(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) Channeling the energy of an iPhone launch, Amazon unveiled its new line of AI-powered gadgets in Arlington on Wednesday.
While a September product launch is typical for the tech giant, this event was the first major unveiling Amazon has hosted at its new HQ2 in Pentagon City — and the top brass went all out for the occasion.
Inside the 2.1-million-square-foot complex, which wrapped up its first phase of construction in June, Amazon employees ushered attendees to their seats in the airy auditorium. Caterers served hors d’oeuvres, kombucha and cold-pressed juice. Pop music from the likes of Dua Lipa and Ellie Goulding played in the background.
Then, an ethereal voice put an end to the bustling activity, leading the crowd in a countdown and asking everyone to “silence their cellphones.”
Amazon Senior Vice President of Devices and Services David Limp took the stage first, making arguably the most consequential announcement of the day. He explained how generative AI — the buzzy tech that people use to create anything from raps to digital illustrations — will shape the future of Amazon’s products.
Limp demonstrated Alexa’s new enhanced AI-powered capabilities talking to the the company’s forthcoming $150 Echo Show 8, highlighting the smart home device’s capacity to comprehend complex requests and engage in more human-like interactions.
“We’ve studied what it takes to make a great conversation over the past nine years. It’s not just words, it’s body language. It’s understanding who you’re addressing. It’s eye contact, it’s gestures,” Limp said.
To create “much more conversational experiences” with Alexa, Limp said Amazon combined the sensors in an Echo — including its camera and ability to detect someone’s presence — with its newest Large Language Models. These “talk to” humans by processing large amounts of text on the Internet and predicting the right response.
After Limp, a cadre of Amazon executives introduced new products such as the $50 Echo Pop Kids smart speaker, the $180 Echo Hub Home, a control panel for managing smart devices, and a more aesthetic upgrade to its smart glasses, the $270 Echo Frames.
Each announcement sparked a flurry of keyboard activity from tech journalists in attendance — with resulting headlines in Engadget, The Verge and elsewhere — as well as applause from employees and stakeholders.
Before inviting the audience to try out demo devices, Limp said he believes this new technology can “redefine” the way people “interact” with their homes.
“Customers have now connected over 400 million devices to their Alexa Smart Home and they’re using Alexa to control those devices hundreds of millions of times each week,” he said.
Most devices will start shipping in October. Customers can pre-order through Amazon’s website.
The full list of products announced is below.
- Echo Frames, $269.99
- Echo Show 8, $149.99
- Echo Hub, $179.99
- eero Max 7, $599.99
- Fire TV Stick 4K (2nd Gen), $49.99
- Fire TV Stick Max (2nd Gen), $59.99
- Fire TV Soundbar, $119.99
- Blink Outdoor 4 Floodlight Camera, $159.98
- Blink Sync Module Pro, $49.99
- Blink Outdoor 4 Battery Extension Pack, $29.99
- Ring Stick Up Cam Pro, $179.99
- Echo Pop Kids speaker, $49.99
- Fire HD 10 Kids tablets, $189.99
While jazz enthusiasts sway to soulful tunes, just a few miles away, emergency responders will be lacing up their running shoes for the Arlington Police, Fire, Sheriff, & ECC 9/11 Memorial 5K race in Pentagon City.
From 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., two roads will be closed for the music festival:
- Langston Blvd, eastbound from Fort Myer Drive to N. Moore Street
- Fort Myer Drive access road, from 19th Street N. to N. Moore Street
The festival will take place from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and feature several jazz acts, including Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph, Pedrito Martinez Group, Oh He Dead and DuPont Brass, as well as food trucks and games.
Road closures around the Pentagon City and Crystal City will begin at 5 p.m. to prepare for the Arlington 9/11 Memorial 5K, which has raised money for 9/11-related charities since its inception in 2002.
The race, which kicks off at 6 p.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m., will start and end at the DoubleTree Hotel in Pentagon City. All road closures in the area will be lifted by 8:30 p.m.
More on road closures about the 5K from a police press release:
The Arlington County Police Department will close the following roadways around the Pentagon and in Crystal City to accommodate the event:
From approximately 3:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
- Army Navy Drive, from S. Eads Street to 12th Street S.
From approximately 5:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.
- S. Eads Street, from Army Navy Drive to 12th Street S.
- S. Fern Street, from Army Navy Drive to 12th Street S.
- S. Hayes Street, from Army Navy Drive to 12th Street S.
- Army Navy Drive, from S. Joyce Street to S. Eads Street
- S. Joyce Street, from Army Navy Drive to Columbia Pike
- Columbia Pike, from S. Oak Street to Washington Boulevard
- S. Washington Boulevard, from Arlington Boulevard to Columbia Pike
- S. Washington Boulevard, from SB George Washington Parkway
- Route 110 S., from I-66 and Wilson Boulevard to Army Navy Drive
- Marshall Drive, from Iwo Jima Access Road to Route 110 S.
- Southgate Road, from S. Nash Street to Columbia Pike
- The ramp to Army Navy Drive from NB I-395 Exit 8A, Arlington Ridge Road, and N. Washington Boulevard
- The ramp from NB I-395 Exit 8C to Pentagon City / Crystal City
ACPD said motorists should expect traffic and “extended travel times” in the surrounding areas. The department advises seeking “alternative routes to reduce road congestion,” including taking Metro.
The Rosslyn Metro Station is located within walking distance of the jazz festival while both the Pentagon City and Crystal City Metro stations are in walking distance of the race. Paid parking is available at the Pentagon City Mall garage.
Police say additional street parking near both events will be restricted and motorists should be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs.
The Air & Space Forces Association will be moving out an office building north of Rosslyn to something closer to the Pentagon.
The association, which supports members the Air and Space Forces, was looking for a more modern space for its national headquarters after spending about 40 years in an office building from the 1980s. It sold its digs on Langston Blvd earlier this year before agreeing to move into the Westpost development, formerly Pentagon Row, in Pentagon City.
Federal Realty Investment Trust, which owns Westpost, announced the deal yesterday (Tuesday). The association, also known as the AFA, will be taking over some 31,000 square feet of space previously occupied by thermal imaging camera company FLIR Systems in 2024.
“The Air & Space Forces Association is excited to relocate our headquarters closer to our Pentagon customers and to continue our strong partnership with stakeholders in the Arlington County area,” said now-retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Bruce A. Wright, the association’s president and CEO. “We look forward to creating a more modern and flexible facility that will enhance AFA’s operational capability and open new doors to growth in the future.”
This summer, the Washington Business Journal reported that the AFA sold the building on June 1 for $16.25 million — after buying the land on which the office building stands in 1982 for just under $1 million.
It noted that Arlington County’s online property database said, and still says, the sale price was $19.1 million. At the time of the sale, the building was 79% leased and had 10 tenants outside the AFA.
The property was sold to an affiliate of Arlington-based Taicoon Property Partners, a recently-formed “privately owned investor and developer.”
In its announcement, Federal Realty Investment Trust said the AFA’s new offices are a “convenient” distance from the Pentagon and Reagan National Airport, as well as the Virginia Railway Express station and Metro. It noted, as many such press releases do, that Amazon’s second headquarters complex is nearby.
“We are delighted to welcome the Air & Space Forces Association to Westpost at National Landing,” FRIT Senior Vice President Deirdre Johnson said in a statement.
“Westpost continues to evolve alongside Amazon’s HQ2 as an exciting office destination for Arlington County, and the greater Washington, D.C.-metro region,” Johnson continued. “We are eager to see the Association thrive in its new location and utilize the highly amenitized environment of retail, restaurants and services that Westpost has to offer.”
Per a leasing map, Westpost now has just five ground-floor retail spaces available.
Photos (2-3) via Google Maps
Two years after Eagle Scout Megan Mazel started building a memorial around a World Trade Center steel beam in Pentagon City, a fellow scout is finishing what she started.
In 2010, the New York City Fire Department gave a warped and rusted steel beam — salvaged from the wreckage of World Trade Center’s North Tower after 9/11 — to the Arlington County Fire Department. The county held a ceremony and pledged to build a memorial.
For more than a decade, however, the beam sat unadorned outside Arlington County Fire Station 5 in Pentagon City. Mazel, then a member of Boy Scout Troop 164, approached ACFD about giving the beam a more fitting tribute.
“Coming from a military family and first responder family, I was a little taken aback at the fact that they just dropped this significant piece of metal on the lawn near the fire department… and they didn’t do anything for the first 10 years of it being there,” Mazel told ARLnow.
In August 2020, Mazel began drafting a proposal. She envisioned a pentagon-shaped walking path surrounding the steel beam, with one point oriented north toward the Pentagon.
Since the beam was on county property, however, she encountered a lot of red tape. It took nearly a year for her designs to be approved, leaving Mazel three weeks to meet her deadline: the 20th anniversary of the attacks.
In that time, she managed to build railroad ties around the beam, add mulch and install three ground sleeves for flag poles.
“I think it turned out well for the time that I had in the situation that I was in,” she said. “But I wish that I could have done more to it.”
Now, Daniel Bode, a Wakefield High School student and scout with Troop 164, is adding to her vision.
Working around the county’s plans for the site, Bode said he secured approval to add flower beds and benches around the steel beam “to further enhance the experience” of the memorial.
“I wanted to add benches because there should be a seating area around the area, just so you’re not standing and looking down on it,” Bode told ARLnow.
Last weekend, Bode, Mazel, other scouts and Arlington firefighters started installing the flower beds and laying the concrete for the benches. This Saturday, Bode and his fellow scouts intend to install the benches.
He aims to have the site ready for a commemoration ceremony by military personnel on Sept. 9.
“We will come back and even out the mulch a bit. Clean up the concrete pillars. Make the area look nice and bolt in the benches. And then that should be it,” he said.
Capt. Joshua Milfeit, who assisted both scouts with their individual projects, said he is excited to see Bode finish what Mazel started.
“There is a plan of some sort from the county to make it a more permanent memorial,” he said. “Until there is a permanent memorial, we can still make it something nicer than it used to be, which was two wood stanchions with a piece of steel.”
For Bode, the project honors those who lost their lives on 9/11 and holds personal significance for him.
“I didn’t have any family members that were lost,” he said. “But, of course, having military parents and a lot of friends and family who are in EMT service, or police officers, or the fire department, it just touches close to home,” he said.
As for Mazel, she said she hopes that other scouts will continue carrying out what she and Bode have done so far.
“If people keep adding to it, and it keeps being an Eagle Scout project that keeps getting bigger and more generation of kids get to do research about 9/11, I’ll be perfectly fine with that,” Mazel said.
(Updated at 4:40 p.m.) Get ready to raise your forks and pint glasses.
Makers Union, a gastropub known for its upscale menu, is coming to Amazon’s second headquarters in Pentagon City this fall.
Alex Brown, the restaurant’s director of operations, tells ARLnow doors will open by mid-October, though a specific opening date has yet to be confirmed.
“I’ll put it at 90% — unless something comes up,” he told ARLnow.
This will be the third location for Makers Union, which first opened in Reston three years ago and is planning to open a second location in D.C. at the Wharf in September.
Makers Union joins a variety of new businesses and dining establishments slated to get in on the ground floor of the first phase of Amazon’s HQ2, known as Metropolitan Park, which opened earlier this summer.
“[Makers Union] is all about having fun with different events and just being that place where guests can celebrate any of life’s occasions,” Brown said.
Guests can “grab wings and a beer at the bar,” partake in bottomless brunch or celebrate a birthday or anniversary with “elevated options” such as crab cakes and ribeye steaks, he added.
The pub’s owner, Thompson Hospitality, also operates Matchbox, Big Buns Damn Good Burgers and Wiseguy Pizza, among several other local restaurant concepts.
Thompson Hospitality launched three decades ago with the purchase of several Bob’s Big Boys. It has since become a nearly billion-dollar company, with most of its restaurants still in the D.C. area., including Matchbox and Wise Guys Pizza.
(Updated at 9:15 p.m.) Thousands were without power in and around Crystal City and Pentagon City for much of the day due to a widespread outage.
The outage was first reported just after 11:15 a.m. Arlington County firefighters investigated a possible underground explosion and treated a Dominion worker with burns from steam that came out of a manhole, according to scanner traffic.
“At 11:18 a.m. a splice in an underground cable failed causing an arc/flash and 10,000+ outages in Crystal City, Pentagon City & nearby neighborhoods,” Dominion spokeswoman Peggy Fox told ARLnow shortly before 4 p.m. “We’re working to have all customers restored as quickly as possible, hopefully in a half an hour. A worker was treated at the scene and released.”
ACFD also responded to a large quantity of stuck elevator calls in the area, owing to the outage.
More than 10,250 Dominion customers were without power as a result of the outage. The outage map extended into the Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge residential neighborhoods, including Oakridge Elementary.
Arlington’s parks department closed the Long Bridge Aquatic and Fitness Center and the Gunston Community Center due to the outage.
As of 5:15 p.m., Dominion said all but 1,229 customers had their power restored, with outages still reported along Crystal Drive by ARLnow readers. As of 9 p.m. all customers had been restored, per Dominion.
Transformer blew on 15th st pic.twitter.com/TUBEKFx8RW
— Rachid Maalouf (@MaaloufRachid) August 22, 2023
Can confirm, I’ve never seen so many people out on the sidewalk as all homes and businesses have lost power! https://t.co/yFeHtFooAb
— James Gethyn Evans (@jagevans) August 22, 2023
Yup. It's chaos here right now. https://t.co/CBZSZVrBdf
— Alex Matsuo 👻🏳️🌈 (@TheSpookyStuff) August 22, 2023
Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream has started serving scoops at its new Amazon HQ2 location.
The local ice cream shop held a “soft opening” this past weekend at its newest spot at 510 14th Street S. in Pentagon City. On both Saturday and Sunday, Toby’s served up scoops to hungry and hot locals from noon until 3 p.m. at the storefront facing Met Park.
There’s no word yet on when or if there’s an official grand opening being planned.
A number of the new businesses at Amazon HQ2 have opened or are planning to open in the coming weeks. District Dogs and Conte’s Bike Shop started rolling earlier this summer followed by Good Company Doughnuts in July. Peruvian Brothers is aiming for a soft opening later this month. Mae’s Market and Taqueria Xochi have yet to announce their plans.
An outpost of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) Arlington will also be opening its doors at Amazon HQ2. That opening may be delayed until the fall, a source told ARLnow.
Arlington County police are looking for a man who exposed himself to at least two women Monday morning.
The first incident happened around 8:30 a.m. on the 3500 block of S. Ball Street, in the Crystal City area near Potomac Yard. The second happened just over an hour later on the 400 block of 12th Street S. in Pentagon City, near the Lenox Club apartments.
“At approximately 8:41 a.m. on August 14, police were dispatched to the report of an exposure,” police said in a crime report. “Upon arrival, it was determined the female victim was walking in the area when the male suspect in a parked vehicle engaged her in conversation. During the conversation, the suspect exposed himself and fled the scene in his vehicle.”
“At approximately 9:52 a.m., police were dispatched to the 400 block of 12th Street S. to another report of an exposure,” the crime report continues. “It was determined the female victim was walking in the area when the suspect, matching the reporting parties description from the incident prior, engaged her in conversation from his parked vehicle and exposed himself.”
Police say the man fled in a silver SUV.
“The investigation is ongoing,” ACPD said.
A new small-format Ikea location is ready to open in Pentagon City.
The Scandinavian furniture and homegoods giant just announced that the storefront at the Pentagon Centre shopping center (1201 S. Hayes Street) will open tomorrow — Wednesday, Aug. 16.
The 5,000-square-foot “Plan and Order” location was first announced in March.
Unlike Ikea’s traditional large-format warehouse stores in College Park and Woodbridge, Plan and Order points only allow customers to order items — like kitchen, bedroom and bathroom furniture and fixtures — for delivery. There are currently no other Ikea small-format stores open in the D.C. area.
More, below, from an Ikea press release.
IKEA U.S. is excited to announce that on August 16, the IKEA Arlington Plan and order point, located in the Pentagon Centre shopping center, will open to the public. This is the first Plan and order point to open in the DC market, which will provide inspiration and ideas for the home and offer one-on-one consultation services for kitchen design, bedroom and bathroom solutions, small space living solutions and so much more. Metro DC customers can now begin scheduling their in-person appointments through the IKEA Arlington local store page.
“The IKEA Arlington Plan and order point is a new kind of IKEA store for Metro DC residents. Whether planning a big project or simply looking for inspiration, we hope to provide a more convenient way to shop. Our goal is to continually transform to better meet the needs of our customers in Virginia and beyond,” said Javier Quiñones, CEO & Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA U.S.
IKEA Arlington will be open for all visitors to browse the showroom to get inspiration Monday-Sunday 11 am – 7 pm. Customers may also book an appointment and sit down with an IKEA expert planner while they design, quote, and order IKEA products. There’s no need to lug furniture home as the IKEA team will conveniently arrange all items to be transported to a customer’s home or to another pick up point. To schedule an appointment at IKEA Arlington to plan a kitchen, wardrobe, or another room of the home (bedroom, living room, etc.) and for IKEA Business planning, visit the IKEA Arlington local store page and use the appointment booking tool.
“The all-new IKEA Arlington Plan and order point will allow customers to meet with professional consultants who can help them optimize their living and working spaces,” said Raquel Ely, Market Manager, IKEA U.S. “With full-service delivery, this is a new, intimate experience that’s uniquely IKEA. It’s where design expertise meets convenience. We are thrilled to be opening the first IKEA Plan & order point in our area, continuing to create customer meeting points that are more accessible and convenient to the many people in the DMV market while offering sustainable and affordable home furnishings solutions.”
IKEA has been on the outskirts of the DC area for more than 35 years with large-format IKEA stores in Woodbridge, VA and College Park, MD. The IKEA Arlington Plan and order point will be located in the Pentagon Centre shopping center at 1201 S. Hayes Street, Pentagon City, Arlington, VA in 5,012 square feet of leased space. It will be easily accessible by Metro via the Yellow or Blue line, Metrobus or car.
Calling all Arlington’s feline aficionados, kitty collectors, and sweet treat seekers.
The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck will be making a special stop in Arlington this Saturday offering a bounty of limited edition goodies and “claw-some” merchandise.
From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., the courtyard of Pentagon Row, located near DSW, will transform into a haven of “meow-gical” delights. Fans of the beloved Japanese character can anticipate a curated selection of baked goods and limited-edition collectibles, such as a brand new Hello Kitty Cafe hoodie, cafe cup plush, lunchbox, t-shirt and canvas tote.
Only credit and debit cards will be accepted.
The truck will only be in the area for one day. After the Arlington stop on the truck’s East Coast tour, it’s off to New Jersey
More from a press release, below.
The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck is continuing its 2023 tour across the U.S. with its all-pink cafe on wheels carrying exclusive treats and collectibles celebrating all things Hello Kitty.
Fans of Hello Kitty can look forward to edible goodies and limited-edition merch, including:
- NEW Hello Kitty Cafe Hoodie
- NEW Hello Kitty Cafe Cup Plush
- NEW Hello Kitty Cafe T-Shirt
- Hello Kitty Cafe Glass Mug with Sprinkle Handle
- Hello Kitty Cafe Lunchbox
- Hello Kitty Cafe Canvas Tote
- Stainless Hello Kitty Cafe Rainbow Thermos (18oz and 32oz)
- Hand-Decorated Cookie Sets
Hello Kitty Cafe Truck accepts only credit/debit card payments — no cash.
Following DC the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck will continue its 2023 East Coast tour with a stop in Cherry Hill, NJ on 8/19.
Since the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck made its debut in October 2014 as part of Sanrio’s first food-related venture, the cafe on wheels has delighted thousands of fans from all over the U.S., drawing crowds of up to hundreds of Hello Kitty lovers at each stop. To date, two Hello Kitty Cafe trucks have traveled to more than 100 cities across both coasts — from Los Angeles, Seattle and Houston — to Chicago, New York and Miami.
For updates on Hello Kitty Cafe Truck’s upcoming appearances, please follow us on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.
As we move through the dog days of August, several highly anticipated local restaurants are looking ahead to openings in the coming late summer or early fall.
Coco B’s is finally set to open on the roof of Clarendon’s B Live next week, pending permits, co-owner Christal Bramson confirmed to ARLnow. Besides the roof, the “tropical glam bar” consists of nearly 4,000 square feet of bars, dining rooms, and a back patio. Coco B’s has been in the works for a year and was originally supposed to open this past spring. This comes as B Live continues to revamp, including shifting away from hosting original acts and debuting a new beach bar concept this weekend.
Astro Beer Hall in Shirlington was also finally hoping for an opening this month, but that’s being pushed back at least a few weeks. While no exact timetable has been set for the two-level bar and coffee shop, a spokesperson confirmed a debut is likely coming next month. So, it will be a bit before its donut robot starts its world takeover, one pastry at a time.
Peruvian Brothers is aiming for a “soft opening” at Amazon HQ2 as soon as later this month, co-owner Giuseppe Lanzone told ARLnow. A grand opening is scheduled for September in Pentagon City, he said. It was July 2022 when the fast-casual Peruvian restaurant announced it was moving into 1400 S. Eads Street. The initial hope was to open earlier in the summer, but permitting is again the culprit.
Westover Taco also had planned to start serving this month, but that’s been pushed back. Co-owner Scott Parker told ARLnow that the new spot in Westover will “for sure” open this year but couldn’t provide an exact timetable yet. It was almost exactly a year ago when ARLnow first reported that Parker, along with owners of Lost Dog Cafe, was taking over the space once home to Forest Inn.
Carbonara, the self-described “old school” Italian restaurant in the Ballston area, is now aiming for a November debut, a spokesperson told ARLnow. The Italian eatery and wine bar is moving into the former home of Next Day Blinds on Wilson Blvd and was originally supposed to open this summer. But “difficulty with [the] mechanical system” and permitting hang-ups has pushed it to later in the fall.
Wagamama in Clarendon is coming along. While the British restaurant chain has announced several timelines for opening, none have proven to be the case. Construction does appear underway, but a spokesperson declined to give ARLnow any substantial information. “There are no updates to share regarding the opening timeline for Wagamama Arlington,” they wrote in an email.