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by ARLnow.com — January 5, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Icy fence (Flickr pool photo by Eric)

CEB Being Acquired — Arlington-based CEB Inc., one of the county’s biggest private employers, is being acquired by Connecticut-based Gartner in a $2.6 billion cash-and-stock deal. CEB is set to anchor one of the under-construction Central Place towers in Rosslyn once it is completed. [Reuters, Gartner]

Fisette Still Mulling Reelection Run — Jay Fisette, who is serving as Arlington County Board Chair for 2017, has not yet decided whether he’ll run for another four-year term. Fisette says he’ll make a decision in February, the Washington Post’s Patricia Sullivan reports. [Twitter]

What County Board Members Did for New Year’s — With the County Board’s traditional New Year’s Day organizational meeting moved to Jan. 3, what did County Board members do on Jan. 1 instead? Nothing too interesting, it turns out. [Falls Church News-Press]

Obama’s Military Farewell Ceremony — It tied up some traffic in Arlington, but yesterday afternoon the country’s armed forces bid farewell to President Obama and Vice President Biden on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. The event went well, minus one Army honor guard member fainting during the ceremony. [NBC News, Daily Mail]

Couple Married After 20 Years Together — An Arlington couple that first met 20 years ago in a D.C. nightclub finally tied the knot over the summer. Bob Kenney, a real estate agent, and Mark Treadaway, an airport executive, were wed in the backyard of their Woodmont home in front of 75 guests. [Arlington Magazine]

Nearby: Alexandria Flips Out Over Taco Bell — Residents in the West End of Alexandria are really worried about a proposed Taco Bell. In letters to the city’s planning commission, residents decried the potential for “late night riff raff,” “the devastating effects of an accident,” and “lowered home values.” One resident also relayed her personal experience of going to a Taco Bell that had run out of forks. There are four Taco Bells in Arlington County, including one on the Alexandria border and another in the Pentagon. [Washington Business Journal, City of Alexandria]

Va. Legislator Proposes N.C. Style Bathroom Bill — Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) has proposed a “bathroom bill” similar to the controversial bill that because law in North Carolina. The bill would restrict transgender individuals from using certain bathrooms and would require school principals to “notify all parents if a student at their children’s school asks to be treated as a member of the opposite sex.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

by Tim Regan — January 3, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

A fan of Cherrydale’s House of Steep is buying the business to keep it from closing.

Lyndsey DePalma, who founded the tea house and “foot sanctuary”at 3800 Lee Highway, announced last month she planned to close the business and “lovingly serve our last cup of tea” by Dec. 30.

Though the business did close its doors last weekend, it’s only temporary thanks to longtime House of Steep customer and Arlington business owner Patrick Vaughan.

Vaughan, a regular runner of ultramarathons, said he was in the middle of a reflexology and foot massage session when he heard that the store was slated to shutter.

“I was really saddened when I heard it was going to close,” he recalled.

Then, he had an idea: Why not see if he could buy the business to keep it afloat? So, Vaughan called up DePalma, and within just 12 hours, they shook hands on a deal.

“I’ve wanted to get into a health and bodywork kind of business for a long time,” Vaughan said. “It just clicked for me. It just really made sense.”

For DePalma, the sale represents a kind of “fairytale ending.”

“I think he’s willing to take his ideas the distance,” she said. “He seems very passionate to begin with and willing to follow through.”

Although Vaughan said he doesn’t want to change the company’s atmosphere or culture, he does plan to add some new offerings and services to the menu.

“I’d like to be able to get beyond foot massage into full-body massage,” said Vaughan, who also owns a local information technology business. “I’m definitely looking to expand the techniques of massage offerings.”

House of Steep is scheduled to reopen Jan. 9.

by ARLnow.com — January 3, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Happy New Year gear lying on a Clarendon sidewalk on a rainy day

Heavy Traffic, Metro Issues — Commuters were welcomed back to work and back to school with a soaking rush hour rain, heavy traffic and delays on Metro’s Yellow and Blue lines. [Washington Post, Twitter]

Are We In a Restaurant Bubble?At last count, more restaurants closed than opened in Arlington last year. There’s talk that certain parts of Arlington’s restaurant scene — sit-down restaurants in particular — are oversaturated. While there’s always room for top-notch restaurants, Arlington’s restaurant woes are seemingly consistent with the assertion that we are in a national restaurant bubble. [Thrillist]

Take Our 2017 Reader Survey — Once a year, we give our readers a chance to weigh in on how we’re doing and what we might do to improve. We also over-share potential changes that we’re considering (some more seriously than others). Now is your chance to share your insights and opinions about ARLnow. [SurveyMonkey]

by ARLnow.com — December 15, 2016 at 4:55 pm 0

Chris Farley (center) recording his Pace the Nation podcast

Chris Farley is a native Arlingtonian who had a knack for running and turned it into a thriving local business.

Farley, the owner and co-founder of Pacers Running, talked with us about how he and his parents bought a local running store and worked hard to grow it to a small chain that also organizes local races.

On this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast we also ask Farley about his podcast, Pace the Nation, and about some of his well-known clients. Be sure to stay tuned to the end for a discussion about the challenging retail climate in Arlington County and how e-commerce is impacting local businesses.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

by ARLnow.com — December 14, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Buildings in Rosslyn

County to Buy Houses for Fire Station — The Arlington County Board last night approved the purchase of two houses on N. Culpeper Street for a total of $1.68 million. The houses are needed for the construction of a new Fire Station No. 8. One house will be torn down to make way for a temporary fire station, while the other will serve as quarters for firefighters at the station. [Arlington County]

Boeing to Move Defense HQ to Arlington — Boeing is moving the headquarters of its Defense, Space and Security unit from St. Louis to its existing regional HQ in Crystal City. The move will bring about a dozen top executives and fifty support staff to Arlington. [Washington Business Journal]

County Buying Bus Maintenance Site in Springfield — County Board members unanimously approved the $4.65 million purchase of 2.15 acre industrial site in Springfield, Va., to be used as a future heavy maintenance facility for Arlington Transit buses. After it is built, the facility will replace the current leased ART maintenance facility, located in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County. [Arlington County, Arlington County]

ACPD Distributing Toys for the Holidays — Arlington County Police Department officers have been delivering toys to Arlington Public Schools families in need, after collecting the toys during the department’s Fill the Cruiser drive. [Twitter]

Recycling Center Move Approved — The Four Mile Run Drive self-serve recycling center will soon be moving to the Arlington Trades Center, as expected. The County Board unanimously approved the move at its Tuesday night meeting. “County workers will be better able to monitor recycling at this location, to make sure the site is maintained properly and remains litter-free,” said Board Chair Libby Garvey. [Arlington County]

by ARLnow.com — December 9, 2016 at 3:30 pm 0

Kate RocheAs leader of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, Kate Bates (née Roche) has lately taken an active role on issues like trespass towing and Airbnb rentals.

The Chamber is very much opposed to a proposed addition to the county’s towing ordinance that would require business owners to individually authorize each tow from their parking lots. The Arlington County Board is set to take up the issue this coming Tuesday, with the County Manager recommending against the so-called “second signature” requirement.

On Airbnb and other short term rentals, the Chamber has actively engaged its members on the county’s new proposed regulations, which are going before the Board on Saturday. With hotels in support of additional regulations, and apartment owners against (they would like the option of generating revenue through Airbnb while they lease up new buildings), the Chamber has declined to take a stance beyond encouraging its members to make their own voices heard.

In this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we asked Kate about those issues, about the current business climate in Arlington — including why so many restaurants and retailers have been closing lately — and about her ascension to the role of President and CEO of the Chamber at a relatively young age.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

by ARLnow.com — December 2, 2016 at 6:15 pm 0

House of Steep, a tea house and “foot sanctuary” in Cherrydale, is closing after four years in business.

The well-reviewed business, at 3800 Lee Highway, is based around a number of relaxing offerings: loose leaf tea, foot soaks, massages and reflexology.

In an email to customers Friday evening, owner Lyndsey DePalma suggested that the store was not sufficiently profitable to justify remaining in business.

“The rewards are wonderful but unfortunately are not enough,” she wrote. The store is set to close on Friday, Dec. 30.

The full letter is below.

To our beautiful, loyal customers –

A deep, Steep thank you for supporting us over the past four years in our vision to spread peace and offer gentle reminders of health and wholeness to our community. Our mission has been successful and the TEAm is celebrating. The rewards are wonderful but unfortunately are not enough to continue on without innovation, which is more than our team has the capacity to do at this time. So effective December 30, 2016, we will lovingly serve our last cup of tea in our retail space.

Steep is a great company with great reviews and a loyal customer base. It’s quite difficult for small retail businesses to succeed in dynamic markets with growing real estate and workforce costs. A huge thank you for helping us defy significant odds in the start-up world and for taking the time to cheer us on along the way. Thank you for becoming our friends and for stopping in to catch up over a comfortable cup. The business has served many and created so many memories with couples first dates, moms spending cherished time with their children (or without), and so many people pausing to take advantage of the moment. Keep doing this!

A sincere thanks to the staff, as well. I don’t know of a more loved business in this area, and this is all thanks to the staff, especially Michael and his leaders who proudly served the mission and set great examples for the staff.

We wanted to give a month to anyone holding gift cards to be able to redeem for goods and services with ease (our reservation policy for foot massage/reflexology is still required). While we will serve our last cup of tea at the end of the month, a few staff members will continue to serve our wholesale accounts, as well as our online store, so you may continue to source our delicious, health-focused tea blends after we close the storefront. And we’ll continue to serve in the hearts and memories of those who appreciated us for the gentle, loving space we provided for so many years. All good things live on and we believe that to be true of Steep.

We hope you’ll come in for one last foot soak, hug, and/or a cup of healthy goodness to help lift your day. You’ve certainly lifted ours over the years.

Steeped in gratitude,
Lyndsey (and the Steep TEAm)

by ARLnow.com — November 28, 2016 at 10:25 am 0

Lee-Lex Service Center (photo via Google Maps)

The Lee-Lex Service Center, a well-reviewed, long-time automotive business at the corner of Lee Highway and N. Lexington Street, has closed.

Lee-Lex’s website, which has remained largely unchanged for the past 12 years, says that the service center has “been a good neighbor in our Arlington community since 1978 and consistently receive[d] excellent ratings by consumer magazines.”

The service center was open for part of last week but closed just before Thanksgiving. This morning the shop’s technicians were clearing out their belongings and preparing to move to nearby service centers; signs were being posted on the windows, to let customers know who moved where.

Sources tell ARLnow.com that the property is being purchased by Southland Corporation, the parent company of 7-Eleven. It could not be immediately confirmed that a 7-Eleven store would be replacing the service center.

Photo (top) via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com — November 18, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

It looks like a ramen noodle restaurant is coming to the former Amsterdam Falafelshop space in Clarendon.

Saul Centers, which owns the building, now lists “Hanabi Ramen House” on its leasing chart for the retail bay at 3024 Wilson Blvd.

No additional information was immediately available about the restaurant nor when it may open.

Separately, the leasing chart shows a portion of the space currently occupied by Pete’s New Haven Apizza — the portion at the corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Garfield Street — as available for lease, though Pete’s is still listed as the tenant for most of its existing space.

Peter’s co-founder Joel Mehr confirmed to ARLnow.com that it is planning to downsize its space while staying in Clarendon. He added: “We are still working out details with our landlord, so it’s not a done deal yet.”

Rumors had previously swirled in commercial real estate circles regarding Pete’s status in Clarendon and whether Chipotle might have been poking around for a potential Clarendon location.

by ARLnow.com — November 17, 2016 at 5:00 pm 0

Nick FreshmanNick Freshman is a native Arlingtonian who is the co-owner of Spider Kelly’s and was the co-owner of the former Eventide Restaurant in Clarendon.

In this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we talked with Nick about the current state of Arlington’s restaurant business, why so many restaurants are closing, and why he’s decided to start investing in and advising new restaurants. Nick also discusses the ups and downs and strategy behind running a bar and restaurant.

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast, 26 Square Miles, on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

by ARLnow.com — November 16, 2016 at 10:25 am 0

This year’s long string of restaurant closings in Arlington has people wondering what’s happening to the local restaurant business.

There are a number of factors potentially at play: oversaturation of restaurants, a culling of less-compelling or outdated restaurant concepts, high rent, a national “restaurant recession” and even perhaps a local downturn in “disposable income” spending due to election-related anxiety.

(More on some of those theories on our podcast later this week, with guest Nick Freshman.)

There’s another intriguing theory that was relayed to us by our wine and beer columnist, Arash Tafakor, of Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church. Could it be that Uber and Lyft are hurting Arlington’s restaurant business by making it easier to head into D.C. for a night out?

Think of your own behavior: do you find yourself heading into the District to try new restaurants when you might have just stayed in Arlington before, had it not been for ride hailing services making it easy and relatively inexpensive to get into the city?

Let’s test the theory and see how many people would agree with that last question.

by ARLnow.com — November 10, 2016 at 9:30 am 0

Trump cutout goes out with the recycling after Election Day (photo courtesy Ari P.)

David Black Convicted, Sentenced for Wife’s Murder — An Arlington County jury this week found Arlington Ridge resident David Black guilty of murdering his wife. Bonnie Delgado Black was found stabbed to death in her home, which was just blocks from her estranged husband’s house, on April 17, 2015. Yesterday the jury recommended that Black serve two life sentences. [NBC 4, WTOP]

County Board Ditches New Year’s Day Meeting — Eschewing a long-standing tradition of holding its first meeting of the year on New Year’s Day, the Arlington County Board yesterday voted unanimously to hold its 2017 organizational meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3. “We still will start our year off with the community, but without forcing employees to give up their personal and family time on a holiday,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey. [Arlington County]

Retail Space for WeWork in Crystal City — The County Board on Saturday voted to convert 440 square feet of the WeWork and WeLive building in Crystal City to ground floor retail space, at the request of WeWork. No word yet on what kind of a retailer may be moving in. [Arlington County]

More on Park Protests — “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark has tackled the dual controversies of the baseball field fence in Bluemont Park (the Board acted on that yesterday, article coming soon) and the proposed Williamsburg Middle School athletic field lights. Clark concluded: “Popular sports for kids, peaceful green parks: competing Arlington virtues.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Evolent Health Stock Soars — As of 10 a.m. the share price for Ballston-based Evolent Health is up more than 12 percent today and nearly 70 percent for the year. The tech firm reported a narrower-than-expected loss and higher-than-expected revenue in the third quarter of 2016. [CNBC, Yahoo]

Board Approves Loan for Apartment Renovations — The Culpepper Garden affordable apartment complex for low-income seniors will receive needed renovations thanks to a $9.9 million loan from Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund. The County Board unanimously approved the loan yesterday. The renovations are expected to begin in the spring and will require tenants to temporarily move to other units on site while their units are renovated. [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Ari P.

by ARLnow.com — November 8, 2016 at 1:05 pm 0

Arlington County Board on 9/27/16The Arlington County Board on Saturday spent an hour and a half discussing changes to the county’s towing ordinance.

The Board voted to advertise a series of changes — final approval is set for next month — but not before making some alterations to the County Manager’s recommendations.

The alterations were essentially intended to prevent towing malfeasance. Among them:

  • The Board inserted a provision that requires towing companies to receive authorization from the property owner to tow a vehicle, which would apply only to non-residential properties during business hours.
  • The Board kept the current requirement that tow truck drivers photograph the condition of a vehicle before towing it, and added a requirement that tow companies notify those who have been towed that they may view the photos upon request.
  • While the County Manager recommended language stipulating that tow companies must notify police of a tow within 10 minutes, rather than “immediately,” as currently worded, the Board gave itself the option of requiring police notification prior to a tow.

The Arlington Chamber of Commerce objected to the authorization requirement — also referred to as a “second signature” — on the grounds that it could cost businesses more time and money to remove trespassers who park on their lots.

A towing standoff outside Ray's Hell BurgerThe Chamber sent a letter to the Board expressing its “vehement opposition” to the requirement. Chamber President and CEO Kate Bates also spoke at the meeting.

“Nobody likes it when their car is towed but that is not justification for putting significant burden on property owners,” said Bates.

County Board Vice Chair Jay Fisette proposed the addition of the second signature requirement. It passed, but with at least two County Board members saying they were unlikely to support it when a final vote is taken next month.

Fisette said that the low number of formal complaints against towing companies — there were 87 towing complaints and seven violations recorded by the county in 2015 — does not reflect the reality of widespread disdain for so-called “predatory towing” practices in Arlington.

As evidence, Fisette cited an ARLnow.com poll from last year in which 84 percent of respondents — nearly 2,300 people — said towing companies in Arlington were more predatory in their conduct than “just doing their job” for local businesses.

“It’s actually refreshing to have the Vice Chair cite an ARLnow poll,” said Board member John Vihstadt, to laughter in the County Board room.

Fisette also cited an ARLnow.com opinion column that recounted someone being towed from the former Taco Bell lot on Wilson Blvd in 2000 while eating at the restaurant — because a spotter saw him walk next door to get cash from an ATM.

A resident who spoke at the Board meeting agreed with Fisette’s assessment of towing practices.

“Many mom and pop restaurants are being harmed by aggressive and predatory towing… it’s driving business away,” said Sarah McKinley, a towing critic and the vice president of the Columbia Heights Civic Association. “A second signature creates a balance and gives retail owners some control over this situation so they aren’t so damaged.”

The Chamber, however, said towing companies provide a valuable service to local businesses. The Chamber supported the County Manager’s original proposal, which it described as a “compromise.”

“We… emphasize our vehement opposition to the addition of a second signature requirement for the removal of illegally parked vehicles or the prohibition of parking ‘spotters’ to monitor parking areas,” the Chamber wrote in its letter to the Board.

“The addition of either would present significant administrative and cost burdens to implement and would deteriorate the level of service provided by towing contractors to local businesses who must keep parking areas clear and available to their employees, visitors and customers to remain financially viable,” the letter said. “We appreciate the steps the County has been working towards to make Arlington a more business friendly community, and urge extreme caution to the Board in exploring proposals that would shift things in the opposite direction.”

by ARLnow.com — November 1, 2016 at 11:25 am 0

A pair of long-time local stores are either closing or have already closed at the Lee Heights Shops on Lee Highway.

Bradshaw’s Children’s Shoes (4532 Lee Highway) is holding a going-out-of-business sale, offering 20-50 percent off remaining merchandise.

The owners, who are in their 70s, said that they’re closing the store because they’re retiring, but also cited rising rents and competition from online retailers and big box stores like Target.

According to the store’s website, Bradshaw’s is “one of the nation’s oldest shoe stores” and has been “serving Northern Virginia continuously since 1834.”

The store was the source of an unusual police dispatch earlier this year, after a drunk woman reportedly walked into the store holding an open bottle of wine, demanding adult shoes and refusing to leave.

Another Lee Heights store, meanwhile, has already closed.

Lemon Twist (4517 Lee Highway), which sold women’s clothing and accessories from brands like Lilly Pulitzer and Vineyard Vines, has closed but, according to a sign, will be reopening under new ownership.

“Lemon Twist Arlington will be reopening soon with a new name, ownership and look,” says a sign posted on the door. “Stay tuned for more information and an opening date for Lemoncello Boutique, Women & Children’s Apparel and Gifts!”

The store, part of a small retail fashion chain, opened on Lee Highway in the late 1980s, according to Arlington Magazine.

by ARLnow.com — October 31, 2016 at 4:40 pm 0

Vornado Realty TrustVornado, Arlington County’s biggest private landowner — with major collections of properties in Crystal City and Rosslyn — announced today that it is spinning off and merging its D.C. area operations with Chevy Chase, Md.-based JBG Companies.

The combined company would have both office and residential properties throughout Crystal City, Pentagon City and the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Among JBG’s properties in Arlington are the under-construction Central Place project in Rosslyn and the iconic “Bob Peck” office building at 800 N. Glebe Road in Ballston.

In 2014, Vornado’s properties in Arlington were assessed at $3.8 billion, or 5.7 percent of the total assessed value of all property in the county, according to the Washington Business Journal. JBG’s properties in Arlington were assessed at $1.31 billion.

From a press release, issued late this afternoon:

VORNADO REALTY TRUST (NYSE:VNO) (“Vornado”) announced today that its Board of Trustees has approved a tax-free spin-off of its Washington, DC business, currently known as Vornado/Charles E. Smith, and that it has entered into a definitive agreement to merge SpinCo with the operating company and certain select assets of The JBG Companies (“JBG”), a leading Washington, DC real estate company.

The combined company will be named JBG SMITH Properties. It will be the largest, market-leading, best-in-class, pure-play Washington, DC real estate company. This transaction represents a key milestone in Vornado’s value creation strategy which will have produced three world-class, highly focused REITs – Vornado itself (RemainCo), Urban Edge Properties, and now, JBG SMITH. Each of these companies has a highly focused
management team, unique assets, and a clearly defined mission.

About JBG SMITH

  • Vornado shareholders are expected to own approximately 74% of the combined company, JBG limited partners are expected to own approximately 20%, and JBG management is expected to own approximately 6% (all percentages subject to closing adjustments).
  • JBG SMITH will be led by JBG’s senior management team which has a proven track record of superior execution in the Washington, DC market over the long term and through numerous cycles.
  • The combined company’s portfolio will consist of 50 office properties totaling approximately 11.8 million square feet, 18 multifamily properties with 4,451 residential units, and 11 other properties totaling approximately 0.7 million square feet. These assets are located in premier submarkets within the Washington, DC metropolitan area, concentrated in Downtown District of Columbia, Crystal City and Pentagon City, the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, Reston, and Bethesda.
  • Importantly, JBG SMITH will have a pipeline of projects under construction and land for future development that could add over 20 million square feet to the portfolio, positioning the company for strong growth and attractive shareholder returns.
  • JBG SMITH will be the largest landlord to the U.S. Government in the nation’s capital.
  • The Company will be well capitalized, have substantial liquidity and a strong balance sheet.
  • The combination is expected to result in approximately $35 million of synergies producing an overhead structure in line with best-in-class peers.
  • The new company will continue to manage the JBG funds’ assets that are not being contributed for customary fees. The company will not raise new investment funds. JBG SMITH Board and Management
  • JBG SMITH’s Board of Trustees will consist of twelve members, a majority of whom will be independent. Vornado and JBG will each designate six trustees.
  • Steven Roth, Vornado’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, will be Chairman of the Board.
  • W. Matt Kelly, a Managing Partner of JBG, will be Chief Executive Officer of JBG SMITH and a member of the Board.
  • Rob Stewart, a Managing Partner of JBG, will be Executive Vice Chairman of the Board.
  • The Board will also include seven independent trustees including Alan Forman of the Yale University Investments Office, JBG’s largest investor.
  • Michael Glosserman, a Managing Partner of JBG, will also join the Board, as will Mitchell Schear, current President of Vornado/Charles E. Smith.
  • From JBG, David Paul will be President and Chief Operating Officer, James Iker will be Chief Investment Officer, and Brian Coulter and Kai Reynolds will be Co-Chief Development Officers.
  • From Vornado/Charles E. Smith, Mitchell Schear will be a member of the Executive Committee, Patrick Tyrrell will be Chief Administrative Officer, Jim Creedon will be Executive Vice President responsible for Office Leasing, and Laurie Kramer will be Executive Vice President focused on integration of the teams.
  • The new company will look outside for a Chief Financial Officer and intends to have that individual in place before the close of the transaction.
  • The new company will integrate the best talent from each of Vornado/Charles E. Smith and JBG.
  • Vornado will provide transition services to JBG SMITH, in areas such as IT, tax and SEC reporting for an interim period.
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