A TedX event in Arlington this fall will feature nine speakers, including a transgender teen, an 11-year-old YouTube vlogger and the founder of a local nonprofit.
TedXArlington is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 3 at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre (1611 N. Kent Street), and tickets are $75. The theme of this year’s conference is “Connectedness.”
“Connectedness means building community through connections and networks. At TEDxArlington, we will explore connectedness from different layered perspectives including family, neighbors, community — even strangers — and from the lens of science, nature, art, technology, culture, history, athletics, work and more,” according to the TedXArlington website.
Each speaker will give a talk or presentation about different topics that all have to do with connectedness.
- Norton Beckerman — The author of “A User’s Guide to a Healthy Brain,” Beckerman will give a talk about cognition and tell the story of how he bounced back from a loss of cognitive function.
- Kristina Dorville — Dorville, the chief of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Education and Awareness branch, will discuss cybersecurity and cyber safety.
- Patricia Funegra — Funegra, the founder of non-profit La Cocina, will talk about creating jobs for minority communities through food.
- Adryann Glenn — Glenn will discuss how he turned his life around after serving three years in jail.
- Lisa Nisenson — Nisenson will look at how transportation connects people.
- Evie Priestman — Priestman will talk about his journey from female to male and the support he received.
- Carolyn Rickard-Brideau — Rickard-Brideau will share how buildings are connected and impact daily physical and mental health.
- Elizabeth Tippens — Tippens will show how she uses her YouTube channel to connect kids and local Arlington businesses.
- John Wanda — Wanda will speak about the Arlington Academy of Hope, which helps children in rural Uganda.
Food truck owners say they saw shorter lines on the first day of Rosslyn’s new zoning pilot program.
The new program, spearheaded by Arlington Economic Development, laid out four dedicated areas for food trucks to park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — 19th Street below N. Lynn Street, Wilson Blvd above Kent Street, N. Pierce Street and Wilson Blvd and N. Nash Street and Wilson Blvd. The new locations didn’t stop Arlington workers and residents from stopping at the food trucks, but owners said they weren’t as busy as usual.
“I know the city tried to make the best,” Arepazone food truck co-owner Ali Arellano said. “They have music, a table and there are a lot of flyers, but at the end of the days, this place is not good for business.”
The music, tents and tables around the food truck zones were provided by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, which is also supporting the zoning effort.
Arellano parked on Wilson Blvd by the Artisphere’s old location and said he noticed that he had fewer customers than when he parked on N. Lynn Street, the main drag for most food trucks. At 12:45 p.m., he had about five customers in line.
“It is better to go to D.C.,” he said. “There are more people, more businesses.”
The four zones do not include any spots on N. Lynn Street and had the effect of spreading the trucks out rather than concentrating them in one location. Arellano said he believes this will hurt business.
“I think it’s not fair for the food trucks to park in other places,” he said. “The trucks should all park in the same row.”
Food trucks are still allowed to park in other spots in Rosslyn, but they will be limited to the time on the parking meters, usually two hours, instead of the extended four hours offered by the program.
When the trucks are together, they act like a food court, where customers have multiple options, including restaurants that also line N. Lynn Street, Arellano said. With the new zones, customers have to walk further to get the same options.
Moving the trucks off N. Lynn Street did have some bonuses, and not just for the businesses.
N. Lynn Street was a bit calmer and less crowded without the line of trucks, said Arlington resident Stephan Guy, who eats at a food truck daily. When the food trucks were all on N. Lynn Street, he said it was chaotic.
“I do know Lynn Street got absolutely crazy with food trucks,” Guy said. He said he understands the reasoning for the zoning plan, but also observed that some lines were shorter than usual.
Habib Seraj, the chef at food truck Fusion Confusion Inc., also saw shorter lines today. The truck was parked on 19th Street in an area with less foot traffic than N. Lynn Street or the Wilson Blvd and Kent Street zone.
However, Seraj was more optimistic and said he thought customers were starting to figure out where they could find the trucks. His only problems with the new zoning program was that cars were parked in some of the zone’s reserved spaces and the meters only ran for two hours.
“As long as they take care of the meters and everything, I’ll be fine,” he said.
Update on Friday, Aug. 14 — Washington Gas crews were on scene digging up the roadway near the manhole this afternoon. (Photos above.)
A manhole cover “blew up” in Rosslyn Thursday afternoon, and Dominion Power is trying to figure out what exactly happened.
The incident happened at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Oak Street around 12:45 p.m. A witness said there was some sort of blast that sent the manhole cover airborne with “flames and everything.”
“[The] cover launched into the air and the flames that shot out were higher than the SUV next to it,” said Elizabeth Denton.
Despite the scary scene, no injuries, damage or power outages were reported.
A Dominion spokesman said the company is investigating but isn’t yet sure what exactly happened to “dislodge” the manhole cover. A fire department spokesman could only confirm that there was a “haze of smoke” in the manhole after the incident.
“We are looking into it,” said Dominion’s Chuck Penn. “We don’t know what the cause was.”
As of around 3:00 Thursday afternoon, four Dominion trucks were parked near the intersection and workers were peering into the hole. One lane of traffic on westbound Wilson Blvd was blocked.
This was the second time in a couple of days that something happened to dislodge the manhole cover, the fire department spokesman said. The first incident this week involved a faulty electrical line, we’re told.
(Updated Aug. 11 at 2 p.m.) The TargetExpress store coming to 1500 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn is now hiring.
Earlier this summer Target confirmed that a 23,000-square-foot store would be coming to Rosslyn, and the company now says the store will open this October.
In addition to a sign outside the new location that announces the company is now hiring, Target will hold a job fair this week from Aug. 13-15 at Hyatt Arlington (1325 Wilson Blvd).
The job fair will run from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day. Target says they are looking to hire roughly 60 new employees.
The store is slated to include an in-house Starbucks and a pharmacy, and will also carry groceries, prepared foods and clothing.
Comedian Kevin Hart ran an impromptu 5K through part of Arlington this morning.
The funnyman is in town as part of his “What Now” standup tour, which is at Verizon Center for a second performance tonight.
Hart organized the 5K with sponsor Nike and quickly gathered about 1,500 participants, who began running just past 7:30 a.m.
The route took runners from Georgetown, over the Key Bridge, through a small slice of Rosslyn, before getting on the Mt. Vernon Trail and taking the Roosevelt Bridge back to D.C.
Arlington County Police were reportedly only made aware of the 5K while it was going on.
— Chris Chërn (@dcitty) August 7, 2015
Secret Chopsticks, a contemporary Chinese restaurant in Rosslyn, may open its doors by the end of September.
The new restaurant, which sits along N. Fort Myer Drive on the lower ground floor of the Turnberry Towers building, is currently under construction, according to general manager Robin Li.
Construction and permit issues caused the restaurant to delay its opening, he said. It was originally planned to open last summer.
Once opened, the restaurant will have 120 seats inside along with outdoor seating. Li said the restaurant is still waiting to get the permit for outdoor seating.
The restaurant will be different than a typical Chinese restaurant that serves “Americanized” Chinese food, Li said. Instead, the restaurant will feature contemporary Chinese cooking.
“Whatever they are cooking in China now, we are going to cook,” he said.
The restaurant will also focus on high quality service, making the restaurant more of a sit down restaurant than a takeout place. It will also have its own wine list, Li said.
“There are a lot of differences between this restaurant and other Chinese restaurants,” he said.
In 2008, Osiris Hoil was working as a superintendent for Patriot Contracting, the construction company that is building the new District Taco in Rosslyn and has built locations in Alexandria and Dunn Loring — which is celebrating its grand opening today.
The company originally hired Hoil despite his lack of construction experience because of his “can do” attitude and work ethic, said Jeff McGee, the co-owner of Patriot Contracting. The company struggled during the 2008 financial crisis, however, and Hoil was laid off.
“When I got laid off, I was very sad and I asked if I could stay on payroll, sweeping floors,” Hoil said. His wife was pregnant at the time and he needed the health insurance.
Laying off Hoil was one of the toughest days McGee has experienced on the job.
“I walked away crying,” he said.
Laying Hoil and the other employees left its mark on the company. McGee vowed that the company will stay small in order to avoid ever laying someone off again.
Undaunted by the adversity of losing a job during a major economic downturn, Hoil went on to start his original District Taco cart in 2009. He had a passion for cooking and his family’s recipes — and they turned out to be a hit.
That first cart eventually spawned a second, and then a brick and mortar restaurant followed on Lee Highway. That in turn led to what is now a growing regional chain. And when Hoil started building additional restaurants, he ultimately returned to Patriot Contracting, this time as a client.
“Instead of being angry about what they did, I’m right next to them saying let’s try this again,” Hoil said. He says he signed a multimillion dollar contract with Patriot because the company has good people and the owners get involved in the project.
The construction company has built two new stores and remodeled one of the existing locations, McGee said. It is currently working on the Rosslyn location.
“We really enjoy working with him [Hoil], and we’re proud of what he’s done,” McGee said.
Hoil is also eying Bailey’s Crossroads in Virginia and the Tenleytown neighborhood in D.C. for two more restaurants, he said. Hoil says he also wants to expand into Maryland, possibly in College Park. The company currently has 270 employees.
The new District Taco in Rosslyn will be located at 1500 Wilson Blvd, next to the future TargetExpress store. Both are expected to open this fall.
D.C. Beer Week is less than two weeks away and one of its most popular events will take place in Arlington.
Local brewery DC Brau and Quarterdeck Restaurant (1200 Fort Myer Drive) are partnering to put on the “Fourth Annual D.C. Beer Week Crab Fest” on Monday, Aug. 10 from 5-10 p.m.
The fest is being billed as “the event of D.C. Beer Week,” and promises all-you-can-eat Mid-Atlantic crab, $1 DC Brau on draft and pitchers of DC Brau for $5.
Tickets cost $45, and are available online.
“$1 Drafts? $5 Pitchers? They must be insane!!!” says the festival web page. “Yes, they are! Insane with our craving for these colorful crustaceans!!! Eat til your [sic] full.”
Although the crab fest is the only event in Arlington, Beer Week has events planned for the D.C. Metro area from Aug. 9-16. The schedule kicks off with a beer tasting in Northeast on Sunday, Aug. 9. Next comes the crab fest in Arlington on Monday, followed by a beach party at the National Building Museum on Tuesday, Aug. 11.
Finally, the week-long celebration of beer rounds out with two weekend events in Dupont: a beer-tasting hosted by Devil’s Backbone Brewery on Saturday, Aug. 15 and a “beer scavenger hunt” on Sunday, Aug. 16.
Potbelly has leased a 2,525 square foot space, according to Liz Wainger, a spokeswoman for real estate firm CBRE. An opening date has not been decided, she said.
There’s no word yet on which storefront Potbelly will occupy. There are at least three vacant or soon-to-be-vacant ground floor retail locations in the building:
- The former FroZenYo frozen yogurt shop, which recently closed
- The Wilson Florist shop, which had a moving sale sign outside today
- A retail bay between Chop’t and the building lobby
The new store will be the third Potbelly in Arlington. The company also has a location by the Ballston Metro and in Crystal City.
CBRE’s D.C.-based retail leasing team tweeted out the news about Potbelly’s lease on behalf of Beacon Capitol Partners, a real-estate firm in Arlington.
(Updated on July 28 at noon)A group of protesters, including students, teachers and members of advocacy group Higher Ed, Not Debt, chanted and waved signs outside of the Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn this morning.
The demonstration was held while for-profit college ITT Technical Institute held its annual shareholders meeting inside. The approximately 20-person protest group received honks from passing cars as they shouted complaints about how ITT Tech handles its marketing, course credit, loans and executive compensation.
“ITT what the Hell? Your CEOs should go to jail,” protesters chanted at the cars driving into Arlington from Key Bridge.
ITT Tech’s marketing promises students a sought-after degree and transferable course credits, but this is not always the case, said former ITT Tech student Anthony Byrd. Byrd attended ITT Tech in 2011 in order to get course credits he needed to attend Drexel University. However, when he called Drexel, he found out that his credits did not transfer.
Other students often leave ITT Tech only to find their degrees don’t count for much or that their credits are only transferable to another for-profit college, Byrd said. ITT Tech does say that the transferability of credits is at the sole discretion of the institution receiving the credits.
“I think a lot of students who attend ITT have no idea what’s going on until after they graduate,” Byrd said. He ended up leaving ITT Tech, but he still has debt for his time there, he said.
ITT Tech has a problem with students defaulting on student loans, with more students defaulting on loans than graduating at many of the ITT campuses, said Maggie Thompson, the campaign manager for Higher Ed, Not Debt.
ITT Tech CEO Kevin Modany spoke with Bryd at the protest, but Thompson said it is important that the shareholders pay attention. Shareholders are able to pressure the school into giving more support to students, reducing executive pay and focusing less on advertising.
“We really feel the schools needs to stop investing in executive compensation and more in students and teaching,” she said.
ITT Tech is not the only for-profit school where there are problems with loans and transferring credits, said Dahn Shaulis, an adjunct teacher at Burlington County College. Shaulis researches for-profit colleges and has found there are multiple instances where students end up defaulting on loans or cannot use the degrees they earned.
“These students have been defrauded,” he said. “They were lied to.”
This morning’s protest was also supported by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the group Student Debt Action and the Center for American Progress.
ITT Tech Vice President of Government Affairs Nicole Elam said that the protests are often staged with recruited protesters. ITT Tech has lowered its tuition and increased scholarships to help address debt problems, she said.
“We believe these protests are staged and have nothing to do with providing accurate information to students or shareholders about the debt or success of our students,” Elam said.
ITT, Modany and another executive were charged with fraud in May, with federal regulators alleging that the company hid the poor performance of student loan programs from shareholders.
The Rosslyn of the future is envisioned to be more walkable, more dynamic and more green with the County Board’s approval of the Rosslyn Sector Plan and Western Rosslyn Area Plan (WRAP). However, with the approval comes the loss of open space from Rosslyn Highlands Park, which left some residents frustrated with the County Board’s process.
The County Board unanimously approved both plans after hearing resident and staff concerns. Residents generally supported the new sector plan, focused primarily on areas around the Rosslyn Metro station. The Western Rosslyn plan focused on the area around Fire Station #10, up the hill on Wilson Blvd.
It was the Western Rosslyn plan — which calls for a new fire station to be built by a developer, which is in turn building a mixed-use office and residential complex next to it — that attracted the most opposition.
“It is a shame that we felt we needed to pay for the fire station with public land, such an irreplaceable asset, especially here,” said resident Stuart Stein, who was involved with the WRAP study. “This has been an unfortunate process, but it is time to pass this plan.”
The lack of energy from the previously vocal WRAP opponents was reflected in the County Board’s responses. Although they all voted to approve the plan, Vice Chair Walter Tejada said that he came out of the vote “with a sense of resignation, almost, about the open space angle particularly.”
“We do need to move forward, but it really is a good lesson learned,” he said. “We just can’t let this happen again.”
With the Rosslyn Sector Plan, Board members were more enthusiastic.
“It’s been a bit of a marathon, but I think it was a good conversation and I think we have a plan that will work for all of us,” Chair Mary Hynes said.
Under the Rosslyn Sector Plan, the neighborhood will get a new open-air Metro entrance, Fort Myer Drive, Lynn Street and Wilson Boulevard will become two-way streets and the county will create a new esplanade that runs along Rosslyn’s eastern edge, connected to the Mt. Vernon Trail via a new pedestrian bridge. It also calls for a corridor along an extended 18th Street, which is envisioned as “a new central spine for Rosslyn.”
Green space has been a big concern for residents under both plans. The Rosslyn Sector Plan calls for a new park and redesign of existing parks, but residents fear that these are empty promises.
“Whether that green space really is developed in the amount that is projected is a question,” Rosslyn resident Diane Gorman said during public comment at yesterday’s recessed County Board meeting.
Parks and Recreation commission member Caroline Haynes urged the County Board members to make sure that plans for open space in Rosslyn were followed, adding that there are limited parks in the neighborhood.
“If we overbuild Rosslyn to the detriment of open space, views and daylight, the built environment will never reestablish those features,” Haynes said. “This plan represents the long-term view for Rosslyn, and should look to achieve long term value for the entire sector, not just for individual land owners and their interests.”
While the Rosslyn Sector Plan looks to create more open space and redesign existing Freedom and Gateway Parks, the Western Rosslyn plan will shrink Rosslyn Highlands Park to rebuild the fire station, a move that prompted residents to rally in protest, pleading with the County Board to save the park.
Under the plan, the county would take away 3,000 to 7,000 square feet of land from the park to allow for the fire station expansion and the Wilson School will be replaced with a larger, 775-seat secondary school building. However, the plan also calls for a 9,000 square foot park to be built across the street at the Queens Court affordable housing complex, which is slated for redevelopment.
The six-month pilot program may prove to be an answer to the ongoing conflict between food trucks and restaurants about where the trucks choose to park.
Restaurant owners in the county’s Metro corridors have claimed that the food trucks’ practice of parking in front of their restaurants has seriously impacted their business, and a group of restaurant owners in Courthouse recently even formed a coalition to lobby for food truck parking restrictions.
The Arlington Economic Development office spearheaded the project in consultation with the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, local restaurants, food trucks, residents and other stakeholders. For now, the pilot will be limited to Rosslyn, with the possibility of extending the project to other areas of the county once its success has been evaluated.
The pilot will set aside 19 parking spaces in Rosslyn for food trucks, for four hours during the day. Between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m on weekdays, only food trucks will be allowed to park in these spaces. Currently, food trucks are not permitted to stay in a parking space for more than two hours, and some have said that they struggle to set up and do business within that time frame, especially given the competition for such prime parking.
The reserved parking spaces are spread among four zones in Rosslyn, which were decided by AED: on 19th Street below Lynn Street, along Wilson Blvd above N. Kent Street, at the intersection of N. Nash Street and Wilson Blvd and on N. Pierce Street along Wilson Blvd. Notably, there is no reserved food truck parking on N. Lynn Street, Rosslyn’s main drag, which is where most food trucks currently park.
BID President Mary-Claire Burick says she hopes these reserved parking zones with extended time limits will give the trucks increased flexibility, but emphasized that trucks will still be free to park in other spaces.
“This is not a limiting project,” said Burick.”This is to expand and make it easier for them to be successful in these other areas.”
At the County Board meeting on Saturday, July 18, AED’s Jill Griffin told the Board that the success of the project would be evaluated over time, but the outcome is likely to be clear within three months of the pilot’s launch.
“We think we’ll be seeing if it works or doesn’t work very quickly,” said Griffin.
The BID will also be involved in evaluating the pilot. Burick said they were very interested in incorporating feedback, and while reports from the food trucks would be their “first barometer” as to the project’s success, BID members also planned to reach out and hear feedback from consumers.
“We’ll be out and we’ll be listening, and we’ll be incorporating that feedback with the County,” said Burick.
Burick said the BID has plans in the works for a week of kick-off celebrations once the pilot launches, including musical performances, contests and other promotions.
Photo courtesy Rosslyn BID
More on Texas Jack’s BBQ — Texas Jack’s Barbecue, which is replacing the former Tallula and EatBar in Lyon Park, will be helmed by a pair of Hill Country BBQ vets. The 145-seat restaurant will also have a 26-seat patio. It will serve meats that are smoked on site and plans to remain open until 2 a.m. seven days a week. [Washingtonian]
CEO’s $3.7 Million Rosslyn Condo — Gracia Martore, the former CEO of Gannett and current CEO of the newspaper company’s broadcast and digital spinoff, Tegna, has purchased a condo in Rosslyn for $3.65 million. The 4,447 square foot condo in Turnberry Tower (1881 N. Nash Street) features a 900 square foot outdoor balcony with sweeping views of D.C. [Washington Business Journal]
Police Chief Prioritizes Community Engagement — New Arlington Police Chief Jay Farr says he will make community engagement one of his top priorities. Farr plans to “realign how we do business a little bit,” adding more interaction with residents, he told the local Kiwanis Club. [InsideNova]
Arlington Arts Center Director Departs — Stefanie Fedor, executive director of the Arlington Arts Center, is leaving her position next month to head the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. AAC’s Director of Exhibitions will take over as Acting Executive Director while the organization’s board searches for Fedor’s permanent replacement. [Patch]
Rosslyn Employer Leaving for D.C. — The American Psychiatric Association, currently based at 1000 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, has signed a lease at The Wharf project on the Southwest D.C. waterfront. The association has about 250 employees. It is expected to move in 2017. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi
Rep. Beyer Holding Taylor Swift Fundraiser — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is holding a fundraiser with 15-20 guests at tonight’s Taylor Swift concert in D.C. The National Journal says Beyer is “Congress’ biggest Taylor Swift fan.” The Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans pounced on that headline for a punny press release. “When it comes to the national debt and big government regulations, Millennials want to ‘shake it off,'” the AFCYRs wrote. [National Journal, AFCYR]
Arlington Appoints DHS Director — Arlington County Dept. of Human Services deputy director Anita Friedman is getting a promotion. Friedman has been appointed as head of the department by Acting County Manager Mark Schwartz, less than two weeks after Schwartz took over for now-retired County Manager Barbara Donnellan. [Arlington County]
Rosslyn Metro Center Building Sold — The 22-story office building atop the Rosslyn Metro station has sold for $180 million. Rosslyn Metro Center, located at 1700 N. Moore Street, may be due for renovations following the sale. [Washington Business Journal]
Washingtonian Lauds ARLnow — ARLnow.com, along with its sister sites Borderstan, Hill Now and Reston Now, have been honored as the “Best News Blogs” in the D.C. area by Washingtonian. “Obsessive (but not mind-numbing) reporting on communities paid off,” the magazine said of our company’s expansion. Thank you to the staff of Washingtonian for this honor. [Washingtonian]
Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk
Arlington County has started running a new video series on its local cable TV and YouTube channels.
As the county works to shrink its high office vacancy rate — it was recently reported to be 21 percent — Arlington TV has started featuring “awesome offices.”
In a video released last week, Jessica Miller, co-chair of Arlington Economic Development’s Arlington Real Estate Group, leads viewers on a tour of LMO Advertising, which is based at 1776 Wilson Blvd, between the Rosslyn and Courthouse Metro stations.
LMO, the largest advertising agency in the D.C. area and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Business of the Year, has the kind of light, airy and amenity-filled office one might expect of a creative agency or a tech company.
Among the notable features:
- Game room with Xboxes and ping pong tables
- In-house, sound-proof studio
- 3-D printer
- Standing desks
- Star Trek-themed conference rooms
- Green roof and rooftop patio with Wi-fi
Scott Laughlin, co-founder of the agency, said that there’s an economic argument for putting ping pong tables, autographed guitars and video game consoles in a work environment. It comes down to building a collaborative, team environment.
“You don’t need an office to do the work we do anymore,” he said. “What you do need is a home, a place where people want to come and be and spend time with others.”