The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news website, is moving its headquarters from D.C. to Rosslyn.
The company, founded in February 2012, has signed a lease at 1000 Wilson Blvd, one of Rosslyn’s silver “twin towers.” About 25 employees are expected to move into the new office this spring, according to Free Beacon president Aaron Harison.
“I thought we were getting a lot more bang for our buck in Rosslyn,” Harison told ARLnow.com. The publication, described by its soon-to-be Rosslyn neighbor Politico as a “pot-stirring, hyper-conservative news and opinion site,” previously had offices on K Street NW in the District.
“We’re getting this great panoramic view of the whole city,” Harison said. “That’s something you don’t get in D.C.”
The Free Beacon recently transitioned from being a nonprofit organization, founded as a project of another conservative nonprofit, to being a for-profit entity. Harison said the new office will allow the publication to continue to grow.
“We really want to increase our footprint,” he said.
Harison, a Ballston resident, said the expanding Rosslyn restaurant and bar scene should help to ease the transition from D.C.
“We’re certainly going to be looking for a couple of new bars and restaurants to make our local haunts,” he said.
Rosslyn has become something of a minor media hub. Among the media organizations calling Rosslyn home are WJLA-TV, Politico, Washington Business Journal, ARLnow.com and Graham Holdings (owner of Slate, theRoot and Foreign Policy).
In addition to the Free Beacon, twin towers owner Monday Properties on Wednesday announced two other new leases at 1000 Wilson Blvd: Cobro Ventures, an investment and management company, and Riveron Consulting, a financial firm.
Monday will go before the Arlington County Board this weekend to seek permission to build a new roof deck on 1000 Wilson Blvd. That roof deck will be used by Sands Capital, an existing tenant, according to a spokeswoman.
Disclosure: Monday Properties is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Another Early Morning Fire — Arlington County firefighters rescued a man from an early morning house fire on the 2100 block of S. Randolph Street. This is the second day in a row that Arlington firefighters rescued someone from a house fire. [WJLA]
Association Moves from Alexandria to Arlington — The American Diabetes Association is moving from Alexandria to Arlington. The association has signed a 78,000 square foot lease for a building in Crystal City. The building, owned by Vornado, has been vacant since the previous military moved out due to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act. [Washington Business Journal]
Snow Total for Arlington — Yesterday’s afternoon snowfall resulted in an accumulation of 0.4 inches in Arlington, according to a measurement at Reagan National Airport. In the Great Falls section of Fairfax County, 1.8 inches was recorded. [National Weather Service]
Va. Considering All-HOT Lanes I-66 — Virginia is considering a plan to convert I-66 to HOT lanes only during peak periods. That would mean that transit and carpools of three or more people are allowed to use the highway for free during rush hours, but anyone else has to pay tolls. Construction could begin as soon as next year, with the goal of starting HOT lane service by 2017. [Washington Post]
Opening Date for Kapnos in Ballston — Kapnos Taverna, the new 165-seat Greek restaurant from chef Mike Isabella, has set an official opening date of Tuesday, Jan. 27. The restaurant is located at 4000 Wilson Blvd in Ballston.
Photo via @The_Old_Guard
Assessments county-wide rose 3.4 percent over 2014 values. The 4.9 percent rise in residential values (including condos, townhouses and single-family homes) was paired with a 4.7 percent rise in the assessments of existing apartment buildings.
Dragging down both was a 4.5 percent decline in existing office property assessments. Arlington County has been struggling with an office vacancy rate north of 20 percent.
“Arlington’s overall real estate market remains resilient,” Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. “The strength of our residential market balances the tremendous pressures we see in the office building market due to the effects of BRAC and regional competition.”
Real estate assessments are being mailed to all Arlington property owners today. The 2015 assessments will also be posted online and made available at 11:00 tonight.
Unless the Arlington County Board decides to lower the property tax rate, the rise in assessments will mean higher tax bills for homeowners. Either way, it should mean lower tax bills for commercial office building owners. Despite the rise in assessments, the county is still facing a multi-million dollar budget gap for its FY 2016 budget.
The full press release from Arlington County, after the jump.
County to Hold Affordable Housing Forum — The Arlington County Human Rights Commission is holding a public forum on affordable housing on Thursday. The forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street). Between 2000 and 2013, the average rent in Arlington increased by 91 percent while the average home sale price rose 140 percent. [Arlington County]
Beware of Contract Vote Requirements — In the interest of government accountability, County Board member John Vihstadt has proposed requiring a Board vote on all county contracts over $1 million. Beware of such a requirement, says a letter to the editor writer. Reformers in the District want to take away the power to vote on large contracts from the D.C. Council, citing recent scandals and the potential for abuse. [Washington Post]
Hynes to Host Business Breakfasts — Hoping to give a boost to Arlington’s economic competitiveness, County Board Chair Mary Hynes is planning on holding quarterly breakfasts with local business leaders. The meetings come at a time when Arlington’s office vacancy rate is north of 20 percent and the Columbia Pike and Crystal City corridors are facing the loss of the planned streetcar project. [InsideNova]
Christmas Tree Recycling Begins Today — Christmas tree recycling begins today in Arlington County. Trees collected curbside and at the Arlington Solid Waste Bureau will be turned into mulch. [ARLnow]
Flickr pool photo by Lawrence Cheng Photography
HOT Lane Lawsuit May Haunt County — At a time when the state is studying HOT lanes and other possible changes to I-66 inside the Beltway, Arlington County’s past actions may come back to haunt it. County officials “burned some bridges” when they filed a lawsuit against VDOT in 2009 to block HOT lanes on I-395. The county has also lost some regional credibility by abruptly canceling the streetcar project. Efforts by Arlington to oppose any changes on I-66, therefore, may fall on deaf ears. [InsideNova]
Incubator Launches in Crystal City — Eastern Foundry, a “veteran-owned government technology and innovation incubator,” celebrated its launch in Crystal City yesterday. The company held a ribbon cutting ceremony with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Vornado/Charles E. Smith president Mitchell Schear. [PR Web]
Man Arrested for Arlington Attack — Fairfax County Police have arrested a man wanted for allegedly attacking his ex-wife’s boyfriend in Arlington. In the June 15 attack on Columbia Pike, police say Edwin Patino-Medina ripped two necklaces off the boyfriend’s neck then tried to run him over with a car. [WUSA 9]
Menorah Lighting Tonight — Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. Tonight, in the park next to the Clarendon Metro station, Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington will hold a menorah lighting and community celebration. The event kicks off at 6:00 p.m. and features a “giant 6 foot menorah” plus music, potato latkes, chocolate gelt and “dreidels for all.” Tomorrow, the group will hold its annual Chanukah on Ice event at the Pentagon Row ice rink.
Flickr pool photo by Alves Family
Arlington Firms Among ‘Best Companies to Work For’ – Two Arlington-based companies have made the annual list of the top 50 small and medium-sized companies to work for . The 2015 list, compiled by employment website Glassdoor.com, ranks Ballston-based Evolent Health at No. 3 and Courthouse-based Opower at No. 25.
New Plan for Rosslyn Plaza — Vornado and Gould Property Co. have updated their redevelopment plan for Rosslyn Plaza, the series of aging buildings along N. Arlington Ridge Road between Wilson Blvd and 19th Street N. The development team is proposing 2.5 million square feet of new construction, including a total of five office and residential buildings, four acres of open space and a esplanade deck with views of D.C. and an outdoor ice rink in the winter. [Washington Business Journal]
Celtics Player Swings By The Italian Store — Celtics center Kelly Olynyk stopped by The Italian Store after losing to the Wizards in double-overtime on Monday. He posed for photos and even helped make sandwiches and pizzas. Olynyk isn’t the only pro athlete that has visited the Lee Highway store. Nene, of the Wizards, and Nationals stars Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman have stopped by, as has NBA great John Stockton, who happens to be owner Bob Tramonte’s brother-in-law. [Washington Post]
ACFD Recruitment Starts Tomorrow — The Arlington County Fire Department’s biennial open recruitment period starts tomorrow. From Dec. 12-25 ACFD will accept applications for potential firefighter and EMT recruits. No experience is necessary. The county has also made a series of “Join the ACFD” videos for recruitment purposes. [Arlington County]
Arbour Realty Acquired By Md. Brokerage — Arbour Realty, the Ballston-based boutique real estate brokerage owned by “Ask Adam” columnist Adam Gallegos, has been acquired by Real Living At Home, a larger brokerage with office in Chevy Chase, Md. and Dupont Circle in D.C. Gallegos will hand over management responsibilities and continue as an agent with Real Living At Home. [Real Living At Home]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The Board has four items in Saturday’s consent agenda dealing with the conversion of space mandated to be retail, based on building’s site plans, to office or medical uses. One of those items is for a dentist’s office already in operation in Courthouse Plaza under a temporary site plan amendment.
The other three agenda items are for:
- Two vacant retail spaces, totaling 3,696 square feet, at 1800 N. Kent Street. One space (pictured above) was a private school space that has been vacant for six years. The other had been occupied by dry cleaners, but has been vacant for 10 years, according to the staff report.
- A 2,830-square-foot vacant space on the ground floor of 2001 15th Street N., in the Odyssey Condominiums. The space fronts Clarendon Blvd, but it has been vacant for five years, other than serving as a temporary leasing office for the now-opened apartments across the street, the staff report states. Since the leasing office has relocated, the owner reports difficulty finding a tenant for the space.
- A 1,520-square-foot space at 1600 Wilson Blvd, the former site of the Sir Speedy Printing Center, which has been vacant since July. The space, according to the staff report, “has a history of retail vacancy and poses some location challenges for retail attraction.”
County staff identified no issues for any of these sites, suggesting a “medical/physical therapy office, will help activate the street and pose no adverse impacts to the neighborhood,” in all of the reports.
The county seems to be taking a softer line on mandated ground floor retail spaces, in recognition that some storefronts are just not viable for traditional retail. For instance, 1800 N. Kent Street is well hidden from Rosslyn’s main N. Lynn Street drag, resulting in a relative paucity of the foot traffic that could bring customers to a small business.
County staff, in recommending approval of the motions, used the draft Arlington Retail Action Plan as guidance in its decisions.
The draft action plan, which would replace and expand upon the 2001 Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor Retail Plan, includes a map that specifies which type of retail can go where. According to the county’s planning staff, all four locations on Saturday’s agenda are considered appropriate for medical or office use under the draft retail map.
President Obama’s announcement on Nov. 20 that he would take executive action on immigration is leading to a hiring boom in Crystal City.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration announced on Monday that it’s hiring about 1,000 full-time federal and contract workers in Crystal City to help implement the president’s executive action, which will grant temporary legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants and help highly-skilled workers stay in the U.S.
Salaries at the facility will range from $34,415 to $157,100, various news outlets reported.
That’s good news for Crystal City and its high office vacancy rate. We’re told the new workers will be based at Crystal Plaza 4, a 46-year-old office building at 2200 Crystal Drive. The federal government is backfilling a General Services Administration lease for the Vornado-owned building.
Republicans have decried the president’s action and are criticizing the new “hiring binge.”
“This facility is a clear symbol of the President’s defiance of the American people, their laws, and their Constitution,” Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions said, in a statement.
Morroy Announces Re-election Bid — Arlington Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy announced that she will be seeking re-election in 2015 at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. Morroy, who is recovering from recent hip replacement surgery, outlined her goals for a new term. The goals include returning property assessments to the Commissioner of Revenue’s office, thus bringing it under the supervision of an elected official who’s directly responsible to taxpayers.
Arlingtonian Running for UK Parliament — Arlington resident Sonia Klein, who was born in London, is running for a seat in the UK House of Commons. Klein, who’s affiliated with the Labour Party, can run because residency is not required to run for House of Commons seats. Klein has previously served as vice chair of precinct operations for the Arlington County Democratic Committee. [InsideNova]
Whipple Appointed to Board of Health — Gov. Terry McAuliffe has appointed former state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple to the Virginia Board of Health. Whipple previously represented the 31st District, which includes Arlington, in the state Senate. [Commonwealth of Virginia]
New Cycletrack Proposed — Arlington County is proposing a sidewalk-level cycletrack along S. Walter Reed Drive to connect the W&OD Trail and the Four Mile Run Trail. However, some cyclists are concerned the cycletrack would be barely distinguishable from the adjacent sidewalk. [Greater Greater Washington]
Clarendon Office Building Sold — The recently-constructed office building at 3003 Washington Blvd in Clarendon has been sold. KBS Real Estate Investment Trust has reportedly agreed to purchase the building from Penzance Cos. for $146.8 million. The building is 95 percent leased to eight tenants. [GlobeSt, Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Desiree L.C.
The event aims to create a community of Arlington shoppers, small retail shops and restaurants by having the businesses offer sales and promotions throughout the day on Saturday, after Black Friday and before Cyber Monday.
This year, the event will be run through the YOPP app, a small business shopping platform that allows its users to look up participating businesses, see which sales they are offering and even communicate with the store owners. Customers hoping to seek out deals on Saturday will have to download the free app onto their smartphone and look up the businesses on the app’s map, where they can also see fellow shoppers.
As part of Small Business Day, two locations will be hosting Santa Claus for pictures: Rhythm in Motion Dance Center, at 5161 Lee Highway from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. and Penrose Square at 2413 Columbia Pike (formerly Society Fair), from 11:15 a.m. to noon.
Among the businesses participating will be One More Page Books in East Falls Church, which President Barack Obama visited in 2012, Grateful Red Wine Shop in Clarendon, Papillon Cycles on Columbia Pike, Ship’s Hatch in Crystal City, Cheesetique in Shirlington, Covet near Ballston, Trade Roots in Westover and Arrowine and Cheese along Lee Highway.
ATR’s permit renewal request was pulled from the Board’s “consent agenda” for non-controversial items by County Board member Mary Hynes. It was instead heard individually on Tuesday, giving Hynes, a nearby resident, a chance to inquire about a couple of noise complaints she had received from her Lyon Village neighbors.
The Board was assured by an ATR manager that the bar has addressed the noise issue and that it in fact doesn’t host any live entertainment anymore — instead it’s seeking to hang on to the permit “just in case.” That was enough assurance for Board, which took little additional time to approve the routine renewal request.
While it won the battle, it’s unclear if ATR in Clarendon will win the war. Restaurant and commercial real estate industry sources have told ARLnow.com that American Tap Room has been seeking a buyer to take over its lease.
We’re told that the company pays more than $650,000 per year in rent for the Clarendon location, which has not enjoyed the same level of success as its locations in Bethesda and Reston. The latter two locations are “crushing it” and the company may simply be looking to focus on more profitable ventures, a source says.
However, everything seemed business as usual with the ATR manager who spoke at the County Board meeting. He gave no hints of any possible changes to come.
Responding to an inquiry sent to a media representative, an ATR manager contacted ARLnow.com last week. The manager said the Clarendon location is not closing, but declined to speak on the record and sought assurances that an ARLnow.com editor was not recording the call.
American Tap Room opened its Clarendon location in 2011.
The Arlington County Board will discuss a proposed update to the 2001 Retail Action Plan, which covered the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. The update expands the plan’s footprint to the Crystal City and Columbia Pike corridors, includes recommendations to improve the county’s retail environment and asks the Board to change regulation to allow for retail growth.
“This is a big deal and this has taken a long time to work through,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan told the Board. “This is a report that will guide us for many years to come on how we’re going to move forward. Retail will succeed where it can thrive.”
The Virginia Department of Taxation reported more than $2 billion in retail and food and beverage sales in Arlington last year, but the opportunity is there for much more local retail spending, the plan states.
“The estimated demand for retail and food and beverage is in excess of $4.7 billion dollars,” the report states, citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Surveys. “With a demand greater than sales, Arlington is considered to have a leakage of retail opportunity — customers must travel outside of Arlington to purchase many goods and services — in most broad retail categories.”
Among the key recommendations are developing design guidelines to make “retail look like retail,” developing a specific retail map to guide which kinds of retail businesses should go where — encouraging clustering of specific types of retail to draw in more customers — and encouraging public art and accessibility.
Stores should be encouraged to design their exteriors creatively, the plan says, and to “design storefronts for three miles an hour (pedestrian speed) rather than 35 miles per hour (vehicular speed).” That’s a bit of a departure from years past, when retail signage rules were more stringent in Arlington, discouraging retailers from standing out too much. For interior design, the plan advocates for higher ceilings on the ground floor of buildings and to ” to allow for maximum flexibility and use of the space.”
The draft plan also recommends softening regulations on food trucks and other mobile vendors. It says “vending zones” are under consideration in Rosslyn, Courthouse and Ballston, which would allow food trucks to park for more than two hours at a time.
“With social media and serial followers, vending can help pull customers into different areas,” the plan says. “Establishing vending zones, to allow trucks to vend for longer than two hours or for alternative hours, can help prime an area that is not quite ready for retail or can attract people to other uses — parks, cultural venues or other businesses.”
Grocery stores are seen as a key component of Arlington’s retail plan, as they serve as anchors for retail districts. The plan generally lauds the Arlington County Board for its flexibility in approving grocery stores, including most recently the store planned at 1401 Wilson Blvd, whenever the property is redeveloped. However, it says the term “grocery store” should be more clearly defined for administrative purposes. “The policy should clearly articulate how and when incentives or mechanisms to support the construction of a grocery store are applied,” according to the plan.
Many of the actions the plan suggests include amending the county’s Zoning Ordinance and special exception policies to factor in broader retail goals. It’s those changes that gave some of the County Board members pause and led them to schedule a work session in January, before the plan is up for a vote in February.
Placing behind Arlington, in order, was: Madison, Wisc.; Lincoln, Neb.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Denver, Colo.; Seattle, Wash.; and Austin, Texas. Washington, D.C. ranked No. 14.
“Arlington, Virginia, is the best city for young entrepreneurs with a high percentage of educated young people, the highest per capita income in the nation and access to businesses in the Washington, D.C., area,” the website wrote. ” Nearly 28% of the city’s residents are 25 to 34 years old, and at least 74% of all residents over 25 hold a bachelor’s degree or higher — both of these figures are the highest in the nation”
Don Tito is likely to open in the 10,000 square foot space at 3165 Wilson Blvd by early March, according to Scott Parker, one of the establishment’s five partners. Construction is expected to start as soon as next week.
The restaurant will feature “flex Mex” cuisine — Mexican dishes plus traditional American fare with a “Mexican twist” — but the emphasis will be more on the aforementioned beer and tequila. A bar will be added to what is now a dining area on the second floor, and a second bar will be added to the center of the rooftop.
The partners in Don Tito are Parker, Nick Cordero and Mike Cordero — the owners of the popular but oft-maligned A-Town Bar and Grill in Ballston — plus newcomers Ryan DeMagistris and Jason Fisher. All five are Arlington residents, Parker said.
The Cordero crew is on a roll since closing the financially-sound but stagnant Caribbean Breeze and reopening as A-Town in 2012. In addition to purchasing Eventide — for a sum just shy of $1 million, sources say – the company has also secured a 6,000 square foot space in Rosslyn for a bar/restaurant that’s expected to open in the fall of 2015, Parker tells ARLnow.com.
Parker declined to reveal additional information about the future Rosslyn watering hole, including its exact location.
The Eventide purchase will give its owners two big advantages, according to those with knowledge of the transaction. For one, the sublease offers five years of well below-market rent. For another, it offers a prime location in a Clarendon business district that’s well established as a nightlife spot — as opposed to A-Town’s location, where condo-owning neighbors have railed against late night noise.
Don Tito will remain open until 2:00 a.m. seven nights per week, according to Parker.
Parker said the partners were able to buy Eventide despite stiff competition from other restaurant owners, both local and national. The concept for Don Tito has been in the works for some time now, he said, and 3165 Wilson Blvd was judged the ideal place for it to open. In 2013, a Northern Virginia Magazine article about the opening of another Cordero restaurant, Flat Iron Steak & Saloon in Alexandria, described a planned Arlington venture that was then dubbed “Tacos and Beer.”
The owners of Eventide spent a reported $3 million constructing the restaurant, which opened in 2008. Parker said changes are necessary to “liven up the space and give it a little spark,” including renovations to the second floor which is “looking a bit too much like a monastery or something.”
Parker said he thinks Don Tito will compare favorably to what he described as an overabundance of American-style bars and restaurants in Clarendon. As for more direct competition, like nearby Mexicali Blues and Fuego Cocina, Parker said he and his partners are not too worried.
“Fuego is an incredible venue and we’ve been there many times,” he said. “Fuego is a great Mexican restaurant, [Don Tito] will be a great Mexican bar.”
New Incubator to Launch in Crystal City — Eastern Foundry, a new incubator serving small businesses that contract with the federal government, is launching next month in Crystal City. Eastern Foundry joins two other recent startup-oriented additions to Crystal City: TechShop and the Crystal Tech Fund. [Washington Business Journal]
Rosslyn Planning Meeting — The county will share “preliminary Concept Plan Alternatives” as part of its Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study at a public workshop on Saturday. The study is, among other things, considering redevelopment possibilities for the Wilson School and Fire Station No. 10 property on Wilson Blvd. [Arlington County]
Glen Campbell Movie Screening in Ballston – A special screening of the Glen Campbell documentary I’ll Be Me will be held at the Regal Cinema in Ballston (671 N. Glebe Road) on Saturday. The documentary explores the music legend’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease. [Volunteers of America]
Tips for Car-Free Living in Arlington — Arlington’s transportation blog has seven tips for living car-free in Arlington. Tips include shopping at local stores, downloading the right transportation-related smartphone apps and borrowing a car when you need one. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Andrew Clegg