Arlington Among Top Cities for Recent Grads — According to rankings from the website Livability, Arlington is the No. 2 best place for recent college graduates. Champaign, Ill. was ranked No. 1 and Jersey City, N.J. ranked No. 3. [Livability]
Major Water Main Replacement Approved — “The Arlington County Board [on Saturday] approved a $1.9 million contract (including contingency) to Sagres Construction Corporation to replace a nearly century-old water main along South Arlington Ridge Road, between 23rd Street South and South Nash Street. The existing 8-inch water main was built in 1927 and has experienced frequent breaks in recent years.” [Arlington County]
Cemetery Investigates Suspicious Package — On Saturday Arlington National Cemetery’s main entrance was briefly closed to vehicles and pedestrians while a security team investigated a suspicious package in the Welcome Center. The package was determined to “pose no threat” and normal operations resumed at 4:50 p.m. [Twitter]
Yorktown Grad in NFL Draft — M.J. Stewart may be the first Yorktown High School grad selected in the NFL Draft: “The 6-foot, 205-pound defensive back, who played at the University of North Carolina the last four seasons and was a three-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, has been projected to be chosen in the second or third round. The draft begins the night April 26 with first-round selections and last through April 28.” [InsideNova]
Heated Dispute Over Amazon Fire Stick — “Overheard on the scanner: Police responding to a man and a woman arguing over which person owns an Amazon Fire stick.” [Twitter]
Yarn Bomb Featured in Video — A new video shows the creation of the “yarn bomb” in Clarendon. In captions, it explains that a yarn bomb “is a type of graffiti or street art of knitted or crocheted yarn rather than paint or chalk.” [YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by Dave Bentley
Crystal City Tops HQ2 Poll — The combined Crystal City-Potomac Yard site is the most likely D.C. area landing spot for Amazon’s second headquarters, according to an online poll conducted by the Washington Business Journal. Meanwhile, D.C., Virginia and Maryland officials are teaming up to promote the region as the HQ2 search continues. Amazon fever has even entered the world of local business conferences: an event dubbed “HQmania” is scheduled to be held in Rosslyn next month. [Washington Business Journal, WAMU, DCA Live]
Rosslyn Lands Nonprofit HQ — “It’s been a good week for Rosslyn. First came the news that Gerber, a Nestle subsidiary, would relocate its headquarters and 150 jobs from New Jersey to 1812 N. Moore St. And Friday, we learn that a D.C.-based global nonprofit has decided to cross the Potomac into Arlington.” [Washington Business Journal]
ART Bus Stop Vandalized — Someone smashed two of the windows on an ART bus stop in the Long Branch Creek neighborhood late last week. [Twitter]
Arlington Man Charged With Statutory Rape — A 47-year-old Arlington man was arrested at his home last month and charged with the statutory rape of a minor in North Carolina. The man arranged meeting the minor in North Carolina via the messaging app Kik, which is popular with teens. [Fox 8]
Local Columbine Survivor Addresses Student Protesters — “Salli Garrigan was in music class when the sound of gunshots reverberated through the halls of her high school… Garrigan, now 35 and an Arlington resident, stood Friday before a crowd of D.C.-area students gathered on the U.S. Capitol lawn and told them when she was their age, she didn’t know how to make her voice heard.” [Washington Post]
Long Bridge Park Field Renovations Starting — Work is set to begin today on new turf for Long Bridge Park’s heavily-used Field No. 3. The field is expected to be closed for 45 days. [Arlington County]
Past and Present School Board Members Gather — On Thursday, the Arlington School Board held its last meeting at the Arlington Education Center building next to Washington-Lee High School. The board room and administrative offices are moving to the Syphax Education Center along Washington Blvd. To mark the last meeting, past and current School Board members members gathered for a photo. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Duluoz Me
Fund Bets on Amazon HQ2 Coming to Crystal City — A New York-based asset manager is making a $10 million bet that Crystal City will be the location chosen for Amazon’s HQ2. The company cited a high concentration of millennials and housing in the area, as well as proximity to Metro stations, commuter rail and Reagan National Airport. [Bloomberg, ZeroHedge]
Chamber Wants Extended Parking Meter Hours Paused — “Leadership of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce wants the county government to hit the brakes on a proposal to increase parking-meter fees and extend the hours meters must be fed. In a letter to County Board Chairman Katie Cristol, Arlington Chamber president Kate Bates said the government failed to do proper outreach before proposing the alterations to existing policy.” [InsideNova]
Grumbles About Ballston Construction — “Like many who venture to the kingdom of Ballston, I am impatient for the never-ending renovations to be over. Tina Leone, CEO of the Ballston Business Improvement District, was happy to promise me that the rewards for us patrons of Arlington’s most central community will unfold in September–with staggered openings continuing through May 2019.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Average Single-Family Home Sale: $1 Million — The average sale price of a single-family home in Arlington in March was $1,066,368, up 6.9 percent from a year prior. [InsideNova]
Ribbon Cutting for Abingdon Renovations — A ribbon cutting ceremony is being held at 9:30 this morning to celebrate the recently-completed addition and renovations at Abingdon Elementary School in Fairlington. [Twitter]
Photo by Anna Merod
Secret Service Vehicle Stolen in Arlington — A pair of thieves stole a vehicle belonging to the U.S. Secret Service from an Arlington service center yesterday afternoon. The vehicle did not have any equipment inside that “compromises the Secret Service mission,” the Secret Service told news organizations. It was reported stolen from the 900 block of N. Jackson Street, which corresponds with the location of Arlington Autocare near Clarendon. [WUSA 9, Washington Post]
Arlington and Alexandria Working Together on HQ2 — “The city of Alexandria and Arlington County are apparently working together in their efforts to land Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters… Arlington County’s Crystal City and the Alexandria portion of Potomac Yard south of Four Mile Run are believed to have been jointly offered up in response to Amazon’s September request for proposals.” [Washington Business Journal]
Monday Properties Expands Local Portfolio — Monday Properties, a major property owner in Rosslyn, has acquired a pair of office buildings in Alexandria and Herndon. The properties are both near potential D.C. area landing spots for Amazon’s HQ2. However, Monday’s Rosslyn portfolio itself is being seriously considered for the second headquarters by the Seattle-based online giant. [Washington Business Journal]
New Tenant for 1812 N. Moore Street — “Monday Properties has found a neighbor for Nestle USA in Rosslyn. International health IT juggernaut Cerner Corp. has signed on for 38,000 square feet at 1812 N. Moore, according to Bisnow.” [Bisnow, Washington Business Journal]
Snagajob Rebrands as ‘Snag’ — “Eighteen years in, Snagajob is rebranding. The Arlington, Va.-based company that provides a platform to find jobs is now called Snag, CEO Peter Harrison said on Tuesday. With the rebrand comes a new product. The company plans to expand a platform that can help connect to on-demand shifts.” [Technically DC, Washington Business Journal]
Bunny Needs Foster Home — A bunny dubbed Cherry Blossom is in need of a foster home. “Cherry Blossom was found outside, cold, skinny, and urine-scalded — now she needs a friend to help her gain her strength back,” said the Animal Welfare League of Arlington via social media. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
County HQ Renovation Vote Delayed — The Arlington County Board last night agreed to defer consideration of renovations to county government headquarters until April. The Board will discuss the “‘opportunity costs’ for the $10 million in rent abatements that will fund part of the renovation project,” in the context of the current county budget discussions, according to Board Chair Katie Cristol. [Twitter]
Arlington Declines Amazon FOIA Request — A Freedom of Information Act request for more information about the county’s Amazon HQ2 bid, sent from the Washington Post’s Jonathan O’Connell, was denied on the grounds that the information was “exempt from disclosure.” At the County Board meeting this past weekend, several speakers called on the county to release more information about what it has offered Amazon. [Twitter, WTOP]
Letter: APS Should Revise Gym Shorts Policy — Eighth-grade students wrote a letter to the editor encouraging Arlington Public Schools to revise its policy on girls’ gym shorts. Per the letter: “The shorts we are required to wear by the school system cause many of us embarrassment because the wide, open legs allow others to see our undergarments, especially during floor exercises. Additionally, the current gym shorts are too big for petite girls.” [InsideNova]
Arlington TV Now in HD — “You can now watch Arlington TV (ATV), the County’s government cable channel, in high definition (HD) on Comcast Xfinity. From live County Board meetings to original programming about Arlington, viewers with HD sets can now watch the same programming on Channel 1085 on Comcast Xfinity’s HD tier.” [Arlington County]
Auditor Releases Report on ECC Overtime — Arlington County Auditor Chris Horton has released a report on overtime incurred by the county’s Emergency Communications Center, which handles 911 calls and dispatches first responders. The ECC’s overtime costs were about $1.4 million last year. Horton found that “a more efficient training process could result in greater staffing efficiency, and potentially reduce overtime expenses.” [Arlington County]
School Walkouts Today — Student walkouts are planned at Arlington’s high schools today, part of a national demonstration against gun violence. The walkout is happening at 10 a.m., is expected to last 17 minutes, and is being treated as an excused absence by Arlington Public Schools. Middle schoolers at St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington, meanwhile, have organized a 2:30 p.m. prayer service to honor the victims.
JBG Talks HQ2 in Quarterly Earnings — Property owner JBG Smith has stayed largely mum about its wooing of Amazon — until now. In its quarterly earnings report, JBG said it believes that its Crystal City properties are well-positioned to win the bid for Amazon’s second headquarters. The D.C. area’s tech prowess “combined with our blend of walkable places, in-place infrastructure and low-cost housing makes Crystal City a compelling location,” the company wrote. “Our holdings alone can accommodate Amazon’s entire long-term space requirement and we have a cost advantage over our competitors given the existing in-place parking and substantial infrastructure.” [Washington Business Journal]
Lobbyist Claims Attack at Local Hotel — Jack Burkman, a “conservative lobbyist known for his controversial positions” who in January told police he was pepper sprayed outside his house near Rosslyn, is alleging another attack. Burkman claims, in a press release, that he was “run down by a large, black SUV” last night while “working with an FBI whistleblower” at the Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn. [Twitter]
Two Charged in Murder of Arlington Man — Two suspected gang members from Maryland have been charged in the fatal stabbing of an Arlington resident in Oxon Hill, Md. on Feb. 25. [Town of Morningside]
Arlington House Closing for Rehab Project — Arlington House, the iconic historic mansion at Arlington National Cemetery that was formerly home to Gen. Robert E. Lee, “is closing to the public beginning Monday, March 19, so it can undergo a monthslong rehabilitation project… part of a $12.35 million restoration plan.” [WTOP]
National PTA Meeting in Arlington — The National Parent Teacher Association is holding its annual legislative conference at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Crystal City this week. The conference runs from March 13-15 and kicked off yesterday with a keynote address by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. [National PTA]
Amazon Could Change Conversation — If Amazon were to establish its second headquarters in the D.C. area, it could have wide-ranging effects, including tightening the commercial real estate market and easing antitrust pressures on the company. Writes the Economist: “Having 50,000 employees going to the same country clubs and putting children in the same schools as government officials is a shrewd strategy if Amazon wants to fend off government attacks.” [Washington Business Journal, The Economist]
One Hospitalized During Hazmat Incident — An employee at a catering business was hospitalized after a reported chemical spill at a warehouse along Four Mile Run Drive. [Twitter]
Principal on Leave at Nottingham — Nottingham Elementary School Principal Mary Beth Pelosky is “currently on leave” and former Arlington Public Schools administrator Connie Skelton is taking over as acting principal, according to an email to parents from APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy. No explanation was given for Pelosky’s sudden departure.
No More Early Cherry Blossom Bloom — Initially expected to happen later this week, the peak cherry blossom bloom is, due to cold weather, now expected to occur at the end of March and possibly the beginning of April. [Capital Weather Gang, WTOP]
APS May Take Advantage of Recess Law Change — “The chairman of Arlington’s School Board appears optimistic about a change in state law that will permit school districts to squeeze more recess into the existing school day.” [InsideNova]
Photo via @thelastfc
Amazon officials visited Crystal City and Rosslyn last week as part of the company’s HQ2 search, multiple sources tell ARLnow.com.
Commercial real estate industry sources say the Crystal City tour happened Wednesday. The Arlington neighborhood, with its vacant office space and robust transportation options, has been mentioned as a frontrunner among D.C. area locales.
Amazon officials also toured Rosslyn, the other Arlington location in the running, we’re told.
The Washington Post’s Jonathan O’Connell reported today that the Amazon officials toured sites in D.C., Montgomery County and Northern Virginia, having breakfast with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) Wednesday morning and dinner with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bower (D) Wednesday night.
The Post report corroborated the tips received last week by ARLnow.com. Arlington County officials, who are under tight non-disclosure agreements, declined to comment on the visit. Another local leader, speaking off the record, suggested that reports of the visit were erroneous.
Would the proposed Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar system have helped Arlington’s chances had it been built?
Had it been built, the streetcar would have run from Crystal City — which is seen as a strong contender among D.C. area locales — to Columbia Pike and the Skyline area of Fairfax County.
ARLnow.com talked to several insiders to get their take on the hypothetical question.
Several we spoke to, who work in economic development and on transportation issues, said that the streetcar would have been an attractive amenity in the eyes of Amazon. It would have provided a vital, high-frequency link from offices in Crystal City to workforce housing along Columbia Pike, they said.
Also cited as evidence: Amazon’s own support of streetcar system in Seattle.
However, another insider, who works in the works in the commercial real estate industry, doubts that the streetcar would have made much of a difference.
For one, the would-be streetcar is being replaced with enhanced bus service on the Pike and along the Potomac Yard-Crystal City corridor. Also, Crystal City already has one of the highest scores for transportation accessibility among HQ2 contenders, thanks to the frequent bus service, Metro’s Yellow and Blue lines, VRE, commuter buses, the Mt. Vernon Trail and walkability to Reagan National Airport.
In other words, said the insider, the streetcar might have been icing on the cake, but it is unlikely to have moved the needle much on Amazon’s decision. Plus, it is possible that Arlington would have had to contend with some of the streetcar problems currently being experienced by D.C.
Amazon is expected to make its decision later this year. Arlington and Northern Virginia, one insider speculated, is likely to at least be among the top five contenders, and at least one betting market agrees, giving the region the highest odds among the company’s top 20.
Arlington Republicans are calling for greater transparency with regards to the county’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters.
Jim Presswood, Chair of the Arlington GOP, issued a statement Wednesday calling for the county to release “the basic framework” of its offer, arguing that “backroom deals are not the Arlington Way.”
The full statement is below.
Arlington County needs to let its citizens know what kind of deal they are offering Amazon to lure the company’s new headquarters to our county. Its discussions with Amazon have been behind closed doors and without public input. While we appreciate Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol promising transparency, it’s time for the County to make public at least the basic framework of what it is offering. Backroom deals are not the Arlington Way.
While an Amazon headquarters would bring benefits to Arlington and the region, Arlington citizens deserve to know the cost before any deal is struck. Arlington is under great budgetary pressure from increasing school capacity needs and a broken Metro. The citizens are entitled to know if the County is offering subsidies that will ultimately result in a bill being handed to Arlington taxpayers. Creating an attractive environment for businesses and residents is a far more fair and fiscally sound approach to bring jobs to Arlington than offering sweetheart deals to specific firms.
Update at 7:40 p.m. — Katie Cristol has responded via Twitter.
Admire your media savvy, @matthewhurtt, even if it involves significant mischaracterizations of my comments. Arl’s signed an NDA with the Commonwealth, as I’ve stated, but if we win, any deal goes to public vote (with plenty of opportunity for public comment) in order to execute. https://t.co/5DcnFLUMCh
— Katie Cristol (@kcristol) March 1, 2018
There’s no formal Board action if we lose, but I will work with Manager and Economic Development team to share details of what was in the proposal. (Spoiler alert: MANY pages describing Arlington’s talented workforce, transit-rich commercial areas and excellent schools).
— Katie Cristol (@kcristol) March 1, 2018
ACFD Black History Month Tweets — The Arlington County Fire Department has been recounting the history of black firefighters in Arlington in commemoration of Black History Month. There were several African-American volunteer fire departments in the county during the first half of the 20th century, serving neighborhoods like Hall’s Hill and “Hell’s Bottom,” which was cleared to make way for the Pentagon during World War II. [Twitter, Twitter]
ARLnow Wins ‘Amazon Thirsty Thursday’ Recognition — Our scoop that an internal Amazon website devoted to its “HQ2” search steered thousands of visits to a two-month-old ARLnow article, has earned us the distinction of being named the “winner” of Washingtonian’s “Amazon Thirsty Thursday” weekly feature. Our article pointing out that Amazon has an office in Arlington was apparently the icing on the thirsty cake. [Washingtonian]
Arlington Among Top Places for Women in Tech — Arlington is tied with St. Paul, Minnesota as the No. 6 best place in the U.S. for women in tech. The District ranks No. 1. [WTOP]
Shamrock Shake Sighting — The Shamrock Shake is back at McDonald’s. We spotted it on the menu at a Lee Highway McD’s yesterday. Some locations have gotten the shake, a harbinger of spring, earlier than others, according to social media reports. [Fox News, Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Hype has been building over Amazon eying Arlington as a potential destination for its second headquarters, but many may be unaware that the online giant already has offices in the county.
The D.C. region already has a number of Amazon offices and facilities, including a 50,000 square foot office at 4250 N. Fairfax Drive in Ballston.
Amazon did not respond to requests for more information about the office, but job listings for the Ballston office include titles like “Event Marketing Manager,” “Partner Development Representative” and “Business Development, DoD.”
Other property leased or owned by Amazon in the region includes a small D.C. headquarters a block away from Union Station and a planned two million square foot data center, reportedly either in Virginia’s Loudon or Prince William counties.
Northern Virginia is a significant data center hub for Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing arm. Data Center Frontier reported the following in November 2017:
Amazon Web Services is believed to operate at least nine data centers in Sterling and nine in Ashburn (with two more under construction) as well seven in Manassas. The company also has two data facilities in Chantilly, and one in Haymarket in Prince William County.
Reston Now, ARLnow’s sister news site, reported last June that Amazon was creating 1,500 jobs in Herndon, Va. at a new “East Coast corporate campus.” Amazon fulfillment centers, meanwhile, employ thousands across the region, including warehouses in Springfield, Va., Rockville, Md., and Baltimore.
The Washington metro region as a whole is gunning for the $685 billion dollar company, but few details have emerged regarding the incentive packages that local governments have crafted to lure Amazon to their jurisdictions.
Arlington County Board Chairman Katie Cristol promised eventual transparency on Arlington’s incentive package in January at a “Meet the Chair” event, according to the Sun Gazette.
Crystal City (in combination with Potomac Yard) is considered strong contender for the Amazon’s new second headquarters, primarily due to the large expanse of undeveloped land, contiguous office space and proximity to Reagan National Airport, D.C. and the Blue and Yellow Metro lines. Rosslyn is also in contention for “HQ2,” as are sites in Alexandria, Fairfax and Loudoun counties, Montgomery County, Md. and the District.
Eagle-eyed readers of this site may have noticed something odd in this past Friday’s weekend discussion post: namely, the inclusion of an article from December among the most-viewed stories of the week.
We also found that unusual, so we did a bit of digging. It turns out, there have been more than 6,000 views of the article, “County Wins Top Environmental Award from U.S. Green Building Council,” over the past week.
Here’s an excerpt:
Arlington County is the first community in the country to win a top award for its environmentally-friendly policies from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The county was named a Platinum level community by USGBC under its new LEED for Communities program.
USGBC said the certification recognizes the county’s creation of a “sustainable and resilient urban environment that has long-proven success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, managing stormwater, ensuring economic prosperity and focusing on education, affordable housing, health and safety for residents and businesses.”
So from where is all this newfound interest in Arlington County’s sustainability bonafides coming? From Amazon.com, it seems.
The vast majority of the traffic to the page over the past week that can be tracked came from what appears to be an internal Amazon.com page devoted to its HQ2 search. Arlington, of course, is in the running as one of the potential landing spots for the company’s second headquarters.
Below is a chart showing traffic to the page, via Google Analytics.
No other page on ARLnow.com has a similar level of traffic coming from Amazon.
Last week a noted NYU professor who has written about the company opined that New York City and the D.C. area are among the most likely finalists for HQ2, due to a combination of being destinations for talented workers and being places that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos likes to frequent.
The company announced last week that Northern Virginia — including Arlington alongside Alexandria, Loudoun and Fairfax Counties — has made its short-list of 20 finalists from 238 separate proposals from the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
And while the county is keeping details of its bid close to the vest — like many others in the running — there have been rumblings that both Crystal City and Rosslyn have been floated as good locations for Amazon’s so-called “HQ2.”
Arlington County Board chair Katie Cristol promised to release details of the county’s bid, win or lose, once the process is over.
On this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we discussed the county’s bid for Amazon as well as other topics like the office vacancy rate, the shrinking influence of the federal government and also the future of arts in the county, with Arlington Economic Development director Victor Hoskins.
Rosslyn Vying for Amazon HQ2 — Rosslyn is being pitched as a possible destination for Amazon’s second headquarters, alongside Crystal City and other Northern Virginia locales. Rosslyn’s main downside is a lack of space for Amazon’s growth ambitions, but the neighborhood does have a sizable office development pipeline, close proximity to Georgetown and D.C., monumental views and numerous transit options. [Washington Business Journal]
Metro Approves Service Guarantee — “Metro’s Board of Directors today approved the Rush Hour Promise program, a first-of-its-kind service guarantee for Metro customers. Beginning with tomorrow morning’s rush hour commute, on Friday, January 26, if a Metrorail or Metrobus customer using a registered SmarTrip card is delayed by 15 minutes or more, Metro will credit the customer’s SmarTrip card for future travel.” [WMATA]
Fire in Cherrydale — Arlington County firefighters extinguished a chimney fire in the Cherrydale neighborhood last night. The fire did not spread and no one was hurt. [Twitter]
Nominations for Park Volunteer Award — Nominations are being accepted through Friday, Feb. 2 for Arlington’s Bill Thomas Outstanding Park Service Award. The award “was established to pay tribute to lifelong parks volunteer Bill Thomas and to honor and encourage those residents who also demonstrate a passionate dedication and support for [Arlington parks] programs, natural resources and public open spaces.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley