Earthquake Drill Today — Virginia and a handful of other states will be participating in the Great SouthEast ShakeOut earthquake drill today at 10:20 a.m. [ShakeOut.org]
Sobering News on Office Vacancies — County officials are warning that Arlington’s office vacancy rate will remain relatively high for the foreseeable future. Optimistically, economic development officials believe that by “slowly and steadily” winning lease renewals and new tenants, the vacancy rate could decline to just past 15 percent, from the current 20 percent, within a few years. [InsideNova]
Arlington No. 8 on Marathon Training Rankings — Arlington County has ranked No. 8 on a list of the best places to train for a marathon. The county earned high marks for its parks, its walkability and its climate. [Competitor]
Most Popular College Applications — The three top schools in terms of the number of applications from the high school class of 2016 in Arlington were: 1. Virginia Commonwealth University, 2. University of Virginia and 3. Virginia Tech. [Arlington Magazine]
Arlington’s Commuter Efforts Lauded — “Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS) is being recognized for weaving mobility into broader efforts to improve local quality of life and economic competitiveness. ACCS was named by the Association for Commuter Transportation as having the best transportation demand management (TDM) program among all large municipalities in the United States.” [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Katie Pyzyk
Arlington is succeeding in its efforts to attract and keep businesses and jobs in the county.
That’s the latest news from Arlington Economic Development, which reported yesterday its efforts helped lead to the creation or retention of 53 businesses and 4,200 jobs in the fiscal year of 2016.
The new and retained businesses represent nearly 2 million square feet of office space and mark an increase from the last fiscal year’s total of 35 new or retained businesses, according to Arlington County.
The new numbers are “an encouraging sign that our ‘all-hands-on-deck’ effort is working to fill office vacancies with vibrant businesses that are coming to or staying in the County,” said County manager Mark Schwartz in a press release. “There’s more work to do but we’re clearly making progress.”
Some of the larger companies that have chosen to set up shop in Arlington include Grant Thornton, Amazon Innovation Center and George Washington Medical Facility Associates, the county reported. Other companies helping to add or keep jobs in Arlington include technology startups such as Shift, Phone2Action, Snagajob and Bytecubed.
Read the full press release from the county after the jump:
In honor of National Small Business Week, Arlington County is taking another step forward in its mission to educate and assist the region’s small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs by hosting Arlington’s first Small Business Summit.
The half-day summit, which is called “Open for Business” and takes place in connection with Arlington’s award-winning BizLaunch small business assistance network, will take place on Friday, May 6 at The Spectrum Theatre in Rosslyn and is designed to provide resources and information for anyone who may be considering or already own a small business venture. More than 300 people interested in small business are expected to attend.
“Fostering the growth of small, local businesses and entrepreneurs is the key to keeping local dollars here and building a successful business community,” said Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt. “The Summit will not only provide valuable hands-on information, but it will also provide the opportunity to share candid feedback with us and examine new ways to foster small business growth and sustainability.”
“Open for Business” will offer complimentary Business Express Clinics, which are one-on-one scheduled appointments with experts in areas including law, finance and business development. An InfoExpo will provide access to information about regulatory requirements, available resources, certifications and much more. There will also be a Feedback Booth, designed to provide businesses an opportunity to share their experiences and thoughts to help Arlington improve its ability to best meet the needs of the small business community.
“Every year, BizLaunch helps hundreds of small business owners with everything from securing permits and space for their business to marketing plans and employee networks,” says Tara Palacios, director of the BizLaunch program at Arlington Economic Development. “This one-stop-shopping approach with the Summit is a way for anyone thinking of starting or expanding a small business to find answers to any questions they have and learn some valuable skills and resources along the way. I can’t think of a better way to honor our businesses during Small Business Week.”
Open for Business is sponsored by the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union. Attendance for the summit is free and open to the public. Registration is required.
The preceding post was sponsored and written by Arlington Economic Development.
The Board largely took the recommendations of County Manager Mark Schwartz, who presented his proposed budget in February, and voted unanimously for the new, $1.2 billion FY 2017 budget.
Under the budget, the property tax rate will be reduced by half a cent, to $0.991 for every $100 in assessed value, while the overall property tax burden on the average homeowner will increase from $7,640 to $7,829. The increase is due to a 2.8 percent rise in residential property assessments.
The budget provides more money for Arlington Public Schools than APS asked for, in stark contrast to the budget battle in Fairfax County.
APS, which is continuing to grapple with a burgeoning student population, will get a $466.9 million budget transfer from the county, a 3.3 percent increase over the previous fiscal year. That includes “$1.1 million in one-time and ongoing funding above the School Board’s funding request.”
The budget includes the biggest boost to Arlington’s public safety funding in years, satisfying some long-sought requests.
The fire department will get eight additional firefighters to convert existing three-person fire units to the recommended safe staffing level of four per unit. ACFD will also get four additional firefighters to address persistent strains to medic unit staffing during peak times.
“A positive step forward for public safety,” the Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association said via Twitter.
The police department will get six new officers to help the department “meet its core mission responsibilities.” The Sheriff’s Office, which is facing a lawsuit over the alleged mistreatment of a deaf jail inmate, is getting five new positions to “improve safety and security at the Courthouse and the Detention Center, bolster its administrative staff and add a uniformed American with Disabilities Act coordinator.”
Other notable budget items include:
- An additional $1.5 million for Arlington Economic Development, “to focus on lowering the commercial vacancy rate.”
- $13.6 million for the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund, which is $1.1 million more than proposed by the manager.
- “Modest funding to continue the County’s open data efforts” and funding for livestreaming County Board work sessions and certain commission meetings.
- Merit pay increases for county employees.
- An increase in the living wage for county employees to $14.50 per hour, plus tuition reimbursement and continued funding for the Live Where You Work program.
“This is a good budget,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement. “Even as our population and school enrollment continue to grow, and our office vacancy rate remains high, the Board was able to put together a budget that preserves our community’s values, gives schools more funding than they requested, and adds funding for public safety, economic development and other key services – with a slight decrease in the tax rate.”
The budget is a complex document and the adopted budget is not yet online. Know of any other notable budget items not included here? Any quiet boosts or cuts in funding to a certain group or county department? Let us know in the comments.
Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
Arlington Economic Development (AED) is continuing its tech and startup push by heading to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas later this week.
The music, film and interactive festival attracts thousands of tech and creative economy players, large and small, for conferences, screenings, concerts and other events. AED will have a team at the SXSW Interactive portion of the festival, described as “an incubator of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity.”
Arlington had a small team attend last year’s SXSW and co-hosted a reception with the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. This year, AED is going big with an entire slate of events, including two official panels.
(Arlington’s two panels are among the 700 or so selected from 7,000-8,000 entries, an AED spokeswoman notes.)
For a taste of Arlington in Austin, here’s the lineup of AED events:
- Pool tournament at Buffalo Billiards (Saturday, March 12 – cosponsored with Alexandria)
- BFD (Big Fat Data Revolution) panel (Sunday, March 13)
- Fireside Chat on Mobilizing Innovation at the Local and Regional Level (Monday, March 14)
- Be the Next Tony Stark panel (Tuesday, March 15)
An RSVP is required.
Speakers at the county’s panels include Opower president and co-founder Alex Laskey, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Consumer Technology Association president and CEO Gary Shapiro, among others.
They will be among good company: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to deliver keynote addresses at the festival.
AED Director Victor Hoskins said the county’s presence at SXSW is “key in letting our target audience of entrepreneurs and technology businesses know about the opportunities that exist here in Arlington.”
“This is our chance to connect with national and international companies who are on the leading edge of tech innovation,” Hoskins told ARLnow.com. “What’s more, it’s our opportunity to show those companies — through our hosted panels and other events — that Arlington is where they can find success in fields like cybersecurity, big data, and clean tech.”
“This is all part of our Way Forward strategy, which is Arlington’s commitment to closing the office vacancy gap through efforts of proactive marketing and sales as well as regional collaboration,” Hoskins added. “We had a team at [the Consumer Electronics Show] this year, which was incredibly productive, and we’ll be participating in similar other events throughout the year.”
“We’re really getting the word out that the region — and specifically Arlington — is where these tech companies want to be to succeed,” he said.
Big Weekend for High School Sports — On Saturday, Wakefield will face Deep Run in the first round of the 5A state basketball tournament. The game is being played at Robinson High School in Fairfax at 5:30 p.m. Tonight, meanwhile, in what’s being called the hockey rivalry game of the year, Washington-Lee will face Yorktown at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. The puck drops at 8:10 p.m. [VHSL, Twitter]
Garvey Discusses Economic Incentive Push — Arlington has been actively making economic development deals, in some cases offering economic incentives to attract new employers to the county. But County Board Chair Libby Garvey said Arlington is being selective about the opportunities it pursues. “If it’s not good enough, we don’t do the deal,” she said. [InsideNova]
Tasty Sandwich from Arlington Eatery — Among the five “over-the-top, gluttonous, guilt-inducing new sandwiches in Washington” just highlighted by Washingtonian Magazine, there was one from the recently-opened Texas Jack’s in Lyon Park: a $12 brisket sandwich with tender Allen Brothers brisket and “a hefty spoonful of melty queso.” [Washingtonian]
Market Common Up For Sale — The Market Common Clarendon shopping and apartment development is on the market. Owned by TIAA-CREF, the development is expected to fetch a price in the hundreds of millions. [Bisnow]
Charity Ice Skating Party Tomorrow — The Pentagon Row skating rink will host a “Decades on Ice” charity skating party Saturday starting at 6 p.m. The evening will start with tunes from the 60s, going up a decade each hour until the 2000s. Half of all sales will be donated to help cure Cystic Fibrosis. [Facebook]
Basket, a startup that produces a mobile app for saving money while grocery shopping, has moved from the District to Clarendon.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, County Board Chair Libby Garvey and Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins were among the officials on hand today to welcome the company to their new digs at 1220 N. Fillmore Street.
The Commonwealth and the county each provided $125,000 in economic incentives for the firm, which is planning to expand from 9 to 65 employees. Basket is investing $10 million on the new office and the expansion, officials said.
“This is exactly the kind of business we want to attract and grow here,” said Garvey.
The company decided to move to Arlington despite also being wooed by D.C.
“We looked at the number of jobs we would need, and how much we were supposed to grow, we decided we needed a lot more space,” said Andy Ellwood, the company’s president and co-founder and a former employee of the navigation startup Waze. “After moving out of our small coworking space we decided it was the right move for us.”
“We’re trying to build the new Virginia economy, so we have to bring in new innovators,” McAuliffe told ARLnow.com. “I want us to be the tech capital of the United States of America. We have all the education and resources. It’s important that we become less reliant on the federal government.”
McAuliffe’s pitch to tech companies considering Arlington or elsewhere in the Commonwealth: “Virginia has very low taxes, a great education system, and it’s close to the federal government,” he said.
The press release from the governor’s office, after the jump.
ACFD Battles Fire on Patrick Henry Drive — On Thursday morning Arlington County firefighters assisted in battling a two-alarm blaze at an apartment building on the 3000 block of Patrick Henry Drive, just across the border in Fairfax County. [Twitter, Twitter]
Arlington Doubling Down on Startups — Arlington Economic Development plans to use the $1.5 million in one-time additional funds it’s allocated in County Manager Mark Schwartz’s budget to target early-stage tech companies and help them lease offices between 5,000 and 20,000 square feet. [Washington Business Journal]
W-L Alum to Direct Sci-Fi Film — Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams has selected Washington-Lee High School alum Julius Onah to direct “God Particle,” a new sci-fi thriller being produced by Abrams’ production company. Onah was named one of the top 10 “Up and Up Feature Directors” in 2013. He’s also signed up to direct an upcoming Universal Pictures film, “Brilliance.” [Blackfilm.com, Indiewire, Twitter]
Local Chef Nominated for Big Award — Peter Chang, whose eponymous restaurant opened last year in the Lee-Harrison shopping center, has been nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award for “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic.” [Patch]
Shirlington Profiled by Post — As part of its “Where We Live” series, the Washington Post has profiled Arlington’s Shirlington neighborhood. Shirlington earns high marks for having a variety of walkable entertainment, dining and shopping options, and for having only six crimes of note over the course of 12 months. [Washington Post]
More on Nauck History Project — Arlington County’s Nauck Green Valley Heritage Project has already received dozens of photos in its new online photo archive. A vibrant, historically black neighborhood since before the Civil War, Nauck has been changing — some say gentrifying. “Today, we’re probably less than 32 percent African American,” noted the community’s civic association president. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Publicly-traded energy tech firm Opower is staying in Arlington, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced at a press conference this morning, marking some good news for a county beset by the departures of large government agencies.
McAuliffe and County Board Chair Libby Garvey were among those making the announcement at Opower’s current headquarters at 1515 N. Courthouse Road in Courthouse, which President Obama visited in 2010, when the company was still a startup.
Opower will be moving down the street to a new office building at 2311 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse. The building — already approved by the County Board — is set to be constructed over the next two years, replacing a row of restaurants. Developer Carr Properties had been calling the 8-story building the “Clean Technology Center,” which seems consistent with Opower’s sustainability and energy conservation mission.
Virginia and Arlington County had been fighting to keep Opower, which was being courted by the District and by The Wharf, the massive new development on the Southwest D.C. waterfront.
“Keeping Opower in Arlington County has been a high priority of my administration,” McAuliffe said. “This high-profile energy software company is growing rapidly and making a major impact on global challenges, and we are committed to further strengthening this important corporate partnership. The technology industry is booming in Virginia, and wins like this expansion help us continue to build on the momentum in this important sector.”
“Arlington has watched Opower grow from a startup venture to a thriving leader not only in the region, but in the entire clean technology industry,” Garvey said. “Arlington’s highly-educated workforce and easy transportation access were things Opower was looking for as the company continues to grow, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them for a long time to come.”
McAuliffe helped arrange a $1 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to help Arlington keep Opower.
“Arlington County will match the state funding with a performance-based local economic development incentive grant,” the county notes in a press release. “Arlington will provide an additional annual performance grant through the remaining years of the lease term subject to job and occupancy requirements. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.”
Opower plans to invest about $10.5 million in its new, 63,000 square foot headquarters and expects to add 70 new employees within three years. The company will also retain 357 jobs that currently pay above the region’s prevailing wage.
“Opower has been with Arlington since the beginning,” said Victor Hoskins, Director of Arlington Economic Development. “The company is a model for the fast-growth technology companies we’re hoping to attract to Arlington, and we simply could not be more pleased that Opower has decided to continue to be a part of Arlington’s business community.”
The building at 2311 Wilson Blvd will have a total of 150,000 square feet of office space plus ground floor retail spaces when it’s completed.
Water Main Break in Courthouse — Courthouse Road is closed between Route 50 and 14th Street N., near the police station, due to a water main break that was discovered overnight. Repairs are still underway as of this morning’s rush hour. [WTOP]
Arlington Scores New Office Tenant in Va. Square — Arlington County will fill 50,000 square feet of vacant office space in Virginia Square thanks to a new tenant. GW Medical Faculty Associates will be moving into 3811 N. Fairfax Drive this coming spring, creating more than 200 jobs. [Arlington County]
Secret Chopsticks Open Today — The previously secretive Secret Chopsticks is planning to open to the public today. The 120-seat upscale, white tablecloth Chinese restaurant is located at 1850 Fort Myer Drive, on the ground floor of the Turnberry Tower condominium. [Washingtonian]
Garvey Wants Strategic Plan for County — Should County Board member Libby Garvey become the board chair next year, she wants to develop a strategic plan for Arlington. “We really don’t have one,” she said over the weekend. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
County to Invest $55 Million in Ballston Mall — Arlington County is planning its first-ever Tax Increment Financing district to help fund the renovations to Ballston Common Mall. Arlington plans to invest $45 million in the mall with its TIF, which will be repaid over time via increased tax revenue from the property. It also plans to make $10 million in transportation improvements, including improvements to the attached county parking garage and the narrowing of Willson Blvd in front of the mall. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington May Ask for Jefferson Davis Hwy Renaming — Arlington County is considering asking local state legislators to seek a name change for Jefferson Davis Highway in Arlington. Also known as Route 1, the highway is named after the Confederate president thanks to state legislative decree in 1922. A draft of the 2016 Arlington legislative priorities list includes a proposal to rename “the Arlington portion of Jefferson Davis Highway in a way that is respectful to all who live and work along it.” [InsideNova]
Room For Economic Improvement — Arlington County’s building approval process remains cumbersome and overly time consuming, and the county lacks the kind of incentive resources — “weapons” — that other jurisdictions have for economic development. That’s according to Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins, at a recent panel discussion. [Washington Business Journal]
Per-Student Spending Down — Arlington County’s per-student spending is down to $18,616, from $19,040 last year, according to the Washington Area Board of Education. Arlington still has the highest per-student spending of any suburban Washington school system. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Oppleo Security, a Bozeman, Montana-based company working on cybersecurity solutions, has won the Startup Arlington competition and will be moving to town with three months of free living and office space.
The company, led by Roderick Flores and Bri Rolston, offers a cloud-based software called Sikernes that helps defend against cyber attacks.
Oppleo Security was selected from a pool of 50 applicants, said competition organizer Arlington Economic Development. The selection was based on the company’s viability, business plan and how it would benefit from being in the county.
The company fits in with Arlington’s startup landscape because of its focus on cybersecurity, said AED spokesman Darren Stauffer.
“Oppleo Security is the type of company that we believe can benefit from being located in Arlington given their customer base and target market. These are the types of companies we are actively working to bring to Arlington,” Stuaffer said in a statement. “Being in our region, which is the epicenter of the cyber security space, should provide a lot of the resources to allow Oppleo to scale.”
The company will be given office space from Carr Workspaces and a room at the Residence Inn in Rosslyn, as well as free access to Capital Bikeshare and Metro and legal advice from Arlington Law Group.
Arlington’s location provides the software company access to a large talent pool and federal resources it would not be able to reach otherwise, Flores said, adding that he wants to hire at least seven employees in Arlington with the next year.
“It is an incredible honor and opportunity to be selected from such a large pool of amazing companies. Arlington is an excellent location for us to scale our business,” Flores said in a statement. “Not only is it in the heart of the world’s premier cybersecurity region, but it affords us ready access to many excellent resources such as potential partners, research teams, mentors and a large talent pool.”
Oppleo Security has a large customer base in the D.C. area and moving to Arlington will allow the company to win more customers, he said.
“The customer base for cybersecurity, ranging from the government to the private sector, is without limits and cannot be equaled anywhere else in the country,” Flores said.
Brief Ebola Scare at EPA HQ — Hazmat and EMS teams were dispatched to the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Crystal City this morning for a possible Ebola patient. After an assessment by a doctor, it was determined that the patient — a man in his 50s — did not have the likely symptoms of Ebola.
Arlington Launches Startup Competition — Arlington County is partnering with the website Tech.Co to run a contest to attract new startups to Arlington. Starting today, startups can apply for the chance to receive three months of free work and living space, plus free legal advice and public transit funds. [Tech.Co, Arlington Economic Development]
Stolen Car Crashes in Fairlington — A stolen car crashed in a quiet Fairlington neighborhood early Tuesday morning, after fleeing from a traffic stop. The suspects fled the scene and police were unable to track them down. [Patch]
Arlington Artist Survey — Arlington Cultural Affairs is surveying local artists about their needs for space to create art. “We would like to understand the space requirements of artists so that we can optimize the use of our current facilities and plan for future growth… Arlington Cultural Affairs is working both internally and externally to ensure that Arlington’s cultural scene remains vibrant and engaging.” The survey deadline is Sept. 30. [Arlington Arts]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Food truck owners say they saw shorter lines on the first day of Rosslyn’s new zoning pilot program.
The new program, spearheaded by Arlington Economic Development, laid out four dedicated areas for food trucks to park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — 19th Street below N. Lynn Street, Wilson Blvd above Kent Street, N. Pierce Street and Wilson Blvd and N. Nash Street and Wilson Blvd. The new locations didn’t stop Arlington workers and residents from stopping at the food trucks, but owners said they weren’t as busy as usual.
“I know the city tried to make the best,” Arepazone food truck co-owner Ali Arellano said. “They have music, a table and there are a lot of flyers, but at the end of the days, this place is not good for business.”
The music, tents and tables around the food truck zones were provided by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, which is also supporting the zoning effort.
Arellano parked on Wilson Blvd by the Artisphere’s old location and said he noticed that he had fewer customers than when he parked on N. Lynn Street, the main drag for most food trucks. At 12:45 p.m., he had about five customers in line.
“It is better to go to D.C.,” he said. “There are more people, more businesses.”
The four zones do not include any spots on N. Lynn Street and had the effect of spreading the trucks out rather than concentrating them in one location. Arellano said he believes this will hurt business.
“I think it’s not fair for the food trucks to park in other places,” he said. “The trucks should all park in the same row.”
Food trucks are still allowed to park in other spots in Rosslyn, but they will be limited to the time on the parking meters, usually two hours, instead of the extended four hours offered by the program.
When the trucks are together, they act like a food court, where customers have multiple options, including restaurants that also line N. Lynn Street, Arellano said. With the new zones, customers have to walk further to get the same options.
Moving the trucks off N. Lynn Street did have some bonuses, and not just for the businesses.
N. Lynn Street was a bit calmer and less crowded without the line of trucks, said Arlington resident Stephan Guy, who eats at a food truck daily. When the food trucks were all on N. Lynn Street, he said it was chaotic.
“I do know Lynn Street got absolutely crazy with food trucks,” Guy said. He said he understands the reasoning for the zoning plan, but also observed that some lines were shorter than usual.
Habib Seraj, the chef at food truck Fusion Confusion Inc., also saw shorter lines today. The truck was parked on 19th Street in an area with less foot traffic than N. Lynn Street or the Wilson Blvd and Kent Street zone.
However, Seraj was more optimistic and said he thought customers were starting to figure out where they could find the trucks. His only problems with the new zoning program was that cars were parked in some of the zone’s reserved spaces and the meters only ran for two hours.
“As long as they take care of the meters and everything, I’ll be fine,” he said.
TSA currently occupies a complex at 601 and 701 12th Street S. in Pentagon City, across from the Pentagon City mall.
It’s planning to move to the Victory Center building at 5001 Eisenhower Avenue, near the Van Dorn Metro station, in about two years. (In 2013, the TSA renewed its lease in Pentagon City for five years.)
The General Services Administration touted the new lease as a money-saving move that will save taxpayers more than $95 million over a 15-year lease. The government is paying rent of $36 per square foot, more than 25 percent below projected market rents, and getting $50 million for tenant fit-out costs and moving expenses.
“This is yet another great GSA-negotiated deal for government and the American people,” said GSA’s Darren Blue, in a press release. The new lease agreement allows TSA to consolidate four locations into one at a rental rate and utilization rate that will ensure the agency is more efficient and effective in executing its mission.”
The City of Alexandria was similarly triumphant in its announcement of the deal.
“GSA’s decision to locate the TSA headquarters at Victory Center is a huge economic boost for Alexandria as a whole, and for the West End in particular,” said Mayor William Euille. “The City is working on a small area plan for Eisenhower West that encourages new investment, redevelopment and business activity. TSA will serve as a catalyst, and will add a daytime office population and on-site retail activity to this developing market.”
TSA has about 3,400 employees at its headquarters, which will boost total employment in Alexandria by four percent after the move from Arlington, according to an Alexandria press release.
“Over the initial 15-year lease, the headquarters is expected to generate close to $16 million each year for Alexandria’s economy,” the city said. “The economic impact includes new salaries and wages for Alexandria residents, and spending by TSA employees and visitors at local businesses. Occupancy of the existing Victory Center building will result in a 3.0% decrease of the City’s overall office vacancy rate (from 16.5% to 13.5%), making it one of the lowest in the Washington, D.C. region.”
This is just the latest office loss for Arlington County, which is coping with relatively high office vacancy rates.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service moved its headquarters from Ballston to Falls Church last year, while the National Science Foundation is planning to move its headquarters and more than 2,000 employees from Ballston to Alexandria by 2017. In both cases, the GSA said the moves would save millions of dollars in leasing costs.
Victor Hoskins, who took over as the county’s head of economic development earlier this year, said the county was disappointed but not surprised by the deal.
“Obviously, we’re very disappointed in the decision to relocate from Arlington,” Hoskins said. “The TSA has called Arlington home for quite some time, and the County worked aggressively throughout the procurement process to try to keep the agency here. The decision aligns with the trend of valuing direct occupancy costs (rent) over the overall costs of siting federal facilities.”
“This move represents a challenge, but not one that was unexpected,” Hoskins continued. “We pledge to continue to move forward with our strategy of diversifying Arlington’s economic base and focusing on bringing fast-growing technology companies, particularly those in the fields of cybersecurity, ed tech, med tech, big data, clean and green tech, and nonprofits/associations, to Arlington.”
“It is a different strategy than Arlington has experienced in the past, but one that we believe will drive us ahead in the future of the office market,” he said.
Photo via Google Maps