The theater signed a lease extension for its space at 1800 S. Bell Street through “late 2022,” according to a press release from property owner JBG Smith.
The building is one of several in the neighborhood that will likely become home to Amazon’s new headquarters in Arlington, and JBG told the theater’s staff last summer that this season would be its last in the 12,000-square-foot underground space. The developer is planning a host of renovations to the building ahead of Amazon’s arrival, and could even redevelop it entirely once Amazon’s employees move to office space that the company plans to build in Pentagon City.
But it seems JBG and the theater were able to work out an arrangement for Synetic to stay put, at least temporarily. The theater has called the space home since 2010.
“Synetic Theater has been one of National Landing’s leading cultural organizations for nearly a decade, and this agreement ensures that the theater’s work will continue to enrich and inspire the community for years to come,” JBG Smith Executive Vice President Andrew VanHorn said in a statement.
Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili founded Synetic in 1996, but the S. Bell Street space was the theater’s first permanent home. It’s one of a dwindling number of performing arts space left in the county, and arts advocates had initially been quite concerned that the rising real estate prices driven by Amazon’s arrival would force Synetic to go elsewhere.
“We are excited for Synetic Theater’s role in the future of National Landing,” Paata Tsikurishvili said in a statement, using the moniker crafted for the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard area. “As we continue to captivate audiences from our long-time home at 1800 S. Bell Street, our hope is to be a source of enjoyment to both current residents and those who will be joining National Landing.”
The fate of other businesses in the underground Crystal City Shops is a bit unclear — previous reports have suggested that many have fled the development recently, and others have seen business stagnate.
But the entire area is set to see a host of changes in the coming months, from JBG’s new “Central District” redevelopment project to its efforts to transform an empty office building at 1900 Crystal Drive into new mixed-use space.
Arlington’s Former Row House Ban — Responding to complaints from community leaders who “hoped to preserve Arlington’s then-suburban character,” Arlington County changed its zoning ordinance to ban row houses in 1938. That decision is one factor in the area’s “dramatic undersupply of missing middle housing.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Police Still Searching for Sex Assault Suspect — Arlington County Police are still looking for a man who posed as a maintenance worker and sexually assaulted a woman in her Rosslyn condominium on May 7. “This investigation remains a top priority of the department and detectives continue to follow-up on significant investigative leads,” ACPD said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “Police continue to ask that anyone with information on the identity of the suspect or details surrounding this investigation call 703-228-5050.” [Arlington County]
Review of Synetic’s ‘Hunchback’ — “‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ gives a hyper-creative Washington group a source for one of its most beautifully realized productions,” theater critic Peter Marks writes of the new Synetic Theater production in Crystal City, which runs through June 11. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Four of the five candidates for County Board argued that county government must be easier for small businesses to navigate in order to better encourage economic growth.
With less than two weeks to go until the start of the local Democratic Party’s caucus to determine its nominee, tax relief and helping new businesses were high on the agenda at a forum hosted last night by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce at Synetic Theater in Crystal City.
Peter Fallon said county staff must be less “zealous” in enforcing rules and become more focused on customer service, while Erik Gutshall argued for a wider culture change in county government.
“When you’re that zealous, you don’t have the flexibility of thinking about what you’re trying to do,” Fallon said.
“The culture of ‘get to yes’ doesn’t exist because it doesn’t have a champion,” said Gutshall. “And I want to be that champion.”
Independent Audrey Clement, on the campaign trail ahead of November’s general election in the race to replace retiring Board chair Jay Fisette, said the best way to help small business is to cut taxes.
She criticized the recent 1.5-cent hike in property taxes, and accused the County Board of “basically hoarding money” by keeping tens of millions of dollars in cash reserves.
Clement added that the Board was “bamboozled” on raising taxes by County Manager Mark Schwartz, who was directed to provide a series of budget cuts to halve his proposed tax rate increase from two cents to one.
The cuts to a variety of neighborhood and other programs brought out droves of local residents to oppose them, and the County Board backed off.
Kim Klingler, a Democratic candidate, said putting those 24 projects on the table for cuts was a mistake given their direct impacts on the community.
“That makes it really hard when you have 24 lightning-rods on the table, and then have to talk about cutting taxes,” she said.
Candidates also said that the County Board should do a better job of ensuring residents’ concerns about development are heard, and that decisions on new projects are not, as Gutshall put it, “baked in.”
“If residents are going to participate in the ‘Arlington Way,’ we need to make sure they are heard, and they have clear expectations set for them,” said Klingler.
In Vivek Patil’s absence, his campaign manager Nathan Saxman read a prepared statement arguing for a “green and clean tech economy” focused on innovation and new industries.
“This is an economic model that places Arlington at the epicenter of job creation in the commonwealth,” said Saxman.
The four Democratic candidates will debate next Wednesday at the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s monthly meeting, ahead of May’s caucus.
Sun Gazette Moving HQ to Falls Church — The Sun Gazette newspaper is moving its headquarters from McLean to the city of Falls Church. The paper, which has an Arlington edition and a McLean/Great Falls/Vienna/Oakton edition, has previously, under its current editor, had its headquarters in Dunn Loring, Alexandria and Springfield. [InsideNova]
Review of Synetic’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ — Crystal City-based physical theater company Synetic is performing its unique take on “Sleeping Beauty” through Jan. 8. It has received a laudatory review from Broadway World. “Every mimed motion, from a butterfly alighting on a hand to that fated spinning wheel wound, is flawlessly executed and transports audiences to a place beyond imagination,” the publication wrote. [Broadway World]
Children of Inmates Receive Gifts — The annual “Project Christmas Angel” initiative has distributed more than 1,100 gifts this year to nearly 400 children whose parents will be locked up in the Arlington County jail or in state prisons over the holidays. The project also supports kids who have a parent that was recently released from incarceration. [InsideNova]
Final ‘Around Arlington’ of 2016 — The final episode of the county-produced Around Arlington television segment features updates on the Four Mile Run Valley initiative, humanitarian award winners and plans for 2017. [YouTube]
Post Investigates Chinese Rice Customs — In a follow-up to the saga of the diners who received insults on their bill at Peter Chang’s restaurant in the Lee-Harrison shopping center, the Washington Post has taken a closer look at the rice-serving customs of restaurants in China. Could it be, the Post asks, that the servers were driven to frustration due to erroneous “mansplaining” about rice? [Washington Post]
County Considering Fraud Hotline for the Public — Arlington County staff is considering a proposal to expand the county’s new waste, fraud and abuse hotline, making it open to the public. The hotline is currently set up for county employees. [InsideNova]
Market Common Clarendon Sells for $406 Million — The Market Common Clarendon shopping center and apartment complex has sold for $406 million. The buyers are Florida shopping center developer Regency Centers and Arlington-based real estate investment trust AvalonBay. [Washington Business Journal, WTOP]
County Board Race Donations By ZIP Code — New maps show the percentage breakdown of campaign contributions to Democratic County Board contenders Libby Garvey and Erik Gutsthall, by ZIP code. According to the maps, Garvey is strongest in the north Arlington 22207 ZIP, while Gutshall’s strongest zone is the Crystal City and Pentagon City 22202 ZIP. [Data for Humans]
Review of New Synetic Theater Production — “The action-packed shows of Synetic Theater always have cinematic flair, but the second act of the company’s new ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ takes on surprising storytelling depth. The always-superb fights are accompanied by unexpectedly gripping scenes of high melodrama and even flickers of camp.” [Washington Post]
Summer Reading Becomes Winter Donation — Arlington Public Library staff presented the The Reading Connection with a check for more than $2,400 yesterday morning. The dollar amount represents a $1 donation for each person who completed the library’s 2015 summer reading program. [Arlington Public Library]
Toll Time for I-66? — The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) recommended funding for projects that would bring toll lanes to I-66 and add a second entrance to the Ballston Metro Station, among other developments. [WTOP]
Sneak Peek at Latest Synetic Play –Synetic Theater has chosen a cast for its upcoming wordless performance of Romeo and Juliet. Check out photos of the performance, which will star longtime Synetic players Zana Gankhuyag and Irina Kavsadze, on the theater company’s website. [Synetic Theater]
Snow Forecast Intensifies — Computer models from late last night suggest “very substantial to historic” snowfall totals on Friday afternoon and Saturday. Just how much snow are we talking about? Analysts say we could see as much as 12 to 30 inches of the white fluffy stuff. [Capital Weather Gang]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Another Roll-Over Crash on I-66 — Last night, around 3 a.m., an SUV that was being chased by police overturned after exiting I-66 at East Falls Church. At the same time, another roll-over crash happened on the Fairfax Drive ramp to westbound I-66. A vehicle flipped over as a result of a crash involving it and another vehicle. [WTOP]
Planned Power Outage at Courthouse Plaza — Businesses and elevators at the Courthouse Plaza shopping center will be without power from 3 a.m. to noon Saturday as part of scheduled electrical work. Among the businesses affected will be the AMC movie theater and the Starbucks. [Twitter, Twitter]
Retired Arlington Marine Dies at 103 — A retired Marine who lost his arm in a shipboard explosion in 1937 has died at the age of 103. Pvt. Clyde Byrd died at Virginia Hospital Center following a heart attack. A police and motorcycle club-escorted funeral procession brought Byrd to his final resting place at Quantico National Cemetery in Triangle, Va. [InsideNova]
Last Weekend for Synetic Show — This weekend is your last chance to see a reimagined version of Shakespeare’s As You Like It performed at Synetic Theatre in Crystal City. [Washingtonian, Synetic Theatre]
Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk
Senator Pays Tribute to Arlington Dad Who Died in China — Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) yesterday paid tribute on the Senate floor to an Arlington resident who died suddenly while on a business trip to China. Nathan Graham died of a “random infection,” Hatch said. He was 37 and a father of four. A former Senate staffer, Graham was born and raised in Utah and was a volunteer bishop in the Crystal City LDS church. Friends are raising money to help support Graham’s family. [Sen. Orrin Hatch, Facebook]
Support for Theater Troupe Blasted By Senator — Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) cited Crystal City physical theater company Synetic as an example of federal waste this month. Why? Because the National Endowment of the Arts has given the troupe a total of $61,000 since 2000 to, as Lankford characterized it, cut the English language out of Shakespeare productions. A local letter to the editor writer, meanwhile, says that a better example of federal waste is the fact that Oklahoma receives approximately $1.31 from the feds for every dollar it pays in taxes. [Washington Post]
Constitutional Officers Sworn In — Arlington’s five incumbent constitutional officers were all reelected by voters last month. The reelected county sheriff, clerk of the Circuit Court, treasurer, commissioner of the revenue and commonwealth’s attorney all took the oath of office yesterday, the first time all five positions were sworn in together since 2007. [InsideNova]
More Traffic Cameras, Higher Fines in D.C. — For those who drive to the District, get ready for more speed and red light cameras, lower speed limits and higher fines over the next two years. The traffic enforcement measures are part of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s “Vision Zero” plan for reducing loss of life from accidents on D.C. streets. [Washington Post]
Arlington on a ‘Money-Hungry Crusade?’ — Arlington is on “a money-hungry crusade for increased revenue at the expense of neighborhoods and communities,” writes the Arlington Connection. The paper suggests that “residential neighborhoods are increasingly in the crosshairs of developers seeking larger and larger densities,” and the County Board is acquiescing to their demands in an effort to drum up more tax money. “This is a County Board that acts like Republicans even though they’re all Democrats,” one civic association president is quoted as saying. [Arlington Connection]
Governor Backs Bipartisan Transportation Deal — A bipartisan compromise on transportation funding in the Virginia General Assembly has won the support of Gov. Bob McDonnell (R). The deal, which will ultimately raise $880 million per year for transportation projects, replaces the 17.5 cent gas tax with a 3.5 percent wholesale tax on gas and a 6 percent wholesale tax on diesel. It also raises the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.3 percent and imposes a $100/year fee on hybrid vehicles. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
Shakespeare Production to Include ‘Splash Zone’ — The Synetic Theater production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” opening today in Crystal City, will include 2,500 gallons of standing water on stage, an on-stage rainfall, and a “splash zone” (a section of audience seating likely to get wet during the show). [Washington Post]
Parks Dept. Says Camp Registration Went Smoothly — The Arlington County parks department received more than 1,900 summer camp registrations between 7:00 and 7:10 a.m. yesterday. Officials said the registration process, which has been beset by technical problems in the past, went smoothly this time around. [Patch]
ARLnow Commenters Called ‘Offputting’ — An Arlington “community notable” has “found the ranting of loony respondents on ARLnow to be offputting,” according to Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey. McCaffrey predicts that of Arlington’s three online-only news sites, “odds are not all will survive the year.” [Sun Gazette]
An upcoming show at Synetic Theater has been canceled because of a snag with obtaining visas for the performers.
Light in the Darkness, which was supposed to run from today through March 26, has been canceled. Three performances of The Voice of Anne Frank scheduled for March 14 and 19 have also been canceled.
The performers are part of Tantehorse Theatre Company from Prague. Four of the six artists have experienced delays in receiving travel visas, and therefore can’t make it into the United States.
Due to Tantehorse Theatre Company’s other commitments and engagements at Synetic Theater, the shows will not be rescheduled. Staff members hope to be able to bring the show to the area sometime in the future.
Synetic Theater is working to contact patrons with tickets for the canceled show to offer refunds or the option to attend a different performance at Synetic.
Water Main Break in Fairlington — A large water main break shut down the intersection of 31st and S. Abingdon Streets in Fairlington last night. [WUSA 9]
Joe Paterno Hires Clarendon Firm — Before he was fired by university trustees last night, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno hired Clarendon-based TMG Strategies to handle media inquiries. TMG specializes in crisis communications. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Green Party’s Fortunes Tied to GOP — Green Party candidates in Arlington seem to do significantly better on election day when there’s no Republican in the race. [Sun Gazette]
New Art on ART Buses — There are a few new whimsical illustrations on the county’s ART buses. The art was created by Nigerian-born and Alexandria, Va.-based artist Victor Ekpuk, as a joint venture between Arlington Transit and the Artisphere. [CommuterPage Blog]
Deal on Romeo and Juliet Tix — The Washington Post is offering $55 tickets to Synetic Theater’s Crystal City performance of Romeo and Juliet for $25. Synetic, which only recently established its home base in Crystal City, is a physical theater company — its shows substitute intense physical acting for dialogue. The deal expires at midnight tonight. Romeo and Juliet opens on Nov. 25. [The Capitol Deal]