Press Club

A commercial building that looks like a house, but was once a restaurant, is under construction in Ballston.

Owner Arash Hosseinzadeh tells ARLnow the former Sichuan Wok building at 901 N. Quincy Street, which is nestled among large apartment and office towers, will “be converted to a day spa with many great services to offer.”

After the restaurant closed in 2018, the building at 901 N. Quincy Street went on the market in the fall of 2019 for an asking price of $3.2 million. By October 2020, the building was sold for $3 million.

As for a construction timeline, Hosseinzadeh said it all depends on whether back-ordered construction materials, weather and county approval processes cause delays.

“Hopefully, we can have our grand opening for December, [but] this is very approximate,” he said.

Permits suggest that the construction will involve building some sort of an addition.

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It’s a curious sight: a house in the middle of Ballston, in the midst of apartment and office towers.

But it’s not really a house, it’s a commercial building that most recently served as a Chinese restaurant called Sichuan Wok, and thus its fate is of some local interest.

The restaurant closed in 2018 and the property went on the market last fall for $3.2 million. The original listing for the property deemed it an “excellent opportunity for an investor, developer, or user.”

As of June 18, according to county records, the property at 901 N. Quincy Street has a new owner.

A Columbia Pike resident paid $3 million for the 3,000 square foot building and the 5,200 square foot commercial lot on which it sits, according to public records.

It’s not immediately clear what the new owner’s long term plans are for the building, which is configured as a restaurant. But a building permit application suggests that the owner — under the name Roxanna LLC — intends to build an addition and open a spa.

“Alteration of the space with new tenant layout and addition to the existing building for new use of a spa,” the permit application says.

There’s no word on when the work will take place, nor when the spa might eventually open.

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Despite efforts to save it over the past year, House of Steep in Cherrydale is again preparing to close its doors.

The business at 3800 Lee Highway is part tea house and part day spa, letting customers “enjoy a carefully blended pot of tea and a therapeutic foot bath with reflexology” at the same time. It was set to close at the end of 2016 when a long-time customer stepped in, bought it and revived it.

Since then the new owner, Patrick Vaughan, has taken steps to adding in-store events and applying for a license to serve wine. In an email to customers today, published below, Vaughan said it was not enough to make the business work. It is set to close on Saturday, June 23.

Dear Steepers,

What an honor it has been to be a part of the House of Steep community; unfortunately, I’m saddened to announce we will be closing our doors on June 23, 2018.

When I acquired House of Steep in January 2017, my goal was to keep alive this beloved local business and continue to provide a positive community gathering space to relax and enjoy the company of friends and family. While this chapter in the House of Steep saga may seem short-lived, it will forever hold a special place in my heart.

In realizing the on-going financial challenges of the business, we pushed for appropriate changes to our lease agreement, which were temporarily granted by the landlord. However, an agreement on permanent changes could not be attained and effective at the end of the month our lease will be terminated. I want to extend my deepest appreciation for our incredible TEAM who made every possible effort to sustain the business for as long as possible.

My sincerest thank you to you, our many wonderful customers who I have had the opportunity to meet and share time with during the past 18 months. Your support and appreciation for Steep made this an amazing experience that I will always look back on fondly.

We will do our best to honor any outstanding gift cards in the coming weeks and will maintain an inventory on our website while supplies last. Whatever the future holds, keep us in your thoughts, treat yourselves with love and always take time to relax with family and friends. Steep on!

With Love,
Patrick and the TEAm

Photo via House of Steep

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Morning Notes

Sunset from Highview neighborhood (courtesy photo)

Arlington Fighting to Keep, Attract Office Tenants — In the wake of federal cuts and BRAC relocations, Arlington’s office vacancy rate is now as high as 23 percent. Arlington is reportedly fighting to keep the Courthouse-based energy software firm Opower, “which is considering a move to the District to better recruit talent.” Meanwhile, Rosslyn property owner Monday Properties is still searching for a tenant for its new, gleaming 1812 N. Moore Street office tower. [Washington Post]

New Spa Coming to Clarendon — Sterling-based Origins Thai Spa is planning on opening a new location in Arlington. The spa will be located in a 5,000 square foot space next to Sehkraft Beer Garden on the ground floor of the Garfield Park apartment building at 925 N. Garfield Street. [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington No. 4 on ‘Rich and Single’ List — Arlington is again No. 4 on Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Be Rich and Single” list. Arlington’s ranking is unchanged from 2012. [Money]

County Recognizes ‘Outstanding Landscapes’ — The Arlington County Board has recognized four properties “for the quality of their landscaping and the serenity they bring to their neighborhoods.” The properties include Circa restaurant in Clarendon, the Clarendon Square office building, the Avalon Arlington North apartment building on N. Glebe Road, and the Whitmore apartment building on Columbia Pike. [Arlington County]

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Arlington will soon be home to a tea house. House of Steep (3800 Lee Hwy) is moving into one of the retail spaces at the Bromptons at Cherrydale property, which is now known as 3800 Lofts.

The store’s website highlights the calming tea house atmosphere, in which customers can enjoy tea, snacks and sandwiches. Interestingly, spa services will also be offered, with the signature treatment being an aromatherapy foot soak.

So far we only know of one other retailer that’s coming to the building: a Subway sandwich shop.

There’s no official opening date yet, but the website hints that the owners of House of Steep are aiming for June. Until then, customers can purchase items from the store online.

Meanwhile, the building’s management company is applying for a permit for outdoor seating. The seating area would be in front of the building, along Lee Highway.

County staff had previously raised concerns about the outdoor seating plan first put forth in 2003. In addition to trouble with the placement of tree pits, the layout reportedly didn’t provide corridors to the retail entrances and the residential exit stairs.

The plan redesign fixed the issues, so reviewers now recommend the County Board approves the outdoor seating permit at Saturday’s meeting.

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Update at 3:55 p.m. — Bluemercury did open to the public this afternoon, as scheduled.

Clarendon is getting its first store dedicated solely to cosmetics, skincare and scents, plus a spa. Bluemercury is set to open to the public today.

An employee told us if all goes well, the store will open at noon. The store is located at 2855 Clarendon Blvd, where Best Cellars was located until closing last July.

Bluemercury touts its high end beauty products, including what it calls hard to find imports. Unlike other cosmetics stores, the chain also provides spa services such as facials, waxing and massages.

“We love the young professional, young family vibe of the Clarendon neighborhood,” Bluemercury Co-Founder Marla Beck said in a statement.

Spokesman Dan Brashear echoed the excitement, saying the company had been looking for the right location in Arlington for years. The company is based in the District, and the Clarendon store is Bluemercury’s first in Virginia. Brashear said the company is growing rapidly and there’s potential for more Bluemercury stores to open in Northern Virginia.

The store hopes to hold a grand opening celebration in about a month when things settle down, but so far no formal plans have been made.

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