Jail to Reopen to Visitors — “Sheriff Beth Arthur has announced a modified reopening of in-person visitation for those remanded to the Arlington County Detention Center. Relatives and friends will regain the ability to visit loved ones in person beginning May 1. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person visitation at the Arlington County Detention Center has been suspended for more than a year.” [Arlington County]
HQ2 to Feature Small Local Businesses — “Amazon.com Inc. plans to prioritize leasing retail space at its D.C.-area offices to businesses owned by people from historically underrepresented groups, an official with the e-commerce and cloud computing giant said recently. ‘We’re still in the process of curating and finding those retailers, but our goal is small, local, minority- and women- owned,’ Joe Chapman, Amazon’s director of global real estate and facilities, said of the company’s retail leasing strategy during a meeting of Arlington’s long range planning committee April 19.” [Washington Business Journal]
New Police Chief Pick Coming Soon — “Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz says he hopes to have a permanent head of the Arlington County Police Department announced sooner rather than later. ‘My goal was to have a police chief in place this spring. That’s still my goal,’ Schwartz told County Board members on April 20.” [Sun Gazette]
Marymount Vaccinates Thousands — “Nearly 1,200 students, faculty, staff and members of the community received their first Pfizer COVID vaccinations on April 21 at Marymount University, part of a collaborative effort between the university and state and local officials. The university transformed one of its gyms into a mass-inoculation site, and turnout exceeded expectations.” [Sun Gazette]
Rotary Club Honors ‘Educator of the Year’ — “The Arlington Rotary Club has honored school counselor Laurie Dodson as Arlington Key Elementary School’s ‘Educator of the Year’ and presented two Arlington high school students scholarships totaling $18,000 at the club’s annual education awards event.” [Press Release]
Pink Moon Dazzles — “We’re entering the heart of spring and, in most temperate climates, buds are bursting and decorating the newly lush landscape. Fresh arrangements of pink flowers are emerging, and the April moon, which will become full Monday night, is named in their honor. The ‘Pink Moon’ will be officially full, or 100 percent illuminated, at 11:31 p.m. Eastern time Monday. It will be bold and bright but won’t actually appear pink in the night sky.” [Capital Weather Gang]
Residents Want Better HQ2 View — “The tallest and most distinctive tower planned for Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters, the conch-shaped ‘Helix,’ will be like no other building in Greater Washington. And Arlington residents would like to see it from their neighborhoods… [as planned] the positioning would obstruct the surrounding community’s views of the signature structure, said Leonardo Sarli, an Arlington planning commissioner.” [Washington Business Journal]
Ebbin Endorses Colleague’s Challenger — “State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria-Arlington-Fairfax) has endorsed challenger Elizabeth Bennett-Parker in the competitive Democratic primary in the 45th House District. ‘I feel a responsibility to weigh in,’ Ebbin said in an April 22 statement… Bennett-Parker, who currently serves as vice chair of the Alexandria City Council, will face off against [Del. Mark] Levine in the June 8 Democratic primary.” [Sun Gazette]
County Launches Hunger Task Force — “Arlington County has launched a Food Security Task Force to develop strategies and recommendations to achieve a more food secure Arlington. ‘Our fellow Arlingtonians in need are our families and neighbors, and while the County and community came together to address hunger needs throughout the pandemic, much more remains to be done,’ said Matt de Ferranti, Chair of the Arlington County Board.” [Arlington County]
Bar Seating Now Allowed Again — “Remember sitting at a bar and ordering a drink from a bartender? It’s been a while since that simple activity has been allowed in much of the greater Washington area due to pandemic regulations. But in an executive order quietly updated on Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam is allowing Virginia bar patrons to be seated at a bar for service as long as there is a minimum of six feet between parties.” [Washingtonian]
Other Covid Restrictions Eased — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced that sports and entertainment venues in Virginia may begin to operate with expanded capacity, and social gathering limits will increase beginning Saturday, May 15th. The announcement comes as vaccinations continue to rise in the Commonwealth, and more than half of all adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]
Nearby: D.C. Statehood Advances — “For the second time in history, the House passed legislation Thursday to make the District of Columbia the nation’s 51st state, bolstering momentum for a once-illusory goal that has become a pivotal tenet of the Democratic Party’s voting rights platform. Democrats unanimously approved Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s Washington, D.C. Admission Act, describing it as a bid to restore equal citizenship to the residents of the nation’s capital and rectify a historic injustice.” [Washington Post]
Feds: Comfort Inn Hosted Gun Cache — “Members of the Oath Keepers paramilitary group likely stored weapons at a hotel in Arlington, Virginia, as part of their plan to have an armed rapid-response force during the January 6 insurrection, federal prosecutors said. The new details flesh out previous accusations from prosecutors that members of the Oath Keepers assembled a ‘quick reaction force,’ or QRF, in Virginia that could deploy into the nation’s capital if needed.” [CNN, Politico]
Nature Centers Reopen — “Another sign things are returning to a semblance of normalcy, albeit slowly (this is Arlington, after all): The Gulf Branch and Long Branch nature centers, operated by the county government, have reopened. Hours and exhibitions are limited, but this marks the first time in nearly 13 months that Arlington residents have had consistent access to the nature centers.” [Sun Gazette]
Shirlington’s Past and Present — “This pet-friendly community five miles southwest of the District and adjacent to Highway 395 started off as a 27-acre former shopping center. Shirlington was one of the first strip malls in the country when it opened in 1944. For a while, it had the largest shopping center in the area and originally was named Chernerville, after automobile dealer Joseph Cherner, but the name didn’t stick. Instead, it was renamed Shirlington, a blending of Shirley Highway (395) and Arlington.” [Washington Post]
Amazon Not Abandoning Office Work — “As vaccines become more available, most companies may start to expect their workers back in the office and allow for just one or two days of teleworking a week — and Amazon is likely to be among them… That’s good news for many of the businesses and jurisdictions expected to benefit from the 25,000 to 37,850 employees Amazon has said it will bring to the D.C. region as it continues to build out its HQ2 campus in Arlington.” [Washington Business Journal]
Local Company Donates to African School — “Washington Workplace, an award-winning commercial office furniture dealer in Arlington, teamed up with Business Furniture Installations and a nonprofit alumni association to donate unused office furniture to Pioneer Middle School in Senegal, in West Africa.” [Press Release]
Letter Writer: Don’t Hate on the Cicadas — “The message of the havoc wreaked on young trees and shrubs, and the month of constant shrill buzzing has sent home an idea of impending doom… Although the ominous message of cicada arrival is likely still in your head – and I can’t argue that cicadas aren’t a nuisance – I ask you to remember that they do have a role in our ecosystem and a purpose on our planet.” [Sun Gazette]
A new farmers market may be coming to Pentagon City.
On Saturday, April 17, the County Board is planning to hear a permit request from the National Landing Business Improvement District about holding an open-air farmers market at the plaza area in the northern portion of Metropolitan Park, about 2-3 blocks from the Pentagon City Metro station.
The farmers market would take place on Saturdays, April through November, from 8 a.m.-noon. However, the market would not start until June this year, National Landing BID spokesperson Ashley Forrester tells ARLnow.
The reason for the delay, writes Forrester, is so that the BID can do more planning in advance and set themselves “up for success in future years” for when there’s a new park.
Metropolitan Park is on the verge of getting a $14 million makeover courtesy of Amazon and its new, adjacent HQ2, with design work from James Corner Field Operations of New York’s High Line fame. That project is expected to be completed in 2023.
The market will be operated by Freshfarm Markets, which runs nearly 30 markets in the D.C.-area including four in Arlington.
If approved, the market would be able to accommodate up to 20 vendors, who would park along 13th Street S. and S. Fair Street.
The staff report notes that the area around Metropolitan Park contains several high-rise, multi-family apartment buildings, so they expect most patrons to the farmers market will likely walk or bike there.
The County Board will review the use permit for the farmers market again in a year, April 2022.
This additional market would give Arlington nine active farmers markets, a number of which have opened or will be opening in the coming weeks.
Pre-ordering is still being encouraged as a safety measure, but all the markets are open for in-person shopping. It’s a change from early last year when markets were briefly shut down due to the pandemic and, then, allowed to reopen only for pre-order sales.
Amazon has released a new, nearly six-minute video that touts its HQ2 investment in Arlington.
The video discusses progress on Amazon’s permanent second headquarters complex in Pentagon City, the inspiration behind the proposed Helix tower, and the company’s various investments in the community.
More from an Amazon blog post:
We are making good progress in building HQ2, our headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. We remain committed to creating 25,000 new jobs and investing more than $2.5 billion here over the next decade.
Today, there are more than 1,600 Amazon employees working from Arlington on teams including AWS, Devices, and Finance, with hundreds of open roles available.
Construction is on schedule at Metropolitan Park, the first phase of Amazon’s HQ2 development, and continues under extraordinary health and safety measures. We recently returned to grade, meaning the buildings have reached street level — an exciting construction milestone for this project. And, we look forward to continuing the community review process alongside Arlington County for our proposed plans at PenPlace, the second phase of Amazon’s development. Together, Metropolitan Park and PenPlace will deliver a welcoming urban experience, anchored by large public open spaces, significant new retail, and a connection to nature not only for Amazon employees but also the entire Arlington community.
We are actively getting to know our new neighbors and stitching ourselves into the community. From our recent sponsorship of the legendary Cherry Blossom Festival to our $381 million commitment to help keep Crystal House affordable through our Housing Equity Fund, we are building a better neighborhood together.
Despite the rosy picture, Amazon has faced some local criticism for its use of millions in government incentives, an alleged lack of certain types of community engagement and transparency, and for its potential role in driving up rents.
The full video, which debuted yesterday at a global “all-hands” meeting for employees, is below.
Manager: Say No to Rouse Historic Designation — “With much of the physical infrastructure on the site now a pile of rubble, Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz wants County Board members to throw in the towel on designating parts of the Rouse estate parcel as a local historic district… While recommending that the County Board reject the historic designation, Schwartz also proposes that staff be directed to come back by October with a report on potential ways the site could be incorporated into Arlington’s historic-preservation and/or affordable-housing efforts.” [Sun Gazette]
Police Looking for Missing Man — Updated at 8:45 a.m. — The Fairfax County Police helicopter assisted with the search for a missing Arlington man Sunday afternoon. Early his morning, ACPD announced: “[The missing man] has been safely located. Thank you to everyone who assisted by sharing this information.” [Twitter, NBC 4]
DCA Noise Meeting Tonight — “An online public meeting on April 5 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. will discuss aircraft noise north of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The Aircraft Noise Mitigation Study meeting, to be hosted by Montgomery County (Md.) Council member Andrew Friedson and Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey, is a follow-up of a meeting held last year by those localities.” [Sun Gazette]
Amazon Cites Va. As Example for Voting Rights — “UPDATE: @Amazon says it opposes state efforts to limit voting rights, urges states to follow Virginia’s lead and make it easier to vote.” [Twitter]
Wakefield Makes Football Playoffs — “For the second straight season and third time in four campaigns, the Wakefield Warriors have qualified for the football region playoffs. Wakefield (4-1, 3-1) clinched a 6D North Region Tournament berth with a 13-0 home victory over the Falls Church Jaguars on April 1 in National District action. It was the team’s final regular-season contest in this condensed high-school schedule.” [Sun Gazette]
Reminder: Water Switch in Effect Today — “It’s… that time of year again: the time when your tap water starts to smell a bit like a swimming pool… On Monday, April 5 the disinfectant used in Arlington County’s drinking water will be temporarily switched from chloramine to chlorine.” [ARLnow]
Nearby: New Store Coming to Bailey’s Xroads — “Five Below is moving into the former Pier One space at the Bailey’s Crossroads Shopping Center. Pier One closed in early 2020. Five Below specializes in items for teens and tweens mostly priced at $5 or less. The stores feature toys, snacks, cosmetics, room décor, sports items, accessories, party supplies, and $5 t-shirts.” [Annandale Blog]
Photo courtesy Christina Schnoor
Man Arrested for Alleged Carjacking — “Upon exiting the store, the suspect approached the vehicle associated with the female witness and attempted to hand the male occupant a drink. When the male declined, the suspect allegedly punched him on the side of the head and proceeded to open the vehicle’s door, pull him out and began assaulting him. The occupants from the suspect’s vehicle attempted to intervene and when the suspect refused to comply, they left the scene. Upon seeing that the suspect vehicle had left the parking lot, the suspect entered the victim’s vehicle and fled the scene.” [Arlington County]
Amazon Workers to Volunteer at Vaccination Site — “The company sent out an opportunity for employees to volunteer at the clinic on one of its listservs, and pulled in workers from all around the region, including those at Amazon Web Services, which has a hefty Herndon presence. Roughly 50 Amazon employees will help run the clinic each day… While Arlington health workers will deliver the vaccines themselves, Amazon volunteers will perform other important tasks, like monitoring people for symptoms after they’ve received a shot.” [Washington Business Journal]
Capitol Rioter Photographed in Arlington — “[Michigan] resident Anthony Williams used Facebook to show off photos and videos of himself inside the U.S. Capitol, which gave law enforcement officials enough evidence to arrest him last week… Williams posted updates to Facebook as he traveled to Washington, D.C. He posted his location in Bedford County, Pennsylvania with the caption “Operation Storm the Swamp” and posed for a photo with five other men at a sports pub in Arlington, Virginia.” [MLive]
Rosslyn Building Set for Foreclosure Sale — “A Rosslyn office building that hosts one of President Joe Biden’s favorite sandwich shops is slated to be sold at a foreclosure auction, the latest sign of distress in Greater Washington’s commercial real estate industry… a public auction is scheduled to be held 11 a.m. Wednesday outside the Arlington County courthouse for 1500 Wilson Blvd., a 17-story, 261,360-square-foot office building that stands at the intersection of North Oak Street and Clarendon and Wilson boulevards in Arlington County.” [Washington Business Journal]
Lopez’s Challenger Picks Up Endorsement — “The activist group Our Revolution Arlington has endorsed Karishma Mehta’s bid to unseat Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington-Fairfax) in the June 8 Democratic primary… The organization pointed to the challenger’s support for the Green New Deal for Virginia, single-payer healthcare, ‘slashing police budgets and re-investing those resources into securing people’s basic needs,’ repealing right-to-work laws and other ‘transformative policy proposals.'” [Sun Gazette]
Kiwanis Help Kids During the Pandemic — “Arlington’s pandemic-stressed safety net organizations received an infusion of funds from the Kiwanis Foundation of Arlington this month. The Foundation, the charitable arm of the Kiwanis Club of Arlington, distributed more than $50,000 to the Arlington Food Assistance Center, Arlington THRIVE, The Salvation Army, ASPIRE, Bridges to Independence, PRS Crisis Link, Doorways, Capital Caring, YMCA, Arlington 4-H, National Capital Treatment & Recovery, VHC Pediatrics and other non-profits serving children in the community.” [Press Release]
Arlington County is partnering with Amazon to open a new coronavirus vaccination site at the company’s temporary Crystal City HQ2 offices.
“This new clinic at 2100 Crystal Drive, located in a street-level storefront next to Amazon office space, will add to the vaccination clinic sites available to the County as vaccine distribution grows,” notes a press release. “The County has offered vaccination clinics at Sequoia Plaza, Walter Reed Community Center, and Lubber Run Community Center.”
“Since its arrival in Arlington in 2019, Amazon has demonstrated its commitment to partnering with our community,” Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said. “By providing space at 2100 Crystal Drive for a transit-accessible vaccination clinic, Amazon is helping us reach more residents. And incorporating Amazon and JBG Smith staff into the clinic’s staffing is a force multiplier, allowing us to staff more clinics. We appreciate Amazon’s willingness to step up and offer assistance in this critical public health effort.”
“Since the outset of the global health pandemic, Amazon has targeted its resources toward protecting the health and well-being of its employees, customers, and the communities in which we operate,” said Brian Huseman, vice president of public policy at Amazon. “We’re proud to partner with Arlington and provide a safe and accessible space so that the Virginia Department of Health can continue to steadily vaccinate Arlington residents. We remain ready to provide ongoing support to our HQ2 neighbors as the entire nation works towards recovering from the pandemic.”
“We’re so happy to be partnering with Amazon and Arlington County as Virginia increases its vaccination roll out and more residents become eligible for vaccination,” said David Ritchey, Executive Vice President of JBG SMITH.
Last week Arlington County also announced partnerships intended to increase vaccination rates “among under-represented, at-risk populations.”
Arlington County has partnered with Neighborhood Health, Arlington Free Clinic, Macedonia Baptist Church, and local non-profit organizations to address disparities in COVID-19 vaccination rates among Arlington’s Black, Latino, low-income, and other communities that have been more severely affected by the pandemic. The Arlington County Department of Human Services has begun scheduling vaccine appointments for people referred by nonprofits.
“We are committed to ensuring that all of our residents who want a vaccine will have access to the vaccine.” said County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti. “And we are committed to doing all we can to equitably distribute the vaccine.”
Overall vaccination rates have been steadily increasing in Arlington. Over the past week, nearly 1,700 vaccination doses have been administered per day, on average. That compares to just over 1,100 doses per day at the beginning of March.
As of Monday morning, about 23% of Arlington’s population has received at least one vaccine dose, while 11% are fully vaccinated, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.
Despite the vaccinations, the rate of new coronavirus cases in Arlington is up slightly — around 250 new cases per week — compared to two weeks ago, when the seven-day total briefly fell below 200. Two deaths and five COVID-related hospitalizations have been reported over the past week, bringing the pandemic total for both in Arlington to 245 and 795, respectively.
Image (top) via Arlington County/YouTube
For PenPlace, located at the intersection of Army Navy Drive and S. Eads Street, Amazon is proposing 3.3 million square feet of solar-powered office space divided among the lush, futuristic building, dubbed “The Helix,” and three, 22-story office buildings with ground-floor retail.
The 11-acre site, which could accommodate up to 16,000 employees, will also have 2.5 acres of public open space, three retail pavilions and child care. A network of 2,100 parking spaces and loading areas for trucks will all be underground.
And, of course, there will be the “The Helix,” the distinctive building described as “a 350-foot tall spiraling office building that recreates a climb in the Blue Ridge Mountains.”
County officials say there will be numerous opportunities for virtual public engagement and are encouraging people to get involved in the process. The County Board is anticipated to hold a public hearing on PenPlace by the end of 2021.
“We have always had a highly engaged community and we’re proud of the valuable input that we use to fashion the best possible outcomes,” Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said during a meeting last night (Thursday) that kicked off the review process.
He added that Arlingtonians “are civically minded, they’re knowledgeable, and they so often bring us the best ideas that add to original plans that have been put forward.”
County Manager Mark Schwartz said the review process will resemble the process for Metropolitan Park — the first permanent HQ2 phase — which the County Board approved in December 2019 and is set to be complete in 2023. Located near S. Eads Street and 15th Street S., Met Park features 2.1 million square feet of office space across two towers and 2.5 acres of public park space.
“We are starting the process — there’s a road ahead of us,” Schwartz said. “It’s a proposed plan and we’re going to have a lot of conversations with the community.”
John Schoettler, Amazon’s vice president for global real estate, said the public input for Met Park proved valuable as Amazon mapped out PenPlace.
“The PenPlace design plans build on the community input we received during the Metropolitan Park approvals to raise the bar even further on accessibility, design innovation and sustainability,” he said, adding that Amazon is aiming for LEED Platinum certification for its PenPlace buildings.
Over the course of the next 10 months, online engagement opportunities will be held at multiple points in the process.
In April and May, the Long Range Planning Committee will consider how Amazon’s project fits into the county’s plans for future development in the area and will take input from nearby civic associations, property owners and county commissions.
Then, the Site Plan Review Committee will take over, during which time the committee can ask Amazon to make changes based on their reviews and community feedback. After the SPRC, PenPlace will go to the Planning Commission before going to the County Board for approval.
Meanwhile, the Department of Parks and Recreation will lead a review of public spaces in the area as part of a Park Master Planning Process. Community members will also be able to provide feedback on this process during online engagement opportunities and through online questionnaires, county staff said.
At the county’s request, an in-depth multimodal transportation assessment is also ongoing, Gorove Slade Transportation Planner Dan VanPelt said. The principal focus will be weekday rush hour traffic, although some attention will be paid to weekend retail traffic, too, he said.
Pandemic Doesn’t Change Amazon’s Plans — “Schoettler, who oversees Amazon’s global portfolio of office space, said the past year hasn’t changed the way the company thinks about its office strategy… Amazon still views the office as the best place for work because of the ability for employees to collaborate, and it still envisions its footprint centered around large corporate campuses like its Seattle headquarters and its HQ2 development in Northern Virginia. ” [Bisnow, Twitter]
Sheriff’s Deputy Charged with Fraud — “India Middleton, a deputy sheriff with the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, was indicted in Georgia by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service on conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Middleton was one of 10 defendants indicted in a multi-state scheme to submit fraudulent loan applications for non-[existent] businesses as part of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), according to a U.S. Department of Justice release.” [Patch, Arlington County]
New Irish Pub Opening Soon — From the social media account of Mattie & Eddie’s, Chef Cathal Armstrong’s new Irish restaurant and bar in Pentagon City: “Practice test! All your grand Irish pints coming soon!” [Facebook]
APS May Cut Magnet High School from Budget — “As part of his proposed budget for the 2022 Arlington Public Schools (APS) fiscal year, Superintendent Francisco Dúran has suggested cutting funding for Arlington students to attend [Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology]. Should the proposed cut pass, current Arlington students at Jefferson will be allowed to remain, but all future classes — including this year’s rising 9th graders — will be barred from attending the school.” [TJ Today]
Lopez’s Gun Loophole Bill Signed — “Introduced by House Majority Whip Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), HB 2128 was one of the first pieces of legislation signed into law by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam before the end of the session. The bill expands the amount of time state police and agencies have to conduct a background check on a ‘default proceed’ gun sale, from 3 days to 5 days.” [Press Release]
Summer Camp Registration Woes — “There were technical problems with the online registration system for Arlington Dept. of Parks and Rec summer camps this morning, readers tell ARLnow. From a parks dept. spokesperson: ‘Our online registration system experienced some technical issues this morning during the first hour of registration, but it was fixed by approximately 8:05am. By noon, over 8,300 registrations were completed.'” [Twitter]
Reminder: HQ2 Phase 2 Meeting Tonight — “The County is kicking off a public review process for the proposed next phase of Amazon’s HQ2. Thursday at 6:30 p.m. join an virtual community meeting to learn more about the plan, how the review process works, and when you can share feedback.” [Twitter, Arlington County]
‘Our Revolution’ Joins Civic Federation — “You say you want a revolution? Upon further review, the Arlington County Civic Federation has decided… it does! At the organization’s March 13 meeting, a vote on the membership application of the left-leaning political group Our Revolution Arlington came up for consideration by federation delegates. The final vote was 40 to approve, 11 to reject, eight abstentions and one non-response.” [Sun Gazette]
New GOP Entrant in Delegate Race — “The district trends Democratic in the same way Chicago winters trend cold, but a Republican has stepped up with plans to contest the 45th House of Delegates district in November. J.D. Maddox, a small-business owner and former Central Intelligence Agency official, announced March 23 he planned to seek the seat currently held by Del. Mark Levine, a Democrat.” [Sun Gazette, ALXnow]
Death Penalty Repealed in Va. — “Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday signed legislation to officially abolish the death penalty in Virginia, making it the first Southern state to ban capital punishment. ‘Justice and punishment are not always the same thing, that is too clearly evident in 400 years of the death penalty in Virginia,’ Northam, a Democrat, said during remarks ahead of signing the legislation, saying that it is both the right and the moral thing to do.” [NBC News, Commonwealth of Virginia]