Alamo Drafthouse Coming to Crystal City — An Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will be coming to Crystal City to anchor a residential redevelopment by the JBG Smith. The redevelopment will convert the aging office building at 1750 Crystal Drive to a gleaming glass-and-metal residential building while topping it with a six-story addition. Also planned is an as-yet unsigned “specialty grocer” — think: Trader Joe’s or something similar. [Washington Business Journal]
Home Prices Rise in Arlington — “Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. says the median selling price in Arlington County last month was $613,500, up 15 percent from May of 2016. The change was based on 350 closed sales in Arlington in May.” [WTOP]
County Looking for More Tech Grant Recipients — Arlington Economic Development is looking for more tech companies to lure to Arlington with its $1 million “Gazelle Grant” program. AED is seeking another 8-13 companies that are growing by at least 30 percent over a three year period and are willing to commit to at least a three year lease. [Technical.ly DC]
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) will host a forum on the future of net neutrality in two weeks.
The event is happening on Monday, June 26 from 7:30-9 p.m. Beyer will be joined by former Federal Communications Commission chair Tom Wheeler and former FCC general counsel Jonathan Sallet.
The forum will take place in George Mason University’s Founders Hall (3351 N. Fairfax Drive) and is free to attend, though registration is strongly advised.
Net neutrality is a principle that prohibits internet service providers from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content. For example, without net neutrality rules a cable company could intentionally slow down the Netflix video streaming service as a way to force people to use its own streaming service instead.
Advocates worry that if the FCC rolls back net neutrality protections, companies like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast could have control over internet content. Currently the FCC is soliciting comments to its email inbox at [email protected], to better understand the potential impact net neutrality abolition could have on internet users.
D.C. and Arlington: Tech Towns? — The Greater Washington area has ranked third on a major real estate firm’s list of “Tech Cities 1.0.” The area received high marks for its educated workforce and pace of startup growth. Arlington, meanwhile, is continuing to land tech firms from D.C. and Fairfax County, in part thanks to active outreach and an incentive program from Arlington Economic Development. State incentives helped keep Applied Predictive Technologies in Ballston; the firm has a new office and is now expanding and creating 350 jobs.
Exotic Pet Ban Vote Delayed — The Arlington County Board is expected to delay its consideration of a new exotic pet ban until the fall. The proposal has garnered strong reactions from both sides of the issue, including from the D.C.-based Animal Welfare Institute, which is urging the Board to approve the ban. [InsideNova]
Pentagon 9/11 Memorial Gets Architect — Denver-based Fentress Architects has been selected as the designer of the $75 million 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center. The center will be built near the intersection of Washington Blvd and Columbia Pike, which is set to be realigned as part of an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery. [Washington Business Journal]
DJO Standout in Running for National Recognition — Bishop O’Connell High School softball standout Kathryn Sandercock is in the running for USA Today’s ALL-USA High School Softball Player of the Year. She is currently second in an online poll. Sandercock was also just named to the 2017 Spring All-Met first team. Other Arlington high school students named to the first team All-Met in their sports include three boys soccer and one girls soccer player. [USA Today]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Arlington Public Schools parents and teachers remain divided over the county’s one-to-one technology initiative ahead of possible revisions to the school system’s strategic plan later this year.
The rollout of the program began during the 2014-2015 school year and provides iPads for elementary and middle school students, Macbook Air laptops for high school students. The hope was that every student attending an Arlington school would have a device by 2017.
Prior to the program teachers had to check out laptops for assignments that were based online, or reserve computer lab space. In some cases, students had to pair up to complete assignments.
One middle school parent said that although her children have access to technology at home, the program is the county’s “best option” for those who don’t — helping to level the playing field for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Attended by parents and teachers, the conversation was focused on how the technology is impacting the classroom. The main concerns for many parents were how teachers could balance the use of the technology with traditional learning and how parents could monitor how their child is using their device.
Jennifer Burgin, a second grade teacher at Oakridge Elementary School, shared how her students used their iPads to identify real deer teeth samples. When the assignment was over, the devices were replaced with pencil and paper.
“iPads are not meant to replace me, instead they help unleash me,” said Burgin. “As I learn more about deeper learning practices and ensuring equity for all my learners, I use iPads to my advantage when they benefit all learners.”
Several middle school teachers said that the technology makes their students more interested in learning, allowing them to research additional information or record and re-watch their teacher explaining challenging concepts.
Some parents, however, wanted to know what is being done to protect children from the dangers of the internet, with some saying there needs to be a county-wide policy on the use of the devices.
While there are schools that have blocked apps and have teachers conducting spot checks on student devices, parents said that there are still students who get in trouble for breaking the classroom guidelines. One anonymous parent alleged there is a culture of students using their iPads for inappropriate content.
“I can tell you that if a child is reported to have inappropriate content, their iPad is checked and if the content is there, the iPad is taken away from the child,” she said. “But that is a Band-Aid on instance on a much wider systemic problem.”
The one group that was absent from the meeting were parents of high schoolers. The older students got laptops instead of tablets because of their heavier course load and lengthier assignments.
“[Now] that students have laptops — which they have by and large learned to bring to class, charged, every day — [it] has facilitated a sea-change in how I deliver instruction,” said Doug Burns, an English teacher at Wakefield High School. He said that an effective lesson plan helps keep students from misusing their devices.
Some suggestions for a more cohesive program included a training program for both teachers and parents, and placing more restrictions on the devices.
“If they would have thought about curriculum, investigated helpful apps, locked down the iPads to only those apps, not provide Safari, and train the teachers prior to rollout, the iPad initiative could have been much more successful,” said one parent.
APS is set to revisit its strategic plan for the devices later this year.
Phones and internet are down at Arlington County’s offices at 2100 Clarendon Blvd after an electrical equipment failure this morning, meaning some government services are not available online.
The technical problems struck Courthouse Plaza just after 11 a.m., according to an anonymous tipster, and affect some operations including phones, the permitting website, online utility billing, the GIS mapping center and the library catalog and accounts system.
All other government offices are operating as normal, including the county’s emergency services.
A county spokeswoman said at 1:55 p.m. that service is now being restored “floor by floor” at the government building, but that outages could last for several more hours. Those trying to use some county online services may continue to be impacted.
We're experiencing a phone outage at our Courthouse Plaza location (2100 Clarendon Blvd) due to an electrical equipment failure.
— ArlingtonVA (@ArlingtonVA) June 1, 2017
Some business operations are also affected in this location and we will provide updates as available.
— ArlingtonVA (@ArlingtonVA) June 1, 2017
All other County government services are open for normal operations. Emergency services are also operational.
— ArlingtonVA (@ArlingtonVA) June 1, 2017
Is Yelp Coming to Rosslyn? — Rosslyn’s 1812 N. Moore Street tower, the future corporate headquarters of Nestlé USA, could also be a destination for review website Yelp. The San Francisco-based company is reportedly considering opening an office in the D.C. area and 1812 N. Moore is on the short list. Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman grew up in Arlington. [Washington Business Journal]
Democratic Committee Recommends Primaries — In a move that could be seen as a rebuke of the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s decision to hold a caucus to select a County Board nominee this year, the 8th District Democratic Committee has approved “a resolution saying primaries, not caucuses, should be the main form of nomination of Democratic candidates.” [InsideNova]
County Employee Is ‘Roadeo’ Star — Alexis Zambrano, a long-time county equipment operator, has scored a silver award in a regional “equipment roadeo” competition, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic American Public Works Association. [Arlington County]
When we checked in on Ouli a year ago, the new mobile personal concierge app, developed in North Arlington, impressed early adopters with its groundbreaking two-way engagement abilities and it’s ability to learn your likes.
Now meet Ouli 2.0, released in March. Not only does it deliver consumer-choices for you based on your location and previous interaction–and the more you use it, the more it learns about you–the new home page brings you “the best thing to do right now” when you open the app, says Pierre Malko, CEO of Dante Inc., the Arlington-based software company that’s been building technological innovation since 1998.
“It could be where to have happy hour or what show is available at a local theater,” he says. “Ouli comes to you with recommendations for experiences that are pertinent at that point in time based on where you are.”
Other added enhancements include an integration with Uber — you can book your ride through the app — and OpenTable, to make reservations based on Ouli’s recommendation. One of the benefits of Ouli is that it only suggests viable selections, so sold-out restaurants and performances won’t be recommended.
A year ago there were about 100 merchants in the Ouli database, mostly in Arlington because that’s where the app launched. But now, Malko says, Ouli’s reach goes beyond Northern Virginia into Washington and Maryland and the programming has expanded into the arts, nonprofits, farmer’s markets and volunteer opportunities.
“Ouli is all about connecting you with the local community,” says Malko. “Usually we gravitate to well-known places like the Shakespeare Theatre and the Kennedy Center, and that’s fine, but there are tons of local performers and artists who are doing great shows in nearby establishments that you would not have heard of otherwise.”
“As a person with a family in Arlington who is also very involved in the community, I always like to know about the things that are going on,” he says. “But it’s not always easy to find. You have to search a million different places.”
Community engagement with Ouli, he says, “is helping us all enjoy and support local causes that are important to us, or local establishments that we love to have around. And the more we engage, the higher the chances that they’ll stick around for a long time.”
The new Ouli release offers an improvement on the personalization and two-way engagement attributes of the app. In short, they’ve made it less intrusive, and thus more welcome, all the while still giving you notifications of sales, events and other specials in the neighborhood you happen to be in, “but only if there’s a high likelihood that you’ll care about it,” he says.
“We didn’t want this to be one other thing that bothers our users, so we spend a lot of time and energy on taming it,” Malko says. “Honing those personalization skills was not easy, but we’re giving the user what they want and also not bothering them with things they don’t care about…We want to make this a service that helps them enjoy their life and do so economically.”
Yes, there’s an app for that. It’s called Ouli.
Ouli can be downloaded here for immediate use. See what the best thing going on around you is right now.
The preceding post was written by Buzz McClain and sponsored by Ouli.
Parents were left frustrated on Saturday after registration for Arlington Public Schools’ Extended Day Program was beset by server issues for the second time in as many months.
Originally, the program’s registration portal had opened at midnight on March 1, but suffered technical issues and was closed indefinitely to be fixed.
APS reopened online registration at 3 p.m. April 1 for Summer School and the 2017-18 school year, but within minutes the system struggled with technical issues.
Several parents vented their frustrations on the APS Facebook page at the repeated technical issues.
“This was the issue a month ago and it is still not fixed,” wrote one. “Please provide additional guidance to parents (many of whom signed up the first time at midnight) on if we should continue to wait for the site to be fixed (now at 36 mins of trying) or try again later. It is the weekend and expectations should be managed.”
“Thanks for wrecking a Saturday afternoon,” wrote another. “It would be much appreciated if you would either offer a time frame or advise whether or not we should keep trying. You have a lot of parents feeling stuck and afraid not to keep hitting ‘refresh.'”
At 4 p.m., APS posted the following on its Facebook page:
UPDATE from Extended Day:
We greatly apologize for the inconvenience as the registration website is again experiencing issues. The developers are working to correct any issues and make the process faster.
Please send an email [email protected] with your student(s)’s name, school and requested sessions and we will process your registration. You will be contacted in the next few weeks with additional information.
But less than an hour later, APS posted to say the website “appears to be working now,” then again the following morning to “apologize for the inconvenience as the registration website experienced issues.”
There do not appear to have been any further issues with the website since.
A new petition is calling for Arlington Public Schools to discontinue its program of giving each elementary school student an iPad for educational use, but some parents are critical of the iPad critics.
The Change.org petition has just over 150 signatures as of Wednesday morning.
“Parents, teachers, pediatricians, librarians, art therapists, poets, doctors and taxpayers of Arlington County are asking that APS discontinue immediately the current 1:1 iPad program within APS elementary schools for grades K-5,” the petition says. “The 1:1/Digital Learning/Personalized programs, which put a personal iPads in the hand of elementary school children, over the past three years has not only cost millions for devices, staffing and infrastructure, but it has put children into a social experiment that is likely to harm their physical and social-emotional well-being.”
The petition calls for giving parents the ability to opt-out of iPads for their children and wants APS to send parents “a waiver to explicitly list the potential risks of iPad usage not limited to attention issues, screen addiction, blue light effects on eyesight, Wi-Fi radiation, and effects on reading acquisition.”
But some parents are pushing back against the petition, supporting the use of iPads and questioning the scientific basis of the “risks” listed in the petition. In one local neighborhood Facebook group, it has sparked a debate dozens of comments long, with most in favor of keeping the iPad program as-is.
“You [have] got to be kidding me! What are you using to post this?” a parent said in response to a post critical of student iPad use. “How do you expect your kids to be exposed to digital world and be prepared how to handle it when they are out of your wings. While I’m against screen time for my kids 24/7 some exposure is pretty useful if we want to keep up with the rest of the world.”
One parent called the iPads “extremely beneficial” to her child, while another said her kids — one labeled as gifted and the other as having learning disabilities — have both “been engaged in learning in exciting ways.”
Those in support of the iPad program are being asked to counter the voices against the program by providing positive feedback on the APS website.
Pupatella Expanding to Richmond — Beloved Bluemont pizzeria Pupatella is expanding via franchising. One of the first places getting new Pupatellas: Richmond, where a local franchisee is opening four new locations. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
McAuliffe to Talk Self-Driving Cars in Arlington — On Thursday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe will be in Arlington to “give remarks at [a] workshop hosted by the Secretary of Transportation on autonomous vehicles,” according to the governor’s public schedule. The workshop is taking place at 1776 in Crystal City (2231 Crystal Drive).
People Are Increasingly Leaving the D.C. Region — All of the D.C. region’s population growth in the latest U.S. Census estimates were from births and international immigration. The region’s domestic migration is negative and increasingly so, with more people moving from D.C. than to D.C. Writes the WBJ: “The challenge for Greater Washington is there are other metro areas that offer jobs and high quality of life, and are also far less expensive — driving people away for what they see as greener pastures.” [Washington Business Journal]
Does Our Site Seem Faster? — We were working Saturday, moving ARLnow and our sister site Reston Now to a powerful cloud-based server from a traditional dedicated server. Things should be faster today, but if you notice any glitches please let us know. [Twitter]
Photo courtesy Erinn Shirley
Pike Booster ‘Disappointed’ By Transit Delay — Cecilia Cassidy, executive director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, said the group is “very disappointed” by the latest delay in bringing enhanced transit service to the Pike. Cassidy said the cancellation of the streetcar cancelled much of the planned development along the Pike and that the delays in providing a viable transit alternative have put other development into a holding pattern. [WAMU]
More on DCA Plans — The airports authority has released more details about “Project Journey,” its $1 billion plan for upgrading Reagan National Airport. “Scheduled to mobilize in summer 2017, Project Journey includes construction of two new security checkpoints that fully connect the concourse level of Terminal B/C to airline gate areas, buildout of an enclosed commuter concourse to replace the 14 outdoor gates currently serviced by buses from gate 35X and future improvements to roadway and parking configurations.” [Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority]
Good News, Bad News About Tech in Arlington — Arlington has risen in the rankings of the best places in the U.S. for women in tech, from No. 34 to No. 22 this year. However, women in tech in Arlington still earn less than men, there are significantly more men than women employed in tech in Arlington and overall tech job growth in Arlington over the past four years is flat. D.C., meanwhile, ranked No. 1 on the list. [DCInno]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The County Board unanimously approved an incentive-based economic development grant for SineWave Ventures at its Tuesday meeting.
Up to $250,000 would be paid over five years to SineWave under the terms of the deal, depending on performance.
The agreement states that SineWave must attract five capital providers and partner companies to lease office space, and create at least 391 new full-time jobs. There are other goals for investment reviews and the provision of educational events for local entrepreneurs.
SineWave is aiming to develop a central hub of similar tech-focused venture capital firms at 2231 Crystal Drive, to invest in new companies. It will be in the same building as startup incubator 1776, and close to open-access workshop TechShop and coworking space Eastern Foundry.
A “sense of collaboration, advisement and mentorship” will come from the companies all being located in Crystal City, said Christina Winn, director of Arlington Economic Development’s Business Investment Group.
Board member John Vihstadt said such grants will help the county be less reliant on the federal government.
“This may seem like small potatoes to some, but frankly it’s part of the story where we really are working very hard to diversify Arlington’s economy away from federal contractors, away from the defense industry and towards really a 21st century economy, which is where the action hopefully is going to be,” he said.
Winn said AED spent two years developing the plan and ensuring there is little financial risk to the county. Board member Christian Dorsey said the requirement that SineWave repay the money if it fails to hit its targets is wise.
“These are not investments of the international high-risk equity variety,” he said. “These are of the safe variety, as if they don’t pan out we get our money back, which is the best investment to make because you can’t really lose.”
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
Want a way to impress friends with a wild video camera trick, à la “The Matrix”? OrcaVue will spin your camera right round, baby, right round to create a professional-looking effect.
The idea was born in October 2014 when Daniel Rosenberry and his brother, Jonathan, owned a small production company and wanted to pull off a 360-degree camera shot, but they didn’t have the proper equipment and didn’t have the money to hire a crew.
Rosenberry came up with some rough sketches for a device and showed his father, who constructed the first protype from “a bunch of stuff from our garage,” Rosenberry said. “A coffee can, a lazy susan and random stuff… he essentially built the very first ‘garage’ version of what the OrcaVue is.”
The Rosenberrys told their friend, Adam Boussouf, about the camera rig idea and he suggested patenting it. “Really, we weren’t thinking about it as any sort of business endeavor” and didn’t know how to go about that, Rosenberry said. So Boussouf came on board and took care of the business aspects.
“My brother had the initial vision. I designed everything. Dad put it together. And our friend pushed us to form a business. So we’re the four co-founders,” Rosenberry said.
Soon after officially launching the business in early 2015, orders quickly piled up. “It was definitely chaotic,” Rosenberry said. “We started getting a lot of orders coming in… and we didn’t quite know what to do.”
They realized they had to manufacture a lot of units in a short time span and did research to find a machine workshop. They found TechShop in Crystal City, which still is OrcaVue’s home base and where the devices are manufactured.
As for the name, OrcaVue is an acronym, of sorts, for “orbiting camera view.” The team wanted to have an animal on its logo and they did an internet search for animals that are known for circling, to reference the product’s circling functions. Fittingly, they learned that orcas — also called killer whales — swim circles around their prey. Thus, the OrcaVue name and logo came full circle and was adopted.
The business has evolved to become less about selling the camera rigs and more about selling services. The OrcaVue employees now spend most of their time on equipment rentals and event production. They show up at weddings, red carpet events and new product launches to work the machine and shoot video of the events.
OrcaVue doesn’t simply have local customers, either. The device has been used to shoot videos for numerous high-profile national clients including Olympian Simone Biles, Twitter, the Golden Globe Awards, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks and the TV show Dancing with the Stars.
OrcaVue employees continuously work on product improvements to devise a bigger, better, lighter system that can go faster and support heavier cameras.
As far as general business goals, Rosenberry would like further expansion, both in terms of the number of employees and in product and service reach. “I’d like to… grow the business regionally as well as internationally,” Rosenberry said. He’s working on that by setting up a partnership in Sweden and Australia to more easily cater to international clients.
“We’ve already surpassed anything we imagined that could happen,” Rosenberry said. “We’re a pretty relaxed company. We basically hired my friends and we all work together on it and have a great time.”
Up to $250,000 would be paid over five years under the terms of the deal, depending on performance.
SineWave is aiming to develop a central hub of similar tech-focused venture capital firms, in an office building at 2231 Crystal Drive, to invest in new companies. SineWave provides early-stage investment in businesses that develop technology for potential use in the public sector, including in the fields of cybersecurity, data and networking.
The agreement stipulates that SineWave must attract five capital providers and partner companies to lease office space, and create at least 391 new full-time jobs. There are other goals for investment reviews and the provision of educational events for local entrepreneurs.
If SineWave has not achieved 90 percent of its targets, it will be required to pay the grant money back to the county. A staff report on the plan estimates Arlington will receive $430,000 gross tax benefit over 10 years; or $180,000 net tax benefit after the full grant is paid.
County staff wrote that the plan will help fill vacant office space in the area and attract new businesses.
“With respect to Arlington’s ongoing vacancy challenges, the Crystal City submarket continues to need companies and investment to diversify and rebuild its tenant base,” staff wrote. “The proposed partnership with SineWave aligns with the County’s economic development strategy to attract key co-working operators, business incubators/accelerators and venture funds; SineWave adds another critical piece to the budding technology ecosystem in Crystal City.”
Image via Vornado
Extended Day registration opens at midnight on March 1, meaning that those fighting for a spot in the popular program stayed up late trying to register — until APS finally notified parents that it was closing the registration indefinitely until the problems can be fixed.
The issues occurred less than 12 hours after the Arlington County website went down due to technical issues that affected numerous sites around the web on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear if the Extended Day glitch was related.
From a post on the APS Facebook page, published after 1 a.m.:
At this time we are aware of the server issues preventing families from registering for Extended Day services.
We are working to have the issues resolved as quickly as possible.
In order to allow all families the opportunity to register successfully, we temporarily suspended registration for Summer 2017 and School Year 2017-2018 until further notice.
We will provide an update tomorrow via APS School Talk and our website.
We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.
Here’s what one self-described “angry parent” said about the snafu, in an email to ARLnow.com:
If you haven’t heard, APS’ early registration system broke down last night. Registration began at midnight. If you don’t get in, you don’t get a slot for your child/children in the fall.
Every year, at midnight on March 1, working parents are forced to take part in this cruel system that requires them to stay up til midnight and beyond.
I was up until 2 trying to get on before giving up. So I’m at work today with only 4 hours of sleep. (APS expects me to deliver my daughter to school on time the next day.)
APS sent out a notice at 1:30 a.m. saying they will have to do it all over again.
I hope this incident sheds light on an unnecessarily cruel system that forces parents, who obviously have jobs to go to or they wouldn’t need aftercare, to stay up half the night hitting refresh buttons to make sure they have affordable aftercare.
“Please open registration at a reasonable hour,” another parent said in response to the APS Facebook post.