Arlington, VA

The race to see who will be the next Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington and Falls Church has generated its share of fireworks, but the issue of campaign finance may ignite even more.

Incumbent Theo Stamos and challenger Parisa Dehghani-Tafti have already clashed over Tafti’s criticism of Stamos’ handling of cash bail and prosecution for some first-time marijuana-related offenses. Tafti also drew heat from county public-safety groups and her opponent for a campaign mailer they said mislabeled a fatal, officer-involved shooting as “police brutality.”

Recent filings shared by the non-profit Virginia Public Access Project have illuminated a new flash point: money from political action committees (PACs).

PACs are political organizations that donate money to campaigns on behalf of individuals or groups. Several have donated to Arlington state Senate and Delegate candidates, but few have donated to local races.

Only one of the Commonwealth’s Attorney candidates has received PAC money, according to VPAP. Tafti accepted research and polling services worth $51,235 from Justice and Public Safety, a PAC funded by George Soros. The billionaire philanthropist has donated to several progressive candidates nationwide.

The donation makes up about half of the $108,355 the Democratic challenger fundraised between January and March. After spending $76,179 of that money, Tafti’s campaign ended March with $50,202 in its coffers.

Another PAC that donated to Tafti’s campaign was the Justice Forward Virginia PAC, which advocates for criminal justice reform. The PAC is led in part by Brad Haywood, Arlington’s chief public defender and vocal critic of Stamos. The committee donated $600 to Tafti’s campaign.

Senior Assistant Public Defender Allison Carpenter also donated $50 to Tafti’s campaign. Carpenter was one of signatories of a letter released last month blasting Stamos for overcharging crimes, among other issues.

Stamos previously told ARLnow the donations from the letter’s signatories prove it was a “political hit job.”

In addition, Tafti last year received $600 from the Alexandria-based Brass Ovaries PAC, which funds female Democratic candidates in local races and hosted a fundraiser for Arlington candidates last September.

In a statement, Tafti told ARLnow:

In our first filing, I outraised the incumbent almost 6 to 1 with all individual donations, most of which were small amounts from local residents. I have since earned the support of numerous local organizations — including unions, activist groups, the Arlington Education Association, and civil rights organizations — that represent thousands of Arlington and City of Falls Church residents. They support me because they recognize that our community is lagging behind on criminal justice reform and that we need a Commonwealth’s Attorney who represents our values. Only after our campaign had significant grassroots support, and extensive research into my opponent’s record opposing reform at every turn, did Justice and Public Safety PAC offer its support. Reform doesn’t always come easy, and I welcome the support of individuals and organizations, especially an organization backed by one of the world’s foremost promoters of democratic values, that want to help our community live up to its ideals.

In contrast, Stamos’ campaign has collected no PAC money so far this year, according to VPAP.

“I have grassroots support and I think that speaks to the depth and breadth of my support in the community,” Stamos said, when asked whether she intentionally eschewed PAC money.

Several groups have come out in favor of Stamos, including 50 local attorneys who signed a letter in support earlier this year. One of them, Arlington divorce lawyer James Korman, donated $625 to her campaign during this quarter.

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Amazon is planning to build 2.1 million square feet of new office space in Pentagon City as part of the first phase of construction for its permanent “HQ2” in Arlington.

The retail and tech giant announced its plans today in a blog post.

We are looking to build an urban campus that will allow our employees to think creatively, to be a part of the surrounding community, and to remain connected to the region’s unique culture and environment. As with our Seattle headquarters, we plan to invest in developing a new headquarters in Arlington that will grow alongside its neighbors, supporting local businesses, building new public spaces for all to enjoy, and integrating sustainable design features throughout our campus.

Amazon says it filed its initial development plans with the county this week.

The plans call for a first phase of development that will replace vacant warehouses on the Metropolitan Park site along S. Eads Street, while a second site — the vacant PenPlace site along Eads closer to the Pentagon — will presumably await a second phase.

Included in the plans for the first phase:

  • 2.1 million square feet of office space in two LEED Gold-certified, 22-story towers
  • 50,000 square feet of retail space “for shops, restaurants, and a daycare center for area residents and Amazonians”
  • 1.1 acres of public open space for use as “a dog park, recreation areas, farmers markets, and more”
  • On-site bike facilities, a new cycle path along S. Eads Street, and storage space for 600 bikes
  • A “below-grade parking structure with 1,968 parking spaces,” per the Washington Business Journal, though Amazon says it will encourage transit use

“These buildings are the first step to creating an urban campus where our future 25,000 employees and the local community can live, work and play,” the blog post says.

The buildings will likely take several years to build, requiring a public process and County Board approval prior to construction. In the meantime, Amazon is leasing temporary office space in Crystal City as it starts to ramp up hiring for HQ2.

More from Amazon’s blog post:

We plan to invest more than $2.5 billion dollars in building our campus over the next decade, driving the creation of thousands of indirect jobs in construction, building services, hospitality and other services industries across the region. In Seattle, where we have invested more than $4 billion in our campus and hired an average of 5,000 people every year since 2010, we estimate that Amazon’s investments have created an additional 53,000 jobs on top of our direct hires.

We are grateful to our new neighbors, and all the elected officials, civic leaders, local businesses, nonprofits and associations who have talked with us about our plans, asked questions, and shared their views. We will continue to listen to their feedback during this process and learn from them as we continue to grow our teams in Virginia.

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Address: 2003 N. Utah Street
Neighborhood: Waverly Hills
Listed: $1,169,000
Open: Sunday May 19, 1-3 p.m.

New price for this expanded Waverly Hills cape that just keeps giving!

The cozy front sitting room with wood burning fireplace is ideal for quiet mornings or evenings with a coffee and a good book. Host guests with space and privacy in the main level bedroom with fully renovated bath next door.

The bonus 5th bedroom (main level) offers any number of options depending on your needs, it could be an office, a dining room, a craft room, or a bedroom, or playroom.

From there the home really opens up and delivers exceptional value for the price! The kitchen, fully renovated and expanded in 2014, includes high end cooking, dishwasher to match cabinetry and large kitchen island with breakfast bar, all opening up to the gorgeous new light filled great room with cathedral ceiling.

From the added mud room entry you can see straight to the newly added craftsman style staircase that descends to the expanded and recently finished basement, and ascends to the lovely 2 secondary bedrooms, completely renovated hallway bath and master bedroom with renovated en suite bath and generous closet space.

A commuters delight! 1 Mile to Metro with just over 3 miles to Georgetown, 6 miles to Reagan Airport, 8 miles to Nats Park and more.

Listed by:
Colin Storm
Keller Williams Realty — Falls Church
M: 703.638.9144
O: 703.533.1500
[email protected]
fallschurchliving.com

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For years, businesses have come and gone from the retail space on the ground floor of the Eclipse condo building in Potomac Yard. Now relief may be on the way.

The Arlington County Board is set to vote this weekend on a site plan amendment that will allow the landlord of the 3600 and 3650 S. Glebe Road buildings to lease the retail space to “retail equivalent” businesses, defined as:

Uses that have characteristics similar to retail such as the hours of operation, the customer base and the level of activity that provide visual interest and create an active street life, but are not retail uses. Uses include but are not limited to museums, galleries, day care uses, medical and dental offices, colleges and universities and hotel lobbies; as well as certain innovative office elements and residential amenities such as fitness centers, community rooms, etc.

The tiny shopping plaza is located in a roundabout between the two buildings, well off the beaten path — north of the busy Potomac Yard Shopping Center in Alexandria but south of Crystal City. To the west, across Route 1, is Arlington’s sewage plant.

A procession of sit-down restaurants has tried and failed to open and attract customers. One even had to put out a press release after they learned that Google Maps was steering would-be customers to an empty plot of land several blocks away. And that’s not to mention the extended closure of the adjacent Harris Teeter store, the block’s biggest draw, following a major sewage backup in 2012.

“The applicant has experienced sustained difficulty in attracting and retaining retail tenants for certain base retail spaces since 2006, when its Retail Attraction and Marketing Plan (RAMP) was approved,” the staff report for the site plan amendment notes.

“This space, along with others, are located on an interior circle drive, off South Glebe Road, and the applicant sites the lack of visibility as an obstacle for retaining retail tenants,” the report adds. “Recently, a physical therapy practice sought to lease a retail space, but could not be certified for occupancy because it is an office use, rather than retail use.”

Currently, the circle is home to a small collection of restaurants and service businesses. Should the County Board approve the change, it may be able to attract other businesses more equipped to survive in the low foot traffic area. No changes are proposed for the Harris Teeter space, the staff report notes.

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1st Time Home Buyer Seminar

Mistakes made while purchasing a home could cost you thousands of dollars! They are avoidable, you just need to learn how.

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(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) New renderings show one of the three luxury condo buildings being built in Rosslyn.

The Pierce is part of the Highlands development of three high-rise housing buildings on 1555 Wilson Blvd, which is slated to include 884 luxury housing units and 40,000 square feet of retail space when it’s completed.

At 27 stories tall, the Pierce will include a total of 104 one-, two-, and three-bedroom condominium residences, according to a spokeswoman for the developer Penzance. The size of the units range between 1,266 to 2,403 square feet.

The project originally faced opposition for replacing what was once recreational space and Arlington Fire Station 10. In exchange, Penzance pledged to build a new fire station on the ground floor of the new development, along with a landscaped public plaza and an extension of N. Pierce Street to 18th Street — a deal the county accepted in 2016.

A new 360-tour using renderings of the luxury units in the Pierce building show 10-foot ceilings, quartz countertops, and windows facing the Potomac or Rosslyn. A spokeswoman added that bathrooms in the units will have heated floors.

Other renderings show such building amenities as a gym, pool, and rooftop space for residents. In total, the building offers 2,250 square feet of outdoor amenity space, and an additional 8,600 square feet of shared amenity space when you include the rooftop pool in the adjacent Evo building.

The project recently generated some controversy after the developer asked the County Board to extend permitted construction hours by one hour in the mornings, to 6 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. weekends, through the end of the year. The developer previously said the project is slated to finish in 2021.

Some in the area are unhappy with the proposed extended hours.

“This will be disruptive to all in the area, including businesses, residents, and the already increasing traffic issues,” one tipster told ARLnow. “I also want to note that this is yet another time Arlington County Board shows a disregard for the community in the area.”

The County Board is scheduled to vote on the new hours during a meeting this Saturday. The item is currently included in the meeting’s consent agenda, which is typically reserved for matters expected to pass without debate.

Images courtesy of Neoscape

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The STEM Preschool at 3120 S. Abingdon Street in Fairlington is planning a sizable capacity increase.

According to an application filed on this Saturday’s Arlington County Board agenda, the facility is proposing an expansion from 66 children to 106 and employee increase from 15 to 22.

The new capacity is nearly double the 55 children originally approved by the County Board in 2014. In October 2015, the board approved a use permit amendment, allowing the facility to expand to its current capacity of 66 children.

In a report on the project, staff said the facility can accommodate the number of children proposed with the expansion.

Staff noted that the facility also has adequate parking under current zoning and has more than it would need under a new zoning ordinance taking effect on July 1, which would shift the parking measurement from one space per staff person to one space per eight children.

In the report, staff recommended approval of the application.

“The operation of the existing child care center has not and is not expected with the increase in capacity to adversely affect the health or safety of persons residing or working in the neighborhood and is not in conflict with the purposes of the master plans of the County,” staff wrote. “Overall, staff believes that the amended use will continue to be a quality addition to the community and have minimal impacts on neighboring areas.”

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Morning Notes

VHC Land Swap Ready to Move Forward — “Nearly six months after a divided Arlington County Board approved a major expansion of Virginia Hospital Center, board members are set to take the next step.” [InsideNova]

Ballston IHOP Reopens — “Good news IHOP fans: the Ballston location is back open and serving customers. Here’s why it closed.” [Twitter]

DEA Finds Temporary Digs — “The Drug Enforcement Administration has found temporary space in Crystal City for its employees while its… headquarters in adjacent Pentagon City gets a major makeover. Representatives for the DEA recently applied to Arlington County for interior alteration permits to renovate three floors at 2200 Crystal Drive.” [Washington Business Journal]

Road Closures for Ballston 5K Race — “The 2019 Girls on the Run 5K Race will be held in the Ballston-Virginia Square area on Sunday, May 19, 2019. The Arlington County Police Department will implement the following road closures from approximately 8:15 AM to 10:15 AM to accommodate the event.” [Arlington County]

Carlee Defines the ‘Arlington Way’ — “‘In its most positive framing’ [the Arlington Way] means ‘engaging with the public on issues of importance or concern (not always the same) in an effort to reach community consensus or… a shared understanding and an opportunity for everyone to be heard,’ [former County Manager Ron Carlee] writes. ‘In its negative framing’ the phrase has been ‘derided as a way to talk everything to death so that ideas are killed or that people are so worn-down that by the end, they do not care what happens as long as it is just over.'” [Falls Church News-Press]

Photo courtesy @klk_photography11/Instagram

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When you’re making an offer on a home in a highly competitive real estate market, this 1 trick can give you an edge.

A buyer’s letter, also known as a “love letter,” is a simple personal note that helps your offer stand out in the seller’s mind. It helps the home seller put a human face to the offer, and can even help you win out over larger offers — if it creates a strong emotional connection with the home seller.

Things to include in your buyer’s letter:

  • Your name(s)
  • Your current career and background in a few words
  • If you’re buying the home as partners, include the story of how you met
  • Any common ground you discovered with the seller while walking through the home
  • Reasons why you’re interested in the property (“perfect place to raise a family,” etc.)
  • How you plan on using the home

It’s also a good idea to praise the seller by complimenting the home’s features and how well the property has been maintained.

To learn what else should go in your buyer’s letter, and get many more must-know home buying tips, attend the upcoming Home Buying Seminar on Monday, May 20 in Arlington.

Topics Covered include:

  • Financing programs
  • How to avoid double-paying rent and a mortgage
  • How to calculate your budget the right way
  • How to craft a winning offer in a highly competitive market
  • Finding off-market properties
  • Leveraging your equity
  • The 4 C’s of Real Estate

Space is limited — click here to register.

Benefits of Attending

  • $1,500 credit toward your new home or toward early lease termination
  • 12-month home buy-back guarantee — purchase with confidence!
  • Wine and cheese provided
  • The first 3 to attend will receive a gift card to Barley Mac restaurant!

This event is hosted by The Keri Shull Team, the D.C. metro’s top producing real estate team. Details are as follows:

Can’t make this Monday? Join us on Wednesday at the Westlee Condominiums for the same great info.

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