Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Board Shelves Pike Housing Proposal — “Arlington County Board members on Oct. 17… [removed] from consideration a staff proposal to change rules governing affordable housing on Columbia Pike. Board members, who had weathered intense community skepticism of the proposal when it first was heard in June, had placed the proposal back on their October agenda, and had recommendations from both the Planning Commission and county manager to approve it. But when critics again suited up to do battle, board members threw in the towel.” [InsideNova]

Another Top Bond Rating for County — “For the 20th year in a row, all three credit ratings agencies have reaffirmed Arlington County’s debt ratings of Aaa/AAA/AAA — the highest possible rating. Arlington is one of just 48 counties in the United States, and one of nine in Virginia, to receive this designation.” [Arlington County]

Amazon Donates to Antiracism Effort — “Amazon.com Inc. has donated $100,000 to Arlington County’s antiracism initiative. The company, which is setting up a headquarters in the Northern Virginia county, made the donation Oct. 14 and the county board will vote on whether or not to accept the funds on Tuesday.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Sculpture at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — “A new sculpture honoring military women and military working dogs was unveiled outside Arlington National Cemetery. The life-size bronze sculpture called ‘The Pledge’ is being placed at the Women In Military Service For America Memorial, located at Arlington National Cemetery’s entrance.” [WTOP, DCist]

Arlington Woman Featured as Face of COVID — “One of those laid off was Serenety Hanley, whose career in digital communications included a stint in the White House under President George W. Bush. The 45-year-old single mother was let go from a retail job in March and now makes a living by shopping for Instacart… Hanley said she still can barely make ends meet.” [Thomson Reuters Foundation]

Va. Ventilator Usage Declines — “The number of Virginians being treated on ventilators for COVID-19 fell to a new low Monday, and case levels also declined somewhat from recent trends. The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported that just 81 patients were being treated statewide on ventilators, down from 95 the day before and the fewest since the association began publicly reporting COVID-19 data in early April.” [InsideNova]

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Amazon is continuing a string of local donations with a $1 million commitment to Arlington and Alexandria public schools.

The company’s million-dollar donation to schools in HQ2’s backyard follows a more than $2.5 million donation to schools near “HQ1” in the Seattle area.

The donations will go towards a “‘Right Now Needs Fund’ — a flexible fund designed to meet the basic needs of schoolchildren and help eliminate barriers to learning” during the pandemic, the company said.

“The Right Now Needs Fund in Northern Virginia will provide students with immediate access to urgently needed items including food, clothing, and school supplies across all 41 Arlington Public Schools and programs and all 18 Alexandria City Public Schools,” Amazon said on its Day One blog.

The fund is in addition to Amazon’s recent donation hundreds of wireless internet access devices and $75,000 towards headphones for Arlington students attending classes from home.

Arlington Public Schools’ Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer said the school system is “elated” by the gift and the impact it will have on students in need.

More on the fund, from the Amazon blog:

Site Coordinators and school social workers within each of the school districts and schools will work with families to identify individual student needs and request assistance from the Fund. Communities In Schools NOVA, leveraging existing relationships with both school districts, will distribute Amazon Education Assistance Product Vouchers – a prepaid payment designed specifically for education-related needs. Students and their families can redeem the vouchers for a wide variety of carefully curated items that students need to be successful at school, including food, school supplies for at-home learning, warm clothing, hygiene items, and more. By using the prepaid vouchers, students and families can redeem much-needed items in a dignified and convenient way.

“The start of this school year has been difficult for many families across our new home of Northern Virginia, and we are determined to provide support to the students who need it most,” said Jay Carney, Amazon Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs. “At Amazon, we are always looking for innovative solutions to tough challenges, and we are confident that the flexibility and speed built into our new Right Now Needs Fund will help ensure that more students from underserved communities can focus on their studies, and not fall behind as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.”

Amazon recently donated nearly 800 Mi-Fi devices and $75,000 to secure thousands of headsets for students across Northern Virginia starting the school year from home. In addition, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Amazon’s HQ2 region, Amazon donated $1 million to kick-start emergency response efforts, provided thousands of devices to groups supporting students in need, donated cash and in-kind products to local nonprofits and food banks, paid local restaurants to prepare and deliver 10,000 lunches and dinners for first responders, frontline healthcare workers, and vulnerable neighbors, and funded delivery services to provide more than 50,000 meals–60,000 pounds of food–directly to the doorsteps of local seniors and those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Amazon also donated $3.9 million to nonprofit CodeVA to help make virtual computer science curriculum and training available Virginia teachers and students so that they don’t fall behind in learning this increasingly important skillset. There are currently more than 50 schools and counting in the state of Virginia part of the Amazon Future Engineer program.

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Morning Notes

Amazon Makes Local Donations — Amazon has made a some substantial recent donations to local charitable organizations. Arlington-based Doorways for Women and Families received $100,000 from Amazon “in COVID-19 relief to keep survivors safe in housing and hotels,” while newly-created Project Headphones received $75,000, which “allows us to get headphones with mics for all grade levels in @APSVirginia.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Clement Blasts ‘Missing Middle’ Housing — “‘Missing middle’ may be two words totaling 13 letters, but depending on which side of the Arlington political divide you are on, it may qualify as a single four-letter word. The proposed housing policy, which in theory aims to find ways to stop Arlington from becoming an enclave of the very wealthy with some low-cost housing thrown in as fig leaf, came under withering attack from a veteran campaigner during the recent Arlington Committee of 100 County Board debate.” [InsideNova]

Food Hall Coming to Rosslyn Development — “The first level of the new concept will include a bodega that carries everyday essentials and prepared food for dine-in or to-go. The second level will offer seven food stalls, including an oyster bar, coffee bar and diner concept. There will also be access to a main bar, full-service dining area and a communal work lounge.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Offering Free Online Job Training — “City of Alexandria and Arlington County residents can get free job skills training online as part of ‘Skill-Up City of Alexandria and Arlington County,’ an initiative of the Alexandria/Arlington Regional Workforce Council, Alexandria Workforce Development Center, and Arlington Employment Center. The online classes are funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.” [Arlington County]

Recollection of Racism in Arlington — “There was a time, Araya recalled, when Blacks couldn’t walk along the north side of Columbia Pike without getting frisked by police. So for an African American to walk from Green Valley to see friends in Halls Hill, ‘You had to know the route through white neighborhoods. It was like the Green Book for Arlington.'” [Falls Church News-Press]

Cemetery Likely to Get Historic Status — “The cemetery at Mount Salvation Baptist Church in Arlington is now virtually assured of becoming a local historic district. The county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) has approved the nomination, setting the stage for public hearings before the Planning Commission and County Board.” [InsideNova]

Local Man Convicted of Embezzlement — “A well-connected Virginia financial advisor was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison for embezzling approximately $8 million from money that the U.S. government and a hospital had entrusted to him to set up annuities for 13 people who were the beneficiaries of medical malpractice settlements. Joseph Edward Gargan, owner of The Pension Co. in Arlington, Va… is a relative of the late President John F. Kennedy.” [Claims Journal]

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Morning Notes

Amazon Buys Hotel Next to HQ2 Site — “Amazon.com Inc. has purchased the Residence Inn by Marriott in Pentagon City with plans to demolish it and expand its second headquarters, the company tells the Washington Business Journal. Acorn Development LLC, an Amazon subsidiary, paid $148.5 million for the building and its 1.5-acre site at 550 Army Navy Drive.” [Washington Business Journal]

Trail Roundabout Now In Use — A new roundabout along the Custis Trail is now in use, improving safety at a formerly hazardous T-intersection in Bon Air Park. [Twitter]

Changes for Missing Middle Housing Study — “Staff from the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD) presented to the County Board a revised Missing Middle Housing Study Scope and Charge, which was shaped by community feedback and informed by research.” [Arlington County]

Optimists Now Meeting in Person — “While many other service organizations across Northern Virginia have curtailed operations or moved to an online-only presence due to the public-health situation, the Optimist Club of Arlington is back with in-person meetings. The local club… resumed its twice-monthly meetings in July at Washington Golf & Country Club, with appropriate precautions.” [InsideNova]

Robo Mower Snatched, But Then Returned — “Though not a tale of high crimes and misdemeanors, the brief disappearance Tuesday morning of ‘Shultzy’ the robotic AutoMower caused a degree of excitement for one Maywood family.” [Patch]

ACFD Touts First ‘Whole Blood’ Use — “Crews responded for a person that suffered serious injuries after a long fall on Monday. Medics quickly administered whole blood, helping to stabilize the patient’s vital signs. This was the first use of our innovative whole blood program implemented earlier this month.” [Twitter]

Today: Virtual Pike Progress Luncheon — “Support our community with this year’s virtual ‘luncheon’ benefit! While the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Columbia Pike, the region and indeed the world, our community is still strong.” [ARLnow Events, CPRO]

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Morning Notes

About Last Night’s Flyover — The two fighter jets that flew low and loud over Arlington last night, startling many, were participating in a flyover for the dedication of the new Eisenhower Memorial in D.C. [Twitter, Twitter]

Big Crane Coming to Amazon HQ2 Site — “There will be tower crane erection work this weekend, starting at 5 a.m. on Saturday, September 19 and 7 a.m. on Sunday, September 20. Work will be completed no later than 9 p.m. each day.” All southbound traffic on S. Eads Street will be detoured. [Twitter]

No PARK(ing) Day — “Arlington County will not be hosting annual PARK(ing) Day events tomorrow due to COVID-19 precautions. But feel free to imagine the possibilities of drab, curbside asphalt turned into unique community spaces.” [Twitter]

Barr Speech in Arlington Makes News — “Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday that the Justice Department has recently acted ‘more like a trade association for federal prosecutors than the administrator of a fair system of justice’ and equated some prosecutors to preschoolers and ‘headhunters’ […] in a speech at Hillsdale College’s annual Constitution Day Celebration, which this year was held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia.” [NBC News]

New Fire Engines for ACFD — “The Arlington County Fire Department recently took delivery of two new Pierce Manufacturing pumpers, which went into service with Engine 105 and Engine 109. The twin pumpers have a 1,500-gallon-per-minute pump and carry 750 gallons of water and 30 gallons of firefighting foam.” [InsideNova]

Virtual Award Gala Next Week — “Please join us for the 2020 Spirit of Community celebration on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 12:00 PM. This year, the Arlington Community Foundation will be honoring Arlington’s front-line human service workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic with the 2020 William T. Newman, Jr. Spirit of Community Award.” [Arlington Community Foundation]

Fairlington 5K Goes Virtual — “Having canceled its traditional event in April, organizers of the Fairlington 5K have announced plans for a ‘virtual’ race on Saturday, Oct. 3. Participants will have one week to compete in the event, which will support Fairlington resident Ellie McGinn, a young girl born with the rare brain/spinal cord disorder LBSL. Additional funds raised from the event will support Abingdon Elementary School.” [InsideNova]

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The Arlington County Board has given its unanimous stamp of approval to plans for a revamped public park in the shadow of Amazon’s HQ2.

The Board approved a master plan and design guidelines for Pentagon City’s Metropolitan Park, which as currently configured is perhaps best known for being a large patch of grass where dogs from neighboring apartment buildings relieve themselves.

Amazon is picking up the $14 million renovation tab for the reimagined Metropolitan Park, designed — also at Amazon’s expense — by James Corner Field Operations, of New York City “High Line” fame.

The new park, expected to be completed in 2023, will feature lush meandering paths, a central green for gatherings and events, tables for outdoor dining, two 2,000 square foot dog parks, an edible garden, and public art, among other amenities.

James Corner Field Operations conducted its community outreach process for the park design virtually, as a result of the pandemic, with live video presentations and online surveys. The park design is a fusion of several presented concepts, with community feedback taken into account during each step of the way.

The online process won plaudits from at least one of the citizen-led county commissions involved.

“Several Commissioners noted that the virtual public engagement was thorough and well designed and allowed for much broader participation than would otherwise be the case for in-person meetings alone,” wrote Phil Klingelhofer, Chair of Arlington’s Urban Forestry Commission. “We would encourage the County to consider utilizing this virtual method of public engagement going forward even after the Covid-19 restrictions on public meetings have ceased as way to foster greater inclusivity and feedback.”

More on the park’s approval from an Arlington County press release, below.

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Arlington was the big winner of the biggest economic development prize of them all: Amazon’s HQ2.

But Amazon’s second headquarters is nowadays feeling like a very distant second, behind the tech giant’s growing presence in the Seattle area.

“The real HQ2: Amazon adding 10k more jobs in Bellevue, growing further beyond downtown Seattle,” was one headline from earlier this month.

“Amazon to Have as Many Workers in Seattle Suburb As Virginia HQ2,” was another.

Amazon, which is still busy building the first half of its permanent office campus in Pentagon City, has not wavered from its original plans: 25,000 employees in Arlington, across 4 million square feet of new office space, over the next decade. That remained the plan even after it scrapped the idea of hiring 25,000 people in New York City as half of a split HQ2.

(The company hired its 1,000th HQ2 employee this summer; it is currently leasing temporary office space in Crystal City.)

But with Amazon’s already lofty stock price up 67% since the beginning of the year, combined with its growing ambitions and newly-announced Seattle area expansion, one might be forgiven for wondering if Arlington and HQ2 is an after-thought at this point.

Suppose for a moment, however, that the company eventually decides to add to its Arlington presence. Is that a move that you would welcome?

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Morning Notes

More APS Tech Issues Reported — Several people contacted ARLnow yesterday to report more technology issues involving remote learning. While Wakefield High School’s principal posted a possible fix on social media, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said that any remaining problems were isolated: “At last check this morning, there were 25,273 APS-provided student devices active on our network. There are some issues at the secondary level, but we are working directly with those students to reset their devices.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Sept. 11 Commemoration Tomorrow — “Arlington County will commemorate the lives lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and express gratitude to all those who responded that day with a virtual event. To ensure everyone’s safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, the public will view the event online or on the County’s cable channels.” [Arlington County]

State Grant to Boost COVID Testing — “The Virginia Department of Health has provided the Department of Human Services with $320,287 to increase COVID-19 testing capacity. The grant award covers the period August 1, 2020 through December 30, 2020. Grant funds will support operations and logistics at testing sites.” [Arlington County]

Amazon Holding Virtual Career Day — “Amazon is looking to build on the success of last year’s Career Day events across six U.S. cities that hosted 17,000 job seekers with over 200,000 people who applied for jobs in the week leading up to the event. The new completely virtual event will open Amazon Career Day 2020 to everyone, regardless of their location. Some of the new employees will be placed at Amazon’s HQ2 in Arlington, Virginia, which is continuing to expand following its opening last year.” [Good Morning America, Amazon, WTOP]

Progress on DCA Expansion — “Project Journey is well on its way. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority this week offered an update on its two-pronged, roughly $650 million modernization program at Reagan National Airport. The final product will deliver a new north concourse, replacing the oft-maligned Gate 35X, and new security checkpoints. The former is expected to open in July 2021, and the latter by the fourth quarter of 2021.” [Washington Business Journal, NBC 4, InsideNova]

Wide Pedestrian Bridge Proposed — “The final EIS for Long Bridge recommended building 14′ wide pedestrian and bike bridge connecting Long Bridge, the MVT and East Potomac Park. Governor Northam committed to funding pre-COVID. This will be huge for regional trail connectivity.” [Twitter, Friends of the Mt. Vernon Trail]

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Morning Notes

School Year Starts Today — “While the start of this year will certainly look and feel different than previous years, we are all excited to welcome students back for distance learning and to start connecting and building relationships in new ways. Our first days of school will be focused on helping students get to know their teachers and classmates and creating new routines.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Many Still Uncounted by Census — “To have a complete understanding of our community, everyone needs to be counted. Currently, Arlington stands at a 75.2% self-response rate, meaning that a significant portion – almost one-fourth – of the County still needs to be counted.” [Arlington County]

Overturned Vehicle on Route 50 — “[On Saturday] crews freed a driver from an overturned vehicle on Route 50 near Abingdon St. The patient was transported to a trauma center with non-life threatening injuries.” [@ArlingtonVaFD/Twitter]

Why Marymount Is Back in Person — “There are a number of schools that are going entirely online… That’s not what the students wanted, Becerra told the Washington Business Journal. A university-conducted survey found that the majority of students said they felt like they didn’t learn as well remotely as they did in person.” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Nonprofits to Merge — “Bridges to Independence, a Northern Virginia provider of housing and vital services for at risk families and individuals, today announced its intent to merge with the Bonder and Amanda Johnson Community Development Corporation (BAJCDC), a community-based non-profit with a mission to address the health, education, financial empowerment and social service needs of people living in Arlington’s Green Valley neighborhood.” [Press Release]

Rosslyn Firm Makes Acquisition —  “Innovative Discovery (ID), a trusted partner for law firms, corporations, and government agencies that provides service, guidance, and consultation throughout the information lifecycle, is pleased to announce that it has acquired Integro, a leading provider of information governance and content services solutions.” [Innovative Discovery via Potomac Tech Wire]

Amazon Adding New Jobs in Seattle Area — “Amazon is adding 10k jobs in the Seattle region, aka HQ1. Unclear what this means, if anything, for HQ2 in Arlington. At last check, Amazon was sticking to its original plan of 25k jobs and a second construction phase for another 2m square feet of office.” [@ARLnowDOTcom/Twitter]

Photo courtesy @ArlDuder/Twitter

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Morning Notes

DCA Noise Study Launched — “In a partnership that stretches across the Potomac River, Arlington and Montgomery counties have launched a joint study to mitigate aircraft noise from nearby Reagan National Airport. A team of technical experts representing the suburban Virginia and Maryland counties will study flight procedures, consult residents and propose to the Federal Aviation Administration ways to reduce noise pollution.” [WTOP]

Amazon Doubling Down on OfficesAmazon “is expanding its physical offices in six U.S. cities and adding thousands of corporate jobs in those areas, an indication the tech giant is making long-term plans around office work even as other companies embrace lasting remote employment. Amazon is preparing to add 3,500 corporate jobs across hubs in New York, Phoenix, San Diego, Denver, Detroit and Dallas.” [Wall Street Journal]

State Senators Support Redistricting Amendment — “The Arlington County Democratic Committee may have come out against the state constitutional amendment on redistricting that will be on Virginia’s Nov. 3 ballot. But the three members of Arlington’s state Senate delegation say they support it nonetheless. The amendment to create a redistricting commission represents ‘a big step forward,’ said Sen. Adam Ebbin. [InsideNova]

WWII Marker Replaced by Gun Violence Garden — “In 1952, a marker was unveiled in Arlington by the Gold Star Mothers of America… In June, a handsome new garden was dedicated in that space. It was created by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia to honor Moms Demand Action, an organization dedicated to addressing gun violence.” [Washington Post]

Local BLM Protest Organizers Profiled — “In late May, as outrage over George Floyd’s killing in police custody roiled the nation, Anika and Yolande Kwinana decided they had to do something. Anika, 49, a program manager in the Kennedy Center’s education division, and Yolande, 28, a business development associate for Salesforce…  decided to organize a smaller demonstration themselves, in Arlington.” [Arlington Magazine]

Local Beer Store Pivots to Delivery — “Les Shaver tells the story of The Brew Shop, a specialty wine and beer store in Arlington, Va., that has been exceptionally resilient despite the impact of Covid-19. In the article, How One Small Beer Shop Tapped Into Online Sales in Response to COVID-19, Shaver recounts how owners Julie Drews and Beth Helle have been able to stay ahead of the curve by quickly shifting their brick and mortar format to online and delivery services.” [Craft Brewing Business]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

Evictions Halted in Virginia — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced a temporary statewide moratorium on eviction proceedings in Virginia. The moratorium, which will begin on Monday, August 10 and remain in effect through Monday, September 7, halts all eviction proceedings related to failure to pay rent.” [Commonwealth of Virginia]

Amazon Rents More Space in Crystal City — “Amazon.com Inc. is adding more Arlington office space to its portfolio even during a pandemic that has forced most of the company’s corporate employees to work remotely… The [newly-leased] 18,700-square-foot space is part of the 272,000-square-foot 2100 Crystal Drive that Amazon agreed in December to eventually lease in full.” [Washington Business Journal]

Erroneous Library Card Renewal Email — Per Arlington Public Library spokesman Henrik Sundqvist: “About 4,000 patrons were mistakenly notified to renew their library card in person. This is not required. We are working on communicating with any affected patrons to clarify and will do so today [Friday].”

Investigation Reveals ‘Historic’ Shed Built in 1974 — “A homeowner living in the Maywood Historic District of Arlington will be able to tear down a no-longer-considered-historic shed. The 10-foot-by-12-foot wooden structure at the back of a home in the 3600 block of 21st Avenue North long had been considered a ‘contributing’ part of the local historic district, a designation that likely would have prevented its demolition as sought by the current owners. But as it turns out, the shed doesn’t come from Maywood’s historic period, defined as 1906 to 1941.” [InsideNova]

Arlington’s Former ‘Lost Cause’ Textbooks  — “A series of textbooks written for the fourth, seventh and 11th grades taught a generation of Virginians our state’s history. Chapter 29 of the seventh-grade edition, titled ‘How the Negroes Lived Under Slavery,’ included these sentences: ‘A feeling of strong affection existed between masters and slaves in a majority of Virginia homes.’ The masters ‘knew the best way to control their slaves was to win their confidence and affection.'” [Washington Post, Washington Post]

War Memorial Interpretive Project Honored — “Arlington’s Historic Preservation Program staff and Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) will be honored with a Commission Excellence Award in the category of Best Practices: Public Outreach/Advocacy from the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions (NAPC) during its virtual conference on Aug. 7. The award recognizes the work of County staff and the HALRB on the Clarendon War Memorial Interpretive Project.” [Arlington County]

Former YHS Star Goes to Cleveland — “The Cleveland Browns have claimed CB M.J. Stewart off waivers on Saturday. Released by Tampa Bay, Stewart was drafted by the Buccaneers in the second round of the 2018 draft (53rd overall).” [Browns Nation]

Flickr pool photo by Vincent

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