Arlington, VA

A vehicle stop led to some tense moments on a busy Clarendon street Monday afternoon.

Shortly after 2:15 p.m. police pulled over a vehicle that had been “allegedly involved in a felony assault with a deadly weapon in Washington, D.C.,” after an alert from an automated license plate reader.

“Officers located the vehicle at Clarendon Boulevard and Washington Boulevard and conducted a felony traffic stop,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

Video of the incident sent to ARLnow shows an SUV pulled over near Circa restaurant on Clarendon Blvd and officers with guns drawn and pointed in the vehicle’s direction. Two people — a man driving the car and a female passenger — were ordered out of the vehicle. In the video the woman could be seen kneeling on the ground, with her hands in the air.

In the end, neither vehicle occupant was arrested and it’s unclear whether the alleged connection to the crime in D.C. was a case of mistaken identity or otherwise.

“Officers identified the occupants, determined they did not have any active warrants and documented the incident,” said Savage. “No arrests were made.”

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One company is planning to “raze” two office buildings on 601-701 12th Street S. in Pentagon City and develop four new towers with residential, office, and retail space.

That’s according to a preliminary site plan filing with Arlington County. The plan also notes that the property’s current occupants — the Transportation Security Administration — are soon leaving the county.

Renderings in the filings from the property owner Brookfield Properties depict four buildings planned for the area:

  • a 14-story, 240-foot high southwest tower for office space
  • a 20-story, 235-foot high southeast tower for residential or hotel use
  • a 24-story, 275-foot high northeast tower for residential or hotel use
  • a 26-story, 300-foot high northwest tower for residential use, with a penthouse

The company’s proposal says the development will occur in phases and will include “new access to the Pentagon City Metro, upgraded streetscapes and sidewalks, a new internal pedestrian pathway, public open spaces and outdoor seating” as well as public art.

Brookfield’s plans indicate that retail space is planned along the ground floor of the four towers and along 12th Street S.

Tysons-based law firm Venable LLP submitted the proposal, which included a request to make an exception to the site’s limits on building height and density for the project, on behalf of Brookfield.

The document notes that, “the proposal will help address the significant increase in demand for residential housing and hotel space, which will only grow considering the potential for office development in the region.”

The plan says it aims to “ease congestion on surrounding roads by integrating with nearby sites, improving internal circulation, and connecting to Metro.”

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is currently using the two buildings on-site and is scheduled to move out next fall, per agency spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.

“The new building will be located at 6595 Springfield Center Drive, Springfield,” said Farbstein.

The TSA had been planning to stay at the property, which is next to the Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters and across the street from the Pentagon City mall, until mid-2020.

TSA announced in 2015 that it would move to Alexandria in a bid to save $95 million over the next 15 years, but the move was later overturned by a federal judge.

Brookfield Properties describes the two, 12-story buildings currently occupied by the TSA as, “aging, obsolete” and “unattractive.”

The county posted the address of the project on its website under “Preliminary Development Proposals” last week. However, the process of obtaining the plans revealed the county’s permitting and zoning offices were adapting the way they process records requests.

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(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) A development plan for a new hotel and a new apartment or condo tower in the Rosslyn area has decreased the number of units originally planned for the site.

Grant Investment Properties, LLC which owns both the Best Western Iwo Jima hotel at 1501 Arlington Blvd and 14-unit Ellis Arms Apartments at 1523 Fairfax Drive, is now seeking to build a 10-floor, 48-unit residential building and a 12-story, 160-room hotel building on the Rosslyn site, according to county documents.

The Arlington County Board is set to vote Tuesday on the amended plan, and county staff is recommending approval, according to a staff report. The plans also include a 160-space parking garage, LEED Gold certification for both proposed buildings and “an extensive green roof.”

An earlier proposal called for a 250-room “dual brand hotel” and a 64-unit residential building, as ARLnow previously reported.

“While the number of proposed units decreased, the total residential [gross floor area] is unchanged, as the average unit size increased due to the elimination of studio units and increase in two (2) bedroom units,” the staff report said.

During an April 8 Planning Commission meeting several community members expressed concern about how the development may displace current residents from the Ellis Arms apartment building, which is considered market rate affordable housing, according to County Board documents.

“In response, the applicant has indicated that, in addition to the required Tenant Relocation Plan, it is working to identify potential affordable units, nearby the site, where existing tenants may have an option to move,” the documents note.

Depending on whether the residential building becomes rental apartments or condominiums — the staff report suggests the current plan is for condos — the developer would provide either on-site affordable rental units or a multi-million dollar contribution to the county’s affordable housing fund, respectively.

The Arlington Park and Recreation Commission supports the plan, noting in a letter that the development’s community benefits package includes a donation to the nearby Ft. Myers Height Park, which will help fund improvements to “the picnic area (furnishings, ADA access, drinking fountain, invasive species removal), the half basketball court, and landscaping on a vacated playground site.”

Photos via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

New Census Population Estimate — “Arlington’s estimated population was up 14.4 percent from 2010 to 2018, more than double the increase statewide and nationally, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. The federal government’s recently released guesstimate of Arlington’s population as of July 1, 2018, stood at 237,521, up about 1 percent from a year before.” [InsideNova]

Fraudster’s Arlington Home Sold — “The Arlington home of real estate developer Todd Hitt — who pleaded guilty in February to eight counts of fraud — has found a buyer, according to court documents. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, approved the $1.3 million sale of the 5,500-square-foot house on North Kensington Street.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Working With MoCo on DCA Noise Study — “Arlington government officials plan to formalize their agreement with leaders in Montgomery County, Md., to fund a study on the northerly aircraft departure route out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The County Board plans to ante up half the projected cost for a consultant, with the Montgomery County Council putting up the other half.” [InsideNova]

County Proposes New Development Review Fee — “Arlington County staff is proposing a new fee for the acceptance and review of conceptual site plan applications, a process through which developers can get input on their projects before their formal submission.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Update at 1 p.m. — Arlington County Police have released a crime report with more information on the incident.

ROBBERY, 2019-04210144, 2600 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 5:13 p.m. on April 21, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery that just occurred. A male suspect allegedly entered a business, brandished a firearm, stole an undisclosed amount of cash and personal property from the victims before fleeing the scene. A responding officer observed the suspect vehicle and attempted a traffic stop on I-395 North at Boundary Channel. Once the officer exited his vehicle, the suspect fled the scene and a vehicle pursuit was initiated onto northbound George Washington Parkway. While on the George Washington Parkway, officers observed the suspect vehicle drive on the pedestrian path, turn around and begin driving southbound in the northbound lanes. At that time, the vehicle pursuit was terminated by police. The suspect continued to drive towards the Potomac River, exited the vehicle and attempted to flee the scene on foot. As the vehicle careened into the Potomac River, the suspect entered the water and attempted to swim but was subsequently taken into police custody. The suspect was transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Freddie Lee McRae, 33, of Temple Hills, MD, was arrested and charged with Robbery, Felony Eluding, Use of a Firearm in Commission of a Felony and Possession of a Firearm by Convicted Felon.

Earlier: A robbery along Columbia Pike led to a police pursuit and a crash into the Potomac on Easter Sunday evening.

The incident started around 5:15 p.m. when a man armed with a gun robbed a business on the 2600 block of Columbia Pike — the same block as the CVS and the Domino’s Pizza.

The suspect “fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash” and drove off, but was spotted and pursued by police officers, according to Arlington County Police.

The chase continued to the northbound GW Parkway, where the suspect drove off the side of the road and crashed into the Potomac near I-395.

“Suspect was subsequently taken into police custody and transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries,” ACPD said. “There are believed to be no outstanding suspects. No other injuries or property damage was reported. Police remain on scene investigating.”

Arlington County Police were assisted by the Arlington County Fire Department, U.S. Park Police, Virginia State Police, D.C. police and the U.S. Coast Guard in the incident and investigation. The northbound GW Parkway was temporarily closed following the crash, according to Arlington Alert.

Photo courtesy John Sonderman

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A rented box truck ran into a fence surrounding Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in what was reported to be just an accident.

The incident happened Friday morning near the Route 50/Washington Blvd interchange. The truck ran into and damaged a fence but did not actually drive onto the military installation.

The crash was a “simple traffic accident” and there was no threat to the base or its personnel, JBMHH spokeswoman Leah Rubalcaba told ARLnow.

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Arlington County wants to demolish part of a multi-million dollar Pentagon City project after officials say it caused a leak in a Metro tunnel.

The County Board will vote on the demolition of a storm run-off basin near the Pentagon City mall next week because the structure caused water to leak into the Metro tunnel below.

The basin was installed in 2014 as part of upgrades made along S. Hayes Street from 15th Street S. to Army Navy Drive. The basin was part of the landscaping between the road lanes.

“Shortly thereafter, WMATA notified the County about leakage issues in the tunnel,” said county spokeswoman Jessica Baxter today.

“Working closely with WMATA, the County conducted dye testing which demonstrated that when the bioretention facility filled during storm events, it contributed to leakage issues in the Metro tunnel,” Baxter told ARLnow. “The leak was corrected in 2017 after filling in the bioretention facility.”

A Metro spokesman did not immediately return requests for more information about the leak.

The $9 million project along S. Hayes Street also added rain gardens and new crosswalks, bike lanes, ADA ramps, traffic lights, and Metro canopies. VDOT was to reimburse most of the project’s expense, per an agreement with the county.

This week’s staff report referred to the basin demolition proposal as “Phase B” of the “Pentagon City Multimodal Improvements project.” The item was included in the Board’s consent agenda which is reserved for measures expected to pass without debate.

If the Board passes the proposal, the county will allocate $645,342 to remove the basin, and to modify a nearby U-turn.

The board document notes that while the U-turn was designed using “industry standard modeling software to ensure that buses would be able to complete the turn without problems” nonetheless “several buses have hit the wall while making the turning movement, creating a maintenance issue.”

During a 2014 ribbon cutting ceremony, then-County Board Chair Jay Fisette said the Pentagon City project was “key to Arlington’s efforts to make it easier to travel to, around or through Pentagon City, whether you are traveling by car, bus, bike or Metro.”

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(Updated 11:15 a.m.) Some referees for Arlington’s youth basketball games have not been paid by the contractor who hired them, according to officials who say the county is “looking into” the issue.

The Department of Parks and Recreation said they contract with a company called “Mid-Atlantic Coast Referees” to staff youth basketball referees, but that the company has yet to pay some of the referees it hired for the winter game season.

“Arlington County is very concerned about this issue,” said DPR spokeswoman Susan Kalish Thursday. “The Department of Parks and Recreation has escalated the issue to the Department of Management and Finance and it’s currently under review with the Purchasing Division.”

Benjamin Hampton, a spokesman for the County’s Manager’s office, told ARLnow on Wednesday there was “no new information on this beyond what DPR shared… At this point we don’t have confirmation of the number of referees affected.”

Mid-Atlantic Coast Referees could not be reached for comment.

The company does not have a website, and a Facebook page bearing the same name is empty. The only employee listed for the company on LinkedIn is Edward Hamilton, whose profile says he is now “retired.”

The county offers youth basketball leagues for students in grades 1-12 and says on its website that coaches volunteer. For the 1st and 2nd grade level league, the volunteer coaches also act as referees, per the website.

Kalish confirmed the missing payments on Tuesday after a tipster told ARLnow that “many of the referees are youth but some are adults who count on the extra income.”

“This will create a situation for future basketball season where referees will not want to work in Arlington,” the tipster added. “In addition, the fees paid by parents who children play in the program were collected back in November of 2018.”

“The County’s purchasing department has contacted Mid-Atlantic Coast Referees to let them know the severity of this issue,” she said. “Arlington County is currently looking into the matter.”

Image via Flickr 

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Morning Notes

Flash Flood Watch Issued — Arlington and the region is under a Flash Flood Watch starting at noon today. Heavy rain and storms, some of which may be severe, are expected this afternoon and evening. [Twitter, Twitter]

Anytime Fitness Opening TodayAnytime Fitness, a new 24/7 gym, is set to open today in Rosslyn. “New member specials will be available through the end of April and free community workouts will be held every Saturday in May,” said a PR rep.

Protest Yesterday in Ballston — “A protest against power company AES is happening this morning in Ballston outside the company’s HQ. ACPD is on the scene watching over the protest, which is peaceful and includes speeches and signs against AES’ activities in Puerto Rico.” [Twitter]

Bike Recycling Event Next Month — “Bikes for the World will be collecting unneeded bicycles, bike parts and accessories on Saturday, May 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. as part of the Arlington E-CARE (Environmental Collection and Recycling Event) at 1425 North Quincy St.” [InsideNova]

Carbeque on I-395 — A car caught fire on southbound I-395 near Glebe Road just before Thursday’s evening rush hour. Several lanes were closed as a result of the vehicular inferno, but firefighters eventually extinguished the raging flames. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Good Friday in Arlington — “On Friday, April 19, several parishes of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington will offer Living Stations of the Cross (or Via Crucis en Vivo). The Living Stations consist of a visual portrayal of Jesus on the way to his crucifixion.” [Diocese of Arlington]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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A virtual tour is now online of the room developer JBG Smith used to pitch Crystal City and Pentagon City properties to Amazon.

Shirlington-based real estate marketing firm Lyons & Sucher designed the space, calling  it “the room where it happened” and posted a virtual 360-degree tour on their website earlier this week.

“Typically people in a brokerage situation might hand you a powerpoint or a book or something. But this was super life size,” Jane Lyons of Lyons & Sucher told ARLnow. “And it created a very quick impression of how much we wanted the Amazon account and what we could do in a very short time and also how it could be kept up.”

The 20,000-square-foot space was located in the 12th floor of 1770 Crystal Drive — a building Amazon agreed to lease from JBG Smith earlier this month (and which is currently under construction).

Lyons said Amazon executives visited the room three times over the course of 2018, and before each visit  JBG Smith directed her marketing firm to update the room to reflect the latest negotiations.

The third and final version of the room is the one shown on the firm’s website. It starts with a “Welcome to National Landing” mat and leads viewers around a series of freestanding, 10-foot-high walls with information about:

  • The history of Crystal City
  • Profiles of Northern Virginia and D.C. neighborhoods
  • Information on the D.C. area’s millennial workforce and comparisons to other cities
  • Connections to public transit and airports
  • Renderings of properties Amazon was considering leasing or buying

The space also features a 120-foot-long floor map of Crystal City that designers marked up to show different features depending on what JBG Smith wanted to highlight.

“It was fabricated to allow it to be updated,” said Lyons. “It was a huge print job.”

One of the other changes to the room was that the marketing firm was asked to switch out the individual building renderings along the main 64-foot wall with a 64-foot aerial image of Crystal City and its connections to Alexandria, the Potomac, and D.C.

“That one stayed up for the third visit,” she noted.

Lyons said she was not able to share the all details of the changes her firm made to the room or any still pictures, due to a non-disclosure agreement.

However, the space shown on the website offers some clues as to what Amazon found important. The floor map, for instance, notes the location of Metro stations, walking distances between certain buildings, a place for outdoor dining, and the site of a potential school.

A spokesman for JBG Smith declined to comment for the story.

Earlier this month, the developer inked its deal with Amazon to lease three office buildings in Crystal City — 241 18th Street S., 1800 S. Bell Street, and 1770 Crystal Drive — and to sell a pair of large Pentagon City development sites to the company.

In March, the County Board cleared the way for Amazon to begin developing its second headquarters in earnest by unanimously approving a controversial package granting $23 million in incentives to the company if it meets certain hiring and occupancy benchmarks.

The Virginia General Assembly approved a $750 million state incentive package for the company this winter.

Arlington also pledged to fund $28 million in transportation upgrades near the planned headquarters, and to forward public records requests concerning Amazon to the company.

An Amazon spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

Lyons’ firm was asked to replace an aerial image showing connections to transit networks with a video showing building renderings along Crystal Drive; otherwise, the presentation to one of the world’s biggest technology companies was an analog one.

“When you are working to impress somebody who has the best tech ever they’re not going to be impressed by tech,” Lyons said, adding that that being able to physically interact with the space was “part of the magic.”

As for the room itself?

It’s gone now,” said Lyons, explaining that the building is now being renovated. “It doesn’t exist anymore.” 

Screenshots via Lyons & Sucher’s website

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Morning Notes

Arlington County Suing Opioid Makers — “The Arlington County Board has emulated nearly two dozen other Virginia localities in taking to court a large number of opioid manufacturers, distributors and retailers, including some of the biggest names in the health-care industry.” [InsideNova]

HQ2 Affordable Housing Funds Going to Loudoun? — “When Virginia officials promised $75 million over five years for affordable housing in the wake of Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters announcement, Arlington officials assumed that those dollars would be split between the county and neighboring Alexandria. They were not thrilled to find out other localities might get a piece.” [Washington Business Journal]

Pedestrian Struck in CVS Parking Lot — “Police and medics are on scene of an elderly pedestrian struck by a car in the CVS parking lot on the 6400 block of Williamsburg Blvd. The victim reportedly suffered a broken bone and is being transported to the hospital.” [Twitter]

Early Video of Nauck House Fire — Video posted to Facebook shows the scene as firefighters start to arrive at yesterday’s house fire in the Nauck neighborhood, near the W&OD Trail. [Statter 911]

Discussing Nightlife Safety — “‘A Conversation about Nightlife Safety’ will take place on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m… The event will feature panelists from various Arlington County departments speaking about how they collaborated to build trusting relationships with restaurant staff and improve safety.” [Arlington County]

What’s in a Name? — At the Pentagon City mall, Panda Tea House is now bustling where Kokee Tea struggled last year. Was it the name change, or the addition of Thai rolled ice cream to the menu? [Twitter]

Photo courtesy @eugeneksoh

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