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Arlington County Board candidates Adam Theo, Matt de Ferranti and Audrey Clement at a Chamber of Commerce debate (courtesy of Arlington Chamber of Commerce)

A record-high office vacancy rate plus burdensome taxes and permit processes are just some hurdles for local businesses that Arlington County Board hopefuls are pledging to tackle.

During a debate hosted by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce last night (Wednesday), incumbent Matt de Ferranti (D) and his two independent opponents, Audrey Clement and Adam Theo, explained to a 30-person audience how they would extend a helping hand toward area businesses.

Clement emphasized office-to-residential conversions as a way of reducing the office vacancy rate, which reached 20.8% in the last quarter, and “deal with our housing crisis at the same time.”

“Office-to-residential conversion is a smart approach that both Alexandria and the District of Columbia are implementing,” she said. “There are many reasons this is a sensible strategy, and Arlington’s Missing Middle is not.”

Office buildings are readily available, have more parking than most new apartment buildings and are close to Metro, she said.

“I don’t believe honestly there’s disagreement that we should do office to residential. It’s how we do it,” de Ferranti said. “We are already working on that, but we need to move more quickly.”

Seeing as empty offices are spread throughout buildings, Theo said “conversions are not a silver bullet” and suggested filling these vacancies with schools.

“That is something that’s much easier to renovate for than residential and it helps to tackle our school overcrowding that we’ll be facing over the next decade or two,” and makes more opportunities available to young families in urban areas, he said.

Currently, the county is exploring more flexible zoning in offices to allow for “light industrial” uses such as delivery staging areas, urban farms, breweries and small warehouses.

All three, meanwhile, say they would change how businesses are taxed.

“I am concerned about excessive taxation, particularly real estate taxes, but if you can start with shaving off some of those business taxes, that would be just fine with me,” Clement said.

Theo called for removing the business tangible tax, a tax levied on property used in business that requires maintaining records of nearly every item of value that a business owns.

Personal property tax revenue in Arlington over the last decade (via Arlington County)

Business tangible tax assessments are expected to increase by 16% this fiscal year, according to the 2022-23 budget. But Theo said the $40 million it netted last year is not worth squeezing support businesses with thin margins.

“The county sneezes and it spends $40 million,” he quipped.

De Ferranti advocated for increasing the threshold for Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) tax, which comprises about 5% of the county’s revenue for this fiscal year, and has been steadily rising over the last decade.

Under the tax — which has long had critics both on the right and the left — businesses with revenue of less than $10,000 owe nothing, while those grossing up to $50,000 pay $30 and those grossing up to $100,000 pay $50. Beyond that, most businesses pay $0.36 per $100 in gross receipts, regardless of whether the business is profitable or not. Some businesses, like stores and restaurants, pay a lower rate while others, like printed newspapers, are exempt.

The rising revenue Arlington nets from the BPOL tax (via Arlington County)

De Ferranti, however, balked at other tax cut suggestions.

“But broad statements like, ‘We should cut’ — first, our real estate tax rate is the lowest in the region,” de Ferranti said. “Our property values are so high, so that’s why our total bills are higher than some other localities. We have to keep investing when there’s a challenge in our economy.”

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(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) Clarendon-based Axios is now officially part of Atlanta-based cable operator and media conglomerate Cox Enterprises.

The $525 million sale of the five-year-old, newsletter-centric online news company — a seismic event in the media industry — closed on Sept. 1, according to Axios’ Dan Primack, less than a month after it was first announced.

The company grew rapidly after its January 2017 founding by Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Roy Schwartz, former stars of Rosslyn-based Politico, which itself was recently acquired.

Just a year after its launch Axios graduated from a co-working space on a lower floor of 3100 Clarendon Blvd to snazzy new digs on a top floor. In 2020, after establishing itself as a prolific publisher of scoops in the worlds of U.S. politics, dealmaking, media and other topics, it set its sight on an unlikely expansion opportunity: local news.

Axios acquired the local news website Charlotte Agenda in December 2020 for a reported $5 million, rebranding it Axios Charlotte and enlisting its co-founder, Ted Williams, to help lead the rapid expansion of Axios Local.

Not even two years later, Axios Local now has 24 local newsletters across the country, operated by two-to-three person local teams that do a mix of original reporting and curation of other local news sources. The Axios D.C. newsletter launched about a year ago.

Local news, of course, is a difficult business. Newspapers are in rapid decline, with revenue down 60% and overall employment down 70% since the mid-2000s. TV stations, which generate much of their revenue from local news, may be at or near a peak before revenue starts to decline. Cox sold a majority stake in its TV station group to a private equity company in late 2019 and sold off stations in 12 markets earlier this year.

Axios is among a newer generation of online-only local news publishers that have not yet matched the journalistic firepower of local newspapers in their pre-internet heyday, when the printed paper was the go-to route into the homes for local advertisers, from department store inserts to “help wanted” classifieds.

Google, Facebook, Craigslist, Angie’s List, Yelp and any number of other online resources have since given advertisers more ways to reach local consumers, leading to a decades-long bleeding of revenue away from local newspapers and what had been their distribution-based monopoly on customer attention.

Into the breach have stepped Axios and its fast-growing local newsletter competitor 6AM City, as well as earlier local-news-at-scale efforts like Patch and more localized, independent online-only publications like ARLnow (plus sister sites ALXnow and FFXnow).

There are currently more than 700 independent local news startups in the U.S. and Canada, according to Local Independent Online News Publishers, a trade group that ARLnow helped to found. While a handful of online news ventures have grown to rival the size of local newspapers — the nonprofit Texas Tribune has more than 50 journalists — none so far have achieved anything approaching nationwide ubiquity.

Axios is seeking to be the first.

“Our goal of 100 cities is in reach,” Axios Local publisher Nick Johnston told Poynter’s Rick Edmonds in August. “I have a list of 384 metropolitan areas in my office, and we cross them off one by one.”

It was those kind of grand local ambitions that drew the 124-year-old, privately-held Cox Enterprises — which dates back to 1898, when its founder purchased the Dayton Daily News in Ohio — to Axios.

From CNBC:

The company ramped up talks to buy Axios several months ago, intrigued by the company’s push into local journalism, VandeHei said in an interview. […]

While some current investors weren’t interested in adding more capital, Cox felt confident in the leadership’s ability to monetize local journalism at scale with a lean digital-first approach, said Cox Enterprises Chief Financial Officer Dallas Clement in an interview.

“Cox became an investor in Axios last year and has a lengthy history of supporting local news,” Axios spokesperson Lauren Shiplett told ARLnow last month. “Cox’s leadership has publicly expressed its excitement about Axios Local’s rapid growth as well as the strength of our national platform.”

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that highlights Arlington-based startups, founders, and local tech news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

(Updated, 8/31/22) Twenty-five Arlington-based companies are on this year’s Inc. 5000 list, an annual barometer of the country’s fastest-growing companies.

Among them are a Clarendon-based digital media company, a restaurant management software company on Fairfax Drive, and a food tech start-up in Ballston.

The highest-ranked Arlington company at No. 461 is Piedmont Global Language Solutions, which specializes in translation, interpretation, and language training. The company’s headquarters is located in Ballston on N. Glebe Road.

The median growth over the last year for the local companies is 256%.

The 23 companies with local ties on the latest Inc. 5000 list are fewer in number than in previous years. In 2021, 30 Arlington companies graced that year’s list while there were 30 in 2020 and 34 in 2019. Just under half of the companies (11) on the 2022 list were also on the 2021 list.

While looking through the list, a few trends emerge. Most of the local companies are headquartered in Clarendon or Ballston. Many are software or tech-based that count the federal government as a major client. At least a couple were founded by first-generation Americans and a few were at one time featured by ARLnow.

Here’s a list of all the Arlington-based companies included on this year’s Inc. 5000 list:

  • 1,218, HUNGRY, 534% — A food tech start-up that connects companies and consumers with local chefs, food trucks, and restaurants. It has a number of celebrity investors and is based in Ballston.
  • 1,219, SweatWorks, 533% — A software company that helps engineer and design fitness products. It’s headquartered in Ballston.
  • 1,321, Grey Market Labs, 494% — A software company with the “mission to protect life online.” The company is headquartered in Clarendon.
  • 1,486, Kasma, 432% — A compensation software management system that provides employee pay data from across the globe.
  • 1,544, C3 Integrated Solutions, 414% — An IT service that secures clients with cloud-based tech and is located on Wilson Blvd in Clarendon.
  • 1,651, DonorBureau, 378% — A software analytics company helps organizations better fundraise and get donor support.
  • 1,879, Blake Willson Group, 323% — A veteran-owned business that provides “technology solutions” to the federal government.
  • 2,148, Competitive Innovations, 276% — A government service company that’s based on N. Glebe Road in Buckingham.
  • 2,227, Axios, 264% — A Clarendon-based digital media company that covers national as well as local news often with short, punchy articles.
  • 2,294, ITC Defense Corp., 256% — A tech-based global defense business that specializes in system engineering. It has an office in Crystal City.
  • 2,296, Fors Marsh Group, 255% — Conducts market research to help companies with customer service. It’s in Ballston.
  • 2,450, PhoenixTeam, 236% — A mortgage technology firm on N. Glebe Road in Ballston.
  • 3,092, iTechAG, 174% — A tech firm that helps organizations “streamline their operations to achieve better, faster and more predictable results.” It’s in Clarendon.
  • 3,094, Association Analytics, 174% — A data analytics company in Rosslyn that helps organizations operate more efficiently.
  • 3,292, Web Development Group, 161% — An advertising and marketing company that builds websites. It’s based in Clarendon.
  • 3,364, Ostendio, 156% — A digital platform company in Rosslyn that automates security.
  • 3,422, Nuvitek, 153% — An engineering firm that provides automation and cloud services to government agencies. It was on last year’s list as well and based in Rosslyn.
  • 3,541, Changeis, 146% — The Rosslyn-based company works with federal agencies in “emerging technologies.
  • 4,020, 540.co, 120% — As the company describes itself on its website “we are a forward-thinking company that the Federal Government turns to in order to…#GetShitDone.” It’s based in Crystal City.
  • 4,199, Quantum Search Partners, 111% — A recruiting company for cybersecurity, tech, data, and architecture sectors with an office in Clarendon.
  • 4,353, DWBH, 103% — A veteran-owned company that offers subject matter expertise “in support of mission-critical functions.”
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Being a small business owner is tough and sometimes, for any number of reasons, you need to sell what you’ve built.

Even a large and affluent market like Arlington is no exception, with plenty of business turnover in a given year, especially among retail-level consumer businesses like restaurants and personal services.

One way business owners get matched with business buyers is through online listing aggregators like BizBuySell. Below, we have again compiled ten of the more interesting, current listings in Arlington from the site.

The listings generally do not name the business that’s for sale, but the descriptions in each provide some clues. The asking price is also included.

1. Convenience store for Sale ($600,000)

Well run and maintained convenience store for sale in a busy area and walking distance nearby apartment complexes. It is the perfect opportunity for an owner-operated business or absentee owner.

2. Profitable BBQ Restaurant with Food Truck in Arlington ($125,000)

Dine in and carry out BBQ restaurant for sale in Arlington VA. High end kitchen equipment and great build out ready to fit most concepts. This restaurant is ABSENTEE OWNED and profiting $50,000 annually. With a new hands on owner and an updated menu to include more items this turn key business can be extremely profitable. Very low rent for Arlington with a great lease. Must see. Purchase price includes a FOOD TRUCK. CHEAP RENT.

3. Thriving Wellness center: Yoga, Massage, Saunas ($250,000)

This 10 year old business has survived Crystal City’s desolation and Covid and it primed for Amazon HQ2 and all the new businesses, people, and energy flowing through. The lease is month too month but you can lock it in if you like. 50% of revenue is from yoga and pilates classes and 50% is from massage and body work. The studio is 5200 sq ft, has 3 yoga rooms (one is a hot room and is 1800 sq ft), 3 treatment rooms, 2 large changing rooms with showers, 2 infrared saunas. It runs itself but could level up which I’m not interested in doing after working a full time job and running and working in this business for 10 years.

4. High Profit Restaurant & Bar in Prime Location ($595,000)

High profit restaurant and bar in the heart of Arlington VA. This popular restaurant has been in business for over 6 years and is currently averaging over $3,000,000 in annual sales. The current owner is profiting an average of $300,000 per year and the business is debt free. Beautifully built out with 230 seats inside, 120 seats outside, a large full service bar including craft beers on tap and a spacious kitchen with all high end equipment. The current menu can be kept the same or converted to fit most concepts. While owning other restaurants, the current owner does not have enough time to watch over this location and run it to its full potential.

5. Well Established Coworking Business Center ($980,000)

Don’t miss out on this opportunity! This business operates in a very robust Co-working market in Virginia, renting office space to small business owners or remote sales reps on 6-12 month terms. The building resides in a great outdoor freestanding location in the business district and civic metro area. It is a flexible franchise solution that adapts to change and has consistently been the most profitable business in the industry.

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Morning Notes

Clouds, Nestle and Nixon at an observation deck in Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Bank Booting Xmas Tree Sale from Lot — “Optimist members tell 7News On Your Side that [Wells Fargo] bank officials told them in late 2021 that their parking lot would not be available to the Optimists for liability reasons. This concern was bewildering to club members as they say over the years they’ve never had any serious accidents or issues. The Optimists are now scrambling to find another space.” [WJLA]

Real Estate Agents Making Less — “Northern Virginia Realtors shared roughly $30 million less in compensation during the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2021 despite rising home prices, according to a new Sun Gazette analysis. Year-over-year sales for the first half of 2022 were down 12.2 percent, according to figures reported by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.” [Sun Gazette]

Expanded Bikeshare Station in Ballston — From Capital Bikeshare: “Our teams have expanded and replaced the station at Glebe Rd & 11th St N in Arlington. Happy riding!” [Twitter]

Firefighters Rescue Stuck Bird — “The Arlington Fire and Rescue Department helped save a blue jay stuck in a tree on Monday — and the video is heartwarming. The bird appeared to have a piece of plastic material wrapped around its leg.” [WJLA, Twitter]

Arlington Seeks Feedback on Bay Plan — “The County is updating its Chesapeake Bay Preservation Plan, which speaks to effective land use management practices as required by the state. Read on, chime in.” [Twitter, Arlington County]

Local Company Making New Acquisition — “Evolent Health Inc. is taking steps to expand its arsenal of services for health care providers, starting with an acquisition that will move it into the lucrative area of musculoskeletal care. The Arlington company, which helps health systems and insurance companies manage their costs and improve care, charges into the second half of 2022 on the cusp of closing its purchase of Alpharetta, Georgia’s IPG.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Burger Restaurant at DCA — “Elevation Burger has opened a new restaurant in Terminal E at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington. Founded in 2002, Elevation Burger uses USDA-certified organic, 100-percent grass-fed beef and fresh-cut fries cooked in heart-healthy olive oil.” [Patch]

It’s Thursday — Humid and mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 88 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:07 am and sunset at 8:25 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Sunny and wet Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Interest Rates Could Slow Development — “Arlington County leaders are preparing for a difficult economic environment for multifamily development, even as they say they’re optimistic about the region’s future… [I]f the Federal Reserve pushes the federal funds rate to 3.5% by year-end as it has targeted, that could have serious repercussions, said Shooshan Co. Chairman John Shooshan, speaking at Bisnow’s Future of Arlington County event on Thursday.” [Bisnow]

Talent Driving Local Tech Strength — “Northern Virginia has become a magnet for the industry, with the Dulles Technology Corridor continuing its growth along the Silver Line and Amazon HQ2 going up in Arlington… Taylor said the upcoming Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in Alexandria and George Mason’s Fuse at Mason Square in Arlington are two projects that will be pivotal to ‘churning out more talent.'” [Axios]

Funding for DCA Runway Reconstruction — “Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $5,958,173 in federal funding for two Virginia airports… [including] $1,750,000 for Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport in Arlington, VA for the reconstruction of a runway.” [Press Release]

Business Is Booming at Airport — “Concession sales are booming at Reagan National and Dulles International airports as travel continues to rebound from the early days of the Covid pandemic. Since the start of 2022, concessions sales have grown 241% at National and 143% at Dulles.” [Washington Business Journal]

‘CraigPokesU’ Manager Profiled — “Blake Williams has 14 dragon tattoos and 12 piercings. Some of his body art you can see — like the ‘third eye’ on his forehead, the ring in his nose and the letters that spell out ‘kindness’ on his knuckles — while others fall into the ‘that’s private’ category, he says. Williams, 47, is the head piercer and shop manager at CraigPokesU on Langston Boulevard, just up the street from Cowboy Cafe.” [Arlington Magazine]

Arlingtonian Helped to Shape Region — “Chuck Bean has spent 10 years leading the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments… Bean, who lives in Arlington, is unknown to many D.C.-area residents, but as liaison between COG’s 125 staffers and public officials representing 24 counties and cities, he has played a lead role in coordinating regional planning to improve transportation, combat climate change and encourage more housing construction.” [Washington Post]

Street Project Funded in F.C. –“he Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) approved a $22.5 million project funding request from the City on Thursday for transportation improvements on North Washington Street. The North Washington Street Multimodal Improvements Project includes sidewalk widening, improved intersection geometry, signal improvements, crosswalks, utility undergrounding, lighting, and landscaping, between Great Falls Street and Gresham Place.” [City of Falls Church]

It’s Friday — Clear throughout the day and hot. High of 92 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:02 am and sunset at 8:30 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A donut shop, a child care center, a facial spa and Peruvian restaurant are coming to HQ2.

Amazon announced the latest small business additions to its forthcoming Pentagon City campus, which are expected to open next year with the completion of the first phase of HQ2 construction. (The second phase was approved earlier this year.)

The new additions include a pair of familiar and well-loved Arlington eateries: Good Company Doughnuts & Cafe in Ballston and Peruvian Brothers, which formerly had a location in Crystal City.

The other two, Celebree School and Glo30, are, respectively, an early childhood education center with a location in Tysons and a membership-based facial spa with locations in D.C. and Bethesda.

More from Amazon’s announcement, below.

Celebree School of National Landing, Good Company Doughnuts & Cafe, Glo30, and Peruvian Brothers are the latest businesses signed on to open in Amazon’s second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

As development continues at Amazon’s second headquarters (HQ2) in Arlington, Virginia, we are looking for retail partners that will enrich this growing community of both our neighbors and employees.

Over the past eight months, we’ve announced several local small businesses that will open their doors next year at Metropolitan Park, the first phase of HQ2, including Conte’s Bike Shop, District Dogs, HUSTLE, RAKO Coffee, Social Burger, and South Block. As we continue to bring more small businesses to the area, we hope that HQ2 can be a destination for all the important areas of life, whether that be work, play, family time, or any of the moments in between.

We’re excited to announce the latest additions coming to Met Park in 2023.

The co-owner of Peruvian Brothers tells ARLnow that the new location at HQ2 will pick up where the former stand at the under-renovation Crystal City Water Park left off.

“We are sticking with our food truck vibe with a fast casual concept but will now include indoor and outdoor seating to eat on site,” said co-owner Giuseppe Lanzone. “Order your food, pick it up at the counter and take a seat with your family to eat our delicious food and enjoy live music surrounded by Peruvian art.”

“We will also debut a full bar dedicated to our Pisco Sour Slushies as well as some new Peruvian cocktails that we would drink back home in La Punta, Peru,” Lanzone added. “We look forward to welcoming back friendly faces from the neighborhood to our new location in National Landing.”

Matt Blitz contributed to this report

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Morning Notes

Raytheon, Boeing Mostly Moving Execs — “The real answer is that these are relatively easy shifts for both new companies — each of which already had a sizable presence here for years. They are both racing to be closer to their top customer, the federal government, in what appears to be a pretty simple change for each. Based on the little that the companies have shared publicly thus far, it’s essentially relocating a few key executives and support staff from one existing office to another.” [Washington Business Journal]

Wardian Completes Coast-to-Coast Run — “Around sunrise on Friday, July 1, 2022, ultrarunner Mike Wardian completed his run across America… [he] was greeted by the soft waves of the Atlantic Ocean and a beautiful sunrise at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.” [iRunFar, Instagram, Washington Post]

Arlington SUV Used in Crime Spree — “An Arlington County man whose vehicle was stolen after thieves went inside his home to take the keys was surprised to find out his car was connected to a pursuit where three teens were charged with the attempted murder of an officer. The man, who asked to remain anonymous, said his BMW was stolen out of his driveway in the overnight hours of June 17 after thieves went into his home and took the keys.” [WUSA 9]

Fawn Finds Way Out of Stairwell — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “Earlier today Officer Barrett responded to a call for a fawn stuck at the bottom of a stairwell. It turns out the fawn wasn’t really stuck, but just needed a little encouragement!” [Twitter]

Colonial Place Listed for Sale — “A trio of Arlington office buildings dubbed Colonial Place at Courthouse Metro, which haven’t changed hands in going on three decades, hit the market this week. Colonial Place, located at 2101, 2107 and 2111 Wilson Blvd., weighs in at more than 750,000 square feet, immediately across the street from the Courthouse Metro station… the four parcels that comprise the total property, sitting on 7.1 acres, assess altogether at more than $315 million, per public records.” [Washington Business Journal]

Ed. Dept. Rules Against APS — From Arlington Parents for Education: “US ED’s Office of Civil Rights ruled against APS, finding that online platforms and paper packets used during remote instruction posed barriers to individuals with disabilities, particularly those with vision disabilities or who use assistive technology.” [Twitter]

New School Board Leadership — “The Arlington School Board held its annual organizational meeting for the 2022-23 school year and elected Reid Goldstein as Chair and Cristina Diaz-Torres as Vice-Chair. The terms for the new Chair and Vice-Chair begin immediately and will continue until June 30, 2023.” [Arlington Public Schools]

It’s Tuesday — Rain and possible storms in the afternoon and evening. High of 86 and low of 71. Sunrise at 5:50 am and sunset at 8:38 pm. [Weather.gov]

Flickr pool photos by Dennis Dimick, Tom Mockler and Emma K. Alexandra

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Current Boutique owner Carmen Lopez stands next to the donation drop off box (courtesy of Carmen Lopez)

Arlington resident Carmen Lopez has heard stories about panicked moms scrambling to find baby formula.

Lopez, owner of local fashion chain Current Boutique, said one mom couldn’t find the formula she needed and ordered it online. But she was afraid it wouldn’t come in time.

“She’s called family members in Florida, in California, in New York, just to send her formula because it’s a specific formula that she needs for her baby,” Lopez said.

Many mothers in the D.C. area face similar situations as there’s a shortage of formula across the country. The out-of-stock rate for baby formula in Virginia was 64.3% as of May 28, which was lower than the national average of 74%, according to Bloomberg.

As a mom, Lopez wanted to help other moms.

So, she partnered with The Napkin Network, a D.C. nonprofit focused on giving moms in need baby formula, diapers and wipes. She and The Napkin Network founder Lindsay Gill organized a donation drive at Current Boutique stores.

“A friend actually told me about what [The Napkin Network was] doing and I thought, ‘How could I help?’ Because I have heard from moms, from people that I know that are struggling to get formula,” Lopez said.

Through Tuesday, July 19, there will be drop boxes at each of the three Current Boutique locations in Clarendon (2601 Wilson Blvd.), Old Town Alexandria (1009 King Street) and Logan Circle (1318 14th Street NW, D.C.).

A donation box for baby formula inside a Current Boutique store (courtesy of Carmen Lopez)

Those who donate receive a 20% discount when shopping at the boutique, and can also receive tax donations receipts at the drop-off locations. The baby formula donated needs to be unopened and unexpired.

Around 100 mothers a week receive a new can of baby formula from the donation drives organized by Gill, who is a mother using baby formula in Rockville, Md.

“The formula that’s not picked up on site, we’ve given out to partner organizations in the Washington D.C. area,” she said.

One such organization is Feed the Fridge, which places refrigerators around the D.C. area and pays local restaurants to fill them with fresh meals. The organization is now distributing baby formula at 10 locations in Maryland and D.C.

“Hopefully it’ll be an ongoing initiative,” Gill said.

Lindsay Gill, founder of The Napkin Network, poses with diapers (courtesy of Hilary Phelps)

Although The Napkin Network was founded to collect and distribute diapers and wipes, the nonprofit has put a pause to collecting those to focus on formula.

“The Napkin Network has sort of paused all other efforts in terms of collecting diapers, wipes, and we’re still doing it but it’s on the back burner because we really have to focus on formula,” Gill said.

Since the drive began, there have been a couple of donations at each of the Current Boutique stores, most of which were the Similac formula, Lopez said.

“I think what we’ve been doing since Tuesday is just spreading the word,” she said.

Several baby formulas are more in demand than others. Enfamil Gentlease, which advertises itself as “easing fussiness, gas and crying,” is a popular request. It is currently listed as out of stock on its manufacturer’s website. Another popular one is Similac, which is covered by the Virginia Women, Infants and Children assistance program, Gill said.

At a roundtable with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Gill saw mothers crying because they could not get specific formulas for their infants with allergies, which cannot be substituted.

“The moms there were literally in tears, asking Sen. Kaine, ‘What are you doing? My baby is starving,'” Gill said.

Other nonprofits in the area collecting diapers and baby formula include the Greater DC Diaper Bank. It has over 160 donation drop locations in the Metro area, according to the group’s website, including six in Arlington. Its Baby Pantry also accepts donations of baby formula and food at the same drop locations as the diapers.

This feature story was funded by members of the ARLnow Press Club and originally ran in the club’s weekend newsletter.

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Legend Kicks has moved across the Pike (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Legend Kicks has found a new home across the Pike, after moving because of Fillmore Gardens Shopping Center’s pending redevelopment.

The sneaker reseller and clothing store has moved from its home for the past four years at 2609 Columbia Pike to a storefront about a half block away at 2514 Columbia Pike, a few doors down from the Celtic House.

The shop opened its doors at its new location this past weekend, according to an Instagram post.

The step was necessitated by imminent demolition and redevelopment of Fillmore Gardens Shopping Center. In March, the Arlington County Board approved replacing the one-story, aging retail strip with “The Elliott,” which will feature 247 market-rate apartments, a renovated CVS, a relocated Burrito Bros, and a new grocery store that could end up being an Amazon Fresh.

Legend Kicks first opened on Columbia Pike in 2017, but in April 2018 the store fell victim to arson. It reopened four months later a few doors down. Now, four years later, Legend Kicks is on the move again, but this time it’s because of redevelopment.

In an Instagram video from late last week, owner Layth Mansour claimed he was only given a few days to move.

“The first Legends got burned down. The second Legends I put so much money into, but then I got a letter saying that someone bought the whole building and I got three or four days to move,” Mansour says in the video. “Literally, I got a new place in, like, two days.”

Legend Kicks owner Layth Mansour on Instagram talking about Legend Kicks’ move (image via @legends_va/Instagram)

That timeline may not be totally accurate. ARLnow reported in January that all tenants received a notice that told them they needed to vacate by May 31. In those preceding six months, a number of businesses have since closed or moved including the Columbia Pike Partnership, the Black Heritage Museum, and Atilla’s Restaurant.

ARLnow has reached out to Mansour and Legend Kicks several times but has yet to hear back.

Mansour also owns the alcohol-free restaurant Eska on Columbia Pike. In April 2021, he took over the troubled, former location of Purple Lounge with the pledge to make it “family-friendly.” However, more than a year later, that restaurant has yet to open despite hopes it would be in business by February 1.

With Legend Kicks moving out, the only remaining tenant remaining in Fillmore Gardens Shopping Center is CVS. It’s not immediately clear when the store will make the planned shift to a trailer in the parking lot next door.

Though no demolition permit application has been filed for the now-mostly abandoned building, a county spokesperson says that work should begin late this year after all the needed permits are obtained.

If that timeline is followed, The Elliott could be completed and be move-in ready by early 2025.

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Morning Notes

Parkour in Gateway Park in Rosslyn before the rain (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Beyer Wins 8th District NominationUpdated at 9:50 a.m. — “Rep. Don Beyer, a Democrat, has fended off a primary challenge from Victoria Virasingh in the 8th Congressional District. Beyer will face Republican Karina Lipsman, who won a Republican convention last month… With 177 precincts of 182 reporting, Beyer leads, 77.82% to 22.18%.” [WTOP, Fox 5]

Statement from Beyer — “I am grateful to voters in Northern Virginia for again making me their Democratic nominee to represent Virginia’s 8th District… This is a challenging moment for the Democratic Party, and I look forward to throwing myself into that fight and making the case for equality, shared prosperity, and progress.” [Twitter]

Singing Challenger’s Praises — From Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti: “Thank you to @Victoria4VA for running and raising important issues in our community. It’s never easy to step into the arena and, win or lose, we should all be grateful to those who do. I am sure we have not heard the last of Victoria!” [Twitter]

Man Drowns in Four Mile Run — “No foul play is suspected in the drowning death of a 52-year-old man in Four Mile Run, according to Alexandria Police. Police were called around 2 p.m. on Monday, June 20. Rescuers found the man in the stream near the 3900 block of Richmond Highway.” [ALXnow]

Neighbors Want Public Garage — “County, regional and state officials descended on Shirlington Road on June 15, ceremonially kicking off construction of a much-awaited and oft-debated maintenance facility for the Arlington Transit (ART) bus fleet… But the proposal still calls for using a parking garage on the parcel exclusively for staff use. ‘Given local parking challenges, a little creative thinking would open sections of the garage for public use, too,’ Stombler said.” [Sun Gazette]

Acquisition for Arlington Company — “Leonardo DRS Inc., the Arlington subsidiary of Italian defense and space contractor Leonardo SpA, said Tuesday it has agreed to merge with Israel’s Rada Electronic Industries Ltd. in an all-stock deal that will create a new public company.” [Washington Business Journal]

Storms Possible Today — From the Capital Weather Gang: “Heads-up for Wednesday afternoon + evening: HEAVY RAIN threat for parts of region and possibility of flooding. * Storms — possibly numerous — between 3 and 10p * It won’t rain the whole time but some areas could see multiple bouts of heavy rain — evening may be busiest.” [Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Rain and storms in the evening and overnight. High of 86 and low of 69. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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