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

An Arlington couple is launching an app that allows dog owners to find pet-friendly places and swipe right on puppy pals for their pooches.

Pals is an app for dog owners to connect quickly to discover dog-friendly places,” said co-founder Caroline Carini. “We make it easy for you to find other dogs in your area looking to meet, play, run, walk, swim and so much more.”

She and her partner Zachary Feldman, who have their own story meeting on an app, now live in Ballston. They got the idea in January, started developing the app in April, and registered their company in July.

The couple, who met on a dating app, will be launching their dog app at Oakland Park (3705 Wilson Blvd) near Ballston on Thursday, Sept. 9. They will collect donations for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, and there will be dog paraphernalia giveaways from local businesses.

Pals App founders with app renderings (courtesy of Caroline Carini)

She and her boyfriend don’t own dogs now, but both had beloved family dogs growing up. The germ for the idea came from conversations they’ve had about what resources they’d like for their future dogs.

She said the goal of Pals is to turn the moment when dogs “stop and sniff” each other into a conversation where owners find each other on Pals.

“It’s a safe platform to find connections, find dogs you can meet up with, and build relationship with dog owners and dogs,” she said.

Pals also has bandanas for dogs to wear, which Carini said markets the app while reassuring owners meeting up for the first time.

Carini envisions Pals as a one stop shop for people wanting their dogs to socialize with similar dogs in pet-friendly areas, without joining every meetup group or Googling every community event or welcoming spot.

“There’s so much out there now, it’s almost overwhelming,” she said. “The goal would be to have it at your fingertips.”

To get it started, Carini and her partner have added the local dog parks and a few restaurants and bars, but the map will be mostly populated by user submissions.

“Users can add custom locations, if there’s a cool hidden park or spot that’s not technically on Google Maps,” she said.

Since Arlington’s their home, the D.C. area will be the first region for the app — which is lucky given how dog-friendly it is, she said.

Yelp rated Arlington the most dog-friendly place in the nation in 2018, and Arlington had the 10th most dog parks per 100,000 residents in the nation in 2019, according to the Trust for Public Land.

In the future, the couple plans to expand to other cities and launch a” pals plus” subscription, which will give users access to advanced filters for breed size, gender, favorite activities and personality traits.

“If you’re a paid user, the algorithm would provide closer matches to fit your needs,” Carini said.

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Shirlington Crescent- Four Mile Run Study area (Via Arlington County)

Arlington County has pledged to start an extensive community planning effort in 2016 for the area known as Shirlington Crescent, a process with the goal of bringing major economic, environmental and cultural changes to the area.

Plans for revitalizing and possibly redeveloping parts of Nauck and the Four Mile Run corridor began with a study conducted in 2014. This study outlined approximately 95 acres along Four Mile Run Drive and Shirlington Road for the community planning process to focus on.

The goal for this planning effort is to “develop a vision and area plan which could re-evaluate land use goals and objectives.” To do this, the County will consider various aspects of the existing Crescent and how to improve or change them, including:

  • economic development
  • environmental sustainability
  • relationships to neighboring areas
  • open space
  • transportation
  • affordable housing
  • connectivity
  • urban design
  • previous planning work
  • cultural resources
  • historic preservation

In a letter sent to ARLnow over the summer — which also appeared on InsideNoVa — Nauck resident Robin Stombler shared her thoughts on the need for change.

“A swath of South Four Mile Run and Shirlington Road has been neglected for too long,” she wrote. “Our Nauck neighborhood is often the location for industrial activities and unused vehicle storage. While much of the industry is welcomed, the Shirlington Crescent could be so much more.”

Stombler and her fellow Crescent residents will be a part of the planning process this year, starting with a gathering on the subject this weekend.

This neighborhood revitalization meeting starts this Sunday, Jan. 10 at 1 p.m. According to a public notice, members of the Arlington County Board will also be in attendance.

During the meeting, small groups will depart from the children’s playground at Jennie Dean Park at 3630 27th Street S. for a walking tour of the Crescent, lead by neighborhood guides.

Tours will end at the Arlington Food Assistance Center at 2708 S. Nelson Street around 1:45 p.m. Hot chocolate will be served as some residents and community members — and possibly County Board members, who will be attending the meeting — will give remarks about the neighborhood and their thoughts on which issues should be a priority.

Stombler is also responsible for organizing the walking meeting. In her letter, she expressed her neighborhood’s excitement and dedication to the start of the planning process.

“Shirlington Crescent is uniquely positioned to become an industry and arts cluster for Arlington,” she said. “[My neighbors and I] recognize that there is a long process of deliberation ahead, but we want to jumpstart the conversation. Input to our plan from the public is welcomed and encouraged.”

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Arlington may get its very own independent community radio station by the end of the year.

Arlington Independent Media is in the planning stages of what may eventually become a low power FM community radio station. AIM, best known for its local cable television channel (Comcast channel 69, Verizon channel 38), has already designated funds for the construction of an audio booth in its Clarendon studios to accommodate residents who want to learn more about audio production. The booth is expected to be built by this fall, and will serve as the production hub for a potential radio station.

The station will likely start out as an internet-only streaming station, but may eventually be broadcast on a low power FM frequency if AIM can obtain the necessary FCC permission. That permission is by no means guaranteed, AIM programming coordinator Lauree McArdle said, because extra FM bandwidth is scare in the D.C. area.

Even if special FCC permission is granted, the signal probably won’t reach all of Arlington County, since low power FM signals are limited to 100 watts, which can only reach a radius of about 3.5 miles and is subject to interference from larger radio stations. Given a choice, McArdle says the signal would likely be targeted at the county’s lower income areas.

McArdle says she’s heard from 20 to 30 people in who are interested in helping out with a radio station. With the help of volunteer DJs and hosts, the station would probably broadcast an assortment of live and taped programming 24 hours per day.

“I don’t think we’ll lack for programming, because I have number of people who are interested in talk radio and that sort of thing,” McArdle said. “I think it will be a mix of talk programs as well as, hopefully, some music.”

AIM will be hosting a meeting next week for anyone interested in being a part of a “vibrant and active community radio presence in the county.” The meeting will be held from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, at the AIM studio at 2701-C Wilson Blvd.

If all goes well, McArdle says the radio station could start broadcasting online shortly after the audio booth is completed this fall.

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