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Back On The Block

Crystal City holds its second annual block party.

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Crystal City BID president Angie Fox

<b>CRYSTAL CITY</b> is in a state of flux. In the past, the area was filled with government and military workers by day, relatively deserted by night.

<p>But in the 1980s, Congress established the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, to create an impartial, bi-partisan way to determine what military installations would stay open, what would close, what would be reshaped and what would be relocated. In its fifth and last round of decisions in 2005, the Commission recommended that tens of thousands of jobs be moved out of Crystal City.

<p>At the time, many had grim predictions for the future of the South Arlington neighborhood. But as those jobs have moved, Crystal City has thrived. New restaurants and bars have opened and private developers have eagerly snapped up office buildings once leased by the government.

<p>At the center of this revitalization has been the Crystal City BID, a group that seeks to promote business and commerce in the area. Since its founding in early 2006, the BID has held numerous promotional events to change the perception of Crystal City from a, 9-to-5 area into a dynamic, attractive commercial zone.

<p>This weekend, the BID is holding its second annual Crystal Block Party to highlight restaurants and businesses in the area and to kick off its new Crystal Flight public art project, in which several dozen artists decorated airplane sculptures.

<p>In an interview with the Arlington Connection, Crystal City BID president Angie Fox talks about why the group is putting on the block party and what it means for the future of the area.

<p><b>What is the Crystal Block Party?</b>

<p>This is our second Crystal Block Party. Our first was last August, which was the hottest day on record (or at least it seemed that way), so we moved the party up to April as a way to "Spring into Art!" The BID sponsors and organizes the event at the request of and with the help of the businesses on 23rd Street. Most of our official BID area is on the other side of Route 1 so this is one way we highlight and celebrate a unique, historic and soulful area.

<p><b>What should people attending the party look forward to?</b>

<p>Great music, fun family activities, yummy food (in the restaurants), and a first look at the Crystal Flight planes.

<p>Who is the intended audience for this party?</b>

<p>The audience is anyone who wants to see the planes, have some fun, meet the neighbors, listen to local music talent and experience the great restaurants that are located on the block. We expect Crystal City workers, area residents and visitors from the hotels and all around the Washington Metro region.

<p><b>How does the Crystal Block Party make Crystal City a more inviting and interesting place to visit?</b>

<p>This highlights one of our most colorful areas by showcasing the food and the character that make 23rd Street great. This is also a fun way to get on the Crystal "Flight Path" and watch an artist at work. We're really excited to see our graffiti artist paint his plane during the party. He's incredibly talented and it's really fun to watch him firsthand.

<p><b>What is the future of Crystal City? With lots of space opening up in the next few years because of BRAC, do you see Crystal City becoming more residential or do you think it will remain mainly an office/retail area?</b>

<p>The future of Crystal City is bright! With all of the assets (location, transportation, access, green, art), it has a great foundation for success. Though the long term plan is in the hands of the Crystal City Task Force, I see a continued balancing of business mix (government, association, corporate) and an increase in the residential population.

<p>This is a very exciting time in the area. Each round of change has brought dramatic and wonderful shifts in the area's look and feel. It's only going to get better!

<p><b>Which part of the block party are you most looking forward to?</b>

<p>I love it when people come to Crystal City and have a fun time. Seeing their smiles and excitement makes it meaningful. These events really help shape the way people see and perceive Crystal City. It's a fun and friendly place with lots of possibilities. I hope to see you there.