42°Partly Cloudy

Morning Notes

Icy Conditions on N. Glebe Road — The northbound lanes of N. Glebe Road are closed at Military Road “for an unknown amount of time” due to icy conditions. [Twitter]

County Board Member is Pregnant — Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol and her husband Steve are expecting their first child in May. [Twitter]

Long-Time APS Employee Dies — Charles Weber, a World War II veteran who “worked for Arlington County Public Schools for thirty-seven years and served as Principal of Swanson Junior High School and Stratford Junior High School,” has died at the age of 91. [Dignity Memorial]

Scooter Trips > Bikeshare Trips — “In October, when Arlington, Va.’s scooter pilot began, there were 69,189 Bird and Lime scooter trips for 75,425 total miles traveled with Bird and Lime. Meanwhile, Capital Bikeshare – routinely and still considered a success, with lots more potential – had 26,532 total trips in Arlington in October.” [Mobility Labs, Twitter]

Growing Number of $200K+ Earners in Arlington — “If there’s one place in America that doesn’t need a helping hand from Jeff Bezos, it could be [Arlington and the D.C. suburbs]. The Washington commuter area is home to four of the top 10 (Nos. 2, 3, 5 and 6) fastest-growing census tracts of high earners.” [Bloomberg]

Conspiracy Theorists Eye Cemetery — “QAnon believers have become convinced the deep-state cabal has a bunker under Arlington Cemetery, connected to a tunnel running straight to Comet Ping Pong.” [Twitter]

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USPS Proposes Relocating Rosslyn Post Office, Plans Public Meeting Tomorrow

The Rosslyn Post Office could soon be on the move.

The U.S. Postal Service is proposing relocating its office in a building at 1101 Wilson Blvd elsewhere in the neighborhood.

Officials have yet to identify a new spot for the post office, but they hope to move it to “a yet-to-be-determined location as close as reasonably possible to the current site,” according to a news release.

The USPS says that, if it approves such a change, “there would be no change to post office box numbers or ZIP codes.”

A Postal Service spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what prompted the USPS to consider a relocation.

However, the USPS is planning a public meeting to discuss the proposal tomorrow night (Wednesday) at 5 p.m. at 1911 N. Fort Myer Drive. The Postal Service will then accept written comments for the next 30 days following that gathering.

Anyone interested in submitting them can send them to:

Richard Hancock
Real Estate Specialist
U.S. Postal Service
PO Box 27497
Greensboro, NC 27498-1103
[email protected]

USPS also operates several other post offices near the Rosslyn location, including ones in Clarendon, Court House and at Fort Myer.

Photo via Google Maps 

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Despite Amazon Setting Up Shop Nearby, Officials Say DCA Looks Unlikely to Add More Flights

Amazon may be bringing thousands of new workers and a spate of new businesses right to the doorstep of Reagan National Airport, but don’t expect to start hearing too many more planes soaring over Arlington anytime soon.

At least, that’s the word from county leaders, airport officials and the airlines themselves. Despite the tech giant setting up shop right across from the airport in the newly dubbed “National Landing,” all parties involved believe that DCA is a bit too crowded to start welcoming passengers bound for the new headquarters.

“We’re really a constrained airport in terms of size, gate availability and runway capacity,” Andrew Trull, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, told ARLnow. “We just are not anticipating more flights heading toward Reagan.”

The potential for an increase in aircraft noise is just one of many concerns raised by county residents in the wake of Amazon’s big announcement last month, particularly because people in a variety of Arlington neighborhoods have already complained of planes bound for DCA keeping them awake at night. Reagan has also seen a surge in traffic in recent years, prompting all manner of county officials to try and take action on the issue.

But Trull points out that DCA is one of several airports around the country where the Federal Aviation Administration closely regulates how many planes pass through each year, a process known as “slot control.”

That leaves it up to Congress to determine if DCA is even allowed to welcome more aircraft in the first place, likely through an appropriations bill for the FAA. Lawmakers just passed the first such funding “reauthorization” legislation for the agency in six years this fall, and United Airlines spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs points out that Congress “rejected any changes to this important rule” governing air traffic limits at DCA in the new bill.

While Gibbs added that she believes United is “uniquely positioned to serve these communities as they capitalize on the exciting opportunities that are headed their way,” she also didn’t have any service changes to announce.

Spokespeople for both Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines, another pair of carriers offering a bevy of flights between DCA and Amazon’s Seattle home, also said the companies weren’t planning any service increases at this time. Representatives for the other airlines serving DCA didn’t respond to requests for comment.

However, that’s not to say that Amazon’s arrival won’t prompt any changes at National. Though the number of flights may not increase in the coming years, Trull said it is possible that airlines could start flying larger planes into DCA to keep pace with rising demand.

For instance, airlines could replace smaller, regional jets on certain routes with much larger planes instead, a change that Trull says would be allowed under the “slot” rules.

“We could see an increase in capacity without an increase in the number of flights,” Trull said.

Executives with American Airlines have even begun publicly discussing such a possibility in recent days, and kicked off discussions with Amazon officials about which routes employees might start choosing as the company moves to Arlington.

Of course, Trull notes that any airline looking to expand at National should consider that airport was designed to serve 15 million passengers a year, but currently welcomes about 24 million annually. That’s helped prompt the airport’s major “Project Journey” renovations, which will ultimately eliminate the infamous regional gate “35X” in favor of new, dedicated space for those flights.

“A lot of people are wondering if it will add capacity, but the answer is ‘No,'” Trull said. “We see it as an improvement to the passenger experience… because we’re already dealing with so many people.”

Instead, the biggest beneficiary of Amazon’s arrival may well be National’s sister airport: Dulles International.

Trull points out that the MWAA has specifically worked to make Dulles “more competitive” in recent years, including major renovations to the airport and the (still ongoing) extension of Metro’s Silver Line to reach Dulles. Accordingly, he sees the Loudoun airport as the region’s “primary growth airport with upside potential” now that Amazon is in town.

Gibbs adds that Dulles will indeed be the main place that United ramps up service in the coming years, particularly because it offers international flights that will likely be attractive to a global company like Jeff Bezos’ bunch.

“One of the criteria Amazon raised with us was the proximity to the airport, but also to the two other airports in this region, with that benefit of global accessibility specifically,” Alex Iams, assistant director of Arlington Economic Development, said during a Dec. 6 question-and-answer session on Amazon.

Yet Arlington still seems set to benefit from Amazon-related visitors in one key way: new hotel bookings. Even if the tech company’s staffers won’t be spurring a flurry of new business at National, county officials do project that many visitors will opt to stay near the new headquarters.

In fact, they’ve even structured the county’s incentive package for Amazon around that expectation — Arlington plans to hand the company grant money that will be drawn solely from any increase the county sees in hotel tax revenues.

“We’re going to be seeing between 125,000 and 150,000 hotel nights coming into the market each year,” said Victor Hoskins, director of Arlington Economic Development. “I talk to our hotel owners and they’re delighted, they can’t believe it.”

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

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UPDATE: Police Investigating Apparent Murder-Suicide Near Seven Corners

(Update at 2:20 p.m.) Police are now investigating an incident where two people were shot and killed at a Seven Corners-area apartment complex as a murder-suicide.

Fairfax County Police say the incident happened just before noon today (Tuesday) along the 3100 block of S. Manchester Street, near the Arlington County line.

Investigators now believe a man struck a woman with an SUV, and shot her. He then shot and killed himself, police believe.

Detectives are now working to identify the people involved.

Police don’t believe there’s any threat to the public associated with the shooting, but are still advising people to avoid the area.

Photo via @FairfaxCountyPD

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Morning Notes

Arlington Employee Inspires New Child Care Policy — Lanette Johnson, an employee at the Pentagon City Best Buy store, is “the inspiration behind Best Buy’s new backup child-care benefit for all full-time and part-time employees. Workers at nearly 1,000 U.S. stores, distribution centers and corporate headquarters have access to 10 days of subsidized care each year through a Best Buy partnership with Care.com.” [Washington Post]

Weekend Rain Drenched Arlington — Arlington was among the parts of the region to see the most rainfall over the weekend. [Twitter]

Small Business Lender Active in Arlington Courts — “On Deck Capital Inc., a publicly traded online small business lender based in New York… which also has Arlington office space… accounted for 7 percent of all [small business] debt collection cases brought to that Arlington County courthouse through September.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Leadership for Arlington NAACP — “The Arlington branch of the NAACP will enter 2019 with a new leadership structure and a commitment to building on recent growth. ‘I’m all about community activism – we will go out and do good things,’ said Julius Spain Sr., who on Dec. 17 was sworn in to serve as president of the 78-year-old local civil-rights organization.” [InsideNova]

Arlington GOP Chief Steps Down — “The Arlington County Republican Committee will enter 2019 on a hunt for prospective candidates – and a hunt for a new chairman, too. Jim Presswood, who has chaired the GOP for nearly three years, announced recently he would be stepping down halfway through his second two-year term due to commitments at work.” [InsideNova, Facebook]

Photo courtesy Crystal Comiskey

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With Amazon On Board, JBG Smith Prepares to Bet Big on ‘National Landing’

JBG Smith is gearing up to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard, arguing that Amazon’s impending arrival could make the “National Landing” area nearly as in-demand as D.C. itself.

In documents delivered to investors last week, the developer revealed its most detailed plans yet for how it expects to work with the tech giant as it moves its 25,000 workers to the county.

Perhaps most notably, JBG revealed for the first time that Amazon will fork over $294 million to buy the company’s “PenPlace” and Metropolitan Park properties in Pentagon City, where it will eventually build new offices. As work on those buildings continue, the company will sign “short-to-medium term” leases at JBG’s buildings at 241 18th Street S. and 1800 S. Bell Street in Crystal City, where JBG is also planning to spend another $15 million to spruce up the properties.

JBG also told its shareholders that Amazon will lease the entirety of a new building planned for 1770 Crystal Drive, which sits at the heart of the developer’s just-approved “Central District” redevelopment project for the entire block. The company expects to spend $80 million redeveloping the building, with the eventual goal of opening it in time for 2020 and making it a more permanent home for Amazon employees.

But those changes represent only the work the developer is planning that’s tied directly to Amazon. By its own estimate, JBG already owns about 71 percent of office buildings in the neighborhood, and it hopes “redeploy the proceeds” of its Amazon windfall “into either new development or income-producing multifamily assets.”

Per the documents, potential projects could include the redevelopment of 1800 S. Bell Street property once Amazon leaves, or the overhaul of some of its other existing Crystal City and Pentagon City properties; 2001 Jefferson Davis Highway, 223 23rd Street S., 101 12th Street S., and the RiverHouse Apartments (1400 S. Joyce Street) are all listed as possibilities.

Essentially, the company is betting that Amazon’s arrival will be a “powerful economic catalyst” and “kick-start the development of a technology ecosystem that has long searched for its footing in the D.C.,” CEO Matt Kelly wrote to shareholders.

“As vacancy in National Landing burns off and technology job growth gains momentum, we expect National Landing to [surpass] Rosslyn as the most valuable Northern Virginia submarket, and approach convergence with Washington, D.C.,” Kelly wrote in a letter to investors.

Those forecasts represent quite the radical change from Crystal City’s previous woes attracting any companies to the area. The departure of federal and military tenants left the neighborhood with a persistently high vacancy rate, shrinking a key tax revenue stream for the county, but officials have long touted Amazon’s impending arrival as a way to solve that problem virtually overnight.

JBG is so bullish on the impending demand in the area that it could very well convert one of its planned apartment redevelopments into more office space instead.

The developer recently began demolition work on a building at 1900 Crystal Drive, space it eventually hoped to transform into two apartment towers with a total of 750 homes between them. JBG plans to start construction by “early 2020,” but notes for investors that “this project could switch to office in the event of a substantial or full building pre-lease.”

The company plans to eventually spend $550 million on that construction and work its other Amazon-related properties, though it expects it will have little trouble affording such expense. Kelly noted in his letter that JBG saw increased demand in the area even before Amazon made its Arlington move official, and has been able to raise rents and property asking prices accordingly.

“We have also seen a dramatic increase in demand from retailers looking to locate in our initial phases of placemaking development,” Kelly wrote. “Since the announcement, we have had a further wave of increased inquiries. We believe that this increase in demand for our holdings in National Landing will continue, and likely amplify, as Amazon grows in the submarket.”

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March of Dimes Moving HQ to Crystal City, Will Get $150,000 in County Incentives

The March of Dimes is officially moving its headquarters to Crystal City, now that county leaders have signed off on a $150,000 incentive package to lure the nonprofit to Arlington.

The County Board approved a deal with the research and advocacy organization at its meeting Saturday (Dec. 17). The March of Dimes will now move its main offices from White Plains, New York to an office building at 1550 Crystal Drive, bringing 80 jobs to the county in the process.

The nonprofit primarily focuses on advocating for the health of mothers and babies, and was founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938. It currently has an office with 12 employees in Arlington, but it ultimately agreed to a full relocation to the county back in May.

“This organization’s work and legacy is inspiring, and we are honored that the strength of our community, as well as our proximity to the nation’s capital, led the March of Dimes to choose Arlington for its new home,” County Board Chair Katie Cristol wrote in a statement. “We look forward to a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship.”

However, the relocation wasn’t official until the Board could formally lend its approval to a deal with the nonprofit supplying it with $150,000 in incentive grants to be handed out between now and 2021, contingent on the group meeting certain targets.

The organization will have to occupy at least 25,000 square feet of office space in the county — its new lease at the JBG Smith-owned property calls for the company to occupy about 28,000 square feet of space — maintain at least 80 jobs, and “hold at least one regional or national event drawing at least 150 people from outside the region to Arlington County each of the three years of the performance agreement,” under the terms of the deal.

County staff estimate that the nonprofit will generate about $1.25 million in tax revenue for Arlington’s coffers over the next decade, justifying the incentive money, which has become an increasingly controversial tool since Amazon first started eyeing the area.

The March of Dimes will move into a building that will be quite close to some of the tech giant’s planned space in Crystal City, and at the center of a major redevelopment of the block set to kick off later this year.

Photo 1 via Google Maps

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Vihstadt Farewell Remarks from Saturday’s County Board Meeting

Outgoing Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt said goodbye, at least for now, to public office on Saturday.

A ceremony was held at Saturday’s County Board meeting to honor Vihstadt and his four years of service on the Board. Fellow Board members and members of the public spoke glowingly of Vihstadt’s work ethic, commitment to serving constituents and ability to find common ground amid disagreement.

Vihstadt, an independent, was defeated by Democrat Matt de Ferranti in the November general election. De Ferranti will take office in January.

After more than an hour of comments from Arlington officials and the public, Vihstadt spoke at the meeting. A transcript of his prepared remarks is below, after the jump.

Chair Cristol, I appreciated your fair and impartial leadership the last twelve months. You’ve been open and accessible, even-handed and ecumenical, and, at least most of the time, good humored with your gavel.

Vice Chair Dorsey, Member Garvey and Member Gutshall, I will miss serving with each of you as well.

Like ingredients in a salad bowl, we complemented each other.   While most of our Board votes were unanimous, so many of these 5-0 votes masked the different ways we got to the same conclusion. There was compromise, give and take, and negotiation along the way.

There were divided votes and shifting coalitions, as well. In a diverse and pluralistic community like Arlington, that’s the way it should be, and I hope that dimension is not lost next year.

To County Manager Mark Schwartz, County Clerk Kendra Jacobs and County Attorney Steve MacIsaac, thanks for your incredible support and, on occasion, patience.

True, I asked a lot of questions.   Yet for our 3,900 County employees, no question was too challenging, or too obscure. I know you’ll miss these questions, so I’m grooming my successor, Matt de Ferranti, to be as inquisitive as I am. And just in case, I’ve got a bunch of Freedom of Information Act requests ready to go.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

Since I joined the Board in 2014, we accomplished a great deal to put our house in order. I can’t take full credit, but we’ve moved away from extravagant and unsustainable projects.

The streetcar was cancelled, there are no more $1.6 million dollar dog parks or million dollar bus stops. The former ArtiSphere is back on the tax rolls, and the Olympic-sized aquatics center was downsized.

We’ve given renewed focus to core services, like public schools capacity, shoring up Metro and Columbia Pike transit, augmenting our parks, fields and green space, boosting public safety pay, speeding our street paving, and holding up our social safety net.

We have an independent County Auditor, and a Waste, Fraud & Abuse Hotline. Employee whistleblower protection.

And speaking of our Auditor, last month, we brought our County Audit Committee and the Schools Audit Committees together to better address the high cost of schools construction. I hope that you continue this critical and overdue effort.

Also this year, at my urging, the Board directed the Manager to come back with ideas for cost-benefit studies, so we can better assess the costs and consequences of our development decisions.

The Board directed the Manager to set up a working group to rethink the Neighborhood Conservation program, with an eye to ensuring that we deliver necessary community infrastructure in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

And, as I’ve been pushing, rather than immediately scratch the itch to spend, we finally voted to carry over to the next fiscal year 75% of our FY 2018 budget surplus, so that we can apply it to the significant budget challenges we face next year, and weigh all competing priorities at the same time, holistically.

LOOKING AHEAD

But let’s not kid ourselves. We still have a long way to go:

–First, to grow our economy, while managing our growth in a fiscally sound, equitable, and environmentally sustainable manner.   Amazon’s arrival will bring new benefits, but new challenges, as well.

–Second, to ensure still greater openness, transparency and inclusion in County processes and operations; and

–Third, to instill a stronger sense of fiscal discipline at a time when our expenditures are growing at nearly twice the rate that our revenues are.

On January 1, 2019, the Board will revert back to 100 percent one party government. In my view, this puts a special burden on the County Board, if you’ll take it. I hope that each of you will do your share, to ensure

That you hear all voices,

That you consider all sides of every issue, and

That everyone believes you’ve listened to them, even if they’re not necessarily accommodated.

PARTISANSHIP

In closing, a word about partisanship.

Just two years ago, then Governor Terry McAuliffe — a Democrat — vetoed legislation passed by the Republican General Assembly to allow candidates to be identified by political party on ballots for local offices like County Board and School Board.

Why? “Party affiliation is not useful information when making decisions about purely local matters and would only serve to increase divisiveness in local government,” said the Governor. “We should be working to reduce partisan rancor, rather than creating new places for it to flourish.”   The Governor was right!

Fortunately, his veto was sustained. Yet partisan sample ballots — be they blue or red — undermine that goal, and partisanship in Arlington, as elsewhere, maintains an increasingly toxic grip on full participation in civic affairs.

I’m excited to join the state steering committee of Unite America, a new national organization working to bridge the partisan divide and find common ground. And I look forward to the day, hopefully soon, when One Virginia’s mission of ending partisan redistricting succeeds.

Finally, to the people of Arlington, and especially the over 46,000 voters who supported our drive for independent thinking, greater transparency, more inclusive community engagement and fiscal responsibility in County government, thank you from the bottom of my heart.   I’ll not be far away, and I’ll be watching what happens at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard!

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your County Board member. It’s been the highest honor and privilege of my life.

Please keep in touch.

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Morning Notes

More Details on WeWork in Rosslyn — “WeWork has made it official: The coworking space provider is expanding, in a big way, into Rosslyn. Its newest location, expected to open in the second quarter of 2019, will include more than 1,400 desks across four floors of JBG Smith Properties’ CEB Tower, 1201 Wilson Blvd.” [Washington Business Journal]

Wreaths Laid Despite Rain — “Despite the rain, tens of thousands of volunteers came out on Saturday to lay wreaths on the graves at Arlington National Cemetery… President Trump made an appearance, speaking to soldiers while at the cemetery.” [WJLA, Fox News]

Explainer: State Roads in Arlington — “Though it’s not obvious, the roads you use every day are owned by an overlapping patchwork of governments, regulatory bodies, and private interests. This isn’t a story of tyrannical state governments imposing their will upon localities, but of intergovernmental coordination that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.” [Greater Greater Washington]

New ART Route Starts Today — “ART 72 connects North Arlington to Ballston and Shirlington. The new route, along with Metrobus 22A/C, brings more frequent weekday service between Ballston and Shirlington. Service operates every 20 minutes during rush hours and every 30 minutes the rest of the day.” [Arlington Transit]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Glebewood Man Pleads Guilty to Using Dark Web to Download Child Pornography

An Arlington man now faces up to two decades behind bars, after admitting to downloading child pornography from the dark web.

Federal prosecutors say 39-year-old Jon T. Wilkins, a former commercial bank executive, pleaded guilty today (Friday) to one count of “receiving child pornography.” A judge could now sentence him to anywhere between five and 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors allege that FBI agents discovered that Wilkins was active on “Playpen,” a dark web forum specializing in child pornography, back in 2015.

They then tracked Wilkins’ IP address to his home in a Glebewood neighborhood, and secured search warrants for his property. Investigators then found dozens of images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of preteen girls on computers belonging to Wilkins.

Prosecutors added in a news release that Wilkins “attempted to conceal his illegal behavior by utilizing Tor, a special web browser that permits access to the dark web while hiding browsing activity.” But agents still uncovered some of his browser history, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.

Wilkins is set for a sentencing hearing on April 5.

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Police Charge Dump Truck Driver Who Allegedly Struck Woman Pushing Stroller in Rosslyn Crosswalk

The driver of a dump truck who allegedly struck a woman pushing a stroller in a Rosslyn intersection yesterday (Thursday) is now facing criminal charges.

Arlington Police announced today (Friday) that they’re charging 63-year-old John Washington of Silver Spring, Maryland with reckless driving and failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk in connection with the crash.

The incident happened around the intersection of Lee Highway and Ft. Myer Drive around 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Police believe the woman was crossing the street with a child in a stroller when the truck driver struck her.

She was taken to the hospital with “serious but non-life threatening injuries,” though police say she was able to maneuver the stroller out of the way before the crash, and the child was not hurt.

Washington will face his first hearing on those charges on Monday (Dec. 17), according to county police spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

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Here’s How Arlington First Responders Train to Handle ‘Active Shooter’ Scenarios

The call went out over a police radio channel shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday: there’s an active shooter at Washington-Lee High School, with multiple gunshot victims.

Luckily, this was just a drill, an exercise that police and dispatchers used to prepare should such a nightmare scenario ever play out in Arlington.

In fact, Arlington County Police say they have been actively training since 1999 to handle a school shooting or any such “active shooter” situation, an all-too-common occurrence that has traumatized communities across the country.

The department also formed a “Tactical Training Unit” in 2013 to put an increased focus on the issue, providing each patrol officer with a minimum of six “training days” each year, according to a county fact sheet on the issue.

“Patrol officers participate in ‘no-notice’ training three times per year,” the fact sheet says. “This training requires on-duty police officers and firefighters to respond to a mock training scenario and practice integrating police and fire/EMS response to incidents such as ‘Active Violence Events.'”

The police department also has a full-time officer assigned to the county’s “High Threat Response Program” to coordinate how first responders manage such incidents across Arlington’s various departments.

All Arlington Public Schools also conduct at least four “lockdown” drills each year, coordinating with each building’s school resource officers for each one. Those officers also work with APS staff on “tabletop exercises in preparation for emergency situations,” the fact sheet said.

File photo

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Arlington National Cemetery Warns of Big Crowds for ‘Wreaths Across America’ Tomorrow

Anyone planning on heading to Arlington National Cemetery for this weekend’s “Wreaths Across America” event might want to consider using public transit to get there, or prepare for some hefty delays.

ANC officials say they’ll be barring all personal vehicles from the cemetery’s grounds during the length of the annual wreath-laying event, set to run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 15).

They’re also planning on welcoming a larger number of volunteers at the event than in years past, prompting “numerous changes to ensure the safety and security of those who participate,” according to a press release. Accordingly, officials are urging participants to arrive promptly at 8 a.m., and rely on Metro, if at all possible.

“We encourage all volunteers to arrive early and recommend taking the Pentagon or Rosslyn Metro and walking into the cemetery,”ANC Operations Director Micheal Migliara wrote in a statement. “It’s a short, 15-minute walk from these stops and the most seamless way to access our hallowed grounds on this special day.”

ANC leaders are expecting so many people to use the cemetery’s Metro stop that they expect the other stations will be a bit easier for visitors to use. Anyone getting off at Rosslyn should enter through the cemetery’s Ord & Weitzel gate by walking along the N. Meade Street sidewalks, and anyone getting off at the Pentagon station should use the cemetery’s South Gate entrance.

General public parking will still be available at the Pentagon’s north parking lot (in lanes 50-60) and south parking lot (lanes 1-18), as well as at the Pentagon City Mall parking garage.

The Arlington National Cemetery Welcome Center parking garage, however, will only be available to “ANC Family Pass holders” who have preregistered for the event.

All the cemetery’s gates will open to the public at 8 a.m., followed by an opening ceremony inside the cemetery at the McClellan Gate at 8:30 a.m. The wreath laying is set to start by 9 a.m.

County police are also warning of traffic changes starting at 5 a.m., including:

  • Southgate Road, between Columbia Pike and S. Oak Street, will be closed and restricted to authorized vehicles only. Temporary no parking signs have been posted and vehicles in violation will be towed after noon today (Friday)
  • Marshall Drive, between N. Meade Street and Rt. 110, will be closed and restricted to shuttle bus traffic only.
  • Memorial Avenue, from Memorial Circle to the Ccmetery entrance will be closed.
  • Access to the Memorial Bridge from southbound George Washington Parkway and northbound Rt. 110 will also be closed.
  • Additional road closures will be implemented in locations along I-395, the G.W. Parkway, and the Pentagon Peservation by the Virginia State Police, U.S. Park Police, and the Pentagon Force Protection Agency.
  • Other roads not listed may be closed for short duration at the discretion of law enforcement.

Flickr pool photo by Jeff Reardon

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Morning Notes

Rolling Thunder to Coming to a Stop — The 2019 Rolling Thunder rally will be the group’s last Memorial Day rally in the D.C. area, organizers say. The rally has brought thousands of bikers, along with road closures and motorcycle noise, to Arlington over the past three decades. [Washington Post]

The Gritty Pre-History of Crystal City — “Before development flourished (the entrepreneurs offered bargain rates to federal agencies), the area ‘was a conglomeration of places that sold junk, used tires, a drive-in movie theater, a run-down ice skating rink, second-hand materials — it was very unattractive…’ The industrial area leading to the Potomac Yard railway tracks for decades was bordered by sketchy bar-rooms of the 19th-century Jackson City and National Airport’s precursor, Hoover Field.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Seasonal Pop-Ups at Pentagon City Mall — A trio of “seasonal pop-up shops” are opening at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City: Chukulata, a sweet shop selling crepes and other treats; PolarX Ornaments, selling holiday decor and personalized ornaments; and Trunk and Drawer, which “specializes in men’s fashionable undergarments as well as sleepwear, activewear and swimwear,” per a press release.

Stepped Up DUI Enforcement Underway — “To help spread the message about the dangers of drunk driving, the Arlington County Police Department is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to get drunk drivers off the roads and help save lives during the national high-visibility enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, which runs from December 13-31, 2018.” [Arlington County]

JBG Buying More Sites in ‘National Landing’ — “JBG Smith Properties has reached a deal to buy a development site across from Virginia Tech’s planned innovation campus in Alexandria, part of a larger strategy to acquire land in and around the National Landing area that includes Amazon.com Inc.’s new headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Old Town Getting Left Behind? — “The old guard of Alexandria, mainly in Old Town, has for decades wielded a sort of NIMBY clout and deployed ample financial resources to fight projects. The plans to activate Alexandria’s 8.6-acre waterfront were delayed for years due to community pushback and legal challenges… But fears that Alexandria will be left behind as competition intensifies with flashier destinations such as National Harbor and The Wharf are spurring change.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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Kaine, Warner Hope to Lend a Hand on Affordable Housing Issues to Prepare for Amazon’s Arrival

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has never been much of a fan of the name “Crystal City.”

As a longtime Alexandria resident, the state’s senior senator has had to spend plenty of time in and around the Arlington neighborhood that will soon become home to Amazon’s vaunted new headquarters, all the while rolling his eyes at its moniker.

“I’m not sure ‘National Landing’ should be the name, but I’d be so glad to get rid of ‘Crystal City,'” Warner quipped Thursday (Dec. 13) at a roundtable discussion hosted at George Mason University’s Virginia Square campus.

Luckily, his colleague on stage, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), had an alternative suggestion for the Crystal City-Pentagon City-Potomac Yard corridor ready to go: “Warner Plaza,” he said, prompting a round of laughter from the crowd of Northern Virginia business leaders and politicians.

That light-hearted banter aside, both senators acknowledged that the county will soon face far more dire problems than just naming its neighborhoods. Kaine and Warner both see Amazon’s impending arrival as a huge net positive for the county, and the state as a whole, but they also expressed a desire to take some action to help address the thorny issue of affordable housing in the area.

Kaine sees room for Congress to lend a hand, perhaps by expanding the federal “Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.”

The program is designed to incentivize affordable development, and Kaine teamed up with Democrats and Republicans alike to introduce a bill last year expanding its funding by 50 percent. His office estimates it would create or preserve 1.3 million affordable homes over the next decade, about 400,000 more than would be possible under the program’s current funding levels.

“We don’t have to recreate the wheel,” Kaine said. “We can take things that work and do more of them. It’s already a good program to create workforce housing, but we can do more of it.”

Considering the county’s challenges finding cash for its own affordable housing loan fund, more help from the feds would likely come as quite welcome news indeed for Arlington leaders. But, despite its bipartisan support, Kaine’s legislation on the subject has yet to make any progress.

Warner envisions a more local approach to the matter. While the state already has its own housing development authority, which is set to pour tens of millions more into affordable housing initiatives as part of Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed deal with Amazon, Warner thinks the area’s localities could stand to team up as well.

“I think there needs to be work done on a regional housing authority to make sure there will be affordable housing, and make sure people don’t get pushed out of their homes,” Warner said.

Warner does expect, however, that Congress can help out by ensuring stable federal funding for Metro in 2019.

Though the rail service did manage to score its first dedicated revenue stream this year, thanks to commitments from Virginia, Maryland and D.C. lawmakers, it remains subject to the whims of Congress for another $150 million or so in cash each year. And with Amazon bringing thousands of workers to the area, many of whom will likely rely on the Blue and Yellow lines to reach the offices, Metro’s health has been a key focus as officials look to prepare for the company’s arrival.

As Democrats prepare to assume control of the House of Representatives, Warner fully expects the “odds and leverage [for more Metro funding] will go up” next year. But that doesn’t mean he’s counting on adding more federal funds for the service, either, considering that Republicans still control most levers of power in D.C.

“I would love to say we could plus up that number, but I don’t think that’s in the cards with this Senate and this president,” Warner said. “But if we can get $150 million again, let’s take the money and run.”

Beyond the housing and transportation challenges Amazon may well exacerbate in the area, Warner echoed the views of his colleagues around the state that the new headquarters will be a “game changer” for the region.

With such high office vacancy rates even in a prosperous part of the state like Arlington, Warner says the region had a “level of vulnerability that I’m not sure the whole business community appreciated” before Amazon tabbed Arlington. Of course, he hopes that that tech company doesn’t simply bring prosperity for Northern Virginia when it gets here.

“I know it’s a little bit of heresy to say with an Arlington crowd, but I hope to find some Amazon contractors and partners to put jobs downstate too,” Warner said. “As the commonwealth makes a substantial investment, an investment that is about one quarter per job what New York overpaid for, by the way, we need to show that it will benefit the whole commonwealth.”

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