Arlington’s business community is throwing its support behind the county’s efforts to land Amazon’s second headquarters.
The county’s Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 750 businesses in the area, penned a letter to the County Board Friday (June 8) expressing its “utmost support” for Arlington’s work to secure the vaunted HQ2.
“Adding a global brand like Amazon to Arlington’s corporate roster would be a monumental win for our area, helping to continue to diversify our economy and helping to maintain the significant commercial sector in our tax base,” Kate Bates, the chamber’s president and CEO, wrote. “And in turn, our location sets Amazon up for maximum success.”
County leaders have worked with the state to offer up two different sites for the tech giant to call home: one anchored in Crystal City and extending to Alexandria’s Potomac Yard, and another in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. The company has yet to tip its hand, but, by all accounts, Arlington is a leading contender to win out among 20 other HQ2 finalists.
Yet concerns abound among county residents and leaders alike about how Amazon’s arrival would impact the area, particularly with the county already dealing with rising rents and an influx of students in Arlington Public Schools. But Bates argued that any “challenges” associated with HQ2 setting up shop in Arlington pale in comparison to the benefits it could offer.
“We understand the amount of growth that comes with a large corporation like Amazon settling in Arlington comes with challenges,” Bates wrote. “However, we know these are challenges that Arlington has the infrastructure to successfully overcome.”
The full letter from the chamber is after the jump.
Dear Chairman Cristol:
As Arlington County moves forward in the process of recruiting Amazon’s second headquarters, I write to you on behalf of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 750 local businesses, to express our utmost support of all efforts to bring Amazon HQ2 to Arlington.
Adding a global brand like Amazon to Arlington’s corporate roster would be a monumental win for our area, helping to continue to diversify our economy, and helping to maintain the significant commercial sector in our tax base. And in turn, our location sets Amazon up for maximum success. While Amazon carefully considers each of the final locations, we are confident that the County will be able to prove to Amazon what all of us know: Arlington is the best home for the online retail giant to continue to grow and lead on the international stage.
More and more large companies – a most recent example being Nestlé – have acknowledged Arlington as the premier place to relocate, due to the unparalleled opportunities our area offers. Arlington has all of the critical factors needed for success and expansion, including the ability to provide key access, transportation, technology, one of the most highly-educated talent pools in the country, and close proximity to the nation’s capital.
We understand the amount of growth that comes with a large corporation like Amazon settling in Arlington comes with challenges. However, we know these are challenges that Arlington has the infrastructure to successfully overcome. We are thrilled at the idea of bringing a company like Amazon to our area, whose innovative practices and strong global presence exemplify what we our area seeks to add to our business community.
We thank the County for its work to attract exceptional businesses like Amazon to our area, and we stand ready to assist however possible.
President & CEO
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
Firefighters Push for Raise — IAFF Local 2800, which represents Arlington firefighters and paramedics, is pushing for a raise in this year’s county budget process. The group says Arlington’s compensation for public safety employees “is at the bottom of the DMV.” [Twitter]
Chamber Concerned With 4MRV Initiative — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has written a letter to the County Board expressing concerns with the Four Mile Run Valley Initiative and possible changes to or acquisition of the light industrial properties along Four Mile Run Drive. [Arlington Chamber]
Growing Up Black in Arlington — From 1950 to 1962, growing up black in Arlington meant facing segregation and racism at every turn, and not feeling safe venturing out of the largely self-contained confines of a historically African-American neighborhood like Hall’s Hill. [Falls Church News-Press]
Arlington Startup Raises $3 Million — What started as a way for the owner of conveyor belt sushi chain Wasabi Sushi to streamline his accounting is now a venture-funded startup. Arlington-based MarginEdge has raised $3 million to go national with its restaurant management software. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Chamber Seeking State Help — Possibly in response to the push for housing conservation districts, “the Arlington Chamber of Commerce is asking the General Assembly to ‘serve as a backstop and a safeguard’ against overreach by localities on planning and zoning matters.” [InsideNova]
Reminder: SmarTrip Change Next Week — As of Monday, Metro riders will no longer be able to run a negative balance on their SmarTrip cards. [WMATA]
‘Meet the Chair’ Scheduled — Arlington residents will be able to meet newly-minted Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol on the evening of Jan. 18, when the Leadership Center for Excellence holds its annual Meet the Chair event. [Leadership Center for Excellence]
SoberRide New Year’s Record — A record 1,225 people used the free safe ride service SoberRide on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Thanks to its new partnership with Lyft, SoberRide’s organizer says it “has removed well more than two times as many would-be drunk drivers from Greater Washington’s roadways as compared with the previous year.” [PDF]
District Taco Continues to Expand — Five Guys may be given a run for its money as the most successful Arlington-born restaurant chain. District Taco is now opening a location in the Center City section of Philadelphia. [Eater]
Snow Shovel Contest Winner — “This is Susan. She won our snow shovel, writing that her favorite phase of snow treatment/removal is Phase 1. Brine makes her giddy. Susan’s old shovel is from Nebraska and cracking. Way to go, Susan.” [Twitter]
Photo courtesy @BoccatoGelatos
New ‘Best of Arlington’ List — Arlington Magazine is out with its annual “Best of Arlington” list. This year’s winners include The Liberty Tavern for Best Restaurant in Arlington, Ambar Clarendon for Best New Restaurant and Clare & Don’s Beach Shack in Falls Church for Best Outdoor Dining.
Arlington Commute Near Average — Arlington residents have a 28.3-minute commute from home to work, on average, comparable to the statewide average of 28.1 minutes, according to the Census Bureau’s latest American Communities Survey. [InsideNova]
Snow, Bitter Cold in Forecast — A ‘monster storm’ will bring bitter cold, strong winds and — according to the latest forecasts — 1-2 inches of snow between tonight and Thursday afternoon. The National Weather Service is warning of possible impacts on the Thursday morning commute. [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter, Twitter]
NBC Profiles ‘Arlington Ladies’ — The “Arlington Ladies,” a group of women who are a part of every funeral at Arlington National Cemetery since 1948, were profiled by Lester Holt on last night’s NBC Nightly News broadcast. [NBC News]
REIT Acquires Rosslyn Office Building — “Washington Real Estate Investment Trust (NYSE: WRE) has reached a deal to acquire a Rosslyn office tower for $250 million, one of its largest office deals in recent history as the District-based developer seeks to rebalance its D.C.-area portfolio.” [Washington Business Journal]
A burst water pipe in an apartment building has closed the offices of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and the Next Phase fitness studio in Courthouse.
Restoration crews are currently on scene at the Tellus Apartments at 2009 14th St N., cleaning up the mess.
The flooding happened late Monday afternoon, when water started pouring into the offices “monsoon style,” we’re told. Chamber staff scrambled to unplug and save their computers and are currently working remotely as restoration efforts continue.
The Chamber, which has already received several offers of temporary office space, wrote the following to its members today:
The Chamber office is currently closed, due to flooding in our building, and our phone system is down. Our staff is busy handling this unexpected emergency and trying to keep Chamber operations going as best as possible. For assistance, please email full-time members of our staff, and we will do our best to assist you remotely. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience and support.
Next Phase is closed and classes today cancelled, though its website still lists classes as available later in the week.
Chamber Calls for Pause on Housing Conservation District — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is calling for the Arlington County Board to pump the brakes on a proposed Housing Conservation District policy, set for a vote at tomorrow’s Board meeting. The Chamber says the policy would affect more than 450 privately-owned properties. “The County’s failure to provide any notice to property owners that would be affected by the Framework is inconsistent with Arlington’s established government process and the level of transparency the community has come to depend on,” said Chamber President Kate Bates. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
Carlin Springs Bridge Work to Resume — Demolition of the Carlin Springs Road Bridge over George Mason Drive was curtailed by winter weather last weekend, but is set to resume this weekend. Drivers should expect a number of detours in the area. [Twitter]
Fisette Tribute Packs Local Church — “A Dec. 13 tribute to departing Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette was about 90 percent heartfelt thanks for his 20 years of service in elected office. And about 10 percent celebrity roast.” The event was so well-attended that the parking lot of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington was filled to capacity by those whom Fisette has not yet convinced to take the Car-Free Diet. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Gossip: Britt McHenry Back on Local Airwaves? — A noted local Twitter user who goes by the name “Clarendon Bros” shared some local TV gossip last night, claiming that Britt McHenry was seen auditioning for a job at Fox 5. McHenry at one point lived in Arlington — it is unclear if she still does — and had a well-publicized run-in with local towing company Advanced Towing. [Twitter]
Fox Leaves Crystal City BID — “After more than a decade running the Crystal City Business Improvement District, Angela Fox is stepping down. The BID’s board of directors announced Fox’s departure Thursday, but has not named a permanent replacement.” [Bisnow]
Local Homebuilder Getting Bigger — “Arlington-based homebuilder CalAtlantic Homes is purchasing Home South Communities, a privately held homebuilder based in the Atlanta area. CalAtlantic itself is in the midst of a $9.3 billion merger with Miami’s Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN), expected to close early next year.” [Washington Business Journal]
Realtor Group Extends Clothing and Food Drive — “Despite the weather, the first community wide drop off for the Arlington Realtors Care (ARC) initiative, held on Saturday, Dec. 9 was a great success. ARC is sponsoring a second community wide drop off date scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 16 at RGS Title.” [Press Release]
We asked Alex about his startup and its business model, and how he got his start. This podcast was recorded live at 1776 in Crystal City. Thank you to the Chamber and our podcast sponsor, Crystal City.
Alex Villanueva launched Sprynt in June, offering free rides in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Within five days, the new app had been downloaded more than 700 times, and today Sprynt vehicles are a familiar sight in the corridor, going up and down Wilson and Clarendon Blvds all day long.
The event will take place on Tuesday, October 24 in front of an audience at 1776 in Crystal City. Villanueva will discuss his personal story and how he turned his business idea into a reality. Registration is $25.
ARLnow founder Scott Brodbeck will be the program’s moderator and will lead the discussion with Villanueva. Audience members will be able to ask questions during a Q&A segment that will not be recorded.
The event also features networking opportunities and food served from Ruth’s Chris Steak House. And for those unable to attend, the interview will later be published online via ARLnow’s podcast, 26 Square Miles.
The evening’s agenda is as follows:
- 5-5:30 p.m.: Registration and open networking
- 5:30-6:15 p.m.: Live recorded podcast
- 6:15-6:30 p.m.: Q&A (not recorded)
- 6:30-7 p.m.: Networking reception
Crystal City Development Plan Filed — Developer JBG Smith has filed a site plan application for what it’s calling “North District” — a multi-block redevelopment in Crystal City that will include a new movie theater, grocery store and Metro station entrance. The residential-heavy development is bounded by Crystal Drive, Route 1, 15th Street and 18th Street S. [Washington Business Journal]
Chamber Backs Staff’s VRE Recommendation — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce says county staff is right to recommend the placement of a revamped Crystal City VRE station closer to Metro. The staff recommendation “best positions Crystal City and greater Arlington County as a regional multi-modal transit hub,” as compared to a placement option preferred by local condo residents who are concerned about train noise. [InsideNova]
DCA Noise Complaints — A total of 36,653 noise complaints were filed in 2016 regarding arrivals to and departures from Reagan National Airport, according to recently-released stats from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. The complaints were filed by 836 individuals in 762 households, including one individual who filed 17,273 noise complaints. [MWAA]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Tourists spent more than $3 billion in Arlington County last year, supported more than 25,000 jobs and produced over $200 million in local and state tax revenues, all record highs.
According to figures released by the U.S. Travel Association, tourism in the county generated $3.12 billion in 2016, up 2 percent from the previous year. Arlington continued to lead all Virginia counties in visitor spending, as it has since 2009.
“Tourism continues to be an incredibly vibrant sector in Arlington’s economy,” Arlington County Board chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “Through jobs, spending at Arlington businesses and tax revenues that support local schools and services, tourism will always be a key to our economic growth.”
The 2016 tourism data is based on spending by visitors from inside the United States, from trips taken 50 miles or more away from home.
“These excellent results are a testament to the strength of our hospitality community and its longstanding collaboration with the County in marketing Arlington to potential visitors,” Arlington Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Kate Bates said in a statement. “We are proud of the exceptional work of our hotels, whose dedication to top quality service continues to attract more visitors to our area.”
Victor Hoskins, director of Arlington Economic Development, said support from the County Board and Chamber for increased investment in tourism promotion has been crucial.
“It has dramatically expanded our ability to showcase Arlington and its businesses to meeting planners, consumers, tour operators and journalists – domestically and around the globe,” Hoskins said in a statement.
Flickr pool photo by Starbuck77
A native of Oakland, California, Mayfield talked about her journey to the executive suite and offered words of wisdom about leadership, plus career advice for young professionals.
The event was held at 1776 in Crystal City and organized by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, as part of a new “Secrets to Success” podcast series with ARLnow. Stay tuned for details about future live recordings that you can attend in the coming weeks and months.
The series is titled “Secrets to Success” and will host a different Arlington business titan, who will share their stories about the Arlington business world.
The first show will feature Pinkie Dent Mayfield, vice president for corporate affairs and special assistant to the chairman at education and media company Graham Holdings. ARLnow founder Scott Brodbeck will be the program’s moderator and will lead the discussion with Mayfield, who will share her business philosophy at the offices of startup incubator 1776 (2231 Crystal Drive #1000).
Those on hand for the event will be able to ask Mayfield questions during a Q&A segment. The event also features a networking portion and food served from Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
For those unable to attend, the podcast will later be published online.
The evening’s agenda is as follows:
- 4-4:30 p.m.: Registration and open networking
- 4:30-5:15 p.m.: Live recorded podcast
- 5:15-5:30 p.m.: Q&A (not recorded)
- 5:30-6 p.m.: Networking reception
In his final State of the County address before he retires at year’s end, Arlington County Board chair Jay Fisette said he is proudest of providing stable leadership during the county’s transformation.
Fisette, in his fifth annual address before the Arlington Chamber of Commerce as chair since coming onto the Board in 1998, said he believes his legacy will be the way Arlington has become more urbanized and expanded its population while staying true to its values.
“For me, it would be helping to guide the 20-year transformation of the community into an urban success story that we are,” he said. “Change is hard, and doing that in a way that has resulted in a community that’s a model in so many areas of public life, while at the same time protecting the connectedness and the compassion of a small town. There are a lot of things that have to happen to make that kind of recipe work.”
In his remarks before more than 100 business leaders, elected officials and other attendees Wednesday morning, Fisette touted various successes in his tenure as the current Board’s longest serving member.
He noted the 9.5 million square feet in new office space and 2.5 million square feet in new retail space, 2,700 additional hotel rooms, more than 29,000 new homes and other indicators, all while the unemployment rate stayed largely consistent at 2.5 percent, among the lowest in Virginia.
“In short, the state of the county is really good,” Fisette said. “In my view, Arlington works.”
But, Fisette said, Arlington faces numerous challenges, including on affordable housing, Arlington Public Schools capacity and an 18 percent office vacancy rate among others. He said the county has faced problems on his watch, like the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the loss of thousands of jobs through Base Realignment and Closure, but has always come through.
And despite those challenges, Fisette said the relationship between the business community and the county government remains strong, “[e]ven when our relationship is one where we don’t agree,” like the recent spat between the Chamber and Board over proposed changes to the towing ordinance.
Fisette had 10 recommendations for county leaders, after the jump:
- Be welcoming and compassionate. “In this difficult period in America, being so divided, and our immigrant community feeling threatened, we have to maintain our values,” Fisette said. “Our most vulnerable residents will be feeling more pressure, our nonprofits will be called upon, but this is the soul, and without the soul, none of the rest works.”
- Collaborate to use the county’s limited land wisely
- Emphasize long-term planning
- Keep being a regional leader, especially on Metro, which Fisette said needs a new dedicated funding source by the spring to avoid jurisdictions having to pay even more than they do already
- Invest in new tools to protect the county’s affordable housing stock, which has added 5,200 units but lost around 17,000.
- Never put the county’s Aaa/AAA/AAA bond ratings at risk
- Facilitate broader and more constructive civic engagement
- Keep moving forward with environmental sustainability practices
- Stay “nimble” to adapt to the changing business environment
- Make sure government works for everyone and is accessible
For the future, Fisette advised County Board members to continue to be forward-thinking and prepared to make hard choices.
“Stay true to a vision of values, ground yourselves in solid planning and policy, listen and lead,” he said. “Finally, respect and be informed by the past while continuing to be open to new and creative ideas for the future.”
Chamber CEO Kate Bates said she is excited to see what Fisette does in the community after he retires.
“I know Jay will stay involved in the county, and am excited to see what he does next,” she said.
Construction Accident in Rosslyn — An accident on the parking garage level of the construction site at the corner of Key Blvd and N. Nash Street in Rosslyn prompted a large fire department and police response this morning. A worker suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the accident, which occurred around 8 a.m., and needed to be carried via rescue basket to a waiting ambulance. The response closed lanes of Key Blvd and exacerbated traffic delays caused by construction nearby on Lee Highway.
Sex Assault Suspect May Have Tried Other Buildings — The suspect in a violent sexual assault in Rosslyn may have unsuccessfully tried to get into other Arlington apartment buildings before somehow entering The Atrium building, where the assault occurred, through the front entrance, NBC 4’s Jackie Bensen reports. The suspect then knocked on doors, claiming to be a maintenance worker, before the victim opened her door and a struggle and the sexual assault ensued. [NBC Washington]
Wakefield Senior Named Top Entrepreneur — “Wakefield High School senior Tasnim Alam was named one of the top six entrepreneurs in the country at the the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) Saunders Scholarship Competition in Rochester, N.Y. Tasnim is the founder and CEO of Heatless Hotness, a business that sells heat-free hair curlers that are convenient to use and create salon-like results, which she launched while participating in the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s YEA! program.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
When Do Pools Open in Arlington? — Patch has an answer to the question, “When Do Arlington Swimming Pools Open in 2017?” — and that answer is: Memorial Day weekend. More specifically: Saturday, May 27. Unless it’s an indoor pool, in which case it’s open year-round. [Patch]