Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Ballston Company’s IPO Soars — “Privia Health Group, which provides technology and services to physician practices, began trading Thursday on the Nasdaq and saw its share price jump in early trading — and stay there. Shares closed at $34.75 per share, up 51 percent from its opening share price of $23, with just over 10 million shares traded.” [Crunchbase]

Ambulance Crash in N. Arlington — “Crash involving an ambulance (not ACFD) at Old Dominion Drive & Lorcom Lane. @ArlingtonVaFD & @ArlingtonVAPD on the scene.” [Twitter]

New Hire for County Retirement System — “After a nationwide search, the Arlington County Employees’ Retirement System (ACERS) has selected Susie Ardeshir as Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer. The appointment is effective July 6, 2021. Ms. Ardeshir has more than 15 years of investment management experience. Before joining ACERS, she was the investments director at a public university system in California.” [Arlington County]

Grants to Nat’l Landing Merchants — “The National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) teamed up with Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) to provide $100,000 in relief funding to 30 businesses as part of their “Love Local” campaign. Funds are allocated evenly across the eligible National Landing establishments to help cover necessary operator-related expenses including rent and employee wages.” [Press Release]

VHC Doc, Nurses Honored — “Virginia Hospital Center… is pleased to announce Michael Silverman, MD, FACEP, chair of emergency medicine, was recently selected as one of five 2020 Facility Medical Directors of the Year by Alteon Health [and] five members of the nursing team were selected by Washingtonian Magazine to receive Excellence in Nursing Awards.” [Press Release]

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A new bazaar is planning to bring everything from vintage clothing to artisanal food to a National Landing Market starting next month.

The new market is scheduled to launch Saturday, May 15 with a selection of artist vendors. The market will be held at Plaza at 220, a surface parking lot at 220 20th Street S. in Crystal City, and will be open every Saturday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

“DCBB Productions, the group that brought the ‘Below Zero’ market to Dupont Underground in 2020, has come above ground to collaborate with JBG SMITH and the National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) to announce a new market in National Landing, scheduled to open on May 15,” DCBB Productions said in a press release. “National Landing Market [is] a new weekly international arts market [that] will feature extraordinary vendors selling furniture, vintage clothing, collectibles, antiques, a curated selection of jewelry, arts and crafts, delicious fresh food and artisanal food.”

A few of the vendors currently signed up are below.

  • Thirakul Designs: Vintage-inspired dresses and separates that pay homage to the styles of the early 1960s. Designed by Nina Thirakul, NOVA native who spent many years working for Chanel before starting her own line. Many of the pieces come in a matching-companion size for dogs.
  • Scuttlebutt BakeShop: A small batch, women owned, home-based bakeshop. All of the cookies have a nautical theme — CHIPwreck, The Anne Bonny, Shark Bait
  • Vincenzo’s Vintage: Enzo Dagnesese has an eye for treasures. Whether it be vases that are shaped like a mermaid’s tail, to vintage typewriters to original WW1 Red Cross posters from 1917, he’s got it all.
  • Ananya Murthy: A GW student who started painting after pandemic canceled her internship last summer.  She soon realized she wanted to share her art with people. She’s been running a small business on the side while in school selling paintings and custom painted clothes.

The market will have some COVID-19 precautions. All vendors must be 10 feet from each other, wear a mask, and have touchless payment options. Additionally all vendors, customers and staff will have to receive a temperature check before entering.

(Today the CDC recommended that everyone continue wearing masks in crowded outdoor settings, but said that those who have been fully vaccinated can safely stop wearing masks at small gatherings and while participating in certain types of outdoor exercise.)

Image courtesy DCBB Productions

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(Updated at 6:50 p.m.) It seems the Harris Teeter in the Pentagon Row shopping center, now rebranded as WestPost, will not be vacating its spot anytime soon.

And if it did, Arlington County will continue to hold the shopping center’s owner to a 1998 agreement that requires the space be filled by a full-service grocery and drug store. The County Board affirmed the status quo in a vote on Saturday.

Although Harris Teeter has at least 10 years on its lease, the Sun Gazette reports, residents in the 22202 zip code were worried about even the possibility that their neighborhood grocery store would one day be replaced with a smaller-scale grocer such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. (Pentagon City already has one Whole Foods, near Amazon’s future HQ2.)

Anticipating the end of Harris Teeter’s initial lease, Pentagon Row’s owner, Rockville-based Federal Realty Investment Trust, had requested the county modify the 1998 agreement to allow Federal Realty to find a smaller retailer that sells drug- and grocery-store items if it could not find a full-service store.

The ask, which included other requests for flexibility regarding space, went before the Arlington County Board last month. At the time, nearly a dozen community members voiced their support for keeping the language. Board members deferred the item for one month so County Manager Mark Schwartz could work with the property owner on changes.

The revised proposal that the Board saw on Saturday kept provisions allowing the shopping center more flexibility with leasing and architecture, nixed the grocery store request completely. Members of the County Board unanimously approved the revised proposal, without any modifications to the grocery store agreement, without discussion.

“Because of our combined efforts, the developer backed off on changing [the] section that would have allowed less than a full-scale grocery,” said Carol Fuller, the president of the Crystal City Civic Association and Open Space Coordinator for Livability 22202, an advocacy group for quality-of-life issues in the area. “We were very worried about losing Harris Teeter. We fought it hard. Once they dropped that, we were no longer concerned with the other amendments.”

The county previously said that “Federal Realty shared their full intent and interest in retaining the current tenant or other similar operator.”

The shopping center sought the flexibility, supported by the National Landing Business Improvement District and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, “so that they can respond to changes in the market in the event that they need to replace the grocery store tenant and services.”

Scott Miles, president of the Aurora Highlands Civic Association, said last month that losing Harris Teeter, or an equivalent full-service store, would degrade grocery options in a core part of the county and hinder residents’ ability to buy necessities without a car.

“A large, full-service grocer at the site remains an essential community service,” he said. “This may sound harsh, but we want the applicant to be fearful of not maintaining a large grocer — it’s not enough to ask for commercially reasonable efforts.”

Image via Google Maps

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Feeling a little stir-crazy for the movie experience but not quite ready to return to theaters yet? The National Landing BID is bringing back an outdoor film festival next month.

The BID will show a new movie every Friday at 8 p.m. on a softball field at Virginia Highlands Park (1600 S. Hayes Street) in the Pentagon City area.

“Social distancing circles” will be sprayed onto the field with a four-person limit per circle. Masks will be required outside of those circles.

Tickets are free but registration in advance is required.

The “Movies in the Park” lineup for May is:

Image via Orion Pictures/YouTube

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A new farmers market may be coming to Pentagon City.

On Saturday, April 17, the County Board is planning to hear a permit request from the National Landing Business Improvement District about holding an open-air farmers market at the plaza area in the northern portion of Metropolitan Park, about 2-3 blocks from the Pentagon City Metro station.

The farmers market would take place on Saturdays, April through November, from 8 a.m.-noon. However, the market would not start until June this year, National Landing BID spokesperson Ashley Forrester tells ARLnow.

The reason for the delay, writes Forrester, is so that the BID can do more planning in advance and set themselves “up for success in future years” for when there’s a new park.

Metropolitan Park is on the verge of getting a $14 million makeover courtesy of Amazon and its new, adjacent HQ2, with design work from James Corner Field Operations of New York’s High Line fame. That project is expected to be completed in 2023.

The market will be operated by Freshfarm Markets, which runs nearly 30 markets in the D.C.-area including four in Arlington.

If approved, the market would be able to accommodate up to 20 vendors, who would park along 13th Street S. and S. Fair Street.

The staff report notes that the area around Metropolitan Park contains several high-rise, multi-family apartment buildings, so they expect most patrons to the farmers market will likely walk or bike there.

The County Board will review the use permit for the farmers market again in a year, April 2022.

This additional market would give Arlington nine active farmers markets, a number of which have opened or will be opening in the coming weeks.

Pre-ordering is still being encouraged as a safety measure, but all the markets are open for in-person shopping. It’s a change from early last year when markets were briefly shut down due to the pandemic and, then, allowed to reopen only for pre-order sales.

Photo via Flickr/Cliff

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In the Before Times, when neither COVID-19 nor National Landing were part of the local lexicon, Crystal City would host a series of springtime races dubbed 5K Fridays.

The weekly races would attract thousands of runners. Alas, despite vaccinations quickening, gatherings of thousands of people in a relatively concentrated area remain frowned upon outside of sports stadiums.

Thus, to continue the 5K tradition in a more scaled-back fashion, the now-National Landing Business Improvement District is hosting a single event next month dubbed the Great Inflatable Race.

As the name suggests, participants are being encouraged to come “dressed in your wackiest summer inflatable attire.”

Only 250 participants will be able to register, and even then runners will start the race in waves and will be required to wear masks “at the start and finish lines and while passing within 10 feet of other runners.”

The race is scheduled for Friday, May 7 at 6 p.m., kicking off from the “Courtyard Green” at 2121 Crystal Drive.

Packet pickup will take place at the Pacers Running store in Old Town Alexandria the Sunday afternoon before the race.

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After first announcing their move to Crystal City in September 2019, Rasa is finally planning to open this summer.

The D.C.-based, fast-casual Indian restaurant applied for a Virginia ABC permit to sell beer, wine and mixed drinks earlier this month, typically a prelude to an opening within a few months. A restaurant spokesperson confirms to ARLnow that the Rasa Crystal City location is, in fact, planning to start serving customers this summer.

We asked why the nearly year-long delay — the pandemic seems a likely culprit — but have yet to hear back as publication time.

“Rasa National Landing” will be located at 2200 Crystal Drive, near a Sweetgreen, a Chick-fil-A, and an Amazon-assisted COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

While Crystal Drive’s row of restaurants have always been popular with the lunch-time crowd, that crowd has thinned during the pandemic. Still, new residential development and hopes of turning National Landing into a “vibrant 18-hour environment” raise the possibility of a more robust dinner crowd down the line.

Rasa was founded by locals Rahul Vinod and Sahil Rahman. There are currently two other restaurant locations, one in Navy Yard near Nationals Park and the other on K Street NW in the Mt. Vernon Triangle neighborhood that opened in August 2020.

The menu and design of Rasa’s Arlington location is expected to mirror the D.C. restaurants.

The menu is bowl-based, featuring punny names like “Caul Me Maybe” (which features tofu, cauliflower, peanut sesame sauce, rice, and spinach) and “Goa Your Own Way” (featuring spicy beef, coconut ginger sauce, green beans, and lentils).

The restaurants’ colorful interiors have basket swingsets, bookshelves stocked with titles by South Asian authors and paintings from local artist Nandita Madan (who happens to be co-founder Rahman’s aunt).

Photo courtesy of Rasa

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The soon-to-be-revamped Crystal City Water Park is set to become Arlington’s third “sip and stroll” destination.

The privately-owned, 1.5 acre park at 1601 Crystal Drive has long hosted a small food and drink vendor. Thanks to a pending “Commercial Lifestyle Center” permit from Virginia ABC, that vendor — Peruvian Brothers — will soon be able to offer park-goers alcoholic beverages that can be consumed anywhere in the park.

“The overall goal is to cultivate an inviting setting where local residents, office workers and visitors are encouraged to hang out, relax and interact,” said JBG Smith Vice President Taylor Lawch, in a statement. The company owns the park and numerous nearby buildings, including those housing Amazon’s growing HQ2 workforce.

The Arlington County Board recently approved a plan to add five new vendor kiosks, a performance stage, and a bar to the park, in addition to planned upgrades to its water features.

“There will be places for parents to sip on a glass of wine while their kids go for ice cream nearby; a couple to meet for a date where they can hear live music and grab a beer at intermission; or coworkers to gather for an informal outdoor happy hour right outside their office,” Lawch said.

The initial sipping and strolling will take place this spring and summer, before the park is temporarily closed during the cooler months for construction. It is expected to reopen in the spring of 2022.

The park will join a pair of Arlington retail centers — the Village at Shirlington and Westpost (formerly Pentagon Row) — in allowing legal, on-the-go outdoor alcohol consumption on privately-owned property.

“The creation of a Commercial Lifestyle Center is in keeping with JBG SMITH’s vision for National Landing as a vibrant 18-hour environment where people want to live, work and visit,” a company PR rep said. “This licensure enables JBG SMITH to take great existing and planned areas of the National Landing neighborhood and make them even better.”

Additional JBG-owned property in National Landing — the collective term for Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard — may eventually be added to the permit.

“JBG SMITH is looking on a case-by-case basis to identify other areas within National Landing for future activations,” the rep tells ARLnow. “As of right now, they are focusing on this initial designation at Water Park.”

Making the Water Park into a more active destination for hanging out is part of the neighborhood’s evolution away from being known as a sleepy, concrete-filled office corridor.

“National Landing continues to evolve into an exciting destination complete with diverse dining options and growing entertainment venues,” National Landing Business Improvement District President Tracy Sayegh Gabriel said in a statement. “Enhancing and activating our outdoor public spaces for community use is more important than ever, and we are thrilled that National Landing has been approved as a Commercial Lifestyle Center. JBG SMITH’s initial activation at Water Park will create a desirable new way for area residents, workers and visitors to gather and support our local businesses in a safe environment.”

The Water Park will continue to host BID-organized events, she added. The BID obtained temporary Virginia ABC permits to allow alcohol consumption at the park for previous events.

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A store selling electric bikes appears to be moving into Crystal City.

According to window stickers, Leafy Bikes will be opening soon at 570 23rd Street S., next to Burn & Brew. It is moving into the former Vintage Dress Company space, after the store moved completely online.

Leafy Bikes, according to the company’s website, sells two-seat electric bikes.

“The Leafy Classic II,” says the website, “is designed to be half bicycle and half motorcycle without the contribution of gasoline.” A tutorial video on YouTube explains more about the bike’s features.

ARLnow has reached out to the email address listed on the website for confirmation, construction timeline and opening date, but has yet to hear back as of publication.

The property owner did confirm that the company has a lease and opined the electric bike store is “a cool idea.” Building permits were issued by the county to company founder Yoseph Assefa in early January for the space.

While the company has a presence in Miami, Florida, there also seems to be a local office in Potomac, Maryland.

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(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) After a pandemic winter, the region’s annual rite of spring is finally here: The cherry blossoms have bloomed.

A string of warm weather days got the famed Tidal Basin cherry blossoms to hit peak bloom a few days earlier than initially predicted. While there were fears that peak bloom would result in crowded conditions that would prompt the National Park Service to shut down access, that has yet to materialize.

As of now, the Tidal Basin remains open with peak bloom expected to last about a week.

If blossom peeping is what you’re after, then Arlington National Cemetery is another possible destination, with numerous cherry blossom trees. However, it’s currently only open to the public on a limited basis.

Here in Arlington, our cherry blossoms aren’t as famous as those across the river, but there are still plenty to see elsewhere around the county. Clusters of cherry trees and blossoms can be seen in various Arlington neighborhoods, heralding the arrival of spring without the fanfare of their Tidal Basin brethren.

ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott traveled around Arlington over the past week to capture some of the blooms, as seen in the gallery above.

There are other ways to participate in the cherry blossom festivities that don’t require venturing across the Potomac.

In National Landing, where dozens of cherry trees are being planted, two “Art in Bloom” sculptures are now on display. Relatedly, Amazon is now a top-level sponsor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Arlington restaurants are included in the annual “Cherry Picks” program, which highlights cherry blossom-inspired dishes.

A new addition to the festival is the “Porch Parade and Pedal Procession,” in which area residents and businesses decorate their porches, yards, and windows with a cherry blossom theme. Arlington is home to numerous such displays, according to a map.

Some Arlington neighborhoods, including the Aurora Highlands community near National Landing, are even organizing their own cherry blossom activities this year.

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Morning Notes

Grants for National Landing Restaurants — “The National Landing Business Improvement District and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington have a new round of grant aid for restaurants and small businesses… Grant applications will be accepted online until March 28. They will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis, and will amount to at least $1,000 for each approved business.” [WTOP]

New Clarendon Salon Opening Next Week — The new Smitten on Washington salon is set to open on Tuesday, March 23, at 3000 Washington Blvd in Clarendon. The salon replaces Hendricks Gentlemen’s Barbershop, a men’s venture from the Smitten owners that closed in December after four years in business. [Facebook]

Silver Line Ext. Not Opening Until 2022 — “Metro officials say that the Silver Line extension to Dulles International Airport will open for use in early 2022, most likely in February. ‘What we’re looking at is early 2022, first quarter in calendar 2022, as the likely start of operations,’ Laura Mason, Metro’s executive vice president for capital delivery, said at a board meeting Thursday.” [DCist]

Local Leaders Want Metro Changes — “Representing the cities and counties that fund Metro in Virginia, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission outlined its priorities for Metro’s proposed FY 2022 budget… While the Commission recognizes the major funding relief made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act, the Commission presses Metro to: Maintain a dependable and sufficient level of rail and bus service throughout FY 2022, Open Silver Line Phase 2 as soon as possible, Rebuild ridership, [and] Minimize shifting operating expenses to the capital program.” [Press Release]

Single-Family Homes Are Red Hot — “Typically, markets tend to favor sellers when the supply of homes drops below six months. For much of the last decade, the local supply has hovered at around two months, but has been trending ever lower in recent years. For single-family homes, the D.C. region’s supply dropped to a mere 0.6 months in February, according to the data, and those homes are selling within seven days on the open market.” [Washington Business Journal]

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