Oct. 30) with a soft opening for the office building tenants to sample the food and drink, Connie Kim, the owner and manager, told ARLnow.
Located at 3033 Wilson Blvd, customers use the street entrances on Wilson Blvd and N. Garfield Street or the sliding doors in the lobby of the office building to reach Waterhouse.
The tenants have come back since the soft opening, Kim said. While Kim said she is familiar with tenant customers from her first and, now-closed, business in the building shared by CNN and the U.S. Department of Education, these customers surprised her.
“I never knew tenants could be this intimate and regular,” she said.
The menu spans hot and cold coffee and teas to smoothies and freshly squeezed juice for drinks. The “natural fruit smoothies” are made from ice and fruit juice, while the “power boost smoothies” pack in about seven different ingredients, Kim said. Food options include toasts, salads, sandwiches, acai bowls and all-day breakfast.
“I wanted to do really good coffee, really good juice and smoothie bars, where it’s a very comfortable place,” Kim said.
The name “Waterhouse” popped into her head while sitting in an airport about four years ago, Kim said. Initially, she wanted to open a taco place, but then decided a coffee shop would be a better fit for the space by the Clarendon Metro station. Previous establishments at the space include a cafe and deli known for its vegan sandwiches and an Italian hoagie and Mediterranean food shop.
Waterhouse seats about 15 people inside the shop, with an additional 15 seats in the lobby. Kim plans to have four tables outside in the spring.
The shop is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.
Polls Are Open — Voting in Arlington started at 6 a.m. this morning and will continue until 7 p.m. Don’t be surprised to see TV crews at local polling places: a number of international news outlets will be on hand to document democracy in action in Arlington. [Twitter, Twitter]
HQ2 Driving Real Estate Interest — Real estate agents are seeing increased interest in Arlington and Alexandria as a result of the increasingly-likely prospect of Amazon’s HQ2 (or, at least, a portion of it) coming to the area. Crystal City residents, meanwhile, are both excited and apprehensive about the tech and e-commerce giant moving into the neighborhood. [Washington Business Journal, WJLA]
Rain Causes Swollen Four Mile Run — Heavy rain Monday morning caused flooding along Four Mile Run. Floodwaters blocked the Four Mile Run Trail for part of the day. [Twitter]
Green Valley Pharmacy May Reopen — The Green Valley Pharmacy, a long-time local business serving the Nauck community, may be revived by the family of its late founder, Leonard “Doc” Muse. “”We [hope] to restore the exterior to the way it looked when my grandfather opened it in the 1950s,” said Muse’s grandson. [Arlington Magazine]
Punch Bowl Social, a combination bar and entertainment venue that’s a key part of the new Ballston Quarter development, now seems set to open its doors next month.
Details remain scarce on when the newly revamped Ballston Common mall will open its doors, with the development blowing past proposed opening dates in both September and October. But new ads for Punch Bowl Social posted inside the Ballston Metro station indicate the establishment is planning a “grand opening” on Dec. 8.
A spokeswoman for Punch Bowl did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether that date is accurate. The company’s website still lists the location as “coming soon.” The Ballston Quarter website also describes Punch Bowl as “coming soon,” without additional details.
What that means for the other retailers opening up in the development remains unclear, however. A spokeswoman for Forest City, the developer backing Ballston Quarter, said that the firm will have an update on when the whole development will open soon, but still doesn’t have a concrete date ready.
The restaurant first announced plans to expand to the new development two years ago, promising a 25,000 square foot space complete with “eight bowling lanes, one bocce court, three private karaoke rooms, a custom-built 360-degree bar” and more.
Punch Bowl operates 14 other locations across the country, in cities ranging from Atlanta to San Diego. It also is planning a D.C. location, set to open sometime next year.
Forest City has previously billed Punch Bowl as one of four companies set to transform the mall into an “entertainment hub.” The developer has previously announced a variety of other restaurants and retailers moving into the space, and had leased roughly 75 percent of the development as of September.
Amazon in Talks to Come to Crystal City — Per a widely re-reported Washington Post scoop, Amazon “has held advanced discussions about the possibility of opening its highly sought-after second headquarters in Crystal City.” An Amazon executive, meanwhile, tweeted that “the genius leaking info about Crystal City” is “not doing [it] any favors.” [Washington Post, Twitter]
Crystal City Isn’t Alone — “Amazon.com Inc. has progressed to late-stage talks on its planned second headquarters with a small handful of communities including northern Virginia’s Crystal City, Dallas and New York City, people familiar with the matter said, as it nears a final decision that could reshape both the tech giant and the location it chooses.” [Wall Street Journal, Washington Business Journal]
Jewelry Store Coming to Ballston Quarter — “ninetwofive, formally Wuayra Peruvian Silver Jewelry, is offering sterling silver jewelry and fine accessories in its new location at Ballston Quarter in Arlington, VA beginning this November.” [PR Log]
Officials: We’re Listening to Boundary Concerns — “Arlington school leaders say nothing has been cast in stone when it comes to adjusting elementary-school boundaries, but that the clock is ticking toward decision-making… The schools whose boundaries are in play in this round of adjustments include Abingdon, Barcroft, Drew, Fleet (the new school to replace Patrick Henry), Hoffman-Boston, Long Branch, Oakridge and Randolph elementaries.” [InsideNova]
APS Asked About Graduation Rates — “Arlington school officials are being pressed by one board member to be more specific in analyzing data related to graduation and drop-out rates of minority students. School Board Vice Chairman Tannia Talento says minority students — those classified as black, Latino and Asian — could end up ‘falling through the cracks’ if more attention isn’t given to their individual cases.” [InsideNova]
Miss Steindorff Remembers — A nursing home employee in Minnesota used social media to help a former Walter Reed Elementary teacher, Miss Steindorff, remember the names of students in one of her classes, as depicted in a photo she kept. Students in alumni groups the employee reached out to helped fill in the gaps in Miss Steindorff’s memory, while sharing their own fond memories of their teacher, shortly before she passed away. [Presbyterian Homes & Services]
The Sichuan Wok Chinese restaurant in Ballston seems to have closed.
The restaurant, located at 901 N. Quincy Street, has been closed during normal business hours for the last two days and caution tape now blocks off its entrance. No one answered the phone at Sichuan Wok this morning (Friday).
Readers first alerted ARLnow to the closure yesterday (Thursday), and one tipster said movers were busy clearing out the restaurant.
The property has long been home to the restaurant, with county records suggesting it’s had the same owners since at least 1987.
County permit records don’t offer any indication of what might take its place.
A new Asian fusion restaurant is on the way for Virginia Square, moving in to the space once occupied by Water & Wall.
Thai Treasure will soon open a new location at 3811 Fairfax Drive, owner Nui Bumrungsiri told ARLnow.
Bumrungsiri also operates a restaurant of the same name in Vienna, but she said this new eatery will offer “all kinds of Asian food, not just Thai.”
She added that it was too soon to be sure when the restaurant might open, exactly.
But Thai Treasure has applied for a license to serve wine, beer and mixed drinks at the restaurant, records show, and plans to have space for up to 150 people.
Water & Wall closed at the space in February 2017, after roughly three and a half years in business.
The original Bob and Edith’s Diner along Columbia Pike is currently closed for maintenance.
A sign posted on the door of the diner, located at 2310 Columbia Pike, informs would-be customers of the closure, and was still posted as of noon today (Tuesday).
A lawyer for the restaurant chain’s owner, Greg Bolton, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how long the location might be closed.
Repeated calls to the restaurant went unanswered. Kurt Larrick, spokesman for the county’s Department of Human Services, said the closure “is not related” to any code violation or other health department action.
Longtime fans of the diner have expressed fear about its future over the last few weeks, after the building was listed for sale in late September. The listing, offered up by real estate and development firm BM Smith, remains active, and neither Bolton nor the realtors have responded to inquiries about what the sale means for the restaurant. Bob and Edith’s has operated out of the space since 1969.
Earlier this year, Bolton acquired Linda’s Cafe along Lee Highway, with plans to open a new restaurant at the location. The chain last expanded back in 2015, opening restaurants in Crystal City and Springfield.
H/t to ARLnow commenter G. Clifford Prout