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Morning Notes

Construction cranes for Amazon HQ2 tower over Pentagon City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Initial Plan Filed for Americana Site — “JBG Smith has filed a conceptual site plan application with Arlington County for 1400 Richmond Highway [the Americana hotel site in Crystal City], proposing a by-right 19-story building with 650 residential units above retail. There will also be 325 parking spaces across two below-grade parking levels.” [UrbanTurf]

Apartment Fire in Ballston — A fire broke out in the kitchen of a fourth floor apartment at the View at Liberty Center building in Ballston yesterday evening. The fire was extinguished by the building’s sprinkler system, but water damage was reported in the apartments and ground floor retail space below. The incident prompted a large fire department response and closed lanes on Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street. [Twitter]

Vax Rate Lags Among Younger Adults — “Pleading, cajoling, finger-wagging and threatening still don’t seem to be doing the trick in getting the 24-to-34-year-old age group in Arlington on board with COVID vaccinations. Data last week show that while 71 percent of county residents in that age group have received at least one jab of the vaccine… Countywide, just under 79 percent of 223,000 Arlington residents ages 5 and older have received at least one dose.” [Sun Gazette]

Thanksgiving 5K Along N. Pershing Drive — “The Arlington Turkey Trot 16th Annual 5k Fun Run will take place on Thursday, November 25, 2021. The Arlington County Police Department will conduct the following road closures from approximately 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m.” [ACPD]

Arlington Gets Perfect LGBT Equality ScoreUpdated at 8 a.m. — “Arlington garnered a 100-percent rate in the 10th annual Municipal Equality Index, reported by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The average score for 11 major localities in Virginia was 88 on a zero-to-100 scale, compared to a national average of 67. Arlington was among 110 communities earning a perfect rating, up from 11… when the survey debuted.” [Sun Gazette]

Metro Woes Extend to 2022 — “Metro customers can expect to see current (reduced) rail service levels through December 31, Metro announced today.  With no timeline established to return the 7000-series fleet in the interest of safety, and 6000-series railcars awaiting parts due to global supply chain challenges, incremental service improvements will be made during December as parts arrive for older model railcars.” [WMATA]

Snow Possibility in Forecast — From the Capital Weather Gang: “DC first flakes? Watching possibility of disturbance/clipper passing thru cold air Sun-Mon timeframe. It could shift or fizzle and probably not a big deal even if it hits, but first feature this season we’re watching with some curiosity.” [Twitter]

It’s Tuesday — Sunny today, with a high near 43. Northwest wind 9 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Sunrise at 7 a.m. and sunset at 4:49 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, with a high near 47. [Weather.gov]

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Peruvian Brothers co-owner Giuseppe Lanzone with alpacas (Photo courtesy of Peruvian Brothers)

The Peruvian Brothers’ stand at the Crystal City Water Park has closed due to coming renovations at the park.

The last day for the fast casual stand known for their empanadas and peruvian coffee was Sunday, co-owner Giuseppe Lanzone tells ARLnow.

But the brothers went out in style, hosting a party on Sunday. There were Halloween costumes, free cookies, music, dancers, and alpacas.

“In Virginia, it’s much easier to bring alpacas,” says Lanzone, about the animal that’s native to the Andes and part of Peruvian culture. “Fewer regulations than D.C.”

Giuseppe and his brother Mario Lanzone are originally from Peru, but moved with their family to McLean in 1997. Before going into the food business together, Giuseppe was a two-time Olympic rower for Team USA.

The two started their first food truck in 2013. Soon, that one truck became two, then three. Next, the brothers started working with the Peruvian Embassy in D.C.

This got them enough attention to open their first outpost inside of the Latin market La Cosecha in Northeast D.C., next to Union Market. Soon, they were getting accolades from a number of local media outlets.

But then the pandemic hit.

It was at this time that Lanzone was living on Crystal Drive in Crystal City. He would often go for runs and walks “since there wasn’t much else to do” and passed the unoccupied stand (which was previously a rotating cast of pop-up eateries) at the privately-owned park.

“It was just an empty space. I kept think ‘what would be better than being able to stop outside and grab a coffee and an empanada,'” he says. “I didn’t want the space to go to waste.”

In April 2020, he and his brother partnered with National Landing Business Improvement District and made a deal with park owner JBG Smith to bring their Peruvian cuisine to Crystal City.

For the last 18 months, they’ve been serving out of the stand. But their contract is now up as renovations near.

“It was an incredible experience being part of the community,” Lanzone says. “National Landing BID and JBG were great partners to us.”

The 1.5-acre park at 1601 Crystal Drive is scheduled to undergo renovations during the winter, a spokesperson for JBG Smith confirms to ARLnow. It will reopen in the spring of 2023.

New vendor kiosks, an updated performance platform, a bar with a terrace, and restrooms will all be added. There will also be updates to the water feature, a widening of sidewalks, and improved walking and cycling connections.

What it won’t include, though, is the Peruvian Brothers — but that doesn’t mean they are disappearing from Arlington.

Lanzone said they are in discussions for opening a small brick and mortar in the neighborhood. While nothing is finalized and ready to be announced, there have been “talks” about opening up a new outpost that would be accessible to those who work at Amazon’s nearby HQ2.

“We are big fans of National Landing and Amazon and want to be part of the new development,” Lanzone says. In terms of the neighborhood, the feeling seems to be mutual.

“We have greatly enjoyed and appreciated our collaboration with Peruvian Brothers in National Landing,” said Amy Rice, Senior Vice President of Retail Leasing at JBG Smith. “We were thrilled to be able to offer them a temporary outdoor location during the height of the pandemic, and that setting proved to be a hit for National Landing residents.”

“As the transformation of National Landing continues, we are actively working with Peruvian Brothers to find a more permanent home with us in the neighborhood,” Rice added.

https://twitter.com/NationalLanding/status/1455964250996977674

Meanwhile, Peruvian Brothers fans can find them at La Cosecha in D.C. and at their catering headquarters in Alexandria headquarters. The brothers are also now offering an empanada subscription service, with frozen empanadas dropped off at doorsteps twice a month.

The brothers say they’re confident they’ll be back in Arlington soon.

“We love it here,” Lanzone said.

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Changes are coming to the plaza outside the Crystal City Metro station.

Developer JBG Smith and the National Landing Business Improvement District are funding a number of enhancements to the plaza and the streetscape, including a new mural, expanded seating options, additional landscaping, festive lighting, and new trees.

It’s part of a plan to make the area collectively known as National Landing more inviting as more people return to their offices and the pandemic (hopefully) winds down.

“The improvements are intended to welcome residents, workers, and visitors ‘back to transit’ as offices and businesses throughout National Landing safely reopen their doors,” the BID said in a press release, which referred to the office district around the Metro station as “downtown National Landing.”

The BID says that it has selected a winning design for the mural that will adorn a concrete wall next to the plaza, after soliciting design ideas earlier this year.

More from the press release:

To kick off the enhancement project, the National Landing BID has welcomed an iconic new mural by DC-based artist Lisa Marie Thalhammer called “Harmony” that adorns the metro plaza’s expansive west wall. The artwork, which measures approximately 115 feet in length and 20 feet in height, will act as a vibrant new front door to the Crystal City Metro entrance. Featuring the artist’s signature usage of the harmonious color spectrum, the design was selected unanimously through a competitive process that was sponsored by the BID.

JBG SMITH, with the National Landing BID as its funding partner, is carrying out a concurrent public space improvement project intended to refresh the plaza outside the Crystal City Metro to create a more inviting arrival experience. The planned updates will include a more open layout, expanded seating options, additional landscaping, festive lighting, new trees and a biophilic design. JBG SMITH is also improving other open spaces and amenities along 18th Street. Completion is anticipated for winter 2022.

“At JBG SMITH, placemaking is core to our DNA, and this project serves as a golden opportunity to convert mobility infrastructure into truly compelling public spaces that contribute significantly to the quality of life for the whole community,” said Jay Corbalis, Vice President of Public Affairs for JBG SMITH.

The revamped public space is just one of a number of things rapidly changing the face of Crystal City and Pentagon City. Other projects in the works include a number of redevelopments, the ongoing construction and design of the two phases of Amazon’s HQ2, and a second entrance to the Crystal City Metro station.

“The additional entrance, which is anticipated to open by the end of 2023, is intended to alleviate platform congestion and deliver riders directly to Crystal City’s retail main street, Crystal Drive,” the BID’s press release also notes. “Combined with the myriad private development projects that are helping reshape the neighborhood streetscape, National Landing has an incredible opportunity to enhance walkability and deliver human-scale mobility.”

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Spanish tapas outpost Jaleo by José Andrés will be closing its Crystal City location, making way for a future redevelopment.

After more than a decade serving up Spanish small plates, Jaleo will serve its last meal on Sunday, Oct. 3, Eater DC first reported. ThinkFoodGroup, which represents José Andrés and the restaurant, confirmed the report in a statement.

“After 17 years of bringing the spirit and flavors of Spain to Crystal City, Jaleo by José Andrés will be closing its doors on October 3, 2021 in anticipation of the continued transformation of the neighborhood,” ThinkFoodGroup said. “We are incredibly grateful to our dedicated employees and for our friends and neighbors in the area for their support.”

Jaleo (2250 Crystal Drive) is not only set to close — the one-story building in which the restaurant is housed could be demolished as part of a JBG Smith redevelopment. The property owner proposes razing the building and the vacant, 11-story “Crystal Plaza 5” office building at 223 23rd Street S. In its place, it envisions two residential towers.

“We have a preliminary site plan submission on file to redevelop that site with two new 30-story residential towers containing 1,440 units, ground floor retail, and two new public open spaces,” said county planner Matthew Pfeiffer. “We expect that plan to be accepted very soon, after which we will work on scheduling the public review process.”

That is a change from what JBG Smith previously proposed for the site in 2019. At the time, the company had filed plans to replace the two buildings with one residential and one office tower, but that project is now listed as “on hold” while the county’s planning department reviews JBG Smith’s new plans, Pfeiffer said.

More details about the project will be published once the department accepts the plans, he said.

Jaleo may be leaving, but ThinkFoodGroup said it may return to Crystal City in light of this development as well as the ongoing expansion of Amazon’s Arlington presence.

“With Amazon HQ2 and JBG SMITH’s exciting development plans, we look forward to exploring possible new concepts that might be part of National Landing’s dynamic future landscape,” it said.

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Morning Notes

It’s the End of Summers — The former Summers restaurant in Courthouse was torn down yesterday, making way for a new apartment development. Video of the demolition shows water being sprayed to control dust as the building was razed. [Twitter]

Staffing Concerns At 911 Dispatch Center — “The head of Arlington, Virginia’s Emergency Communications Center is addressing concerns that its current setup is problematic and even potentially dangerous. ‘We are like every other 911 center in the country, which has traditionally struggled with staffing,’ center administrator Dave Mulholland told WTOP. ‘We’re going to be very honest in acknowledging not every shift has optimal staffing.’ However, Mulholland maintains that crucial positions have always remained filled, and that more people are being trained to fill needed roles.” [WTOP]

Lebanese Taverna Helping to Feed Refugees — “When word came that thousands of Afghan refugees would be landing at Dulles in late August after their country fell to the Taliban, World Central Kitchen mobilized to make sure those reaching the U.S. after a harrowing journey would be greeted with a hot meal. The nonprofit’s first call was to Grace Abi-Najm Shea, one of five siblings behind Lebanese Taverna… Of the 61,298 meals WCK served there between Aug. 25 and Sept. 10, 5,037 came from Lebanese Taverna.” [Washington City Paper]

County Board May Modify Hotel Tax — “Arlington County is weighing whether to tax hotel guests for the total cost of their stay, including fees and other charges, and not just the cost of the room. The potential change to the transient occupancy tax — the revenue from which has collapsed amid the pandemic, affecting Arlington’s incentive arrangement with Amazon.com Inc. — follows changes to the tax definition in the state code adopted by the Virginia General Assembly.” [Washington Business Journal]

Much of Crystal City Is Now Carbon Neutral — “JBG SMITH, a leading owner and developer of high-quality, mixed-use properties in the Washington, DC market, today announced it has achieved carbon neutrality across its entire 16.1 million square foot operating portfolio. Building on this accomplishment, JBG SMITH intends for its properties to maintain carbon neutral operations annually.” [BusinessWire]

Tucker Rants About Beyer — Fox News opinion host Tucker Carlson called Rep. Don Beyer “a fashionably radical car dealer from Arlington” on his show earlier this week, in a segment about vaccine mandates. But Beyer’s communications director says that the local congressman, who is actually an Alexandria resident, “does not own any auto dealerships and has not for years.” [Twitter]

Harris Teeter Stores Cutting Hours — “Harris Teeter stores nationwide will be reducing their store hours until further notice, citing the shortage of labor caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Starting Wednesday, Sept. 15, all Harris Teeters will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Stores in Northern Virginia have previously been open 24 hours, or until 11 p.m.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

County Board Member Talks Gondola — “Christian Dorsey (D) said the county will have to decide whether it makes sense to commit public money to the project. ‘It’s a fairly short walk from the Rosslyn Metro station to that station in Georgetown,’ he said. In 2017, the county board said in a letter that it would not fund the gondola project despite agreeing to commit $35,000 to a feasibility study. ‘We viewed it as more of a luxury concept than an essential transportation service,’ Dorsey said.” [Washington Post]

Alexandria Mayor Gabs About Gondola — “‘Gondola, yes or no?’ Sherwood asked. ‘Anything that provides new transportation options is a good thing,’ Wilson said. ‘We’ve experimented more with ferries. The river is typically the challenge.'” [ALXnow]

Some Residents Remain Amazon Averse — “Amazon’s efforts to integrate its massive HQ2 campus into its Arlington community have come in all shapes and sizes. And while some of its neighbors acknowledge those efforts, they point to some key unanswered questions around the tech giant’s engagement strategy and eventual effects on their terrain. Still, many remain positive about the latest, and biggest, corporate addition to their communities.” [Washington Business Journal]

GMU Mulls Ways to Enliven Arlington Campus — “More vibrant outdoor areas and the potential of mid-level pedestrian bridges connecting academic buildings are among the possibilities to help the Arlington campus of George Mason University as it grows and evolves. Efforts should be focuses on ‘bringing some life and energy’ to areas like the exterior courtyard area fronting Fairfax Drive, said Gregory Janks, the consultant leading an effort to reimagine Mason’s Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William campuses.” [Sun Gazette]

New Bikeshare Station in Arlington Mill — From Capital Bikeshare: “STATION ALERT: Check out the newly installed station at 8th Rd and S Frederick St in Arlington.” [Twitter]

JBG Sells Hotels to Fund Development — “A fund managed by JBG Smith Properties is selling off two hotels near Reagan National Airport as the developer readies for still more construction in and around Arlington and Alexandria… In an earnings call this month, JBG Smith CEO Matt Kelly said the company would use asset sales, along with ground leases and recapitalizations, to harvest some of the value of its properties as it readies an extensive development pipeline totaling nearly 10 million square feet.” [Washington Business Journal]

Ballston: Manhattan Near the Potomac — “Three [census] tracts make a slice of Ballston the highest-density residential neighborhood in Greater Washington. For decades, Arlington’s plans have encouraged high-rise residential and office on the blocks immediately along the Orange Line corridor, while strictly limiting additional homes even a short walk away. All those people in close proximity can support a wide array of dining choices and retailers, including multiple groceries and pharmacies; the tract’s 94 Walk Score makes it a ‘walker’s paradise.'” [GGWash]

Local Storms Not Getting Significantly Worse — “One local weather expert says he hasn’t seen much evidence to suggest D.C. storms in recent years have been getting more severe, or even more frequent. ‘In some years we have a lot, in some years we have very little, depending on how the day-to-day weather trends add up over the course of the year,’ said Christopher Strong, a Sterling, Virginia-based warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service.” [DCist]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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An aerial rendering of National Landing by night (courtesy of JBG Smith)

Since August, JBG Smith has been assembling the bones needed to turn part of Arlington and Alexandria into the world’s first large-scale “Smart City.”

And today (Tuesday), the developer is set to cinch two crucial parts of the skeleton. This morning, it announced a partnership with AT&T to install 5G network throughout Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard, collectively known as National Landing.

“The goal of this collaboration with AT&T is to further enhance National Landing and create the only neighborhood that provides entrepreneurs, universities, and global technology companies the digital infrastructure necessary to shape the future of their industries,” JBG Smith CEO Matt Kelly said.

This evening, the County Board is poised to grant access to the backbone of the network: currently unused, county-owned dark fiber assets. The county would receive $3.5 million in exchange.

The speedy wireless network could draw more innovative companies to the area and help bring futuristic experiences — such as self-driving vehicles, immersive and augmented reality, building automation and environmental sustainability — to fruition, according to their press release.

Parts of the 5G network could be operational in the first half of 2022, JBG Smith Smart Cities Vice President Vardahn Chaudhry tells ARLnow.

“5G is complex in that it requires robust underlying digital infrastructure both underground and across the built environment,” he said. “JBG Smith and AT&T are still working through the details of the infrastructure deployments and will share more in the coming months.”

The real estate company made its ambitions known last August, when it acquired seven blocks of Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum spanning Arlington and Alexandria through a national Federal Communications Commission auction.

Still missing the underground network backbone, JBG Smith eyed Arlington County’s unused fiber optic assets in National Landing, from when the county built a ring of dark fiber nearly 10 miles long called ConnectArlington.

The network was designed to support county government and Arlington Public Schools and give local businesses access to cheaper, higher-speed internet, but an ARLnow investigation found legal issues made it difficult for businesses to use it.

County staff recommend the County Board approve the 75-year agreement with JBG Smith, which is planning to market National Landing — home to Amazon’s HQ2 — as an “Innovation District.”

“Consistent with the intent of the original ConnectArlington investment, the primary benefit of this Agreement will be to assist in the creation of an Innovation District that will establish the area as a magnet for human talent and innovation — the key driver of economic prosperity today and moving forward,” according to the report.

JBG Smith said it already possess other things needed for the project: expansive real estate holdings, from existing office space and apartments to developable land, which provides the buildings, street furniture and underground infrastructure needed for the roll-out.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said he is thrilled to see two private-sector organizations leading the 5G charge.

“American competitiveness in the deployment of 5G networks — and innovation in the emerging technologies [that] 5G unlocks — remain key to our national and economic security interest,” he said. “This collaboration can be a blueprint for how digital infrastructure is deployed, and I am heartened by the prospects of the innovation this may unlock to advance our country’s competitiveness globally.”

County staff valued the transfer at $3.5 million after weighing how much it would need to recoup construction costs and advance county goals against how much it would cost JBG Smith to build its own assets.

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(Updated 10:35 a.m.) Tacombi, a New York City-based taqueria chain, is expected to open in Crystal City in a couple of months.

The new spot will be located in the revamped Central District Retail shopping plaza, also known as “Crystal Square.” This recently redone property at 1550 Crystal Drive, owned by JBG Smith, has attracted a number of other retail options that have opened already or are set to open over the course of the year.

A CVS opened in February and hit NYC bakery Mah-Ze-Dahr opened in mid-June. Another location of the boutique gym, Solidcore, is set to open in August, according to a spokeswoman.

A spokesperson for Tacombi said Thursday that it expects to open its 3,000 square-foot space in Crystal City in September.

“All of our taquerias are bright, open and airy spaces where guests can enjoy warm hospitality and a menu with selections from different regions throughout Mexico,” she said. “We look forward to bringing a little piece of this incredible country to our new friends in Arlington, and to swinging open our taqueria doors this fall.”

Tacombi got its start on the beaches of Yucatan, Mexico. The owner sold tacos from a Volkswagen Bus and eventually opened his first taqueria in the mid-2000s in New York City. Nine other locations have since opened in NYC.

These openings are happening amid a handful of other openings in Miami and Queens, the spokeswoman said. The taqueria will cement its presence in the D.C. area with a Bethesda location also set to open in September.

“We were drawn to Crystal City’s evolving identity and to its own journey from a largely-industrial zone in the sixties to today’s quickly developing community,” she said. “And while National Landing is part of a cosmopolitan world capital, it also maintains the neighborhood quality that best allows us to share authentic Mexican culture.”

The taqueria made headlines this year for its work during the pandemic feeding thousands of food-insecure New Yorkers.

Also coming to Central District Retail will be a thus-far unnamed grocery store, rumored to be a possible Amazon Fresh location. The store will be built in the existing office building at 1550 Crystal Drive, according to Arlington County.

“JBG SMITH declines to comment,” a spokesperson for the property owner said when asked about it yesterday.

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(Updated at 2:05 p.m.) Plans to build a second entrance to the Crystal City Metro station are a third of the way to completion, and the public has a new window to comment on them.

The second entrance set for the corner of 18th Street S. and Crystal Drive will be the product of a public-private partnership with developer JBG Smith, the preeminent property owner in Crystal City. The County Board approved the partnership last summer.

When complete, the nearly $95 million project — financed by the county and various grants — will improve connectivity and accessibility in the area and partially fulfill the state’s commitment to Amazon to invest in transportation infrastructure, according to transportation planner Robin McElhenny.

People can learn more about the project next Wednesday during a pop-up event at the station. WMATA will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, July 13 and people can submit public comments to the transit agency until Friday, July 23.

The public can expect more detailed versions of the designs, which are about 30% complete, in September, McElhenny said during a Transportation Commission meeting last night (Thursday). That is when staff aim to present the project to the County Board, she added.

Meanwhile, staff are hammering out agreements with JBG Smith and WMATA regarding roles and responsibilities during the project’s next phase, which includes finishing the designs and completing construction, she said. These agreements could be voted on by the County Board in December.

“This is somewhat optimistic — there are a lot of milestones that need to be reached between now and December — but it’s something we’re seriously working toward,” the transportation planner said.

After this point, construction could take two and a half years, she said. Budget documents indicate the county expects the project to be ready in the fall of 2023.

The project will connect transit users to the Virginia Railway Express station — also set to be expanded and relocated — as well as bus services and cycling trails, she said. It will also meet accessibility needs, as the station has one elevator and Metro requires stations to have two, and relieve congestion.

“This will be an important investment to mitigate any crowding,” she said.

Transportation commissioners voiced their support for the project.

“I’m really happy to see it moving forward,” Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt said. “I think there’s really huge opportunity for this to be a multimodal hub.”

He urged staff to consider protected bike lanes, predicting unprotected ones will get clogged up by pick-up and drop-off activity.

“This is a great project and I wholeheartedly support it,” Commissioner Jim Lantelme said. “It’s one of the keys to this area continuing to develop in the good way that it is.”

This current design phase is being funded by a $5 million grant from the  Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.

Arlington County has estimated costs of about $95 million for the project, some of which will come from federal, state and regional grants.

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Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is planning to open its Crystal City location about a year from now.

Set to be located at 1660 Crystal Drive, the nine-screen, 50,000-square-foot Alamo Drafthouse National Landing will be near a new CVS, Solidcore, and likely linked to a specialty grocery store (perhaps Amazon Fresh).

Just last week, the Texas-based movie theater chain announced it was emerging from bankruptcy and poised to open a number of new theaters, including two in the D.C-area. The Crystal City location is currently expected to open in May or June 2022, theater representatives confirm to ARLnow.

The other new theater will be in Northeast D.C.’s Edgewood neighborhood. That one is planning a November 2021 opening.

Founded in 1997, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has nearly 40 locations while marketing itself as a movie-lover’s oasis, complete with craft beers and locally-sourced snacks.

The theater in Crystal City will be operated by a franchisee, Cojeaux Cinemas. The company operates three other Alamo Drafthouse franchises in Virginia as well as the new D.C. location.

Cojeaux Cinemas has had an eye on the Arlington market for the better part of a decade, but jumped at a deal a few years ago amid an opportunity presented itself.

“We signed this deal in 2017 when JBG Smith gained control of Crystal City,” Joseph Edwards, co-owner Cojeaux Cinemas, tells ARLnow. “We had confidence in their vision and their people to transition the market by bringing tenants like us in to rebalance the overall mix of office, residential, retail and entertainment, creating a more modernized urban area that will draw from all the surrounding areas.”

Just last week, JBG Smith released an investor relations video detailing its ambitious plans for National Landing.

JBG Smith has nearly finished its portion of the work on the building that will house the movie theater, and Cojeaux Cinemas will start the interior build-out within the next couple of months, Edwards said. The theaters will all have laser projectors, large recliners with individual tables, and call buttons to request service (“quietly and seamlessly during the show”).

There will also be a themed bar with the exact concept still in development.

As the operator of other Virginia theaters, the last year has been an immense challenge, Cojeaux co-owner Anthony Coco concedes. But they are confident that folks are ready to go back to the movies.

“Having seen some fantastic box office numbers, like we saw last weekend, it is clear that movie goers are ready to get back in cinemas,” writes Coco. “And enjoy the craveable, one of a kind experience that Alamo Drafthouse provides its guests.”

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New renderings from JBG Smith envision Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard as a lush urban core with glassy high-rises and connected by a surface-level Route 1, along with Metro and commuter rail.

When all of the developer’s projects are delivered, that is.

JBG Smith released an investor relations video explaining its plans for the area — known collectively as National Landing — which include building a number of new apartment and office buildings and partnering with local and state governments to improve transit and technological infrastructure.

“We’ve been incredibly busy during the pandemic, teeing up growth opportunities, delivering new assets, we have a lot of exciting growth in the next 18 months,” JBG Smith CEO Matt Kelly said in the video.

He said about 15 million square feet are under development in National Landing, two-thirds of which are multifamily residential — apartment buildings, mostly. Other big projects include the first phase of Amazon’s HQ2, which the video said is on track to be done in 2023, and the second phase, which includes the proposed Helix building.

“All of these developments are on vacant land or replacing out-of-service buildings,” said Chief Development Officer Kai Reynolds.

One of those is the former Americana Hotel, which JBG Smith purchased in December for more than $27 million, Executive Vice President of Real Estate Development Kristi Smith said.

JBG Smith views this site, planned for an apartment building, “as one of the best development opportunities in National Landing,” given its proximity to HQ2 and its visibility from Route 1, she said.

The video provided updates on the following residential developments, which collectively would add thousands of new apartments to the area:

Construction started on 1900 Crystal Drive in late March and could be completed in 2024, according to the video. Meanwhile, the earliest start date for 2000 and 2001 S. Bell Street, which received County Board approval last month, is later this year.

Both 2250 Crystal Drive and 223 23rd Street S. have a potential start date of 2023, the video said.

The developer also plans to build 750,000 square feet of office space at 2525 Crystal Drive in the form of two V-shaped towers, according to the video.

Reynolds highlighted the pending changes to Route 1, which could result in lowering the highway to grade and transforming it into more of an urban boulevard. The changes are part of an incentive agreement between Amazon and Virginia to invest $5 billion in important infrastructure improvements, he said.

“Amongst the most critical was the lowering of the elevated sections of Route 1, which currently runs north-south within National Landing,” he said. “The new road will feature a modern cross-section that will be pedestrian-friendly to improve walkability within the submarket.”

As for other transit improvements, Reynolds said the second Crystal City Metro station entrance, a public-private partnership between Arlington County and JBG Smith, could be completed between 2023 and 2024.

Meanwhile, progress could move forward on a new Virginia Railway Express station in National Landing, as the state recently finalized a $3.7 billion plan with CSX, Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express.

The new station will be built on land owned by JBG Smith. It will also serve as a connection point for the planned pedestrian bridge to Reagan National Airport, renderings of which are seen in the video.

The Bethesda-based developer also has plans for increasing technological connectivity, too.

Adam Rashid, the Senior Vice President and Co-Head of Smart Cities for JBG Smith, said the company aims to deploy “ubiquitous 5G in National Landing, with the goal of making National Landing the U.S.’s first 5G Smart City at-scale.”

Photos via JBG Smith/Vimeo

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