Arlington, VA

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

(Updated at 12:20 p.m.) What do you get when you take a patent lawyer with a background in mechanical engineering and you add a passion for cycling?

It turns out you get AirLock, the world’s first all-in-one bike pump and lock brainstormed by Arlington local Joe Edell.

Together with his sister, Joe founded the startup Edellocks in March with the goal of eliminating the hassle of carrying a separate air pump along with a bike lock.

“It’s a patented idea I came up with in 2015, and we’re confident that our current version is that best we’re gonna get,” said Edell, who manufactured the design utilizing 3D-printing technology.

It took Edell 20-plus prototypes to get the design right, resulting in an ultra-lightweight product that weighs a little over a pound. The final product will be manufactured in Taiwan, while Edell and his sister will work on marketing, packaging, and shipping from a home in Pentagon City.

Customers have the option of selecting an AirLock with either of the common Schrader or Presta air valves.

It took a bit of trial and error to find the right customer base for the AirLock, because uber-passionate cyclists often have high-end bikes that require specialty pump valves. However, Edell hopes the product will end up in stores like REI and local bike shops.

“A lot of people who would be interested in this we would call ‘casual cyclists,’ so we need to work hard to make sure the price and the product is right,” said Edell.

Currently, the product is in its Kickstarter stage, with less than two weeks to go. As of today (Friday), AirLock has earned $7,791 with a goal of $20,000.

Those interested can either pledge any minimum to support the startup, or $58 or more, which gets you the finished product.

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(Updated at noon) New scooter docks have been added to Crystal City in an effort to curb intrusive sidewalk scooter parking.

Four new docks from the electric scooter company Spin were placed throughout Crystal City last week after their debut in D.C., with five more expected to be added sometime in the next week.

“Spin is one of the operators that has been participating in Arlington’s [scooter] pilot,” said Rob Mandle, chief operating officer of the Crystal City BID. “They reached out to us about a pilot that they had initiated, rolling out in D.C. to provide a dock solution.”

Mandle said the BID is working on getting locations spread out across Crystal City, Pentagon City and Arlington’s portion of Potomac Yard.

“Our goal is to enhance connectivity in the core areas,” Mandle said.

The current docks are located at:

  • 251 18th Street S.
  • 220 20th Street S.
  • 520 12th Street S.
  • 1901 S. Bell Street

Though the docks are branded by Spin, Mandle said any scooters will be able to park in them. They also charge the scooter batteries while they’re docked.

“We see it as an interesting approach to addressing how to park scooters throughout the neighborhood without losing the value of dockless scooters,” Mandle said. “We’re a year from when these things first hit the streets, maybe not even, and the industry continues to evolve. The number one concern in any downtown area is ‘how do you manage the parking of the scooters in the downtown core?'”

There’s currently nothing to encourage scooter riders to use the docks outside of good civic values, but Mandle said incentives could be on the way.

“There are other ways to incentivize users to park in those facilities,” Mandle said. “I don’t think anybody’s seen that yet, but that’s where it’s going.”

Photo courtesy Rob Mandle/Crystal City BID

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Developer JBG Smith may be planning to let people sip alcohol as they browse shops and sit outdoors in shopping areas near Amazon’s future headquarters in Pentagon City and Crystal City.

State records with the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Authority Control Authority indicate that the developer applied for a “Commercial Lifestyle Center” license this week. The special license is part of a 2018 law allowing shoppers to bring alcoholic beverages into shops or outdoor plazas to encourage consumers to stay longer and attend outdoor events.

Under the new law, shopping centers can apply for a license provided they have at least 100,000 square feet of retail space and demonstrate they can police the area, as reported by the Washington Business Journal. The law also requires the application come from an association of businesses in a shopping area, not a single business on its own.

JBG Smith applied for the license via a newly-created organization called National Landing Business Owners Association Inc., which listed a phone number in the application matching JBG Smith’s Chevy Chase office.

A spokeswoman for the developer declined to comment when reached yesterday (Tuesday.)

The Association was formed in June by an attorney from the Arlington-based law firm Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh, which represents JBG Smith on several projects, including the two towers they’re building at Amazon’s Metropolitan Park headquarters.

One place in the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard area — dubbed “National Landing” — at which the developer could use the license would be its Crystal Square project. The project aims to redevelop the block of Crystal Drive into a “retail hub” between 15th Street S. and 18th Street S.

JBG Smith has called for adding new retailers like an Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, a grocery store, and an outdoor dining area to the block near the Crystal City Metro station.

Image via Gensler

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An urban agriculture group wants in on one of the most elusive spaces in town: Amazon’s new headquarters in Pentagon City.

The Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture (FOUA) have formally submitted a request for less than 2% (or 1,000 square feet) of the upcoming HQ2 campus to become a urban farm space.

“We believe Arlington is poised to become a national leader for urban agriculture, and the Metropolitan Park project offers an opportunity to showcase Amazon’s and Arlington’s commitment to sustainable, biophilic (integrating the natural world into the built environment) development,” the FOUA board wrote in a letter to HQ2 stakeholders this month.

FOUA said in exchange for dedicating space for the farm, Amazon and the community will reap the rewards of:

  • Aesthetically appealing, biophilic focal point event space for movie nights, public or private receptions, exercise classes, etc.
  • STEM plant lab for K-12 research
  • Public demonstrations of growing sustainable techniques & methods
  • At-scale food production for distribution to local food banks.
  • Incubator for urban agriculture-focused startups
  • Encourage public interaction with local food systems.

Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

There has been growing interest in urban agriculture in Arlington, advocates say, and Amazon could help spread it to an area where there is little land available for growing fruits and vegetables.

“We really think Amazon’s commitment to creating an environmentally-sound campus provides an opportunity to create a public amenity that would benefit everyone,” said Matt McKinstry, a FOUA board member.

FOUA wrote the proposal in light of the upcoming Site Plan Review Committee meeting for HQ2 on Monday, September 23.

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Morning Notes

Water Main Break Near CourthouseUpdated at 8:10 a.m. — “Emergency Water Main Repairs: Crews working on a 3-inch main at 2000 N. Adams St. The area includes high-rise buildings and some 100 customers could be affected. Traffic is detoured around the work site.” [Twitter]

Gun, Drug Arrest at Pentagon City Metro — A man is facing a litany of gun and drug-related charges after being arrested by Metro Transit Police officers for alleged fare evasion at the Pentagon City station this past Thursday. [Twitter]

APS Hits Full Bus Driver Staffing — “The school year began with full staffing of drivers and bus attendants, who serve 18,000 eligible students over 154 routes, using 200 buses.” [InsideNova]

DCA Starbucks Closing Permanently — “Beginning on or about Monday, September 9, Starbucks on the Ticketing level of Terminal B/C will close to make way for construction of a steel-framed glass divider.” [Reagan National Airport]

New Permitting System Launches Today — “Arlington County is launching the first phase of Permit Arlington, a new online permitting system, on Sept. 9, 2019.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: Alexandria Metro Stations Reopening — “Alexandria Metrorail stations will reopen at 5 a.m. on September 9, with full service following Metro’s summer Platform Improvement Project. Metro closed all four Metrorail stations in Alexandria (as well as two in Fairfax County) for safety repairs on May 25.” [City of Alexandria]

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(Updated at 2 p.m.) Police and firefighters are on scene of a cyclist struck by a driver in the Pentagon City area.

The incident happened around 1 p.m. at the intersection of 15th Street S. and S. Fern Street, across from the Costco parking lot.

The cyclist could be seen lying on the sidewalk next to the bike, while a passerby stood nearby and called for help. A Jeep could also be seen nearby, but it is unclear if that was the striking vehicle.

Initial reports suggest that the victim’s injuries are non-life threatening. Fern Street and a lane of 15th Street were temporarily closed at the scene.

A local bicycling advocacy group has called for a protected bike lane along 15th Street S.

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(Updated 10 a.m.) The Little Beet, a veggie-focused eatery, is scheduled to open in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.

Diners can find The Little Beet underneath the escalators on the food court level, next to the Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. A listing on the mall’s website said the eatery is expected to open on Sunday, Sept. 15.

The restaurant features an entirely gluten-free menu and a variety of vegetables, proteins and sauces, to be mixed into a bowl with rice, lettuce or quinoa, similar to chains like Sweetgreen and Cava. The restaurant offers fish and meat, but also features vegan options, which are largely lacking in the current food court.

The new Pentagon City mall eatery is the New York-based chain’s second location in Arlington, after one at 1800 N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn.

The wrap around the exterior of the store indicated that Little Beet is looking to hire staff for the eatery, though no job listings were available online as of Wednesday.

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Advocates want Amazon to help build a protected bike lane in Pentagon City as part of the development of its second headquarters.

Advocacy group Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County wants Amazon pay for the new protected bike lane in exchange for added density for the two office towers the company is planning for the Metropolitan Park site along S. Eads Street. The group is asking the county to consider the request as part of the site plan process for this first phase of HQ2.

“The thought is that we expect major development to mitigate its impacts to the extent possible,” said the organization’s founder and Arlington Transportation Commission chair Chris Slatt.

“They are going to be doing construction there anyway, and doing additional construction is much cheaper than mobilizing a contractor from scratch,” he said. “As long as they are pouring concrete and moving dirt and making changes to the streetscape anyway, we think part of it should be upgrading that bike lane to a protected bike lane.”

Currently, the stretch of 15th Street S. bordering the future headquarters features an unprotected bike lane, meaning there are no buffers between vehicles and bikes except the line of paint demarking the lane. Slatt said this is especially dangerous on 15th Street considering Virginia Department of Transportation estimates that an average of 16,000 cars drive along the street every weekday.

Sustainable Mobility is also calling for upgrades to the existing protected bike lane on S. Eads Street, and for the county to install floating bus stop “islands” on 15th Street to prevent buses from pulling into the bike lane to pick up riders.

“What we mean by protected is something that will slow down or stop a car… and eliminate bus-bike conflict,” said Slatt.

Last month, the Arlington County Board approved a street safety resolution to end bicycle and pedestrian deaths — although some criticized the measure for lacking a specific plan.

Eric Balliet, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Services, declined to comment on the bike lane proposal, citing the ongoing review of the site plan. A spokeswoman for Amazon also declined to comment.

“Members of the community who are interested in the Met Park proposal should continue to provide comments as part of the upcoming Site Plan Review Committee meetings on Sept. 23 and Oct. 14, or submit them to Mr. Schulz,” Balliet said, referring to county planner Peter Schulz.

Amazon is expected to eventually hire some 25,000 employees for HQ2, prompting some fears of Arlington experiencing Seattle’s traffic woes. Virginia and Arlington wooed Amazon with the promise of millions in nearby transportation updates, but Slatt says a protected bike lane outside HQ2 could also encourage bike commuting, thus reducing the number of car trips and helping to ease traffic.

“It will help,” he said. “The tough thing about building a network is the impact of each little piece is often small, but without each little piece the overall [bike] network isn’t enticing.”

Earlier this year, the county called for 75 miles of bike infrastructure to be added to Arlington over the next 20 years, however only 2.5 miles of that is currently slated to become protected bike lanes.

“I think the new bike plan is very clear that our goal for every part of our bike network is that it be low stress and for all ages and abilities,” Slatt said, “and that the new bike plan is very clear that we look for an opportunity to make that happen with every new development.”

Images via Google Maps

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Arlington public safety personnel are again organizing a 5K race for a good cause, in memory of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

The 18th annual Arlington Police, Fire and Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K will be held on the evening of Saturday, Sept. 7. This year, the race will raise money for two organizations:

  • HEROES, which is “dedicated to aid families of law enforcement officers and firefighters who have died in the line of duty in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.”
  • The Pentagon Memorial Fund, which is working to build a new visitor center.

The race will be held at 6 p.m. on Sept. 7, with a start and finish near the DoubleTree Hotel in Pentagon City (300 Army Navy Drive) and a course that winds around the Pentagon. Registration is $40 through Sept. 4.

“Since its inception, the Arlington Police, Fire & Sheriff 9/11 Memorial Race has had over 40,000 runners cross its finish line and has raised over $800,000 for 9/11-related charities,” the race’s website says. “Our goal is to donate over 1 million dollars and to host the 20th Anniversary 9/11 Race on Saturday, September 11, 2021.”

The post-race festival, in front of the DoubleTree Hotel, includes music and free food and drink for participants.

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Morning Notes

Pence Visits Arlington, Again — Vice President Mike Pence again visited Arlington, this time the southern half of the county. The one-time Arlington resident gave a speech at an event for the “Alliance Defending Freedom” at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City hotel. As with his visit to Clarendon last week, the veep arrived via motorcade, accompanied by a sizable security detail. [White House, Twitter]

Arlington Company Facing Lawsuit — Employees of Arlington-based Evolent Health “have asserted in class-action lawsuits that the health care consulting company… has failed to pay them overtime for periods in which they worked more than 40 hours a week.” The company denied the allegations in court filings. [Insider Louisville]

Trans Events Coming to Crystal City — “An opening reception for people planning to participate in the [National Transgender Visibility March] will be held Thursday, Sept. 26, to be followed by a Friday, Sept. 27, Torch Award Ceremony in which prominent transgender and gender non-conforming leaders and activists will be honored. Both events will take place at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.” [Washington Blade]

Nearby: Serious Crash on Route 50 — Westbound Arlington Blvd was closed near the Arlington border Tuesday afternoon for a serious motorcycle crash and a subsequent Fairfax County Police investigation. The crash happened near the intersection of Arlington Blvd and Olin Drive in Falls Church. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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As Amazon continues to hire for its HQ2, the company is also working through plans to include a new daycare facility inside its planned permanent office campus in Pentagon City.

The 12,000 square-foot child care center would be located on the ground floor and face the interior public plaza. A spokesperson for Amazon told ARLnow that the proposed daycare would be operated by a third party company.

Lack of accessible daycare is the center of a fight in Seattle, where a group called “Momazonians” are arguing the company needs to do more to provide accessible child care, though a spokesperson the Amazon noted that the company does have a daycare facility for both Amazon employees and the nearby community in one of their headquarters buildings.

In Arlington, the company is in a tug-of-war with planners over whether the daycare should count towards the headquarters’ total density. The daycare is one of several types of space that the company is requesting not be included in calculations of gross floor area. Because the proposed complex exceeds the allowable density under zoning for the site, excluding certain types of space from the floor area calculation would cut down on the community benefits Amazon would need to provide in exchange for the added density.

Many of these areas, like mechanical shafts and below-grade storage, are excluded by default as they do not contribute to the bulk and height of the building and are not rentable floor space. But child care facilities typically are not considered one of those excluded types of density.

“Staff has not supported exclusions from density for uses such as child care,” the staff report said. “Staff is currently analyzing the applicant’s requests.”

At a meeting last week, the proposed exclusion of the child care facility from the building’s bonus density drew some criticism from Site Plan Review Committee members, who pointed to the example of the formerly Ballston-based National Science Foundation, which they said was granted a density exclusion for a child development center only to later convert the space to another use.

But Arlington has been in the middle of a push to create more daycare options, including consideration of zoning changes aimed at eliminating barriers to child care.

The spokesperson for Amazon said the company is planning to include the daycare at HQ2 regardless of whether the county approves the density exemption.

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