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Morning Notes

Shatner: Arlington E-Bike Rules ‘Barbaric’ — E-bike enthusiast and Priceline pitchman William Shatner, better known as Star Trek’s Captain James T. Kirk, said via Twitter yesterday — in response to a tweet from the sassy Arlington Dept. Environmental Services Twitter account — that Arlington’s prohibition on e-bikes on local trails is “barbaric.” [Twitter]

Kojo Coming to Crystal City — WAMU 88.5 is bringing the Kojo Nnamdi Show to Crystal City for “a town hall-style discussion about how local officials, businesses, and community members in Northern Virginia and the region are reacting to Amazon’s decision.” Those wishing to attend the taping can register online. [Kojo Nnamdi Show]

Upgrades for Ballston Senior Housing — “The Arlington County Board [Tuesday] approved a low-interest loan of $3.025 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funds to help renovate The Carlin, a 162-unit, 10-story building located at 4300 N. Carlin Springs Road. The Carlin serves low income elderly residents who are 55 years and older.” [Arlington County]

‘Arts District’ Near Crystal City? — “Even before the specter of Amazon’s second headquarters put stars in everyone’s eyes in Crystal City, Stratis Voutsas and Georgia Papadopoulos, managers of a trust that owns many buildings on the neighborhood’s ‘restaurant row,’ were dreaming up a plan to bring more people across U.S. Route 1 to the neighborhood… The trust wants to build an open-air park and plaza on a parking lot and site of a Greek restaurant the trust owns behind some of the 23rd Street restaurants. It would have artist spaces tucked below, facing onto 22nd Street.” [Washington Business Journal]

Amazon News Roundup — Amazon’s HQ2 search was about “selecting locations with specialized kinds of talent that meet certain needs,” and “Crystal City… puts Amazon closer to tech talent, but also to government leaders, cloud customers, and the U.S. Department of Defense.” Crystal City is built upon the former Abingdon Plantation and the new Amazon presence “affords us the opportunity to recognize and memorialize the lives of those enslaved there.” Meanwhile, a former JBG executive who left to help build a $3 billion development in Tampa is returning as the company prepares for Amazon’s arrival.

Nearby: New Wawa and New Restaurant — A new Wawa is coming to Vienna, making it the closest Northern Virginia location to Arlington for the beloved convenience store chain. And an acclaimed chef is planning to open a new Italian restaurant on N. Washington Street in the City of Falls Church.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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DEVELOPING: Fire at The Shell Apartments on Columbia Pike

(Updated at 7:30 p.m.) Arlington and Fairfax firefighters responded tonight (Wednesday) to a fire at a mid-rise apartment building along Columbia Pike.

The fire broke out around 4:30 p.m. at The Shell apartments at 870 S. Greenbrier Street.

A small fire was reported in an apartment on the fourth floor and was controlled by sprinklers, according to the Arlington County Fire Department. While the fire itself did not cause much damage, water from the sprinklers has caused flooding in a number of apartments.

The Full Circle Montessori pre-school in the building also reportedly has some water damage, though the extent of the damage is thus far unclear.

Fire commanders have requested that the Red Cross respond to the scene to assist at least more than a dozen residents who will be displaced — right before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Shell was built and is managed by nonprofit affordable housing developer AHC Inc. It was completed in 2015.

Photo (2) via Google Maps

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DEVELOPING: Police Investigating Fall from Ballston Apartment Building

Arlington County Police are investigating an incident that resulted in a man suffering serious injuries at a Ballston apartment building Monday evening.

Shortly after 4 p.m. police were dispatched to Randolph Towers (4001 9th Street N.) for a report of a person who fell from a 6th floor balcony in the rear of the building onto a ground floor patio below.

The victim was quickly transported to a local trauma center with serious, potentially life-threatening injuries. Police remain at the building, documenting the scene and talking to possible witnesses.

It is unclear if the man accidentally fell or if the fall was in some way intentional.

“The victim was conscious and alert when he was transported to George Washington University Hospital,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow.com. “The investigation into the cause of the fall remains ongoing.”

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BREAKING: Condominium Building Fire in Rosslyn Area

(Updated at 8:55 a.m.) Firefighters battled an condo building fire in the Rosslyn area Sunday afternoon.

The fire broke out around 1 p.m. at a large four-story residential building on the 1400 block of N. Rhodes Street, sending dark smoke billowing into the sky.

The fire was in an upper floor apartment. A second alarm was sounded but the first wave of firefighters were able to bring the flames under control by the time additional units started arriving on scene.

No injuries have been reported. At least one lower level unit suffered significant water damage, according to scanner traffic.

N. Rhodes Street is closed between Clarendon Blvd and 14th Street N. due to the emergency response. The Arlington Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the blaze.

Photos via social media:

Photo (1) courtesy @mlewan3, (2) via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

More Housing Coming to Pentagon City — Developer LCOR is working on plans for a new apartment building in Pentagon City, to be built on a site that currently houses a blocky, low-slung building containing Verizon telecommunications infrastructure. Arlington has seen “a rising demand for luxury rentals,” including at a recently-completed LCOR building in Crystal City. [Washington Business Journal, Washington Business Journal]

Woman Charged With Bringing Gun to DCA — “The TSA said an Arlington, Virginia, woman was stopped at a checkpoint at Reagan National Airport on Tuesday with a loaded 9 mm handgun in her carry-on bag. There were 14 bullets in the handgun, including one in the chamber. She was cited by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police.” [WTOP]

New Pastor for Local Church — “St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church will host ‘A Celebration of New Ministry’ to salute the arrival of the church’s new rector, Rev. Dorota Pruski, on Sunday, Oct. 28 at 4 p.m. at the church, 4000 Lorcom Lane.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Arlington Holds Disaster Drill for Cyclists — “On Saturday BikeArlington and the Office of Emergency Management held the county’s first Disaster Relief Trial, modeled after such events in Oregon, Washington, and California… 70 registered families, teams, and individual bikers traveled throughout Arlington, stopping at four checkpoints and completing eight challenges.” [Local DVM]

Marymount Launches Internship Fund — “Marymount University has announced plans to financially support students who intern at non-profit organizations that do not have the resources to pay them. The new ‘Sister Majella Berg Internship Fund’ is a way to solidify partnerships between the university and local safety-net organizations, new Marymount University president Irma Becerra said.” [InsideNova]

AT&T Donates $30K to Local Nonprofit — “Bridges to Independence announced today a new contribution from AT&T. A private, nonprofit organization, Bridges is dedicated to serving families experiencing homelessness in the City of Alexandria and Arlington County, VA. AT&T’s support will directly benefit Bridges’ mission by expanding the organization’s Youth Development Program which serves children experiencing homelessness.” [Press Release]

Ballston Apartment Building Sold — “The Chevy Chase Land Company… announced today the $90 million acquisition of 672 Flats, a 173-Unit Class A apartment building in the heart of Ballston.” [Press Release]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

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JBG Smith Changes Course on Crystal City Property, Flips From Residential to Office

Despite continued high office vacancy rates, developer JBG Smith has abruptly reversed course on a plan to convert an aging Crystal City office building to apartments.

At an Arlington County Site Plan Review Committee meeting on Monday, the company presented an updated plan to renovate the 12-floor, 242,000 square foot building at 1750 Crystal Drive and modernize the building facade. The change comes less than a year after JBG Smith filed a plan to convert the office building into a 21-story residential tower, which in turn was a change in course from an approved circa-2015 plan to modernize the building and keep it as office space.

The new-new plan changes the building’s address to 1770 Crystal Drive and better integrates it into planned pedestrian improvements and the “Central District” retail cluster, which is to include an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, restaurants with outdoor seating and a possible small-format grocery store.

The flip back to office will undoubtedly pique the interest of those trying to read the Amazon HQ2 tea leaves.

Betting markets and industry observers think the D.C. area is the most likely destination for the company’s second headquarters, and sources tell ARLnow.com that Crystal City is by far the most likely D.C. area location for it. Meanwhile, office vacancy in Crystal City remains high — it was just below 20 percent as of a year ago, according to county data — and the neighborhood’s largest and most influential landowner has scrapped an ambitious residential conversion plan in favor of sprucing up currently-vacant office space.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said last week that an HQ2 decision will be announced by the end of the year. The company’s request for proposals specifies that HQ2 will require a large amount of office space — 500,000+ square feet — in a relatively short period of time after the announcement.

A spokesman for JBG Smith was not immediately available to comment, according to a PR rep for the company.

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Morning Notes

Crash Closes WB Lee Highway — All lanes of westbound Lee Highway were closed at Spout Run for part of the morning after a crash. [Twitter, Twitter]

Flyover Planned Today — A flyover of Arlington National Cemetery, in support of a funeral, is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. today. [Twitter]

More Buses for Rosslyn Commuters — “After initially providing no additional backup options for riders during the Blue Line shutdown and major Orange and Silver Line work that began Aug. 11, Metro is now making some changes… Without much fanfare or notification to riders, Metro said this week it will add four additional Route 5A buses between Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride and Rosslyn and L’Enfant Plaza each morning.” [WTOP]

Rep. Jim Jordan Coming to Arlington Fundraiser — Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) will be the special guest at a fundraiser for Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) in Arlington next month. The fundraiser is being held Sept. 7 at Washington Golf and Country Club. Jordan has been in the news this summer over accusations that he turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of wrestlers while an assistant coach at Ohio State. [TrailBlazer]

Ballston Apartment Building Sold — “The Ballston Place transaction… has closed with Akelius Residential AB buying the 382-unit apartment complex for $170 million, or $445,026 per unit.” [Globe St.]

Photo courtesy Patricia Kime

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Report: Residential Development Surged in Arlington This Spring

Arlington added more homes this spring than it has during any three-month period dating back to last summer, according to a new county report.

Between April 1 and June 30, the county saw construction work wrap up on a total of 278 new homes, including 236 apartments and townhomes and 42 single-family homes. The county totaled up these latest numbers as part of a quarterly analysis of development in Arlington.

That number far outpaces the 103 homes that became available over the same time period a year ago, and represents the most new homes to hit the market since the third quarter of 2017, stretching from July 1 through September 30. The county added 456 homes, including 411 in multifamily structures, during that period, according to county data.

The latest spike in new homes was largely generated by the completion of the 672 Flats project on N. Glebe Road in Ballston, a project that included 173 new apartments. The Key and Nash development in Rosslyn also wrapped up work this quarter, adding 63 new condos.

The completion of the Central Place project in Rosslyn accounted for the bulk of the rest of the construction to wrap up in Arlington this spring. The massive new building includes roughly 570,500 square feet of office space and roughly 11,000 square feet of retail space as well.

The 672 Flats project also included 4,300 square feet of retail space underneath the new apartments. The addition of nearly 4,600 square feet of office space at 383 N. Cathedral Lane, just off S. Glebe Road, rounds out the list of projects completed this spring.

The county’s data show that another 3,700 homes are currently under construction around Arlington, in addition to 910,000 square feet of office space and 334,000 square feet of retail space. During the same time last year, the county projected about 2,025 new homes on the way, with 67,500 square feet of retail and 1.4 million square feet of office space.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the bulk of the new development on the books is concentrated in Ballston and Rosslyn, with Crystal City and the Columbia Pike corridor not far behind.

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Berkeley Affordable Housing Redevelopment Earns Key Loan Changes

A new affordable housing complex along Four Mile Run is moving closer to becoming a reality, now that county officials have signed off on additional financing plans for the development.

The County Board gave its final approval to more than $20 million in loans this week for the redevelopment of the Berkeley Apartments (2900 S. Glebe Road), in addition to a few policy changes that will help the project’s backers secure additional financing and kick off construction in earnest.

“We’re looking forward to the project continuing to take shape,” said Board Chair Katie Cristol.

The nonprofit AHC Inc., which is backing the development, started to tear down the existing apartment complex this summer, and plans to eventually construct two buildings on the property, located just across the county’s border with Alexandria. In all, the two five-story buildings will offer 256 apartments, all of which will be “committed affordable units” with rent prices tamped down to help people afford the homes.

Last year, the Board sent roughly $20.9 million in loans from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund to spur the project’s construction, with $7.4 million dedicated to one building and $13.5 million on the other

But as the project’s plans have developed, AHC asked the Board to shift about $1.5 million away from one building to the other, in order to cope with some unexpected construction costs. The developer also told the Board that it wouldn’t need roughly $333,000 of the previously approved AHIF loan, which it will redirect to help existing Berkeley tenants find new homes as the construction starts up — AHC started telling residents they’d need to leave around this time last year.

With those changes approved, AHC can set about securing the rest of the financing it needs for the two buildings, one with a final price tag of just over $51.5 million and the other at $47.7 million, according to a county staff report.

The developer plans to use a mix of bank loans and financing from the Virginia Housing Development Authority to afford the project, the report lays out.

Sara Pizzo with the county’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development told the Board that AHC hopes to ramp up demolition work once it closes on this financing.

Ultimately, the developer hopes to open one building by “the spring or summer of 2020,” and the next one by the fall of that same year, Pizzo said.

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BREAKING: Fire Breaks Out in Pentagon City Apartment Building

Arlington firefighters are working to extinguish a blaze at a Pentagon City apartment complex.

First responders were called to a building along the 800 block of 15th Street S., adjacent to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, around 5 p.m. today (Wednesday).

Firefighters believe the blaze started on the eighth floor of the building, according to a tweet from the department, and they were able to quickly extinguish it.

There’s no word yet on any traffic impact or injuries.

Photo via Google Maps

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Thieves Smashed Windows, Stole Airbags from ‘Approximately 35 Vehicles’

Dozens of vehicles were damaged at apartment parking lots in the Pentagon City and Crystal City area this past weekend.

According to police, “approximately 35 vehicles were smashed and [had] airbags stolen.” The damaged cars were discovered Saturday morning.

A resident of the RiverHouse Apartments, whose car was among those damaged, said the large Pentagon City apartment complex was a target for the thieves.

“On Saturday, July 7, I was informed that my car had been vandalized: window busted and driver’s airbag stolen,” she said. “Twenty-four other cars in the RiverHouse Apartments complex had their airbags stolen. All were Honda Accords or Civics.”

“RiverHouse has no cameras filming the parking lots,” the resident added. The apartment complex’s vast parking lots have also been the scene of a number of car wheel thefts.

More on the airbag thefts from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2018-07070087/07070100/ 07070106, 1600 block of S. Joyce Street/1600 block of S. Eads Street/2000 block of S. Eads Street. Between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. on July 7, police responded to multiple reports of larcenies from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 8:00 p.m. on July 6 and 7:54 a.m. on July 7, the windows of approximately 35 vehicles were smashed and airbags stolen. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

Photo via Google Maps

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BREAKING: Fire in Virginia Square

Arlington County firefighters are on scene of a fire on the seventh floor of a mid-rise residential building in Virginia Square.

Initial reports suggest the fire is on the balcony of an apartment on the 900 block of N. Pollard Street.

The fire has been extinguished, according to scanner traffic. No injuries have been reported.

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Despite Hefty Rent Prices, Arlington Ranked Among Top Places for Solo Renters

Arlington has one of the highest median rent prices in the entire country, yet the county still ranks among the top places people can afford to live alone.

That’s according to a new study of 100 of the nation’s largest cities and counties by the financial data research firm SmartAsset. The company ranked Arlington 17th among that group for places where renters have the financial wherewithal live alone, largely because of the robust median income level of the county’s workers.

SmartAsset found that full-time employees in Arlington have a median income of just over $90,000 a year, putting the county at the top of the list among the firm’s top 25 places where renters can afford to go solo.

The county’s median monthly rent of $1,657 was also the most expensive of any other city on the company’s top 25 list, yet Arlington still ranked ahead of other large cities for renters looking to live alone, including San Francisco and Denver.

For context, the median income in D.C. is just over $75,500 a year. SmartAsset didn’t immediately have median rent prices available for the District, but real estate listing firm Zillow found that the median rent in the city was about $2,146 a month last year.

Arlington also scored high marks in SmartAsset’s rankings for its stock of homes with less than two bedrooms. In all, the company found that 36.5 percent of homes for rent in the county have one bedroom or are studio apartments.

Cincinnati, Omaha and Minneapolis ranked as the firm’s top three cities where renters can live alone. The full rankings are available on the company’s website.

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Morning Notes

Construction Kicks Off at The Berkeley — Work is underway on The Berkeley, and “obsolete” apartment building at 2900-2910 S. Glebe Road that is doing a significant redevelopment. The $100 million project will turn the 137 units currently on the site into 256 apartments. [Multi-Housing News]

Remains May Be Linked to Missing Person Case — Remains found in Stafford County are reportedly those of a woman who went missing in Arlington in 1989. The missing woman’s husband — Jose Rodriguez-Cruz, who’s currently in jail for another woman’s murder — told police at the time that his wife left and was living in the Miami area. Later D.C. police learned that it was his second wife’s sister, who had assumed the identity of Rodriguez-Cruz’s first wife. [Fox 5]

Vida Fitness Eyeing Rosslyn Location — “[Vida Fitness] has a letter of intent for space in western Rosslyn, owner David von Storch told the Business Journal… The location — which will include SweatBox, a boutique studio within a gym that offers high-intensity interval training in a fast-paced, heart-monitored workout — would open in the fourth quarter of 2020. Von Storch already has a deal to open a Vida in Ballston.” [Washington Business Journal]

ACPD Motor Squad Escorts the Caps — Members of the Arlington County Police Department’s motorcycle squad helped escort the Washington Capitals and the Stanley Cup in yesterday’s victory parade in D.C. Other regional police agencies, including Montgomery County Police, also participated. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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