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Levi’s in Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, courtesy photo

For those venturing back to the mall for the first time in awhile, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City might look a little different than you remember, thanks to some recent additions.

Four new stores have recently opened in the mall, at 1101 S. Hayes Street, with two more expected to open sometime in the next few weeks.

On the first level, denim retailer Levi’s has set up next to Altar’d State, overlooking the food court.

On the second level, luxury goods retailer Vince has set up next to Pandora and home décor store Casa Furniture has opened on the opposite side of the food court.

Down in the bottom-floor “dining pavilion” — the mall’s new term for its food court — there are a few additions underway. As Kelis attested in 2003, milkshakes are a popular attraction, and the new Day & Night Cereal Bar is offering a dozen specialized milkshakes and cereal bowls, along with coffee and flights of bacon.

The cereal-centric eatery has some unique combinations, like Marty McFly — a combination of Apple Jacks, Fruit Loops and gummy bears. Its website says it also offers oat milk and almond milk substitutions for those who are dairy averse.

A Subway had previously closed in the food court, but a new franchise for the sandwich chain is expected to open in November, a mall spokesman tells ARLnow.

Lastly, as previously reported, Mediterranean restaurant Sante’ is planning to open sometime this fall in the adjacent Ritz-Carlton hotel at 1250 S. Hayes Street.

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Morning Notes

Demolition has leveled the former Summers restaurant in Courthouse (staff photo)

Pentagon City Metro Elevator Update — From Arlington Transit: “On Sun., Sept. 19, the bus stop serving ART 42, 74, 84 & 87, Metrobus 7A & 22A, and Fairfax Connector 599 (AM) will temporarily be relocated south on S Hayes St. due construction of Pentagon City Metro second elevator.” [Twitter]

Huffpost Calls Arlington GOP Tweet ‘Racist’ — “In a racist tweet Monday that was promptly ratioed into the shame museum, the Arlington County Republican Committee in Virginia suggested that two Democratic congresswomen of color should retire and go work as lobbyists for the Taliban… ‘This tweet isn’t about race ― it’s about the Squad’s constant support for anti-American sentiment abroad,’ the Arlington GOP tweeted.” [Huffpost]

ACFD Responds to Courthouse Gas Leak — “Arlington County Fire and Rescue crews said a gas leak reported just before 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Courthouse area was fixed about an hour later.” [Patch, Twitter]

Local Nurse Lauded for Covid Candor — “An Arlington woman who continues going above and beyond to help her community throughout the pandemic is being nominated for a community hero award from her fellow neighbors.” [WJLA]

Arlington Students Make ‘Merit’ Semis — “Sixteen high school students from Arlington have been named 2022 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, taking the first step in securing a scholarship in the competitive program.” [Patch, Arlington Public Schools]

Restaurant Recs for Those With Kids — “Going out with kids is complicated enough — finding dishes for picky eaters, hoping they will sit still long enough to finish their food and not terrorize other tables, praying you can relax for five minutes… These restaurants are going out of their way to create a welcoming, inclusive and safe dining environment for families, with outdoor dining and child-pleasing choices.” [Arlington Magazine]

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A dedicated bus lane and new bus stops are set to come for Crystal Drive and 12th Street S. as part of an expansion of the Crystal City/Potomac Yard Transitway to Pentagon City.

But progress on the project has elicited frustration from some local transit advocates, residents and community leaders.

The project will extend the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway north with a direct connection to the Pentagon City Metrorail station, while increasing trip frequency for bus riders. County staff say these changes will facilitate a “high frequency premium transit service” that will “add transportation capacity to support current and anticipated development in the area,” according to the county.

A meeting was held last night (Wednesday) to explain what residents and road users can expect in the first phase of the Transitway Extension project. People will also see changes to 12th Street S. during this phase of the project, as DES has decided to merge the extension work with “complete streets” improvements to 12th Street S., which curves south and becomes Crystal Drive near Long Bridge Park.

Those opposed say they are frustrated by the lack of community engagement when the designs were developed — last night’s meeting presented 100% complete designs — and say they have questions that have gone unanswered.

“I love the Transitway, and I’m eager to see it completed and see Metroway buses running more often, but I do not have confidence that DES has really done their best work on these plans, and am positive that they do not want to hear from the community,” Transportation Commission member Darren Buck tells ARLnow.

Transit advocates say the proposed configuration of the road and the sidewalk will not support the projected increase in folks living in the area, with the arrival of Amazon and other development concentrated in the area. Particularly, they say, the proposed 10-foot sidewalks will not provide enough space for bus riders and people traveling through the area on foot or scooter, as well as cyclists who will one day be able to connect to D.C. via Long Bridge Park’s esplanade.

County staff say the designs do respond to community comments and that the project cannot make changes that would disturb underground parking garages. Staff could not respond to follow-up questions before this article’s publication.

According to the staff presentation, the designs have been modified in response to concerns for pedestrian safety and circulation near the stations. The plans feature enough room for pedestrians to walk around the bus stations and to walk safely while buses make the sharp turn from Crystal Drive to 12th Street S, they said.

Two bus stations will be installed along the curb as part of the Transitway Extension. The road will be reconfigured to allow buses to take the curve at Crystal Drive and 12th Street S. safely within a dedicated transit lane.

The complete streets project, meanwhile, includes signal improvements and a new traffic signal at the intersection of 12th Street S. and Army Navy Drive. The roadway under Route 1 will be widened, and there will be sidewalk improvements from Army Navy Drive to S. Eads Street.

A map of improvements to 12th Street S. and Crystal Drive (via Arlington County)

According to the county, the new bus stations will have:

  • Real-time bus information
  • Benches, bike racks and bins for trash and recycling
  • Solar-powered lighting inside the shelters
  • Near-level boarding, with a raised curb for easy access
  • Concrete bus pads
  • Artwork consistent with other transitway bus stations

After last night’s meeting, some cyclists shared their dismay with the project and the meeting on Twitter.

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There are now more than 3,000 Amazon employees assigned to the company’s HQ2 in Arlington.

That’s more than double the amount of employees this time last year, according to a spokeswoman for the company.

Meanwhile, Amazon is seeking more than 2,500 new corporate employees for a variety of technical and non-tech jobs — another tenth of its stated goal to hire 25,000 employees for its second headquarters. Positions range from software development engineers to financial analysts to “solution architects” in a variety of departments, from Fire TV to Alexa.

Amazon reports it is now the largest job-creator in the U.S. after hiring more than 450,000 people during the pandemic. Across its more than 220 locations in the U.S., it is looking to hire more than 40,000 corporate and tech roles as well as tens of thousands of hourly positions.

And those interested will soon have the chance to engage with Amazon recruiters. The company said it will host a training and recruiting event on Wednesday, Sept. 15 to help current and future employees grow their careers. Starting today (Wednesday), people can register for the free event online.

“The event is designed to support all job seekers, whether they are looking for a new job or hoping to transition to a different career altogether — at Amazon or another company,” Amazon said in a press release. “The event is open to all, regardless of their level of experience, professional field, or background.”

During Career Day last year, Amazon said it saw the highest one-week number of job applications in the history of the company. In 2020, it saw a staggering 30 million applications, nearly double from 2019.

This year, the company will offer more than 20,000 personalized career-coaching sessions with Amazon recruiters, while two senior recruiters will lead a “How to Interview at Amazon” breakout session. Software development engineers will lead coding workshops.

Attendees will hear from Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, who replaced founder Jeff Bezos as chief executive this summer, as well as long-time Amazon executive Dave Clark, New York Times best-selling author David Epstein, and Carla Harris, vice chairman of global wealth management at Morgan Stanley.

Meanwhile, over in Pentagon City, construction continues on Metropolitan Park, the first phase of HQ2 construction, which includes two office buildings dubbed Met Park 6 and 7/8. Construction crews are working on the 10th stories now, Clark Construction employees told visitors to the National Landing Farmers Market on Saturday.

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Santé interior rendering, courtesy The Brand Guild

A restaurant specializing in cuisine from across the Mediterranean is planning on bringing that seaside vision to this side of the Potomac.

Santé, a restaurant described in a press release as “Mediterranean-inspired”, is scheduled to open in The Ritz-Carlton (1250 S. Hayes Street) in Pentagon City sometime this fall.

“Santé will be a destination in the Arlington area, whether you’re looking for an after work drink with friends, or a spot for an intimate dinner,” Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City General Manager Matthew Felix said in the press release. “We’re creating an atmosphere that will offer something unique for those who work and live in the neighborhood, along with visitors and hotel guests.”

The restaurant will center around seafood dishes — like grilled oysters and roasted sea bream, but will also have a variety of cocktails, wines and beer. The restaurant will have a range of breakfast to late-evening options.

The press release noted that the dining room will have enough seating for 64 people, with additional bar and lounge seating and a private dining room for groups up to 48 people.

The full press release is below.

Today, Santé, a new Mediterranean-inspired restaurant concept, announces its upcoming arrival in Northern Virginia. Slated to open in Fall 2021, the forthcoming culinary destination will call The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City home, further establishing the property as an inspired neighborhood gathering place.

An expression often used to toast to health and happiness, Santé represents this sentiment and the Mediterranean way of life, while also celebrating the moment and those that you’re with. The concept brings the ease and elegance of the coastline region to life in the Arlington neighborhood, offering a sophisticated, yet approachable atmosphere.

“Santé will be a destination in the Arlington area, whether you’re looking for an after work drink with friends, or a spot for an intimate dinner,” said Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City General Manager, Matthew Felix. “We’re creating an atmosphere that will offer something unique for those who work and live in the neighborhood, along with visitors and hotel guests.”

Santé will invite guests to savor the flavors of the Mediterranean region through shareable dishes like the Grilled Oysters, and innovative mains including the Roasted Whole Sea Bream alongside a collection of craft beer, distinctive wine and handcrafted cocktails. Helmed by Executive Chef, Phil Skerman, the restaurant will offer breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and an evening experience in the fireside lounge. With an emphasis on the present moment, Santé will offer an exceptional culinary experience and an ambiance that transports guests to the seaside.

Designed in partnership with designONE studio, Santé’s main dining room will feature seating for 64 people, with additional bar and lounge area seating, as well as a private dining room for groups up to 48. The space is accented with warm wood tones and varying coastal blues.

Santé will be located at 1250 S Hayes St, Arlington, VA 22202. For more information, please visit MeetAtSante.com, and follow Santé on social media at @meetatsante.

About Santé:

Led by Executive Chef Phil Skerman, Santé is a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant based in Arlington, Virginia. Showcasing the flavors of the coastline region, Santé offers inventive shareable meze-style dishes, handcrafted cocktails, unique wines and craft beers, in a lively yet elevated and approachable setting. For more information, please visit MeetAtSante.com, and follow Santé on social media at @meetatsante.

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Morning Notes

Local Real Estate Market Slowing — “When it comes to housing prices and sales, red-hot Arlington County cooled a bit last month compared to last summer — a modest slowdown that the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors says was typical throughout the region. NVAR reports the median price of a home that sold in Arlington County last month was 9% lower than a year ago, and the average number of days on the market, or how long it took to sell a home, was up 35% compared to last July.” [WTOP]

County Board Still Opposes Gondola — “This week, all five members of the Arlington County Board confirmed to the Washington Business Journal their position hasn’t changed. Even the two new Democrats to join the board since it penned that 2017 letter — current Chair Matt de Ferranti and Takis Karantonis — said in interviews that they remain unconvinced, despite the proponents’ recent success in pushing the District to budget $10 million toward the purchase of a potential D.C. landing site near the Key Bridge.” [Washington Business Journal]

Review of Pentagon City Irish Eatery — “Armstrong’s talented hand again showed itself when I sank my teeth into the corned beef. The chef says that each brisket takes three weeks of preparation before it’s ready for diners. He adds that corned beef is more of an Irish-American food than an Irish one, owing to a fusion of influences that met in New York or Boston. His version certainly owes a debt to Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Arlies Voting: Urgent Care Clinic — Voting on the latest Arlies category ends Tuesday afternoon. Let us know about your favorite local urgent care clinic. [ARLnow]

Breakthrough Covid Cases Underreported? — “Virginia’s breakthrough case numbers are likely an undercount. Issues with data reporting made it difficult to report and verify cases among vaccinated people.” [Virginia Mercury]

Nearby: Car Swept Away in Flood Waters — “Here’s what can happen when a huge amount of rain causes flash flooding. A reader sent this photo of a car in the Upper Long Branch Stream between the cul-de-sacs at 6th Street and Glen Forest Drive in Bailey’s Crossroads.” Arlington County firefighters responded as mutual aid on this water rescue call, per scanner traffic last week. [Annandale Blog]

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Five people were arrested after an armed robbery outside the Harris Teeter store in Pentagon City.

The robbery happened around 4 p.m. Wednesday, in a parking lot near the grocery store. Five people, including at least one who was armed with a handgun, assaulted and stole cash from victims with whom they had arranged a sale of sneakers, according to police.

“At approximately 4:11 p.m., police were dispatched to the 900 block of Army Navy Drive for the report of an armed robbery,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspects and victims met at this location for the pre-arranged sale of sneakers. During the encounter, the suspects brandished a firearm, assaulted the victims, stole an undisclosed amount of cash and fled the scene in a vehicle prior to the arrival of officers.”

The vehicle, a dark-colored Jeep, was soon located by police heading into D.C. on I-395. It was followed by officers until U.S. Park Police stopped the vehicle at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 9th Street NW in the District.

Five people, all ages 19 and 20, were taken into custody and charged with robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, Savage said. They’re currently being held in D.C.

One of the victims suffered a reported head wound during the robbery and was treated by medics on the scene.

 

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An ART bus (via Arlington Transit Facebook)

(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) Arlington Transit buses will return to full service after Labor Day weekend, the county-run transit agency says.

Rush-hour-only ART buses 53, 61, 62 and 74 will run again starting Tuesday, Sept. 7, after being out of service since March 2020 due to the pandemic. Once these buses resume operation, Arlington Transit will largely be back at full service. ART 72 will continue on a modified weekday schedule, however.

With construction ongoing around the Ballston Metro station, ART 53 and 62 bus stops will be relocated near the Metro elevator on Fairfax Drive.

While seating restrictions were lifted on Aug. 1, riders will still be required to wear masks as per a federal mask mandate for passengers on planes, trains and buses from the Transportation Security Administration, effective until January 2022.

Meanwhile, Metrobus is set to implement some changes after Sunday, Sept. 5, adding more buses and trains and extending Metrorail’s weekend hours.

Notably, bus 16Y from Columbia Pike to Farragut Square will resume operation, going both directions during weekday rush hours. The limited-stop service route, which once connected Columbia Pike stops to McPherson Square in D.C., was halted during the pandemic and was absent from when a number of routes were restored earlier this summer.

Buses 16A, 16C and 16E in Columbia Pike and 16G and 16H between Columbia Pike and Pentagon City will get service upgrades as well.

“Service will operate every 12 minutes or better from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily between Columbia Pike & South Joyce Street and Columbia Pike & South Dinwiddie Street at stops served by all routes,” WMATA said.

Bus 25B from the old Landmark Mall in Alexandria to Ballston will see some changes, with Alexandria working to overhaul its own DASH bus network. 25B will travel between Ballston, Southern Towers and Mark Center every day except Sunday, and between Ballston and Southern Towers on Sundays.

Metrorail trains will be available until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, an hour later than was previously offered. Trains will also start running earlier on Sundays, with riders able to board at 7 a.m. rather than 8 a.m.

More on the planned Metro changes from a press release, below.

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(Updated at 6:15 p.m.) Police and firefighters are on scene of an overturned vehicle in Pentagon City, near the Costco and the Amazon HQ2 construction site.

The crash happened around 3:45 p.m. at the intersection of 15th Street S. and S. Elm Street. Photos from the scene show only a single vehicle: a black SUV resting on its side, with its windshield smashed. Bystanders could be seen standing around it, before police arrived.

“Driver looked ok but banged up,” said one witness, via Twitter.

The crash is reportedly related to a theft nearby. A vehicle with a similar description sped off after two people tried to steal shoes from the DSW Shoe Warehouse at 1301 S. Joyce Street, at the Westpost (formerly Pentagon Row) shopping center, leaving boxes of shoes strewn about the roadway outside the store, according to initial reports.

Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed that the vehicle that crashed is believed to be the suspect vehicle.

“At approximately 3:41 p.m. a larceny in progress was dispatched in the 1300 block of S. Joyce Street,” Savage said. “Two suspects allegedly entered a business and stole merchandise. An officer in the area observed Suspect One enter a vehicle and flee the scene. The officer attempted to initiate a traffic stop, however, the suspect fled at a high rate of speed.”

The officer did not pursue the vehicle, per department policy, but the crash was reported shortly thereafter. Police responded to the scene and apprehended the driver, who’s now being treated for injuries at a local hospital.

“The suspect subsequently crashed in the area of 15th Street S. and S. Elm and is being transported to an area hospital,” Savage said. “Suspect Two, who fled from the business on foot, remains outstanding and is described as a White male, bald, 5’8″ – 5’10” tall. Police remain on scene investigating.”

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Morning Notes

Vax Mandade for County, APS Employees — “Arlington County Government and Arlington Public Schools (APS) will implement a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for employees. This joint action, effective August 30, is a necessary step to help keep the community safe and is consistent with COVID-19 public health guidance. This policy will also apply to interns, volunteers, substitutes, and contractors… All unvaccinated employees will be required to be tested at least weekly for COVID-19 to limit the potential spread in the workforce and in the community. Testing will be provided at no cost to the employee.” [Arlington County]

Mask Mandate for Va. Schools — “Virginia will require all students, teachers and staff in K-12 schools to wear masks indoors this fall, even if they are vaccinated, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced Thursday. The mandate, set forth in a public health emergency order, is sure to stir controversy and anger amid an already fractious debate over education in the state.” [Washington Post, Gov. Ralph Northam]

Escalator Replacement at Pentagon City Metro — “On Monday, August 16, Metro will begin work to replace the four entrance escalators at Pentagon City station with brand new, more durable escalators.  Construction is expected to take approximately nine months to complete both entrances and will require each entrance to be closed during construction, starting with the east side of South Hayes Street and followed by the two escalators on the west side.” [WMATA]

Arlington Real Estate Remains Hot — “A combination of challenging affordability and low inventory may be conspiring to dampen home-buyer enthusiasm across much of the Washington region, but you wouldn’t know it in Arlington, where some regions remain red-hot locales… While the region as a whole is down, Arlington has an overall rating of 205 – well into the “High” category and leading all other regional jurisdictions.” [Sun Gazette]

Summer Friday for ARLnow — We’re taking part of the day off, so expect a lighter publishing schedule today.

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Folks wanting a weekend trip to Virginia Beach can now catch a luxury motor coach — with leather seats and hot towels — that has regular departures from Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.

Rides with the bus company, ROX, started July 1, 2020, and ended 90 days later as coronavirus cases rose in the fall. Service between Arlington and Virginia Beach started back up in July, and the company is set to bring a Charlottesville-Virginia Beach route online in September.

Today, the Virginia Beach-based company has three motor coaches that seat up to 23 passengers (a normal bus has 56 seats). Buses leave Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Each ROX bus has WiFi, individual charging outlets and chargers available on-demand. Riders can choose from a digital library of books, movies and TV shows, and are served a complimentary meal, snacks and soft drinks, with the option to buy alcohol.

“It’s better than any first class flight you’ve been on,” said ROX founder Jeff McWaters, a businessman and former Virginia state senator, who represented part of Virginia Beach.

McWaters, who founded the health insurance company Amerigroup, got the idea from his personal experience traveling for work between Virginia Beach and D.C.

If all the employees drove, “no one could work, it was dangerous, and we had issues,” he said, while flying was a hassle with frequent delays, and trains had poor WiFi and food.

With ROX, the former senator is looking to invigorate the commercial connection between the two hubs while taking advantage of a growing preference for remote work, with occasional trips to the office.

“We learned during the pandemic, you can work from home, you can work from the park, you can work with a glass of wine, but you can’t work on I-66, working on trains is spotty, and you can’t work on airplane,” he said. “You can work on the ROX.”

So far, most riders are using the bus for leisure, but McWaters predicts business travel will return.

ROX stops at Fashion Centre because it is well-connected and offers shopping and dining, he said. The mall, which offers luggage storage, alos has an Avis rental car outpost, and riders can catch the Metro or a car to get to other parts of Arlington, D.C. or the airport.

“It’s got everything,” he said.

While the bus service was shut down, the company earned income from private charters of a fourth bus. That coach features reclining seats, a kitchen, a sofa and eight televisions, including one outside for tailgating.

The bus has been to “some fun places,” and is set to embark on a 10-day hunting trip to Wyoming this fall, said Janice Tuckman, a sales representative for ROX.

“We picked up group at the The Greenbrier and drove them on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, where they visited distilleries and stayed at an Airbnb. They had a whoopin’ good time, and after four days, headed back to Greenbrier.”

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