Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Amazon Driving Commercial Property Sales — “An office building and an apartment building near the future Amazon HQ2 campus in Northern Virginia have recently hit the market, the latest in a wave of property owners looking to cash in on rising values from the tech giant’s arrival.” [Bisnow]

Continued Amazon Boost for Residential Real Estate — “The Amazon HQ2 effect continues to drive the Arlington County market. The median price of the 289 sales in Arlington in May was $615,000, up 9.8 percent from a year ago.” [WTOP]

Activists to Continue Resistance to Amazon — “Amazon is apparently here to stay. But so are the local activists who fought incentives for the tech giant in the first place. Monday evening, organizers from the coalition For Us Not Amazon held a forum at Clarendon Presbyterian Church in which they laid out next steps in their resistance efforts against Amazon.” [WAMU]

Community to Celebrate Resident’s 100th Birthday — “Four generations of family and a host of admirers descended on Calloway United Methodist Church the afternoon oj June 8 for a 100th-birthday salute to Birdie Alston, an icon of the Halls Hill-High View Park community.” [InsideNova]

Closures for 5K Race in Pentagon City — “The Zero Prostate Cancer 5K Race will take place on Saturday, June 15th, 2019. The Arlington County Police Department will conduct the following road closures from approximately 7:00 A.M. until 11:00 A.M. to accommodate the event: South Joyce Street, between South 15th Street and Army Navy Drive [and] Army Navy Drive, between South Joyce Street and South 25th Street.” [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Mashalette/Instagram

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(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) Amazon is making a $3 million donation for affordable housing and support services in the region, with a focus on Arlington.

The gift is being handled by the Arlington Community Foundation, which announced the commitment this morning.

“The gift will create a fund to support programs that maintain and create housing options for low-income individuals and families,” the foundation said.

In a press release, the foundation notes that Arlington has lost nearly 90 percent of its market rate affordable housing over the past two decades. Many expect real estate prices to continue to rise and price out lower-income individuals and families, particularly with Amazon bringing tens of thousands of mostly high-paying jobs to its new HQ2 in Arlington over the next 10 years or so.

Amazon also announced today that it would match employee donations to select housing- and homelessness-related nonprofits in and around Arlington, including AHC Inc., the Arlington Partnership for Affordable HousingA-SPANCarpenter’s Shelter, Wesley Housing Development Corporation and Doorways.

“Amazon will match the donation one-for-one, up to $5 million, through September 30,” the company said. Amazon is also making donations and employee matches in the Seattle area, home to its first headquarters.

More from the Arlington Community Foundation press release, after the jump.

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Virginia Tech announced today that it will build its latest campus in Potomac Yard, just across the border from Arlington in Alexandria and within close proximity to Amazon’s HQ2.

The university will be building a 15 million-square-foot, graduate-level “Innovation Campus” on a 15-acre property near the Regal movie theater, across Potomac Avenue from the Potomac Yard shopping center. The property is being developed by Lionstone and JBG Smith, which recently inked its deal with Amazon.

The campus was part of the state’s pitch to woo Amazon and joins the university’s other Northern Virginia facilities in Ballston and the West Falls Church.

“The first class of Innovation Campus master’s degree students will enroll in the fall of 2020 in existing space adjacent to where its new academic buildings will eventually be built,” the university said in a press release. “When complete in about 10 years, the campus will enroll 750 master’s candidates and hundreds of doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.”

Virginia Tech President Dr. Tim Sands said today (Monday) that he was “extremely pleased” about the location and its proximity to Amazon’s headquarters across Four Mile Run.

“It is the ideal location to support Virginia Tech’s bold plan to develop new tech talent, disciplines, programs, and human-centered research that will shape the economic future of the commonwealth and beyond,” he said.

“The campus’s strategic location, on 15 acres just south of the Four Mile Run stream that separates Alexandria and Arlington, positions Virginia Tech and its future partners near the nation’s capital, diverse industries, and leading tech companies, including Amazon and its HQ2 project,” the university noted in its press release.

“The campus will include academic classrooms, incubator space for new startups and research and development, offices for industry collaboration, and convening space for alumni events,” the press release said. “The development plans call for public open space and ground-floor retail, knitting the campus into the fabric of Alexandria.”

The campus will ultimately be part of a 65-acre mixed-use development, with the planned redevelopment of the big-box shopping center.

Amazon’s arrival renewed a funding push for Potomac Yard Metro station project as well as a proposed second entrance to the Crystal City Metro station earlier this year, though fluctuating cost estimates have made the details of the Potomac Yard project murky.

Development officials in Arlington and Alexandria previously hoped Potomac Yard and Crystal City would help attract Amazon. During an August Bisnow event, they noted that even with Four Mile Run drawing a municipal boundary between the two neighborhoods, developer JBG Smith owned large properties throughout the two regions and transportation projects made the area a prime spot for large-scale commercial development.

“If we can’t get it, we turn around and ask the next Fortune 100 company about their expansion plans,” Stephanie Landrum, president and CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, said of the Amazon selection process at the time.

During a Sunday event in Arlington about using tax revenue from Amazon to preserve affordability and equity in the area, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said he was “excited” about the new campus and what it can do for the region.

Wilson added that Sands is “under extreme pressure” from Commonwealth leaders to diversify the stream of tech workers in the state.

“And we said, here are we,” Wilson said of Alexandria. “We are a school system of 62 percent free and reduced lunch and 32 percent English language learners. We can help you do that.”

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(Updated at 4 p.m.) A local interfaith group is proposing Arlington and Alexandria redirect Amazon revenue to address long-standing community issues like affordable housing and school crowding.

Virginians for Organized Interfaith Community Engagement called on officials to dedicate portions of their revenue from Amazon to solve long-standing issues like Arlington’s affordable housing squeeze and ever-growing school enrollment.

The so-called “Community First Initiative” calls for Arlington County to earmark the first $10 million it receives from Amazon tax revenue to invest in affordability and equity, and dedicate 50 percent of all future revenue to the same.

“This would bring upwards of $232 million by 2035,” noted a VOICE press release on the proposed initiative, adding that leaders needed to start investing in solutions now because, “affordable housing and places are disappearing too fast. Too many residents are already being pushed out.”

Officials have estimated that Amazon will net the county $342.3 million in combined tax revenue over the next 16 years.

Arlington Board Chair Christian Dorsey and Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson both expressed general support for the plan during a planned event at Wakefield High School yesterday, though Dorsey disagreed about the specific funding mechanism proposed.

VOICE asked officials to invest in their communities by taking a loan out on the revenue the county expects to earn from Amazon’s second headquarters, making use of the county’s high bond ratings.

“The whole idea that you bond against revenues that you anticipate to come, but that you don’t have a definite stream, that’s not something that’s done affordably for a community, nor would I ever recommend that we do something like that,” said Dorsey, who added that he would look into alternative funding mechanisms like general appropriations during next year’s budget negotiations.

Arlington County Board members passed a $1.4 billion budget two months ago that increased funding for the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund to $16 million for the next fiscal year, up from $14.3 million currently.

The investment came after a contentious hearing in March over the county’s incentive package for Amazon, which includes up to $23 million in incentives to Amazon over the next 15 years and up to $28 million in local transportation project funding. Protesters disrupted the meeting several times to express fears that the community needed more investment in affordable housing to combat gentrification that could be caused by Amazon’s arrival.

“Will I work with VOICE to dedicate at least half of all additional revenues that come from Amazon’s investments in Arlington priorities in equity and inclusion, among which are the proposals you have generated? The answer is unequivocally yes,” Dorsey said on Sunday.

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, who joked it was “great to be across Four Mile Run in his second favorite Virginia jurisdiction,” told the audience that he too was committed to continuing conversations with VOICE, tech leaders, and Virginia Tech, which is planning to build a new 65-acre tech campus in Alexandria close to Amazon’s new headquarters.

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Morning Notes

Goldstein Fends Off Challenger — “Incumbent School Board Chair Reid Goldstein emerged as the victor Saturday night in the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s [School Board endorsement] caucus… Goldstein received 1,231 votes out of 1,999 ballots counted, or 61.6%… Challenger David Priddy received 763 votes.” [Arlington Democrats]

Car Runs Off Glebe Road Into Ditch — “At 1:54pm Sunday, units were called for a car off the road in 4500 blk of N Glebe Rd. Crews were able to walk 1 patient out with minor injuries. Patient was transported to local hospital while Hazmat team worked to contain leaking fluids. Please watch your speed on the wet roads.” [Twitter]

Del. Hope Not a PAC Man — Del. Patrick Hope (D) has joined a group of Democratic state Senators in announcing “their intention to introduce legislation in the 2020 General Assembly legislative session to limit excessive campaign contributions from influencing Virginia elections.” The proposed bill is in response to a PAC contributing nearly $1 million to the commonwealth’s attorney primaries in Arlington and Fairfax. [Blue Virginia]

New Additions to Amazon HQ2 Job Page — There are now 47 open jobs listed on Amazon’s HQ2 jobs page. Among the positions Amazon is hiring for in Arlington are hardware, system and software development engineers; recruiters; and numerous Alexa-related technical positions. [Amazon]

Middle School Project Running Behind — “It might be a little cramped for the first few months as students settle in at Arlington’s Dorothy Hamm Middle School… County school officials have known for months that the expansion of the school won’t be ready for occupancy when classes begin in September… On its website, the school system now pegs completion of the expansion at next March.” [InsideNova]

Wardian Places Third in Horse Race — “Mike Wardian, 45, of Arlington, Va. did not succeed at outrunning all the horses at the 40th anniversary of Whole Earth Man v. Horse Marathon in Wales yesterday, but he did pretty well nonetheless, placing third among the humans and finishing in 2:34:03.” [Trail Running]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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A local interfaith organization is holding a meeting this weekend about how to ensure Amazon’s second headquarters benefits the local community.

Virginians for Organized Interfaith Community Engagement is holding the public meeting at Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street) this Sunday, June 9 from 4:30-6:15 p.m. and is encouraging residents from Arlington and Alexandria to attend.

Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey and Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson are expected to attend the event, per a VOICE press release. Other attendees slated to be there include local clergy of various religions, teachers, students, and business owners.

The topics of discussion include affordable housing and equal opportunities in education.

“Arlington and Alexandria officials have talked about the need to work together to mitigate negative impacts and maximize public benefits,” VOICE spokeswoman Marjorie Green told ARLnow. “This VOICE gathering will mark the first public joint event addressing potential actions in any detail.”

The event is free but attendees are asked to RSVP to [email protected]‐iaf.org.

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Morning Notes

Busy Weekend for Fire Department — The Arlington County Fire Department helped to rescue a person trapped in an overturned SUV on northbound I-395 at Glebe Road Saturday evening and battled an attic fire in the Arlington Forest neighborhood early Sunday morning. [Twitter, Twitter]

Arlington’s Top Bond Rating Reaffirmed — “For the 19th year in a row, all three credit ratings agencies have reaffirmed Arlington County’s debt ratings of Aaa/AAA/AAA — the highest rating. Arlington is one of just 48 counties in the United States, and nine in Virginia, to receive the highest rating from all three credit agencies for its bonds.” [Arlington County, Fitch Ratings]

Amazon Makes Va. Political Contributions — “Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), with leases for its second headquarters in Arlington signed and hiring underway, is ramping up its political contributions in Virginia, weeks ahead of a key state primary.” [Washington Business Journal]

GGW Endorses Challenger in Prosecutor Race — “The two-term incumbent, Theo Stamos, is being challenged by a political newcomer, Parisa Dehghani-Tafti. Greater Greater Washington’s volunteer Elections Committee considered the positions of these two qualified candidates, and we endorse Dehghani-Tafti.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Food Truck Nights in Ballston — “Local food trucks will be parked in front of Randolph Towers on the first Wednesday of the month from June to August. On June 5th, stop by for a taste of Maine from Red Hook Lobster Pound and comfort food favorites by Dogs on the Curb!” [Ballston BID]

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Morning Notes

Real Estate Smoking Hot Near HQ2 — “Since Amazon announced in November its choice of Crystal City and Pentagon City, the median home sale price in that area has increased 17.7%, leaping to $655,000, and the typical home was placed under contract in just six days, down from 10 days last year, according to fresh data from real estate brokerage Redfin.” [Washington Business Journal, Axios, WTOP]

Marymount Names Tech-Oriented Interim Business Dean — “Tech expert and entrepreneur Jonathan Aberman is the new interim dean of Marymount University’s School of Business and Technology. Aberman replaces outgoing dean Marianne Ward-Peradoza and officially takes the reins of the school July 1.” [Washington Business Journal, PRNewswire]

Missing: Firefighter’s Keys — “A firefighter left his keys on the bumper of a fire truck while rushing to an emergency! If you happened to pick up this set of keys along Wilson Blvd from Ballston to 7 Corners, kindly return them to Fire Station 2!” [Twitter]

Water Main Work in Lyon Village — “Emergency Water Main Repairs: Crews are working on an 8-inch main at the 2800 block of Key Boulevard. Some 150 water customers could be affected. The street is detoured around the work site.” [Twitter]

Metro Summer Shutdown Underway — “After long lines and packed buses shortly after opening, commuters on Metro’s Yellow and Blue lines are seeing more frequent pick-ups but some traffic delays… Tuesday is the first work day that six stations on Metro’s Blue and Yellow lines south of Reagan National Airport are closed for platform repairs and other upgrades until Sept. 8.” [WTOP]

Photo: Tomb Sentinel in Thursday’s Storm — “On Thursday, Arlington was hit hard with rain and wind with gusts up to 70mph, but that didn’t stop one man from honoring the fallen. A Tomb Sentinel withstood torrential rains and wind gusts to honor the fallen at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.” [WJLA, Facebook]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

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Morning Notes

Landmark Trees Felled During Storm — A well-known, historic oak tree near the Reevesland farmhouse, one of seventeen designated specimen trees on private property in Arlington, was among the trees that fell during yesterday’s storm. Trees were also downed in Arlington National Cemetery; one tree crushed a car. [Twitter, Twitter]

May 23 Storm vs. 2012 Derecho — “The ~36,000 Dominion customers without power in Arlington at the post-storm peak today is just over half the ~68,000 after the 2012 derecho.” [Twitter]

Rosslyn Trump HQ Rent Raises Questions — “President Trump was ‘thrilled’ that his campaign acquired northern Virginia office space at ‘bargain basement’ rates, a campaign official told the Washington Examiner in an interview in the plush 14th floor offices overlooking the Potomac River from Arlington, Va. But campaign finance specialists say the ‘steal’ could violate election law, which views below-market rates for rent as an illegal in-kind campaign donation.” [Washington Examiner]

Median Home Price in Arlington Up $100K — “Amazon’s impending move to Northern Virginia has had a significant impact on home list prices in Arlington County, a new analysis by online real estate platform Realtor.com finds. The median list price for a home there has grown 17 percent since last November.” [Curbed]

Amazon Employees Seeking Furnished Apartments — “Oakwood, which already managed a full Crystal City building at 505 18th St. South, recently extended its deal at the property for another five years, Eicholtz said. She said Oakwood is already seeing demand from Amazon employees, but it is not just coming in Crystal City.” [Bisnow]

Another County Board Contender — “Arlington resident Arron O’Dell has qualified to be on the ballot in the Nov. 5 County Board race. ‘My focus is on affordability. I will work to keep Arlington the place we enjoy living in now while controlling costs and taxes’ and ‘making the county more efficient and small-business friendly,’ O’Dell said on a nascent campaign website.” [InsideNova]

Police Chase Ends in Pentagon City — “Alexandria [Police] chased a robbery suspect on NB I-395… Chase reportedly ended at Army Navy Drive and S. Hayes Street near Pentagon City mall. Three suspects in custody.” [Twitter]

Senators Unveil Metro Funding Proposal — “Metro, which is about to undergo extensive summer track work, would receive $150 million a year for badly needed capital improvements under legislation outlined Thursday by U.S. senators from Virginia and Maryland.” [WTOP, Blue Virginia]

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Morning Notes

Metro Removes 3000-Series from Service — “Metro overnight temporarily removed all 3000-series cars from service after we received a report of a door malfunction for which we need to identify the cause. This voluntary safety action reduces the number of available rail cars by ~15%” [Twitter, Twitter]

Courthouse Hotel May Become Apartments — “The owner of an Arlington hotel is now hoping to flip the building into residential space instead. The Arlington Court Suites Hotel in Courthouse could soon become a 180-unit apartment building dubbed ‘Park Arlington at Courthouse,’ according to plans filed with the county this week.” [Washington Business Journal]

More HQ2 Jobs Listed — There are now 18 open HQ2 jobs listed on Amazon’s website, with roles ranging from HR to sales to software engineer. Some of the jobs were reportedly first listed as working out of Amazon’s existing Ballston office, the long-term prospects for which are now in question. [Amazon, Washington Business Journal]

NPS’ Massive GW Parkway Backlog — “ABC7 asked the National Park Service how big the [GW Parkway’s] maintenance problem is. The… Parkway has a maintenance backlog of $717-million, but that includes 25 sites, such as Arlington House and Great Falls Park. $649-million of that amount is for paved roads. 33 million vehicles drive on the GW Parkway every year.” [WJLA, Twitter]

Va. Reps Call for Telework Option During ‘Summer Shutdown’ — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and other Northern Virginia representatives have written a letter to the director of the Office of Personnel Management, calling for federal employees to be given expanded telework options during the May 25-Sept. 8 “Summer Shutdown” of Metro stations in Alexandria. [House of Representatives]

Yellow Line Extension Starting This Weekend — “Metro today announced it will begin running all Yellow Line trains to Greenbelt more than a month earlier than expected – starting Saturday, May 25 – when the Platform Improvement Project begins at six Yellow and Blue line stations south of Reagan National Airport.” [PoPville]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

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The Arlington County Board voted to fund several transportation projects this weekend that officials had used to woo Amazon during the tech giant’s search for its second headquarters.

On Saturday, County Board members approved using $33,850,000 in state funds on the projects. The vote comes after Board members and state legislators pledged millions in transportation upgrades near Amazon’s HQ2 site as long as the company meets certain job creation and space occupancy benchmarks.

Per a staff report to the Board, the projects include:

  • $18,850,000 to expand the Crystal City-Potomac Yard Transitway to the Pentagon City, adding 1.1 miles of dedicated bus lanes. The state previously pledged $46.6 million for the project.
  • $10,000,000 for the Army-Navy Drive Complete Street project, which aims to redesign the roadway for easier bike and pedestrian access between the Pentagon, Pentagon City, and Crystal City.
  • $5,000,000 to help build an east entrance at Crystal City Metro station, a project the county has postponed before for lack of funds.

The Board’s vote authorizes the Department of Environmental Services to receive the $33,850,000 from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) and apply it to the county’s fund for transportation capital projects. The matter was passed as part of the Board’s consent agenda for the Saturday meeting.

Metro stations and transit featured prominently on the maps that developer JBG Smith used to pitch Arlington on building its headquarters in the area. Officials are hoping an eastern Metro entrance could also better connect passengers using the Crystal City VRE station, which itself is set for upgrades.

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