The public discussion will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 8 and will be led by Minneapolis-based Artspace, a nonprofit that “uses the tools of real estate development to create affordable, appropriate places where artists can live and work.”
“The conversation with arts, community, and business leaders will focus on the potential for artist housing in a variety of neighborhoods in Arlington,” according to a web page for the event. “The visit will assess the viability of arts-related programming for selected sites.”
There are four areas being considered for arts-related development: Virginia Square, Columbia Pike, the Four Mile Run Valley/Shirlington area, and the 23rd Street S. commercial district in Crystal City.
The $20,000 cost of the feasibility study is being paid for by the nonprofit Arlington Foundation for Arts and Innovation, according to the county, but at this point no final decision has been made as to whether to move forward with artist housing facilities in Arlington.
“By convening a broad-based conversation among community leaders, Artspace hopes to stimulate serious, forward looking dialog on the needs of Arlington’s creative community, including affordable housing for art teachers, music instructors and working artists,” said the county. “This is simply a conversation to explore the range and feasibility of arts-related uses broadly in and within a handful of specific neighborhoods.”
“If the results of the initial feasibility study are positive, Artspace may be engaged to conduct a Phase II study which offers a deeper dive into the needs of the community,” the county explained. “AFAI has indicated that it will fund the Phase II study if the results of the original feasibility study warrant it.”
The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Feb. 8, at the Arlington Economic Development offices at 1100 N. Glebe Road, 15th floor. Anybody is welcome to attend.
Gov. Announces New Jobs for Arlington — Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has announced that Vorsight, a “sales effectiveness” tech firm in Rosslyn, will be expanding its corporate headquarters, creating 112 new jobs in Arlington. [Governor of Virginia]
New Apartments in Crystal City/Pentagon City — More than 1,100 new apartments opened in the Crystal City and Pentagon City area in 2016. More than 3,000 additional apartments are in the development pipeline. [Bisnow]
History of Churches in Arlington — Arlington’s first church was the Chapel of Ease of Arlington Plantation, built in 1825 by George Washington Parke Custis. The church was located near what is now the Sheraton hotel at the intersection of Columbia Pike and Orme Street. It was burned by union troops during the Civil War. [Falls Church News-Press]
Lubber Run Community Center Redevelopment — With voter approval of a “community infrastructure” bond that funds it, work is set to proceed on the redevelopment of the Lubber Run Community Center. Design work on the new four-story, $47 million facility will wrap up next year. Construction is expected to take place in 2018. [InsideNova]
Arlington to Keep One of the Last Kenneth Cole Stores — Kenneth Cole is closing 63 stores in the U.S. to concentrate on online and international operations. One of the fashion house’s two U.S. locations to remain open indefinitely: the store in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall. [Bloomberg]
TransitScreen Expands to Coworking Spaces — TransitScreen, which was founded in Arlington in 2013, is expanding its presence from apartment buildings to coworking offices. The creator of screens that show the schedules of various transit options — including buses, trains and Uber vehicles — has announced that it has struck a deal with another Arlington-founded company: MakeOffices. [Bisnow]
AED to Host ‘Arlington Premiere’ — Arlington Economic Development is continuing its outreach to startup businesses. Next month AED will be hosting an event called “Arlington Premiere,” which is billed as “an exclusive reception welcoming new businesses to Arlington County.” The event will take place in Crystal City and will include networking opportunities for business owners. [Arlington Economic Development]
Cat Stuck in Tree — The Arlington County Fire Department was called last night for a cat that was stuck in a tree. Yes, that does actually happen. [Twitter]
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.