Arlington, VA

A new development that will build new housing in Rosslyn while renovating one of the region’s oldest hotels got the green light from the Arlington County Board over the weekend.

The board approved the redevelopment of the Key Bridge Marriott site by a 4-0 vote. The project will include the renovation of the hotel — one of Marriott’s earliest hotels, which first opened in 1959 — as well as the construction of three new 16-story residential buildings, with about 300 rental apartments and 150 condo units.

With the site perched above the Potomac River, near Key Bridge, many of the new homes will have enviable views of the river and D.C.

The project also includes the construction of two new street segments, as well as the contribution of land and funding for a new public park.

More from an Arlington County press release:

The aging Key Bridge Marriott hotel at 1401 Lee Highway will be partially demolished and renovated, and three new residential buildings will be added to the site under a plan approved by the County Board.

“This plan adds much-needed housing in Rosslyn, new public open space and a major renovation of the Marriott Hotel, greatly enhancing the aesthetics and functionality of this highly visible site in Rosslyn,” Board Chair Libby Garvey said.

The Board voted 4-0 to approve the redevelopment plan. […]

In addition to renovating the hotel’s 445 rooms, developer KBLH, LLC, will build three 16-story residential buildings, with a total of 451 units, on the 5.5-acre site on the north side of Lee Highway. One of the new buildings is expected to offer rental apartments and the other two are planned as condominiums. The modernized hotel’s new façade will face Lee Highway and Gateway Park.

The plan, which evolved significantly before and during the public review process, also calls for two new streets that will connect with an esplanade open to the public on the north end of the site, accessible to pedestrians and cyclists but not cars. The esplanade will offer views of the Potomac River and Georgetown and connect to the bike path leading to Key Bridge. A crescent-shaped park will be built on the site’s Fort Myer Drive frontage and will provide an improved bicycle and pedestrian path to Key Bridge. Most of the park is on National Park Service property and will require federal approval for improvements.

The developer has committed to achieving LEED Gold certification for the residential buildings and LEED Silver for the hotel and will install ENERGY STAR and WaterSense appliances. Among other community benefits, the developer would contribute land for a new public park on the site, fronting on Fort Myer Drive, $870,075 to help plan and build the park, and a contribution of $1.75 million to the County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund.

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(Updated 1:30 p.m.) Fledgling media production company WBITN is moving into a Rosslyn condo building basement after approval at an Arlington County Board meeting on Saturday.

The approval allows WBITN — which stands for We Build It New — to move into a 4,172 square foot audio-visual studio on the lower level of the River Place South complex (1011 Arlington Blvd). The arrangement includes 15 parking spaces.

In a video tour, Chief Editor Diane Kim said the new studio will include two TV studios, photography studios, a DIY studio, a video editing room and audio room, and a room for hair and makeup.

“Great things are coming for WBITN,” Kim said. “Thanks for watching and I’ll see you here.”

The item was approved as part of the Board’s consent agenda with no objections or discussion.

Photo via WBITN/Facebook

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Morning Notes

APS Expands Grab and Go Meal Locations — “Beginning Wed, March 25, APS will expand the number of sites that provide free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to five locations to better reach families. Meals will be set up outside the building for distribution from 11 a.m.to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday.” The new locations are Barrett, Campbell and Randolph elementary schools. [Arlington Public Schools]

Massage Therapist Charged with Assault — “At approximately 6:31 p.m. on March 9, police were dispatched to the late report of an assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 3:00 p.m. on March 7, the victim was receiving a massage when she was allegedly inappropriately touched by the suspect. Following an investigation by the Special Victims’ Unit, a warrant for Assault and Battery.” [Arlington County]

Rosslyn Launches Restaurant Support Program — “The Rosslyn BID is… launching #RosslynRewards, a program to support Rosslyn restaurants that are still operating during these uncertain times. When you order takeout or delivery from participating Rosslyn restaurants and share on social media with the hashtag #RosslynRewards, the BID will give you a $10 reward for every $20 you spend.” [Press Release]

ART Bus Rides Now Free — “Starting Tuesday, March 24, Arlington Transit bus riders will enter and exit all ART buses using the rear doors only. Customers who require the use of a wheelchair ramp can still enter the bus through the front door. ART will also be suspending fare collection on all ART buses since the farebox is located at the front door.” The ART changes mirror those implemented by Metro today. [Arlington Transit]

Signature Cancels Performances — “In response to guidance from the CDC and state and local authorities, Signature Theatre has made the decision to close its doors to the public through the beginning of June.” [Press Release]

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Morning Notes

Man Arrested After Door Incident at DCA — “A passenger on a flight operated by Frontier Airlines was taken into custody at Reagan National Airport Saturday, after allegedly using the emergency slide to exit the airplane, officials said.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Metrobus Rides Are Free, For Now — “To help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, Metrobus riders will be required to board using the rear doors and will not have to tap their fare cards, according to a letter sent to employees Sunday.
The change, which begins Tuesday, means rides essentially are free.” [Washington Post]

Don’t Flush Wipes Down the Toilet — From Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey: “Do NOT put wipes, paper towels etc in the toilet! They severely damage water treatment.” [Twitter, CNN]

County Trying to Help Small Businesses — “To mitigate some of the challenges and hardships experienced by small businesses as a result of COVID-19 related closures and modifications, Arlington County is finding new ways to reach out to business owners with counsel, resources and other options.” [Arlington County]

County Offers Help with Utility Bills — “If you are struggling to pay a County utility bill (water/sewer/refuse) at this time, please call the DES Customer Contact Center at 703-228-5000, Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You may be eligible for special payment arrangements without accrual of additional late fees.” [Twitter]

Coronavirus Fraud Task Force Formed — “In response to the increased threat of fraud presented by the coronavirus, federal and Virginia state law enforcement leaders announced today the formation of the Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force.” [Press Release]

Marymount Mulls Commencement Alternatives — “This Wednesday, Marymount University announced to students, faculty and staff that the online-only class period that started this week will be extended through the end of the spring semester, including final exams. It was also decided that the traditional commencement ceremonies scheduled for May 2020 would be canceled.” [Press Release]

Overnight Lane Closures in Rosslyn — “N Lynn St, SB Lee Hwy and the ramps to and from I-66 in Rosslyn will see overnight work requiring lane closures or full closures Mon night 3/23 – Thu night 3/26 in relation to the Lynn St Esplanade project.” [VDOT, Twitter]

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) A new French pastry shop is coming to Rosslyn this spring or summer, pandemic allowing.

In an era before social distancing and talk of quarantines, signs went up in the former Bean Good Coffee Pub space (1737 Wilson Blvd.) at the Colonial Village Shopping Center for Eclairons, a new cafe and bakery.

Signs in the window say the new restaurant will operate as a pastry shop, espresso bar and cafe serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The location is a spin-off of the Pastry Xpo Cafe in the Mosaic District in Fairfax. Staff at Pastry Xpo said that work is still ongoing inside Eclairons and the restaurant is not expected to open for “another few months.”

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Morning Notes

More Signs of Coronavirus Preps — Emptier shelves at local grocery stores, less traffic on the roads: there are signs that locals are taking the coronavirus threat seriously. During the first hour of yesterday’s evening rush hour, traffic on I-395 was relatively light. Last night, there was barely any canned soup left on the shelves at the Lee-Harrison Harris Teeter. [Twitter, Twitter]

Some Churches Close, Others Announce Changes — Episcopal churches in the D.C. area have suspended worship services, while the Catholic Diocese of Arlington announced a series of measures intended to help prevent the spread of disease. [Washington Post, Press Release]

Events Are Being Cancelled in Arlington — “Out of an abundance of caution, the Rosslyn BID has decided to cancel our Arts & Beats series this March and April. We are hoping to run these events later this year and we will be evaluating future events on a case-by-case basis.” [Twitter]

Arlington Conferences Cancelled — “Code for America was scheduled to host its annual summit at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, from March 11 through 13. A Code for America spokesperson told Technical.ly that this would have been the first time the nonprofit was hosting the annual summit in the D.C. area, as it normally takes place in San Francisco. Code for America release a statement on Friday announcing the summit’s cancellation.” [Technically DC]

Local Real Estate Still Hot, Though — “Listing service Bright MLS said closed sales throughout the Washington metro area were up 13% from a year ago to a 10-year high… In Arlington County, Virginia, the median overall price of what sold was $635,000, up 12.4%. But the median price of a stand-alone house that sold in Arlington last month was $1.14 million, up 19.2% from last February.” [WTOP]

Arlington Works on Tree Preservation — “It’s not just housing affordability and increased traffic Arlington County officials are concerned about in the wake of Amazon.com Inc.’s arrival. They’re also watching out for the trees. County officials are proposing to add one urban forester position to the Department of Parks and Recreation. The new hire is needed to expand tree preservation efforts and work through the surge of site plans developers are pitching in the area of Amazon’s HQ2.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

This Week’s Crystal City Garage Races Postponed — “Attention garage racers and friends: Tomorrow’s Crystal City races are postponed. We are operating with an abundance of caution after an employee of a tenant in the 201 12th St. S. complex was quarantined because of COVID-19. The complex common areas were cleaned and disinfected, today, but we are holding off before racing again.” [Facebook]

Deep Clean for Rosslyn-Based News Outlet — “Politico has asked several reporters who covered CPAC to self-quarantine over coronavirus concerns. It’s also sanitizing/disinfecting its office.” [Washingtonian, Twitter]

Winter is Over, Unofficially — “Winter was barely perceptible in Washington this year, and now, we can put a fork in it. We see no more potential for enduring cold or substantial snowfall. Spring is here.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Whitlow’s Rooftop Opens — “Rooftop opens for the season tonight at 5 p.m.! How’s that for a Monday?” [Twitter]

Neighborhood College Applications Open — “Learn how to become a neighborhood advocate and effect change through Arlington County’s free Neighborhood College program, which will meet on eight consecutive Thursday evenings beginning April 23.” [Arlington County]

Developers Pitch in to Help Housing Nonprofit — “Absent a budget from a central housing authority, APAH ‘can’t afford not to’ maintain solid relationships with developers — who donate, serve on its board and train future APAH staffers. ‘We’re blessed by their generosity,’ Janopaul says, citing Arlington builders Tim Naughton of AvalonBay Communities Inc., John Shooshan of the Shooshan Co. and Andy VanHorn at JBG Smith.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Photo courtesy Josh Folb

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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. Monday Properties is proudly featuring a rare leasing opportunity at 1101 Wilson Blvd: 5 contiguous floors with exceptional views, building signage opportunity and brand new amenities. Enjoy all the perks of easy access and ample parking; a variety of food trucks at your front door; and enviable walkable amenities. Join YEXT and other leading tech companies at this vibrant location.

Rosslyn-based tech startup DeepSig recently raised $5 million to help develop artificial intelligence that can effectively integrate with 5G wireless systems.

“The additional funding will accelerate DeepSig’s AI and machine learning (ML) software development and deployment to improve performance and security while reducing power consumption and cost in 5G and other wireless systems,” the company said in a press release.

The company aims to build its AI from the ground up to focus around 5G coverage, rather than adapting decades-old algorithms. DeepSig says its software will be able to detect the local coverage conditions and “improve user data rates and dramatically reduce the amount of hardware and hence power.”

The new funding also shows that the company has caught the eye of some local military contractors, with some of the investment coming from Lockheed Martin Ventures, the venture arm of aerospace contractor Lockheed Martin.

“The advanced technology developed by DeepSig can optimize communications within a wide spectrum environment,” said Chris Moran, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures. “Applying deep learning and artificial intelligence to the application of real-time signal processing is an impressive capability. We are pleased to be a part of this endeavor and work to integrate the software into programs.”

Photo via @deepsignl/Twitter

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An Arlington resident has produced a new documentary about the mesmerizing world of synchronized skating.

Life in Synchro,” partly filmed at the MedStar Capitals IcePlex in Ballston, will be screened locally at the DC Independent Film Festival on Saturday, March 7. Rosslyn resident Nicole Davies produced the film while fellow American University alum Angela Pinaglia directed it.

The female-dominated sport, in which teams of eight to 20 skaters perform formations and step sequences in-sync to music, is little-known to most people, the filmmakers said. When Pinaglia was doing research for the film, she could not find any previous documentaries or films based on synchronized skating.

We talked with both filmmakers about the documentary and the sport.

How did you get involved in the project? 

Nicole: I have been a synchronized skater since I was nine years old. Angela and I met at American University and we were working together for the school communication summer program. I was always talking about synchronized skating and Angela didn’t really care until about three years ago. Angela saw it for the first time in Arlington. She realized then when she saw it how special it was.

Angela: When you’re in the ice rink you can literally feel a wall of wind as sixteen skaters are skating past you on the ice, so it’s a very immersive experience. I turned to Nicole afterwards and I said this is really cool, [and that] we should do a documentary.

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The redevelopment of the Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn will come with some changes to the local streetscape.

The plan is to redevelop the current site into three separate buildings: a condominium building, a hotel, and an apartment building.

N. Nash and N. Meade Streets are proposed to be extended north through the site to help separate and provide better accessibility to the three buildings.

“The development proposal calls for the establishment of two new street sections to serve the new residences and the existing hotel,” a county staff report said. “Both streets will intersect with Lee Highway in approximately the same locations as current driveways used to access the Marriott Hotel.”

The new streets are scheduled to be considered at the upcoming Saturday, Feb. 22 County Board meeting.

Though built for use primarily by the private development, the new streets would be accessible to the public. Part of the staff report included some insight into the behind-the-scenes discussions that go into naming streets.

The development has proposed to name the two streets Potomac Lane and River View Lane. Since 1932, Arlington County has had a street naming system in place and has used that system for all new street additions. To avoid public confusion, staff recommends that all new publicly accessed streets should be named in accordance with the County’s street naming system. The western-most of the two new streets will connect to Lee Highway at the location of North Nash Street and therefore should also be named North Nash Street. According to the Arlington street naming system, the eastern-most of the new streets should have a single-syllable name that begins with the letter “M.” There are two single-syllable “M” street names currently in use in the County system, they are “Moore” and “Meade”. Based upon the new street’s proposed physical location, Meade is the more appropriate name as there already is an intersection of Lee Highway and North Moore Street elsewhere in Rosslyn.

In addition to the new condo and apartment buildings, the development plan calls for demolishing part of the existing, 582-room hotel and remodeling it into a 449-room hotel. The Key Bridge Marriott is the second Marriott ever built and the company’s longest continuously operating hotel; the first was the former Twin Bridges Marriott Motor Hotel near Crystal City.

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Students who attend the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program and the Shriver Program, at the new Heights Building in Rosslyn, are staying home today.

The building is closed, Arlington Public Schools said in an email to families (below), after a contractor accidentally broke a sprinkler line, causing the library, gymnasium and some classrooms to flood. The closure may stretch into Wednesday if repairs and cleanup from the water damage are not completed in time.

APS plans to notify families by 6 p.m. tonight whether school will be back in session tomorrow.

The $100 million building opened just in time for the start of the school year this past September. More from APS:

The Heights Building, including H-B Woodlawn, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Program and administrative offices, will be closed Tuesday, February 18, due to an accidental break in a sprinkler line caused by a contractor performing work on Monday. The break caused water damage in the library, gymnasium and adjacent classrooms. Repairs and clean-up are in progress. Unless otherwise directed, essential personnel should report to work at their scheduled time on Tuesday, and custodians should report to work at 6 a.m. Extracurricular activities, games, team practices, field trips and other scheduled activities for H-B Woodlawn and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Program at The Heights Building are also cancelled. We apologize for the inconvenience and will keep families informed of the status. Families will be notified by 6 p.m. on Tuesday regarding the operating status for Wednesday, February 19.

Update at 4:30 p.m. — The building and the programs will remain closed on Wednesday, Arlington Public Schools just announced.

Hat tip to anonymous. Photo via Arlington County.

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