Forecasters say that a prolonged period of heavy rain is likely to cause flash flooding in some low-lying areas and along small streams.
The warning is in effect until 5:30 p.m., while a Flash Flood Watch will remain in effect through early Sunday morning.
From the National Weather Service:
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A
* FLASH FLOOD WARNING…
* UNTIL 530 PM EDT
* AT 232 PM EDT… MORE HEAVY RAIN IS MOVING OVER AN AREA THAT WILL TOLERATE LITTLE MORE BEFORE ROADS WILL BEGIN TO BECOME INUNDATED AND SMALL STREAMS WILL BEGIN TO RISE OUT OF THEIR BANKS. FLASH FLOODING IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN SHORTLY.
* SOME LOCATIONS THAT MAY EXPERIENCE FLOODING INCLUDE… ARLINGTON… ROCKVILLE… GAITHERSBURG… COLLEGE PARK… HERNDON… GREENBELT… FAIRFAX… VIENNA… FALLS CHURCH… BLADENSBURG… SPRINGFIELD… SOUTH RIDING… PIMMIT HILLS… MANTUA… DULLES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT… GALLAUDET UNIVERSITY… NATIONALS PARK… CORAL HILLS… WOODBRIDGE AND BETHESDA.
TURN AROUND… DONT DROWN BY DRIVING INTO FLOODED ROADS OR ROADS THAT HAVE BEEN CLOSED.
BE VERY CAREFUL DRIVING AS SOME ROADS WILL BE CLOSED… AND LARGE PONDS OF WATER… EVEN ON LARGE INTERSTATES WILL INCREASE YOUR RISK OF LOOSING CONTROL OF YOUR VEHICLE. DRIVE SLOWLY.
WATCH YOUR KIDS TO ENSURE THEY DONT PLAY NEAR FLOOD WATERS.
IF YOU ARE IN A LOW AREA… OR NEAR A DRAINAGE DITCH OR SMALL STREAM… EXPECT RAPID RISES. STAY SAFE AND HEAD TO HIGHER GROUND IF NEEDED.
(Updated at 6:20 p.m.) Well, that was a historic week. The history theme will continue this weekend with a patriotic bar crawl tomorrow night in preparation for the 4th of July.
If you’d rather focus on recent history, like say the legalization of gay marriage throughout the entire country, then you’ll have an opportunity for that too; the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance is hosting a Pride Month Social this Sunday evening from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant (555 23rd Street S.).
Finally some housekeeping. Remember, the “Freedom Four” race is going down on Sunday, so sections of N. Courthouse Road, N. Rhodes Street and Wilson Boulevard will be closed that morning. Parking will be limited in the area, but things should start opening up after 10:30 a.m.
Feel free to discuss this weekend’s goings on or any other topic of local interest in the comments.
The 5-4 ruling was almost immediately decried by the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, but others in the county have enthusiastically endorsed the landmark decision.
Board member Jay Fisette, who in 1997 became the first openly gay elected official in Virginia, said he was overjoyed by today’s ruling.
“I had absolutely no idea that this day would come in my lifetime — let alone while I was still in office,” said Fisette. “The Court’s action validates the lives of millions of Americans, reinforces the value of equality to our nation, and puts us in step with the civilized free nations on the planet.”
Board member Libby Garvey echoed Fisette’s excitement about the Supreme Court decision, telling ARLnow that she was delighted by the news and had “been exchanging happy texts this morning with my sister and her wife and other family.”
In a statement today, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring called the vote “an extraordinary moment in our nation’s recognition that Americans cannot and will not be denied dignity, rights, and responsibilities, including those of marriage, simply because of who they love.”
“I am proud we put Virginia on the right side of history on this issue,” Herring said, referencing the fact that gay marriage has been legal in Virginia since 2014. Herring held a press conference about marriage equality outside the Arlington County courthouse this afternoon.
Don Beyer, member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Virginia’s 8th district, also issued a statement this morning in which he applauded the Supreme Court and called the nationwide guarantee of marriage equality a “watershed moment in American history.”
“Gay rights are human rights and today we have ensured that all Americans, regardless of their sexuality, have the right to share the rest of their lives with the person they love,” said Beyer. “I could not be prouder to stand with my LGBTQ constituents and celebrate this incredible moment.”
Several of the area’s gay pride groups have upcoming events where residents can celebrate. The Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance is hosting a Pride Month Social this Sunday evening from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant (555 23rd St S.), and NOVA Pride has a SCOTUS Ruling Happy Hour scheduled for Monday night at A-Town Bar & Grill (4100 Fairfax Drive) from 5-10 p.m.
Arlington officials cautioned that this ruling only deals with one aspect of discrimination against the LGBTQ community, however. According to Fisette, the next big LGBTQ issue facing the nation is employment discrimination, and though some local governments — like Arlington’s — prohibit hiring discrimination on the basis of sexual identity, many still don’t.
“In most states, including Virginia, it is legal to fire someone simply because they are gay,” said Fisette.
Delegate Patrick A. Hope of the Virginia General Assembly agreed with Fisette, saying “Tomorrow, we must continue our efforts to end LGBT discrimination in other areas, such as in workplace, with the goal to treat every American fairly and equally.”
Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). This column is written by Dominion owner Arash Tafakor.
In part one of our red wine blend write up I wrote about the history of the red wine blend market in the United States. Even though winemakers have been making red wine blends for centuries, a new trend of wines that market themselves as just red blends has emerged.
Old World (France, Spain, Italy, Germany) wines such as Bordeaux, Cotes Du Rhone and Rioja are blends, but are under strict regulation as to which grapes winemakers may blend with. New World (United States, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand) wines do not have such strict regulation and allow winemakers to use any grape they please. This allows New World winemakers to make delicious red wine blends at a great value. Here are some outstanding red wine blends available at Dominion Wine and Beer.
Orin Swift Cellars Papillon 2012 Napa, California
Napa Valley’s 2012 growing season saw near perfect conditions. This incredible growing season made it easy for talented winemakers like David Swift Phinney, who founded Orin Swift Cellars, to make outstanding blends. Orin Swift Cellars is best known for the wine “The Prisoner” (which is no longer made by Orin Swift) a high-end blend you can find anywhere. Now Orin Swift Cellars makes a variety of blends sourced from all over the world. The 2012 Papillon is definitely a step up from the original Prisoner. A Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc, the 2012 Papillon delivers a delicious full-bodied blend. Scoring 93 points from Robert Parker, you should grab this bottle while it lasts.
Coup de Grâce has been a winner for us ever since we introduced it to our customers. A Zinfandel dominated blend, Coup de Grâce is made in a truly original California Red Blend style (Zinfandel driven). Other grapes used for Coup de Grâce blend are Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Coup de Grâce is rich and full of character with blackberry, licorice, spice and earth notes intertwined with soft oak flavors.*
Shannon Ridge Wrangler Red 2012 Lake County, California
Wrangler Red is perfect for wine lovers who enjoy wines such as Apothic Red and Ménage à Trois.
This value blend is silky smooth and tastes like a wine twice the price. A blend of mostly Zinfandel and Syrah, Wrangler Red is deep in color and consists of flavors of blackberry, cinnamon spice and sweet vanilla. A rich wine that finishes with soft silky tannins. Grapes used to produce Wrangler Red came from higher elevation vineyards of the up and coming appellation of Lake County California.
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
There are few better times to check out open houses in your area than the weekend before a holiday; you can push through a Saturday or Sunday knowing that you’ll soon have a long weekend to gather your bearings.
1020 Highland Street
1BD /1 BA Condominium
Agent: Khalil El-Ghoul, Glass House Real Estate
Open: Sunday from 2:00 p.m. to 4 p.m.
5178 27th Road North
6 BD / 3 BA Single Family Detached
Agent: Tonya Nelson, Redfin Corporation
Open: Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 4 p.m.
3409 Wilson Boulevard
2 BD / 2BA Condominium
Agent: Ajinder Mann, McWilliams/Ballard Inc.
Open: Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1 p.m.
4208 36th Street South
2 BD / 2BA Condominium
Agent: June Wheatley, Keller Williams Realty
Open: Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
2961 22nd Street South
3 BD / 3 Full, 1 Half BA Single Family Detached
Agent: Raymond Gernhart, RE/Max Allegiance
Open: Sunday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
5213 26th Road North
7 BD / 7 Full, 2 Half BA Single Family Detached
Agent: Kathryn Loughney, Keller Williams Realty
Open: Sunday 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
This Sunday marks the second annual “Freedom Four” race, which will result in some road closures in the Rosslyn and Courthouse areas.
To accommodate the four-mile course, the Arlington County Police Department will be closing roads sections of Wilson Boulevard, Clarendon Boulevard and Route 110 on June 28 (below). All roads are expected to be open to traffic after 10:30 a.m.
Between 6:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Wilson Boulevard will be closed from N. Courthouse Road to N. Rhodes Street.
Between 7:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Wilson Boulevard will be closed from from Route 110 to N. Courthouse Road. Courthouse road will remain open. Again from 7:45 to 10:30 a.m., Route 110 Northbound will be closed from I-395 to I-66.
Parking in the area will be also be restricted during the race, and drivers should be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs. According to the ACPD, illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed or towed.
The U.S. Track & Field-certified course will start and finish on Wilson Boulevard, near the restaurant Ireland’s Four Courts. The race begins promptly at 8 a.m., and participants are advised to arrive early.
Photo via Pacers Running.
Bishop Paul Loverde, the head of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, has issued a statement opposing today’s 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court to legalize marriage in all fifty states.
The Catholic Diocese of Arlington represents most of northern Virginia in the Catholic Church. Loverde released his statement along with Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of the Richmond diocese.
The full statement is below:
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to two persons of the same sex, and requires a state to recognize as marriage the union of two people of the same sex when it was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state. We are deeply distressed by this decision which fails to uphold marriage as the union which unites one man and one woman. This fundamental institution, grounded in natural law, predates any religion or nation.
All persons have inviolable dignity and deserve love and respect. Unjust discrimination is always wrong. However, our commitment to marriage is a matter of justice and fidelity to our Creator’s original design. Marriage is the only institution uniting one man and one woman with each other and with any child who comes from their union. Redefining marriage furthers no one’s rights, least of all those of children.
As Bishops, we believe it is more vital than ever that we share the Church’s consistent witness to the truth about marriage, and we call on Catholics and those concerned for the common good to continue to pray, live and speak out with charity about the true nature of marriage. The truth cannot be marginalized.
We will join with our brother bishops from across the country when we shortly share an additional statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which will provide further analysis.
The low power FM station (WERA-LPFM) is a project of Arlington Independent Media. AIM Executive Director Paul LeValley says he believes the station will provide a much-needed service to the community.
“Radio isn’t dead; radio is doing great,” LeValley said. “We need more local media — this gives us the opportunity to do that on the radio side.”
LeValley expects the radio station to built, tested and ready to air by the Dec. 9 deadline previously set by the Federal Communications Commission. Once the station has been declared functional, WERA will apply to the FCC for a license to broadcast.
A logo for the station has been created and AIM is currently in the process of finalizing the site for their radio tower: 2300 Clarendon Blvd. The FCC has granted approval and the building owner has written a lease which is being executed this week; all that’s left is for Arlington County to give zoning approval for a radio tower, but LeValley does not anticipate any problems.
Once the station is licensed, programs will be selected by an independent Program Advisory and Review Council appointed by the AIM Board, its staff and the WERA committee. The council will have 11 members, four from AIM and seven from the greater community.
“We’re going to try and be as diverse as we can geographically, occupationally and ethnically,” said LeValley.
Although the council will be independent, the AIM Board and staff and the WERA committee have written up a list of five values that the committee will use as “guiding principles” to decide which programs go on the air. Applications will be evaluated based on: service, enrichment, localism, diversity and innovation.
The community seems to have responded to the idea of a hyper-local radio station. LeValley says AIM gets inquiries every day from residents who want to get involved. In AIM’s view, the more, the merrier.
“We believe in a communication democracy,” said LeValley. “As many people as possible should be producers — media should be made up of many voices in conversation with one another, holding each other accountable.”
For those who want to get involved, but don’t know how, classes in basic radio production will be offered in the early fall. Courses will likely run about three weeks and cost around $90.
Although LeValley says there is still a long way to go between now and the Dec. 9 deadline, he is “as confident as any person can be when venturing into new territory.”
County Touts Smart Growth 2.0 — In Mary Hynes’ recent State of the County speech, and now in a press release, Arlington officials are suggesting that the era of big economic gains from smart growth is over, and a new path forward is necessary. “This is a moment unlike many… it maybe will be comparable in some ways to what happened on September 11 (2001), in terms of being a fundamental questioning of ourselves and a stepping into the space,” Hynes said in the speech. [Arlington County]
Arlington Startup Raises $4.7 Million — Brazen, an Arlington-based startup formerly known as Brazen Careerist, has raised $4.7 million in new venture funding. The company offers an “enterprise-focused chat platform” that “combines event hosting with speed dating.” [Washington Business Journal]
Cinnabon Coming to Pentagon City Mall — A Cinnabon location is coming to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City this fall. The cinnamon roll seller will be located on the third level of the mall, near Macy’s. On Thursday the Fashion Centre also announced that restaurants Charley’s Grilled Subs and Which Wich will be coming to its food court later this summer.
Hynes Hoping to Strike Hospital Land Deal — Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said she hopes to strike a deal to trade or sell county land to Virginia Hospital Center by the end of the year. The hospital is interested in acquiring soon-to-be-unused county land next to its campus, in exchange for cash or for hospital-owned land elsewhere. [InsideNova]
Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Team Cathell, “Your Orange Line Specialists.”
Buyers outpaced sellers this week in the Arlington real estate market with 72 ratified contracts and only 66 fresh new listings.
Buyer activity remains strong spurred by media reports of impending mortgage rate increases. But rates this week held steady at 4.125% for 30-yr fixed rate jumbo.
There were reports this week that the Fed would start raising rates later this year. But Fed rates do not directly influence mortgage rates. Rather, mortgage rates are influenced primarily by the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury and other bond markets.
The average list price for those ratified contracts was $680,000 and average days on market jumped to 42 due to several sales of homes that had been on the market a year. Prices ranged from $135,000 to a $2.8 million luxury condo in Rosslyn.
Nationally, sales of existing homes are up by 11.4 percent.
- 4500 FOUR MILE RUN DR #819, ARLINGTON, VA 22204- $320,000
- 4208 36TH ST S, ARLINGTON, VA 22206- $450,000
- 4622 36TH ST S #A, ARLINGTON, VA 22206- $479,500
- 880 POLLARD ST N #1024, ARLINGTON, VA 22203- $570,000
- 4801 21ST ST N, ARLINGTON, VA 22207- $625,000
- 806 JEFFERSON ST N, ARLINGTON, VA 22205- $729,000
- 2224 HARRISON ST, ARLINGTON, VA 22205- $880,000
- 1600 OAK ST #1915/1914, ARLINGTON, VA 22209- $2,800,000
Last week, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, announced a $5 million donation to a non-profit right here in Arlington.
The announcement came via a Facebook post to Zuckerberg’s 32.7 million followers which has reached 153,072 likes and counting.
The organization in question, TheDream.US, is a scholarship fund designed to help undocumented immigrants realize their dreams of going to college in the United States. The brainchild of Don Graham, CEO of Graham Holdings Company and former publisher of the Washington Post, the non-profit has made its home in Graham’s Rosslyn offices for the past two years.
Through his work with other education-based charities in the area, Graham says he learned that there were many such undocumented students in the D.C. metro area, particularly in Northern Virginia.
These students are commonly called DREAMers after the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act that has been proposed several times since 2001 but has yet to pass in Congress. DREAMers are unable to receive federal aid to continue their education. In most states they are also not eligible for in-state tuition, which can make going to college prohibitively expensive.
“Certainly in Arlington County, almost every high school student has classmates who are DREAMers, and they quickly come to understand the unique cruelty of the situation of these students,” Graham told ARLnow.com. “They can be the valedictorian, they can be the president of the class. All the other low-income students in the class get U.S. government assistance in going on to higher education, and these students cannot.”
Graham says his organization was empowered to tackle this issue head-on after President Barack Obama announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in 2012. DACA allowed undocumented immigrants who had come to the United States when they were children to obtain a Social Security number, a driver’s license and temporary legal status, renewable after two years.
In the summer of 2013, Graham, program director Gaby Pacheco and Henry Muñoz III gathered people together and proposed the idea of a scholarship program to enable those who had obtained DACA status to go to college. Amanda Bennett and Carlos Gutierrez joined Graham and Muñoz in founding TheDream.US, which officially launched on Feb. 4, 2014.
TheDream.US currently partners with about 60 colleges across the U.S. Pacheco says they look for schools located in areas with high concentrations of undocumented students, where you can get a good education for around $25,000 (the scholarship amount offered by the non-profit). In Virginia, TheDream.US partners with Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University.
The fund currently has $81 million, including donations in the millions from Graham, Zuckerberg, Bill Ackman and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. TheDream.US also allows donors to specify where they want their money to go: for example, Zuckerberg’s $5 million donation was earmarked for students in the San Francisco Bay Area. Pacheco believes this ability to ask that their money be set aside for their own region attracts donors to the organization.
“People love to be able to help out in their own community,” she said. “Many affluent people have foundations in their names or their family names, so we target them and say, ‘look, we can bring a scholarship program to your area.'”
Graham says that as of now, the organization expects to see at least 3,000 students graduate college, but that he “would like to raise more money and make it at least 5,000, and possibly go from there.”
Another part of the organization’s mission is to tell these students’ stories. TheDream.US is doing this through their stories project, which spotlights the lives of notable DREAM scholars. Interns Julia Leibowitz and Sadhana Singh (a current DREAMer) are working on the project this summer in the Rosslyn office.
“For us, it’s really about leveling the field for these young people to go to college,” said Pacheco. “We’re going to allow our numbers to speak for themselves, and show that we are helping meet the gap for people needed in various fields.”
“Rock at the Row” is in its 13th year, with concerts starting next month. The performances will take place Thursday evenings from July 16 to August 20 in Pentagon Row’s plaza area. In addition to the music, there will be craft beers and food samples in a VIP section.
The schedule, below, includes several locally-known cover and tribute bands, as well as a special Saturday evening concert by the 257th Army Band:
- July 16: Slippery When Wet (Bon Jovi tribute)
- July 23: Kristen and the Noise (cover band)
- July 30: White Ford Bronco (90s cover)
- August 1: 257th Army Band (special Saturday night concert)
- August 6: The Reagan Years (80s tribute)
- August 13: The Rockets (cover band)
- August 20: Gonzo’s Nose (cover band)
All performances start at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public.
If “Rock at the Row” isn’t enough of a music fix, residents can head to Freedom Park (1101 Wilson Blvd.) and check out Rosslyn’s “Throwback Thursdays”.
The series features cover bands “embracing the best of the 80s and 90s,” according to the event page.
Performances were scheduled to start the first Thursday of this month (June 4), but that evening’s concert by The Reflex was rained out and has not yet been rescheduled.
The five remaining performances, below, are scheduled to take place this tomorrow evening (June 25) and every Thursday evening in September:
- June 25: Lloyd Dobbler Effect (cover band)
- Sept 3: White Ford Bronco (90s cover)
- Sept 10: Back To Zero (cover band)
- Sept 17: Herr Metal (80s cover)
- Sept 24: Hand Painted Swinger (cover band)
Concerts start at 6 p.m. and are free and open to the public. Washington Wine Academy plans to offer $5 beer and wine to those of age at all remaining performances.
Photo via thereaganyears.com
Editor’s Note: This biweekly sponsored column is written by Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo, a rental real estate firm that matches up renters with their ideal apartments, condos or houses. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.
So you’ve searched and interviewed potential roommates, and you’ve finally found someone you think fits the bill. There are still a few things to work out.
The Lease – In Virginia, anyone over the age of 18 will need to apply and qualify for any rental, and all roommates will be named on the lease. This makes you jointly and severally liable, meaning no matter what, all parties named on the lease are financially responsible. Regardless of whether or not you both live there for the full term. So if your roommate bails, you are still 100% responsible for the apartment. Likewise, if you take off, you are absolutely still responsible for the remainder of the rent payments.
Roommate Agreement – It is a good idea to draft some sort of roommate agreement. While you certainly don’t need to be as detailed as Sheldon, it might be good to know if your roommate does expect a ride to work every day, or if they expect to split their bi-weekly Costco expenses with you. Hammer out the important details as to how you will split utilities, and who is responsible for making the payments. Does the other party want proof of payment?
The last thing that you want is to come home to no lights, or an eviction notice on the door when you paid your portion of the bills. Is rent split evenly, or did one of you say they will pay more for the bigger bedroom? Get that in writing. What about buying essential supplies like toilet paper and cleaning supplies? What about chores? You don’t necessarily have to have full details here, but note some general expectations on cleanliness. You may also want to cover expectations on pets and guests.
Useful Tools – Luckily, the daily business of roommate life is pretty simple these days. A few apps can make your arrangement a smooth operation. Check out Homeslice, which is basically a project management tool for roommates. There is a Whiteboard that is basically the app dashboard showing all the messages, chores, supplies and bills due. Once your roommate posts that you owe $27.05 for the electric, you can head over to Venmo to pay them your portion.
Be sure to not to get clever on your payment description, save your emojis for happy hour and late night pizza, and actually post what you are paying for so you have a record. Lastly, you can use something like Cozy for your rent payment. It is free, everyone can submit their portion of the payment and send over one payment to your landlord.
While some of this might seem a bit dry, it is important to treat a roommate relationship as a business, as that is exactly what it is. You are making a financial commitment to someone, and you want to make sure the business side is handled, so you can then move forward to enjoying life, and perhaps making a lifelong friend.
Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to [email protected].
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s organization or of ARLnow.com.
Economic development is the art of attracting the right business to make a prosperous and vibrant community for residents, businesses and visitors to enjoy. Arlington is a unique place where business and residents have together created Arlington’s success and economic prosperity.
We’ve achieved an enviable and unique position in having a 50 percent/50 percent split in the residential/commercial share of property taxes. In some of our neighboring jurisdictions, for example, there’s a 70/30 split in the share of property taxes. That 50/50 split means commercial property taxes reduce the tax burden on residents; help fund schools, parks and infrastructure; and allow Arlington to maintain its triple-A bond rating.
What’s more, those commercial property owners and businesses pay business taxes and contribute into special funds for affordable housing, arts, sidewalks, landscaping, street lights and more.
Economic development is a topic that is not without its share of controversy in Arlington. As many of you know, our County is facing an unprecedented office vacancy rate that exceeds 20 percent. The team at Arlington Economic Development is diligently working to reduce that rate.
Two years ago, Arlington’s Economic Development Commission (EDC) established a competitiveness task force to look at Arlington’s position in the marketplace. That task force determined that Arlington’s public investment in Metro over the past three decades created distinct competitive advantages for Arlington’s economy and transformed Arlington into one of the most successful and “intelligent” communities in the country.
In the past, our location next to Washington, DC, lower business tax rates, public transportation and infrastructure made Arlington the low cost alternative and a key location for federal agencies, federal contractors and businesses. However, it’s a new time. Moving forward, those federal agencies are just one driver of Arlington’s economy, and we have more competition for those office rents.
In response, Arlington is in the process of diversifying its businesses so our residents can continue to enjoy the benefits that come from that 50/50 split in residential/commercial property taxes. We are investing in smart “mixed-use” planning and transportation for our urban villages and revitalizing shopping areas. We made changes at the County level too – with innovation-friendly, less costly processes and faster response times to attract and retain businesses.
Arlington has always been an early adapter, and the EDC recognized the need to focus on an “Innovation Economy” for the future. We recently completed a study on the Future of the Arlington Office Market, and as a result, we’re exploring creative and flexible approaches to using commercial spaces that will make Arlington’s commercial space more attractive and affordable to small businesses, start-ups and emerging new economy businesses.
We’re also fostering partnerships between business, government and universities to make Arlington a desirable destination for collaboration. And, we’re providing needed incentives and technology infrastructure improvements to support “mom and pop” storefronts, high-tech startups and solo entrepreneurs — all measures that are helping Arlington stay competitive in this rapidly changing marketplace.
Arlington values being an unique community that combines small town charm of walkable streets, great schools, restaurants and shopping with the big city amenities, such as Metro, world-class hotels, universities and arts.
Right now, we’re in the midst of a transition – one that requires us to compete in the business marketplace and global economy of the future. It’s not an easy process, nor is it a short-term one. It will take everyone, including businesses and residents working together with the county, to find fair solutions that will improve the efficiency of Arlington’s development processes and meet these new challenges while still maintaining our shared community values.
Sally Duran is Chair of the Arlington Economic Development Commission. She is a health insurance policy consultant with SJD Associates.
According to CNBC’s rankings, Virginia continues to slide down the list of the best places to do business. Last year, Virginia was ranked 8th. Now, we are ranked 12th. This is consistent with a trend noted in this column in April.
In 2013, Governor McAulliffe campaigned on the platform that he could take his successful business acumen and transfer it to the Governor’s mansion. At the time, many of us disputed McAuliffe’s claims that he was successful in building any businesses, though he always ended up making money for himself. The voters disagreed and sent him to Richmond.
Unfortunately for our economy, the latest business rankings come on top of the recent report that 2014 showed zero GDP growth in the Commonwealth. Last year, Virginia ranked 48th in economic growth according to the Commerce Department, just ahead of Alaska and Mississippi.
Governor McAuliffe may be trying, but it is clear the path we are on is heading the wrong way.
Here in Arlington, it was reported this week that our new Director of Economic Development Victor Hoskins has a plan to effectively cut our office vacancy rate in half over the next 75 months.
Arlington’s leaders should not act surprised at the 21% office vacancy rate today. It is no secret that we are never going to return to spending at 2009 federal government stimulus levels, nor should we. Federal deficits are still running nearly half a trillion dollars every year, and they are projected to rise to nearly a trillion over the next decade despite taking in record levels of your tax dollars. Arlington will also not get back the federal occupants of office space lost to BRAC.
The Board has been aware of this changing federal presence for years and has seemingly done little to stem the tide. While the details of the new plan were not reported in the Washington Business Journal, it was described as ” A mix of much more aggressive marketing efforts, incentives and other government aid, and the help of “frenemies” in competing local governments such as the District and Alexandria.”
Use of the word “frenemies” aside, nowhere does it appear that Hoskins is proposing that the County Board change policies to make Arlington more competitive. For example, abolishing the BPOL tax is not under consideration.
Arlington remains some of the most valuable real estate in the United States. The federal government will continue to provide us with a foundation of economic support, but location is not enough. And to be competitive for businesses, you cannot just throw some marketing plans, incentives and other shiny objects around.
Arlington is learning the hard way that if you are not improving your overall business climate, you are going to lose out to neighboring jurisdictions. Like our elected officials in Richmond, we must create a more favorable tax climate and a regulatory structure that is consistent and not overly burdensome. Whether at the state or local level, the fundamentals count.