Press Club
Car fire after crash on S. Joyce Street (photo courtesy anonymous)

A beemer barbecue following a single-vehicle crash closed part of S. Joyce Street near Pentagon City this morning.

The circumstances leading to the crash, which heavily damaged the BMW before it burst into flames, are unclear. The crash happened around 6 a.m. and left the male driver with facial injuries, according to scanner traffic.

The driver was reportedly able to get out the car before firefighters arrived on scene. He was brought to a local hospital for treatment.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze shortly after their arrival. Both lanes of S. Joyce Street heading from Army Navy Drive to Columbia Pike were blocked by the emergency response and cleanup.

Update at 8:45 a.m. — S. Joyce Street has reopened, per scanner traffic.

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An privately-owned overflowing trash can in Pentagon City. (photo courtesy of Rebecca/@rdc20132)

Overflowing trash cans are becoming a more common sight in Pentagon City and Crystal City, but the county is pledging to clean up the mess.

In recent days, several local residents posted photos on social media of neighborhood trash cans and recycling bins filled beyond the brim with soda cans, food wrappers, pizza boxes, coffee cups, and doggie bags. The problem, as noted, seemed to happen more on weekends.

https://twitter.com/rdc20132/status/1525557363557777410

County officials tell ARLnow that increased seasonal tourism and more weekend events are to blame, as both in the region are ramping back up after 2+ years of pandemic-related drop-offs.

“We are seeing a definite increase in use of public trash cans in parts of Arlington like Pentagon City, frequented by a lot of folks from out-of-town,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services (DES) spokesperson Peter Golkin tells ARLnow. “After the first two years of the pandemic, there’s a noticeable rise in tourism and this is the traditional high point for any year thanks to school trips. When a group pulls up, it’s natural to want to get rid of junk like food wrappers and soda cans, especially on big buses that drivers have to keep clean.”

Golkin says that there are more workers back in offices as well, grabbing lunch and coffee while disposing of the remains in public trash cans. Plus, the increasing number of events both in Arlington and in D.C. has resulted in more “water bottles and wrappers naturally [making] their way beyond the event site.”

There’s also the notion of not wanting to walk the extra block to find a less-filled trash can.

“The messy problem comes when a trash or recycling can is full and the urge is to just keep piling rather than look for something with room maybe a block or two down the street,” he says.

To help solve the issue, Golkin says that DES is shifting schedules to include specific weekend checks at trouble trash spots in addition to the regular weekday rounds. However, “tight staffing” does not make it “easy to re-allocate limited resources like staff time.”

Despite requests from some residents, there’s no current plan to add more trash and recycling receptacles to those areas most impacted.

“The Solid Waste Bureau will see if the increased servicing takes care of the issue or if additional steps are necessary,” Golkin notes.

Not all of the trash cans in those neighborhoods are serviced by the county, however.

DES monitors and manages four pairs of trash and recycling receptacles on each side of S. Hayes Street near the Pentagon City mall. But there are also a number of trash cans in the area that belong to privately-owned buildings and are required to be serviced by those property owners.

Additionally, another county department — the Department of Parks and Recreation — handles the waste around Virginia Highlands Park, which is up a few blocks from the mall on S. Hayes Street.

As County Board chair Katie Cristol noted on Twitter, residents can request service or report problems with trash or any other street issue 24/7 through the county’s “Report A Problem” portal. More broadly, the county is currently updating its nearly-two-decade-old solid waste management plan and is asking for public input.

Golkin is optimistic that shifting more service to the weekends will help alleviate the trash problem in Pentagon City and Crystal City. But he does have a simple request.

“If a receptacle is already full, try to hold on [to trash] until there’s a nearby can with room.”

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Amazon has announced four more local businesses that will open at the first phase of its HQ2, known as Metropolitan Park, in Pentagon City.

HQ2 will be home to Arlington’s second Conte’s Bike Shop, a South Block, the second location of Vienna-based Social Burger and the first brick-and-mortar location of HUSTLE — a high intensity cycling workout business.

The businesses will join the two that were already announcedDistrict Dogs and RĀKO Coffee.

South Block’s Met Park spot will be one of four new planned locations that will open in the next two years, South Block’s Vice President of Marketing Lindsey Parry told ARLnow.

“For us, it’s always been about our community first and so the opportunity to build new blocks and to be a part of HQ2 to us is just really establishing those local roots, continuing to grow,” she said.

A common thread among the businesses is making an impact in their communities.

South Block owner Amir Mostafavi started nonprofit Fruitful Planet that gives fresh fruits and vegetables to food insecure communities and people in need. And at Social Burger in Vienna, 40 meals a week that its customers purchase go to Lamb Center, a homeless shelter.

Social Burger Owner Denise Lee said she’s looking forward to showcasing the business and bringing the burger spot to a bigger setting.

“I’ve been there several times through the construction phase,” she said. “It’s amazing. I’m excited to be part of that. It’s going to be a beautiful campus when the time comes.”

The restaurant will be larger than its original, with a planned 38 seats, and some outdoor seating, Lee said.

HUSTLE co-founder Sunny Miller started the online workout platform during the pandemic to continue connecting with the community she had built through cycling classes. HUSTLE later began pop-up classes at the Wharf in D.C., but to have a permanent space for the business is something special, Miller said.

“This space is going to mean so much for my team and the community because we finally have a place where they can come on a regular basis,” she said.

HUSTLE has already started running free strength classes in Long Bridge Park, Miller said. And they will also be starting cycling classes there every Saturday, beginning in June.

Conte’s Bike Shop co-founder David Conte said the approximately 4,000-square-foot space will feature a mezzanine with a studio for seat fitting, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a coffee bar similar to the one at its Navy Yard location.

“For us to have an opportunity to literally be on the ground floor with an organization like Amazon that’s going to serve the community and the county really quite fabulously, is really humbling and it’s a real privilege,” said Conte’s co-founder Wayne Souza.

“Amazon is excited to bring these businesses and more to HQ2, helping to build a vibrant, buzzing neighborhood,” the company said in a blog post this morning.

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The growing cadre of tech employees working in Pentagon City and Crystal City now have new places to go for their sneakers and hoodies.

Two new stores recently opened at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall on S. Hayes Street. SneakerMat is on the second level near Nordstrom and specializes in sneaker cleaning, restoration, and repair. It also has a collection of footwear for purchase.

The shop is local to the D.C. area and independently-owned, with its only other location in Hyattsville, Maryland.

“I became very proficient in shoe care and restorations [because] of a passion to always keep my shoes clean,” Nathan Hawkins, the shop’s co-owner, wrote on its website. “Growing up there were times I had to wear the same shoes an entire school year; so making sure my shoes were clean and could last was very important to me.”

Custom World, located next to the GameStop on the mall’s food court and Metro level, is a customized hoodie and t-shirt retailer. The store claims that it can “customize everything in 15 minutes” — something, presumably, that fast-moving startups may appreciate.

The stores join other recently-opened retailers at the Fashion Centre, including Rihanna’s lingerie brand Savage X Fenty. Back in September, a cereal bar, a Levi’s store, a furniture store, and an LA-based luxury goods seller all set up shop there.

The mall, popular with local shoppers as well as out-of-town tourists, is located only a block from Amazon’s under-construction HQ2.

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Ground was officially broken yesterday morning on the first phase of the $29 million extension of the Crystal City-Potomac Yard Transitway.

At a brief ceremony on Monday (May 9) near the site of a future Crystal City bus station, at the intersection of 12th Street S. and Long Bridge Drive, local officials gathered for remarks and photos with golden shovels to christen the first phase of the long-planned transit project.

“The transit way extension is really important because it is going to support the increase in regional travel demand in Pentagon City, Crystal City, and our partners in Potomac Yard,” said County Board Chair Katie Cristol during the ceremony. “As they continue to boom with the arrival of new businesses.”

Just last week, aerospace company Boeing announced it was moving its corporate headquarters to its existing Crystal City office — a short distance from where the groundbreaking was taking place.

The planned Pentagon City extension will add just over a mile to the 4.5-mile rapid bus transit corridor, eventually to connecting Amazon HQ2 and the Pentagon City Metro station. The Transitway will include center-running transit-only lanes cutting through 12th Street.

The first phase is expected to take about a year to finish, with an estimated April 2023 completion date. The work over the next 12 months will include the installation of two new transit stations at Crystal Drive and 15th Street S. and at 12th Street S. and Long Bridge Drive.

Locals will also see streetscape improvements along 12th Street S. between S. Eads Street and S. Clark Street, as well as the intersection of 12th Street S. and Crystal Drive. Some existing street parking  along the route will become part of the dedicated bus lane.

Added transit stations that are set to be constructed during the first segment of the Transitway to Pentagon City extension (image courtesy of Arlington County)

Surveying work started last month with actual construction expected to start in June, a county spokesperson told ARLnow. Street parking will be limited in some of those areas when construction begins, but residents will be notified prior.

The Transitway is dedicated infrastructure for the Metroway rapid bus transit line. It first debuted in 2014 and was hailed for being the first of its kind in the region. While it has achieved some of its initial goals,  a lack of ridership, planned features not yet implemented, and confused motorists sometimes driving the wrong way in bus-only lanes have been ongoing challenges.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) is contributing most of the funds needed for the extension, including $19 million to the first phase alone.

Despite recent significant shifts in commuter patterns due to the pandemic, NVTA chair Phyllis Randall says the project remains a necessity and a good investment.

“I believe in the scope and I believe in the extension,” said Randall, who is also the Loudoun County Board Chair. “We know that people are going to keep moving to Northern Virginia… for jobs, for schools, for so many reasons. We need these transit options because people are coming here. I don’t think the need is diminished at all.”

Boeing’s increased presence in the neighborhood was noted several times in the ceremony as further proof that this extension is needed.

While it may not result in many new jobs, Cristol said the corporate giant’s decision shows that the county’s efforts in becoming more business-friendly are working.

“Arlington has spent a lot of time during my tenure on the [County] Board to reoriented ourselves to be more business friendly, to be more creative, to be more flexible, and to build better relationships with our commercial tenants. So, it feels like validation,” she told ARLnow.

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A “Maker’s Market” in Pentagon City and a “spring fling” block party at Shirlington are both set to take place later this month.

Currently scheduled for Sunday, May 15 and Sunday, May 29, a “Marker’s Market” is set to happen in the plaza at Westpost (formerly, Pentagon Row) in Pentagon City. It will feature more than 30 artists and craft vendors, including local businesses Shop by Nancy, Fera’s Loft, Chase McClough, and Victoria Barnes Photography.

The event is free and tickets are not required. The market will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Then, on Saturday, May 21, the Village at Shirlington is putting on a “Spring Fling Village Block Party” from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event will feature live music, a market, restaurant pop-ups, pet adoptions at Dogma, and a corn-hole tournament benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association. The tournament will start at noon and cash prizes will be awarded to the winners.

A number of restaurants are also participating in a “sip & stroll,” allowing customers to take their cocktails to go.

A featured pop-up at the block party will be Astro Doughnuts, the owners of which are bringing a beer hall to Shirlington. The beer hall is aiming for a summer opening.

The Shirlington block party is also free and tickets are not required.

The retail centers, both owned by Federal Realty Investment Trust, have seen a lot of turnover in recent months. Target and Nighthawk Pizza opened at Westpost over the past several weeks, while sushi restaurant Kusshi and “taco temple” Banditos are expected to start serving very soon.

At Shirlington, a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is replacing I-CE-NY. The Cookery closed earlier this year and Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls is moving towards an opening later this year.

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Morning Notes

Kayakers on the Potomac near Key Bridge (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Driver Crashes into Trooper’s Cruiser — A Virginia State Police trooper was radioing in a license plate during a traffic stop on I-395 near Shirlington when his cruiser was rear-ended. The trooper finished giving the tag number before telling the dispatcher about the crash. [Twitter]

Circulator Strike Continues — “The first day’s negotiations between a bus drivers union and the operator of D.C. Circulator since workers began striking were unsuccessful through Wednesday evening, increasing the prospects of a potentially lengthy outage of the city’s only public bus service.” [Washington Post]

Marymount Planning Child Care Center — “Marymount University is setting up a new child care center on campus in a renovation project that it said is designed to fill a critical, and deepening, local workforce need as those with young children return to the office. The Marymount Early Learning Academy for children aged 3 to 5 will open in the summer or fall of 2023, reviving the idea of an on-campus preschool that the university used to run in the 1990s before it closed down.” [Washington Business Journal]

Sexual Battery Incident in Pentagon City — “500 block of 12th Road S…. at approximately 11:40 p.m. on April 29th the male victim had entered into the elevator of a secure residential building when the unknown suspect followed behind him. The victim exited the elevator and walked down the hallway, during which the suspect grabbed his buttocks. The suspect then fled the scene.” [ACPD]

Air Force Colonel on Trial — “An official with the California National Guard charged with indecent exposure in Arlington in March is scheduled to go to trial in Arlington on July 18… the suspect entered the business and exposed himself to female victims, according to the ACPD.” [Patch]

Falls Church Lowers Property Tax Rate — “On Monday night, the Falls Church City Council approved a $112.8 million Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) that invests in public schools, core government services, walkability and traffic calming, environmental sustainability, and more, all while reducing the real estate tax rate by 9 cents… To mitigate the 11 percent overall increase in real estate assessments, the adopted budget includes a decrease in the real estate tax to $1.23 per $100 of assessed value.” [City of Falls Church]

It’s Cinco de Mayo — Mostly cloudy, with a high of 67 and low of 56. Sunrise at 6:07 am and sunset at 8:06 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A slide from a county presentation showing where a trail would connect Arlington View to Army Navy Drive (via Arlington County)

Nearly 30 years in the making, the Army Navy Country Club Trail Connector is closer to becoming a reality.

Construction on the long-proposed trail, a design for which has not yet been finalized, is expected to begin in spring 2024, officials say. Work could be completed the following spring, according to a recent county presentation.

The path for cyclists and pedestrians would run from a point near Hoffman-Boston Elementary and 13th Road S., in the Arlington View neighborhood, to Army Navy Drive near the I-395 overpass and the entrance to the club. It would provide a new way to get from Columbia Pike to Pentagon City.

The county is seeking community feedback on two preliminary concepts for the trail, which can be provided through the project’s website.

Final design will be completed in spring 2023, then there will be another opportunity for public feedback. By winter 2023, a contract should be awarded and an official construction timeline will be released, Project Manager Mark Dennis said.

Two preliminary concepts are being considered. One features high walls and a steep trail, which could cost $11 million. The other is defined by stairs and a runnel, and could cost $5 million.

A slide depicting one Army Navy Country Club connector trail concept under consideration, featuring high walls and a steep trail (via Arlington County)

This first concept includes a 10-foot-wide, multi-use trail with a steep, 12% slope centered between retaining walls. The walls would run approximately 16 feet apart, and could be up to 16 feet in height.

Further design of Concept 1 would have to address the transition at Memorial Drive — the connector road leading to the club — where cyclists would have limited visibility to react to vehicular traffic.

Dennis compared the high walls and steep trail concept to the Custis Trail, which also has a 12% slope in some sections, he said.

“Any users out there who have taken the Custis Trail, you know what this feels like, it’s a great workout for those who are up to it,” he said. “It can be a little bit of a challenge for people who are just out for a simple walk or just want to get from A to B and not have such a vigorous bike ride.”

The second concept is a series of stairs and landings to manage the steep slope, and would feature a runnel, or wheel channel, for bicycles that could also accommodate strollers or carts.

A slide showing the concept for the Army Navy Country Club trail that features stairs and a runnel (via Arlington County)

Several people raised concerns about accessibility for both concepts. Neither design features a winding, gradual slope, but the county has to work with what it’s got, Dennis said.

“The country club has very carefully considered our previous requests to expand the easement to grant more easement and they have respectfully declined,” Dennis said. “We are limited by the easement that we have and we have sufficient easement to accommodate concepts like the two I’ve presented.”

Those who have followed the project’s iterations may notice the easement’s shape has changed. After Arlington public safety officials rejected the emergency access road idea that was originally part of the project, the path’s endpoint near Hoffman-Boston shifted from S. Queen Street to the other side of the school, near the tennis and basketball courts, Dennis said.

Dennis said the project won’t be “all things to all people,” but the narrow, steep property will probably draw a “sort of self-selecting group of users,” he said.

“We hope it’ll be accessible for anyone who can climb stairs, we hope to be accessible for anyone who rides most kinds of bikes,” he said. “But we’re going to look at that very carefully in design and try our best to accommodate the broadest range of potential users.”

The project has been discussed since the early 90s and overcome many hurdles, including obtaining an easement from the country club, a resulting lawsuit from club members, the elimination of the emergency service road, and delays due to funding constraints.

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VDOT is not turning back on its recommendation to lower the elevated parts of Route 1 in Crystal City, but it is considering new options for separated pedestrian and bike crossings near the Metro station.

The state transportation agency on Thursday provided an update on Phase 2 of its study, which is focused on how to make the “urban boulevard” vision for Route 1 from 12th Street S. to 23rd Street S. a reality.

VDOT unveiled concepts for alternatives to a street-level pedestrian crossing at 18th Street after its recommendation to lower elevated portions of Route 1 drew ire from the community for prioritizing cars over pedestrians.

Four alternatives to the at-grade pedestrian crosswalks at 18th Street S. were presented, including a pedestrian bridge; a more gradual, bicycle-friendly bridge; a tunnel; or an underpass.

While the options incorporate some public feedback, including the tunnel proposed by community group Livability 22202, the state is focused on finding a way to make the at-grade roadway work.

“Everything that happens in the Phase 2 study is really looking from that lens of having made that recommendation already and Phase 2 is really geared towards figuring out the details of how to make that recommendation from Phase 1 work,” said Dan Reinhard, VDOT’s lead project manager for the project.

The first phase of VDOT’s study recommended the elevated portions over 12th, 15th and 18th streets be lowered and Phase 2 examines the feasibility of doing that, what traffic in the area looks like and strategies to reduce vehicular traffic.

A table shows benefits and disadvantages to each of the pedestrian and cyclist options for the Route 1 and 23rd Street S. intersection (via VDOT)

The first alternative to at-grade crossings is a 12-foot-wide pedestrian bridge with stairs and an elevator option. VDOT estimates this would cost $15 million.

The second bridge alternative, at an estimated $32 million, would add more gradual entry points for cyclists on 18th Street S. This option could link with a multimodal trail that the county plans to build near the Crystal City Metro station, said John Martin, with engineering consulting firm Kimley-Horn.

The third concept, a tunnel under Route 1, was informed by Livability 22202, a coalition of the Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands, and Crystal City civic associations. The estimated $43 million tunnel would accommodate both bicyclists and pedestrians, connecting them to the Crystal City shops and the Metro.

The final alternative is a 12-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle underpass. In coordination with building owners of the plaza at the corner of Route 1 and 18th Street S., the tunnel could feature a public space at its east entry. An underpass is estimated to cost between $9 million and $14 million.

VDOT also presented two options to ease navigation of the sometimes chaotic 23rd Street S. intersection.

At 23rd Street S., VDOT imagines windening pedestrian spaces and medians, removing one southbound left turn lane and allowing through traffic in the northbound right turn lane. A second option would also add bike lanes on the west side of 23rd Street S.

A chart of options for improving the Route 1 intersection with 23rd Street S. (via VDOT)

A second public meeting is expected in mid to late June, which will workshop the curb elements of street design and discuss potential relocation of 18th Street bus stops.

A third will be held in September or October and discuss ways to reduce vehicle volumes through Transportation Demand Management strategies. A final meeting will review the findings and recommendations.

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Singer and Savage X Fenty founder Rihanna (photo via Facebook)

When Grammy Award winner Rihanna wanted to open the first D.C. area store for her lingerie brand, the choice of location was obvious: Pentagon City.

Savage X Fenty will be opening this weekend at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall. It’s the brand’s fifth brick-and-mortar location and the first in the Washington region.

The mall location — a block from Amazon’s under-construction HQ2 — affords it both plenty of local shoppers and a steady stream of out-of-town tourists to check out the e-commerce-oriented brand’s fashionable undergarments in person. It will stock items for both women and men, in an Instagrammable setting.

“Leading with innovation and design, the store boasts five distinct rooms – Ripple, Logo, Swirl, Video, and Evergreen – where shoppers are guided through interactive experiences and photo worthy moments, including a one-of-a-kind mannequin wall,” noted a press release. “The brand will also introduce proprietary chrome and lavender mannequins representative of real bodies that were modeled through 3D technology celebrating all body types and furthering its commitment to inclusivity.”

The store will be opening on Saturday.

The press release is below.

Read More

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A grant program is providing cash to local businesses to help with expenses — and offering one day of discounts to those businesses this weekend.

The “Love Local” relief program is giving $100,000 to more than 30 Crystal City and Pentagon City retail shops, salons, and restaurants. The grants are to provide “financial and promotional support covering wages and operator-related expenses.”

The program is a partnership between the National Landing Business Improvement District and the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.

Each business is receiving the same grant amount, a spokesperson said, which works out to about $3,000 apiece.

“As National Landing continues to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, Love Local grants will help our local businesses continue to support their employees while providing our neighbors with important services,” National Landing BID Executive Director Tracy Sayegh Gabriel said in a press release. “We are proud to be a part of this critical initiative and look forward to supporting our local businesses and seeing them thrive.”

The criteria for a business to be selected for the grant money included having a brick and mortar location within the BID’s borders and being open for at least a year.

Additionally, all grant recipients are being asked to participate in this weekend’s “Love Local Day.”

On Saturday, the businesses will be offering exclusive one-day discounts and promotions — from free engraving at Ship’s Hatch to 20% off high-end watches at Real Jewelers to 10-15% discounts at local restaurants like Saigon Saigon.

This is the second year of the grant program. In 2021, the program also handed out nearly $100,000 to 30 local businesses.

The list of the grant recipients is below.

  • Asia Bistro
  • Axis Rehab & Chiropractic
  • Bonsai Grill
  • Commonwealth Joe
  • Coqui Boutique
  • Crystal City Sports Pub
  • Crystal City Wine Shop
  • Enjera Restaurant
  • Extreme Pizza
  • Flowers with Love
  • Freddie’s Beach Bar
  • Frederico Ristorante Italiano
  • Gallery Underground
  • Garden Fantasy
  • Good Stuff Eatery, Crystal City
  • Highline RxR
  • La Bettola Italiano
  • Lily Bubble Tea & Smoothie
  • Mind Your Body Oasis
  • Nail Spa
  • Pentagon City Wine Merchant
  • Potomac Social Tavern
  • Portofino
  • Pure Barre Pentagon City
  • RASA
  • Real Jewelers
  • Saigon Saigon
  • Ship’s Hatch
  • Subway Crystal City Metro
  • Subway Crystal City
  • Synetic Theater
  • The Freshman
  • Urban Thai Restaurant
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