MakeOffices is constructing a new, 40,000 square foot, 550 seat office space on the second floor of 3100 Clarendon Blvd, across from the Clarendon Metro station and the Trader Joe’s.
MakeOffices Clarendon is expected to feature high-end interior furnishings, multiple conference rooms, two “bullpen” shared office spaces, dozens of private offices and a large central pantry/coffee bar.
It will be MakeOffices’ largest coworking space in the D.C. area, we’re told. (The company’s original office in Rosslyn remains open but is much smaller than its newer locations.)
The Clarendon location is expected to open in April. It is one of a number of new offices the company is planning, in D.C. and other major North American cities.
In the D.C. area, MakeOffices just opened a new coworking space in Reston and has another in the works in Logan Circle. The company also has plans to open offices next year in Chicago and Philadelphia, to be followed by new outposts in New York City and Toronto.
MakeOffices, meanwhile, will be getting some competition in Arlington, albeit a few miles away. WeWork, the largest company in the fast-growing coworking industry, is planning to open a new location in Crystal City this spring.
Disclosure: Local News Now, the publisher of ARLnow.com, has offices in MakeOffices locations in Arlington and D.C.
Toscana Grill is all new with its new location (3207 Columbia Pike), new management and new menu, according to general manager Abdul Khalique.
The eatery’s Courthouse Plaza location closed earlier this year and was replaced by a Vietnamese restaurant.
(3207 Columbia Pike was formerly home to Pines of Florence, another Italian restaurant that had relocated from the Orange Line corridor.)
Khalique said the new Toscana Grill is planning a grand opening event this Friday, or as soon as they receive the final license from Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control.
“It’s totally different than before, now an independent corporation with new brand management and great food,” he said. “We’re excited to bring this kind of traditional, Italian food to the Columbia Pike.”
The new menu includes beer and wine, entrees of chicken, seafood or veal, as well as a “make your own” pasta option.
According to its new website, the restaurant will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. for eat-in, take-out and delivery.
Photo via Google Maps
Arlington County has seen a surge in new restaurants in 2015.
The 56 openings this year is compared to a relative lull in new restaurants in 2014, with only 30 restaurant openings.
(The statistics, which come from ARLnow.com’s reporting on new restaurants, are approximate and may exclude certain small restaurant openings and changes in business.)
While fewer in number, the vast majority of the restaurants that opened in 2014 are still in business, a notable achievement in the competitive and volatile restaurant business. There are, of course, some exceptions.
Pizza Vinoteca in Ballston was one of 2014’s most hyped openings and quickest closings. Another one that bit the dust this year was 100 Montaditos, which folded after 13 months in Rosslyn. Other notable restaurant closings, just since May 1, include Bungalow Sports Grill, Jay’s Saloon, Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt, Johnny Rockets, Ri Ra Irish Pub, Ted’s Montana Grill, Corner Bakery, Charlie Chiang’s, Boston Market and Willow.
The past two years of volatility in restaurant openings followed three years, from 2011-2013, when restaurant openings held relatively steady, with a slight year-over-year decline — 38 in 2011, 37 in 2012 and 36 in 2013. That period brought local restaurants with staying power, like Green Pig Bistro and Copperwood Tavern, and those that fizzled out, from Fat Shorty’s to Red Parrot Bistro to Wiinky’s.
What should Arlington food fans expect in 2016? Anecdotally, there haven’t been many new restaurant announcements as of late, but there are at least three 2016 openings worth watching, and they’re all in the same place: Matchbox, Sugar Factory and Shake Shack are coming to the expanding Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall next year.
The little-noticed item came at the end of a long County Board meeting on Monday, Sept. 21.
At issue during the 40 minute discussion of the item: whether the dentist’s office — Courthouse Art of Dentistry — should be allowed to stay in the Courthouse Plaza shopping center at 2250 Clarendon Blvd as part of a regularly-scheduled Site Plan Amendment review.
County Board member Libby Garvey, who supported the office in the vote, wrote about it in her most recent email newsletter to constituents.
There has been a dentist at Courthouse Plaza for about 20 years, although the site plan originally called for retail to be in that space. Repeated attempts by retail stores to locate there had resulted in several store closures, so a waiver was granted to allow a dental office. The waiver was up for renewal. The dental office has thrived, the dentist does pro bono work for the Free Clinic and takes hotel guests when they need a dentist. A few people insisted that this location was not compliant with the site plan and the dentist had to go. The building owner said he could find no one else to fill that space and asked us to please allow the dentist to stay. Hundreds of patients and supporters signed a petition asking for the dentist to stay. Still…..this was the third time in a year he had to come before the Board pleading for us to allow his successful business to stay. He can stay, but the vote was far too close: 3-2. I thanked the dentist for all he does for our community. I told him and his many supporters who stayed until 11:55pm I was embarrassed the Board made this so hard for a successful business that serves Arlington well. It really was one of the more bizarre issues I’ve dealt with as a Board member.
Speakers at the meeting universally called for the Board to let the dentist office stay. The attorney for owner Dr. Joseph Khalil said that they had collected about 500 signatures in support of the practice. (The office is thriving and has 2,200 patients, the attorney said.)
“CCCA renews our objection and voted to firmly oppose a permanent exception to the dentist office in a space designated for anchor retail as far back as 10 years,” civic association president Adam Thocher said in an email to county staff. “We encourage ongoing discussion between [landlord] Equity and Arlington Economic Development to market and secure a tenant that will help fulfill the promise made to the community of activating Courthouse Plaza.”
County staff, however, said that the use was appropriate and consistent with the county’s new Retail Action Plan, which allows for “retail equivalent” uses like medical and dental offices in lieu of more traditional stores and restaurants in certain retail zones, including the Courthouse area.
“We believe the use provides service to residents and to office workers in the plaza,” said Michael Cohen, a county staff member.
The dentist’s attorney, meanwhile, said that the retail landscape has changed since a dentist’s office first opened in the space in 1993. (It has since changed ownership.) She said that online shopping has limited the utility of small retail storefronts and that Courthouse Plaza already has stores that commonly use such spaces — a coffee shop, a cell phone store, etc.
“Voting against this would be inconsistent with policy… and inconsistent with the notion that we should be supporting long-standing local businesses,” said the attorney, Sara Mariska.
Mike Farrey, brother of a dentist at the practice, suggested that a dentist office might even be preferable to an “active” use.
“There are enough coffee shops and restaurants in Arlington, and enough empty storefronts,” he said.
Patients of the office who spoke at the meeting said that there’s no justification for making a successful, community-serving business pack up and move. One called it “un-American.”
“I feel like this is a complete waste of community resources,” said the man. “It’s not a gentlemen’s club, it’s not a bar, it’s not an adult bookstore… what use is it to create another empty storefront?”
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said another patient.
In the end, the Board voted 3-2 — with retiring County Board members Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada voting in the minority — to renew the site plan amendment and allow the dentist to stay, with no further scheduled reviews.
County Board member John Vihstadt said that kicking the dentist out would only create an empty storefront, agreeing with Dr. Khalil’s attorney in suggesting that the space was too small and ill-configured to be attractive to any likely “active” retail tenant.
“Why would we want to open up a new cavity in Courthouse Plaza?” he quipped.
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(Updated at 1:20 p.m.) Starbucks will be opening a new cafe in Rosslyn this fall, with the opening of the new TargetExpress store.
The coffee shop will be located inside the store, at 1500 Wilson Blvd, which is expected to open next month. A quick peek inside the glass doors yesterday revealed that much of the familiar Target interior is already complete, with workers continuing to work on fixtures like security cameras.
Curiously, this will be the third Starbucks location within a one block radius. Shoppers sipping their latte from the store will be able to look out the big glass windows and see two Starbucks across the street, one inside the Safeway (1501 17th Street N.) and the other freestanding (1525 Wilson Blvd).
A fourth Rosslyn Starbucks is down the hill on N. Lynn Street, about a quarter mile away.
Such dense placement of Starbucks stores is not unprecedented, and Arlington is noted for its love of Starbucks, but it does seem a bit excessive even for Manhattan on the Potomac. The Columbia Pike corridor, for instance, only just got its first Starbucks.
“As a standard course of business, Starbucks continually evaluates our store portfolio, using various criteria to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers,” a Starbucks spokeswoman told ARLnow.com.
It’s no secret that digital marketing is the future. It allows businesses to reach customers for a fraction of the cost of traditional media — and in ways never imagined before.
Unfortunately the digital landscape is changing quickly and often it’s hard to keep up. The marketing mix in today’s mobile world is substantially different than it was just a year or two ago.
This is especially challenging for local business owners, who would rather focus on delighting customers rather than the latest geotargeting tech. Plus, local businesses often face a barrage of telemarketing calls from out of town, fly by night peddlers of various online services, making it hard to know who to trust.
To help sort out the options — and provide some real-world best practices that will bring your business more customers and more revenue — ARLnow.com is bringing small business digital marketing expert Stanley Gauss to town next Thursday.
Gauss and ARLnow.com owner Scott Brodbeck will be holding two free, small group discussions about the latest digital marketing options specifically for local businesses: social media, mobile, geotargeting, email blasts and everything in between. The events are free for owners and managers of Arlington-based local businesses.
If you’re unable to attend in person, you may also use the links above to register to phone in via conference call. Or, to inquire about a one-on-one discussion at your office earlier in the day, contact ARLnow’s Meghan McMahon at [email protected] or 703-348-0583.
Investigation into Marine’s Death at Base — The military is investigating the death of a 22-year-old Marine at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. Cpl. Jon Gee was reportedly found unresponsive in his room on the base Saturday afternoon, after a night out at “a rave in the District.” [Washington Post]
Rousselot Blasts Lack of Pike Transit Plan — The fact that Arlington County has no transit plan yet for Columbia Pike, after the cancellation of the streetcar last year, is frustrating to Peter Rousselot, who helped to lead the charge against the streetcar. “I think it is a failure of management,” he told WAMU. “The answer on the Pike that our group presented all along… was a regional Bus Rapid Transit system, or BRT, involving Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax County.” [WAMU]
Tour of New Elementary School — Arlington Public Schools led members of the media on a tour of the new Discovery Elementary School on Thursday. Located next to Williamsburg Middle School, it’s the county’s first new primary school in over a decade. Discovery is designed to be a “net zero” consumer of energy thanks to renewable energy features. [WTOP, Katch]
GMU ‘Welcome Fair’ Today — George Mason University’s Arlington campus is holding a “Welcome Fair” for students between 5:30 and 8 p.m. today. [Twitter]
Library Helps With Business Plans — Arlington Public Library helped the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, an ARLnow.com advertiser, create a business plan and launch their business. The library has a business services librarian and number of resources for entrepreneurs, including access to a premium database that compiles demographic data by ZIP code. [Twitter]
More on Arlington Radio Station — WERA, Arlington’s new community radio station, hopes to launch by December. The station will cost Arlington Independent Media, best known as the nonprofit behind Arlington’s local cable access channel, about $400,000. [Arlington Connection]
Flickr pool photo by Arlington VA
The Maryland-based company, which has four D.C. area stores, announced today that it will begin winding down its operations after nearly five decades in business.
Among the stores set to close are locations in Fairfax, Rockville, Tenleytown (D.C.) and Pentagon City, the latter of which is at 1101 S. Joyce Street on Pentagon Row.
The Pentagon Row store was open as normal today. Employees said they had not yet been told when exactly the store would close.
Hudson Trail Outfitters CEO Sandy Cohan wrote the following email to customers today.
It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that after nearly fifty (50) years in business, HTO will be closing its remaining four stores and shutting down the business.
HTO has been an institution in the DC Metro Area since 1971. From day one the mission was simple: open a store that sells the greatest outdoor gear and apparel on the planet, hire only those who love the outdoors and who are passionate about health and happiness, and provide Positively Outrageous Customer Service to everyone. The retail landscape has changed so much within the last 36 months and the Company has decided that the time has come to begin to ‘wind down’ all company affairs, knowing that it never had to compromise any excellence standards on behalf of the community.
The community and the Company have always supported each other with such dignity and respect, and the Company will always be proud of the role that it played in helping to improve the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of people, employees and customers, within the DC Metro Area. During this transition, all customers and all employees can count on continued excellence and pride from all associations with the Company. HTO firmly believes that an orderly wind-down of affairs provides the best opportunity for professional closure and maximum success and efficiency in what are otherwise sad and nostalgic circumstances.
The Company wishes to thank all of its customers and team members (past and present) for nearly five (5) decades of committed loyalty, high standards, professionalism, association, trust, support, partnership…and most importantly…. friendship. And what a ride it has been – who would have ever imagined that Ground Zero for what is now internationally known as Specialty Active Outdoor Retail was going to be Kensington, Maryland, or, that a passionate and creative outdoorsman from Washington, DC would one day grow up to both pioneer an entire industry, and, to become the example and trend setter for how that industry would grow and evolve for nearly half of a century?
In advance, thank you for your continued support during this transition.
Construction on the large, eight-building Liberty Center project in Ballston has been wrapping up this week, but just temporarily.
Construction barriers have been removed from the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, a new sidewalk is open and construction cranes have come down. However, the project isn’t quite complete: one of the buildings has yet to be built.
As reported by the Washington Business Journal in January, developer Shooshan Co. decided not to built the eighth and final building — a 20-story office building at 4040 Wilson Blvd — without significant lease commitments. With none apparently forthcoming, Shooshan decided against building on “spec” during a period of high office vacancies in Arlington and the rest of the D.C. region.
“The construction has been paused until we have the right deal in place,” Director of Leasing and Marketing Kevin Shooshan told ARLnow.com. “We could start again in a month, or in a year, it all depends on the market and finding our deal.”
Currently, passersby can see the top of a five-level underground parking garage, behind the chain link fence, on the site of what will eventually be 4040 Wilson Blvd.
The tower will eventually be built on top of the garage. Until then, Shooshan says the company is planning to place wrap signage around the site.
In 2008, Osiris Hoil was working as a superintendent for Patriot Contracting, the construction company that is building the new District Taco in Rosslyn and has built locations in Alexandria and Dunn Loring — which is celebrating its grand opening today.
The company originally hired Hoil despite his lack of construction experience because of his “can do” attitude and work ethic, said Jeff McGee, the co-owner of Patriot Contracting. The company struggled during the 2008 financial crisis, however, and Hoil was laid off.
“When I got laid off, I was very sad and I asked if I could stay on payroll, sweeping floors,” Hoil said. His wife was pregnant at the time and he needed the health insurance.
Laying off Hoil was one of the toughest days McGee has experienced on the job.
“I walked away crying,” he said.
Laying Hoil and the other employees left its mark on the company. McGee vowed that the company will stay small in order to avoid ever laying someone off again.
Undaunted by the adversity of losing a job during a major economic downturn, Hoil went on to start his original District Taco cart in 2009. He had a passion for cooking and his family’s recipes — and they turned out to be a hit.
That first cart eventually spawned a second, and then a brick and mortar restaurant followed on Lee Highway. That in turn led to what is now a growing regional chain. And when Hoil started building additional restaurants, he ultimately returned to Patriot Contracting, this time as a client.
“Instead of being angry about what they did, I’m right next to them saying let’s try this again,” Hoil said. He says he signed a multimillion dollar contract with Patriot because the company has good people and the owners get involved in the project.
The construction company has built two new stores and remodeled one of the existing locations, McGee said. It is currently working on the Rosslyn location.
“We really enjoy working with him [Hoil], and we’re proud of what he’s done,” McGee said.
Hoil is also eying Bailey’s Crossroads in Virginia and the Tenleytown neighborhood in D.C. for two more restaurants, he said. Hoil says he also wants to expand into Maryland, possibly in College Park. The company currently has 270 employees.
The new District Taco in Rosslyn will be located at 1500 Wilson Blvd, next to the future TargetExpress store. Both are expected to open this fall.
The County Board voted 4-1 on Saturday to approve the plan, which has been years in the making and will replace an outdated retail plan originally passed in 2001. The new plan moves Arlington from a “retail everywhere” approach — policies designed to put ground floor retail in most commercial buildings, regardless of whether a business could actually survive in a given location — to what’s billed as a flexible but “curated” approach.
Color-coded maps will now define where the county would like certain types of retail businesses to set up shop. The owners of buildings in high foot traffic areas will be encouraged to adopt certain building standards that are conducive to ground floor retailers, from higher ceilings to smaller building lobbies.
“By partnering with our business community and our residents, we’ve developed a plan that takes important steps to improve and strengthen the retail sector in Arlington,” Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. “We believe the consistent, clear guidance and definitions, as well as flexibility of use, design and timing in the plan will better serve those who live and work here when they shop, dine, get their hair cut and bank on streets throughout the County.”
The plan passed with two notable amendments, both proposed by County Board member John Vihstadt and both addressing concerns of the local business community.
The first further codified that the plan is intended as a guiding principle — to be applied primarily during development approval processes — rather than explicit county rules and regulations. The second added service and repair businesses to the types of businesses encouraged in “red zones” — the parts of Arlington’s business districts with the highest foot traffic. In the draft plan, staff had recommended limiting those zones to shopping, dining and entertainment.
“This plan has come a long, long way,” Vihstadt said after the motions passed by 4-1 and 3-2 respectively. “It was not a good plan when it started out.”
The plan passed with tepid support from the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, which had expressed concern about earlier versions of the plan it deemed “too proscriptive.”
“Explicit addition of a statement that the retail plan is not regulatory is paramount,” Chamber President and CEO Kate Roche told the Board. “Moving forward into implementation, we emphasize the importance of the plan being understood as a guideline… we want to make sure this plan isn’t codifying anything that will prevent Arlington from becoming the great, flexible place that we all want it to be.”
The changes still weren’t enough for Libby Garvey, who was the lone vote against the plan.
“I’m much more conformable with the plan with the changes, but still not comfortable enough to support it,” she said. “Both the people who have to make it work and the people we serve are saying, ‘it’s too proscriptive.'”
The new Arlington County Retail Plan would move away from the county’s current “retail everywhere” policy, which was an attempt to provide more lively street life around Arlington by requiring retail spaces in most new commercial buildings.
While successful by some measures, “retail everywhere” — a policy last updated in 2001 — has hit snags, with the owners of buildings in low-foot-traffic areas struggling to find viable retail tenants.
The new retail plan, which has been seven years in the making, is an attempt to concentrate retail in the highest foot traffic areas of commercial corridors, while encouraging more retail-friendly building designs. The hoped-for end result: more vibrant stretches of retailers and restaurants in Arlington.
“This updated approach will strengthen Arlington’s primary retail nodes; allow long- and short-term market shifts in retail and ground floor use to occur within this retail policy framework; accommodate innovative uses on the ground floor; and increase Arlington’s overall level of economic competitiveness,” according to a staff report.
The plan includes color-coded maps of neighborhoods like Clarendon and Crystal City, with each color corresponding to a different retail approach. In the red areas — those with the highest foot traffic — county planners want to encourage food, entertainment and shopping destinations, while discouraging large building lobbies and service businesses, like dry cleaners.
In other coded areas, there is more flexibility, but still some design guidelines and an action plan for the type of businesses the county would like to see in ground floor spaces.
Critics say the county is “acting like a mall operator” in trying to decide which businesses go where. In “curating what the community wants on the street,” in the words of one business leader who requested anonymity, the county is again taking a proscriptive approach — one that may not reflect the changing market a decade or two down the line.
For instance, high-end service businesses like blow dry bars are growing in popularity and may want to locate in one of the “red zones,” where the county is now specifically saying they shouldn’t exist.
There have also been concerns raised about the wisdom of restricting business lobbies, which ostensibly are needed in order to serve the building’s main purpose — being an attractive place for offices or apartments. Others in the business community have disputed the coding of the plans, though some of those concerns were addressed in a recent update of the plan.
“The refinements to the Retail Plan, which address concerns and comments raised through the public process, have made for a stronger document,” the staff report says. “The retail street maps, while not meeting 100 percent consensus by all stakeholders, provide a balance of the stakeholder positions and existing policies pertaining to ground floor use.”
Additionally, while property owners are still able to request exceptions through the county’s site plan process, some say that process remains too rigid, time-consuming and expensive. An apartment building owner might be reluctant to spend tens of thousands in attorney’s fees and staff time, for instance, on a site plan amendment that could allow a dry cleaner to go where there was formerly a small convenience store.
Le Village Marché, a Parisian-inspired store in Shirlington Village, is expanding across the river just in time for Bastille Day tomorrow (July 14).
Owner Angela Phelps opened the store’s second location in Cathedral Commons (3318 Wisconsin Ave. NW) in D.C. on June 25.
The new store is very similar to the one in Shirlington, Phelps said, though it stocks more furniture. Both stores have a French theme and sell items that range from French glassware to cookbooks and doormats.
“It appeals to people, not just because we have great items, but it’s like a trip to Paris without actually going there,” Phelps said.
Developers in Cathedral Commons reached out to Phelps, prompting her to open the second location, she said.
For local Francophiles looking to throw a Bastille Day party, Phelps recommended serving French baguettes, wines and cheeses, perhaps followed by a French martini and an entrée Coq au vin for the party. She also recommended some French decor and little gifts, like fluers de lis, which she bien sûr carries at the store.
On the 14th, both stores are offering a free gift with a $25 purchase, Phelps said.
There’s a barbering school within walking distance of Clarendon, and it offers what might be the cheapest haircut in town.
Amid million-dollar homes and trendy apartments, the American Barber Academy has a low profile at its third-floor office in Lyon Park, at 2300 N. Pershing Drive. What the school lacks in street signage, though, it makes up for in pricing: among other services, it offers hot towel shaves for the cost of a large drink at Starbucks.
The academy is owned by master barber Kristen Kelly, who’s been in the business for some 20 years. Kelly, who also lives in Arlington, opened the school in 2014 after realizing that the D.C. region was lacking in schools for barbers.
“And I knew if I opened the school, students would come,” she said.
Currently, Kelly has a dozen students in her first class, which is scheduled to to graduate in the fall. She has also taught advanced-level students seeking to further develop their hair styling skills, she said.
Receiving a degree in barbering from the school take about a year to complete and costs $10,o00 at the college. The school offers the 1,500-hour license, which is standard for D.C. and Virginia, but also works in Maryland where the license only requires 1,200 hours, Kelly said.
The American Barber Academy offers day and night classes and Kelly has students with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She also enrolls students as young as 16 and has pupils of all ages, including one in his 60s, she said.
And while there are other barber colleges in the area there are two aspects that make the American Barber Academy unique, Kelly said. The first is that the college has a multicultural focus, while many other colleges only focus on a specific hair type.
The school is one of the only female-owned barbering schools, Kelly said, which can be difficult.
“I’m a women-owned business in a male dominant art,” she said. “They don’t expect it to be me. I’m the last person expect to see run a barber shop.”
In addition to being a school, the American Barber Academy is a fully functional barber shop. Kelly offers men’s haircuts for $7 and hot towel shaves for $5.
“If a guy comes here once, he tells his roommates or his friends because you can’t beat our prices,” she said.
And Arlington residents love the shop, she said, adding that there are not many traditional barber shops in the county.