Arlington, VA

As Amazon continues to hire for its HQ2, the company is also working through plans to include a new daycare facility inside its planned permanent office campus in Pentagon City.

The 12,000 square-foot child care center would be located on the ground floor and face the interior public plaza. A spokesperson for Amazon told ARLnow that the proposed daycare would be operated by a third party company.

Lack of accessible daycare is the center of a fight in Seattle, where a group called “Momazonians” are arguing the company needs to do more to provide accessible child care, though a spokesperson the Amazon noted that the company does have a daycare facility for both Amazon employees and the nearby community in one of their headquarters buildings.

In Arlington, the company is in a tug-of-war with planners over whether the daycare should count towards the headquarters’ total density. The daycare is one of several types of space that the company is requesting not be included in calculations of gross floor area. Because the proposed complex exceeds the allowable density under zoning for the site, excluding certain types of space from the floor area calculation would cut down on the community benefits Amazon would need to provide in exchange for the added density.

Many of these areas, like mechanical shafts and below-grade storage, are excluded by default as they do not contribute to the bulk and height of the building and are not rentable floor space. But child care facilities typically are not considered one of those excluded types of density.

“Staff has not supported exclusions from density for uses such as child care,” the staff report said. “Staff is currently analyzing the applicant’s requests.”

At a meeting last week, the proposed exclusion of the child care facility from the building’s bonus density drew some criticism from Site Plan Review Committee members, who pointed to the example of the formerly Ballston-based National Science Foundation, which they said was granted a density exclusion for a child development center only to later convert the space to another use.

But Arlington has been in the middle of a push to create more daycare options, including consideration of zoning changes aimed at eliminating barriers to child care.

The spokesperson for Amazon said the company is planning to include the daycare at HQ2 regardless of whether the county approves the density exemption.

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The Goddard School — a private early-childhood education franchise — is planning to open a pair of linked childcare facilities 350 yards apart on Lee Highway.

A decision on permits for the facilities at 5328 and 5222 Lee Highway are docketed for the County Board meeting this Saturday, July 13.

The larger of the two projects is a childcare center and school at 5328 Lee Highway, which will host up to 208 children.

“The child care center will serve children ranging from two (2) to five (5) years of age, in addition to before/after school services for school age children ages five (5) to ten (10) years,” says a county staff report. “The applicant proposes to reconfigure the existing office space to create 14 classrooms, one of which can also operate as an indoor gymnasium, as well as several ancillary rooms, including a pantry, teacher resource room, and two offices.”

A portions of the building, which most recently served as an office building, had previously been approved as a child care facility in 2017, but the staff report noted that the proposed facility never opened. The property is attached by a breezeway to United Bank, which the report says is expected to continue operating alongside the school.

Meanwhile, the proposed childcare facility at 5222 Lee Highway will have up to 60 children, ranging from 6-weeks to 2-years-old. The building will replace the former Chevy Chase Bank and drive-thru, which has been vacant for two years.

Under local ordinance, the larger of the two facilities would be required to have 26 parking spaces, but only 18 are available in the parking lot behind the building. The staff report says The Goddard School is asking to have the additional parking be provided off-site at the 5222 Lee Highway location. That proposal has been met by concerns from neighbors.

“Yorktown Civic Association which is adjacent to the subject site, is in support of the proposal, however, has concerns regarding circulation and turning movement around the site,” the staff report says.

The report said pick-up and drop-off would occur from the parking area, accessible via two existing curb cuts, and staff recommended that the County Board find the circulation and parking issues sufficiently addressed.

If approved, the facilities would be the first locations for The Goddard School in Arlington.

Another childcare center — VINCI Early Learning School — has been proposed for 3508 Lee Highway and is also on Saturday’s County Board agenda. Consideration of that facility, however, is expected to be deferred until September “to allow the applicant additional time to meet with the community and address any concerns that they may have with the proposed use.”

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Morning Notes

Arlington Gets Best View of Fireworks — On a hazy night, Arlington — particularly Rosslyn — had the best view of the expanded D.C. fireworks. Smoke obscured the viewing for many parts of the District. [Twitter, Twitter, Raw Story]

JBG Trying to Lure Big Tech to Arlington — “JBG Smith Properties CEO Matt Kelly recently met with “a handful” of big West Coast tech firms in a bid to entice them to come to National Landing now that Amazon.com Inc. has chosen the area for its second headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]

Police Chase Ends in Arlington — A high-speed police chase along I-66 ended in Arlington, near the N. Glebe Road exit. Virginia State Police say a woman fled from police at speeds of up to 120 mph while her three children were in the car. [WJLA, Twitter]

A Modest Proposal for Arlington — In a letter to the editor published by the Arlington Sun Gazette, a man apparently upset by the renaming of Washington-Lee High School to Washington-Liberty suggests also renaming Arlington “Amazon’s bitch.” [InsideNova]

Ebbin Cast as NRA’s ‘Boogeyman’ — “[State Sen. Adam] Ebbin, when told of [state Sen. Bryce] Reeves’s remarks at the town hall, said he never made any of the comments attributed to him. ‘Apparently I’m a radical homosexual who’s misquoted,’ Ebbin said sarcastically.” [Washington Post]

Checking Car Seats in Arlington — Writing about the new Virginia law requiring rear-facing car seats for children under two and below a certain weight, the Arlington County Fire Department noted on social media: “ACFD no longer does child seat safety inspections. Arlington County Police Department offers regular inspections to ensure the child seat is safely installed and secured in your vehicle.” [Twitter]

Warner Highlights Sept. 11th Memorial Trail — “U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) are working together to further honor the heroes of September 11th, 2001. In a bipartisan resolution, Senators Toomey and Warner highlight the significance of the September 11th National Memorial Trail,” which runs through Arlington. [Press Release]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick/Twitter

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Morning Notes

District Taco Considering Franchising — “All stores are corporate-owned, but Hoil is exploring the possibility of expanding District Taco’s growth strategy to include franchise units, too. The key is to find partners who will be just as invested in and energetic about the concept as he is.” [QSR Magazine]

New Car Seat Law in Va. — “Starting July 1… a new Virginia law will require parents to keep their precious infants and toddlers in rear-facing car seats until the child turns two, or reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing child restraint seat, as prescribed by its manufacturer.” [Press Release]

Ray’s Hell Burger Closes in D.C. — Following the closure of Ray’s the Steaks in Courthouse, Ray’s Hell Burger has closed in the District. [PoPville]

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Morning Notes

DEA Staying in Pentagon City — “The Arlington County Board today approved an incentive grant that will keep the headquarters of the Drug Enforcement Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, in Pentagon City following a lengthy federal competitive bid process. The agency occupies more than 511,000 square feet of space, and employs about 3,000 people at its Pentagon City location.” [Arlington County]

‘Take Your Child to Work Day’ for Cristol — Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol’s new baby boy made his public debut at Thursday’s meeting for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. [Twitter]

Activists Still Pressing for Tree Removal Explanation — “Remember back last year, when top Arlington officials said they would provide the public – in writing – with the reasons the government would not take further steps to protect removal of a tree that had become symbolic to environmental activists across the county? You may have forgotten, but those activists have not.” [InsideNova]

‘Notable’ Trees Recognized — “Arlington has more than 750,000 trees of at least 122 species that provide $6.89 million in environmental benefits to the County annually in the form of pollution removal, carbon storage, energy savings, and avoided stormwater runoff. The Arlington County Board will designate 24 of these trees as Notable Trees at its April 25 Recessed Meeting. [Arlington County]

Water Main Break in Fairlington — Some 100 Arlington households were without water service for part of Thursday due to emergency water main repairs in the Fairlington neighborhood. [Twitter]

Gerber Incentives Pass — Gerber’s move to Arlington is one step closer thanks to an incentive package unanimously approved by the County Board on Tuesday. The package is divided between money from the state’s Commonwealth Opportunity Fund (COF) — $862,500 — and money earmarked for nearby infrastructure upgrades — another $862,500.

Nearby: Alexandria Peeved By Metro Surprise — “A month after Metro learned additional closures would be needed at the end of this summer’s Blue and Yellow line shutdown, Alexandria’s City Council lit into the agency’s top leaders Tuesday night about why the Virginia city and the public only learned of the extended work through a news release last week.” [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

APS Adds Non-Binary Gender Option — “This school year, Arlington Public Schools added a new question on its form for students to indicate a designated gender, including male, female and ‘X.'” [DCist]

ACPD Has New Electronic Sign — “You may see a new electronic signboard around @ArlingtonVA thanks to JAG grant funds provided through the @TheJusticeDept! These signboards help ACPD share important public safety messaging around school zones, events and campaigns… The signboards also display motorists speed so remember to slow down and obey posted speed limits.” [Twitter]

Leak Prompts Early Morning Road Closure — “A water leak has been repaired after causing early morning traffic problems Wednesday in Arlington. The leak was reported along S. Arlington Ridge Road between 23rd St S. and the Interstate 395 Service road.” [Fox 5]

Jail Holds Holiday Party for Inmates’ Kids — “The Arlington County Detention Facility was transformed Tuesday night into the fictional town, Whoville, in anticipation of a few special visitors. Some children were given the opportunity to visit their incarcerated parents.” [WUSA 9]

Amazon News Roundup — Amazon is planning to bring a “Treasure Truck retail vehicle” to the D.C. area. One way to accommodate new HQ2 workers would be to upzone nearby residential neighborhoods like Aurora Highlands to the population density of Capital Hill or San Francisco’s Mission District. Prompted by Amazon’s arrival, George Mason University plans to build a new 400,000 square foot facility on its Virginia Square campus in Arlington to house the Institute for Digital Innovation, “a research enterprise for fields like data analytics, cybersecurity and defense.”

Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen

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“The Clothesline for Arlington Kids” has already given away 3,500 pieces of clothing to 140 school-aged children of low-income families since it opened in August.

The nonprofit’s co-founders, Ellen Moy and Ben Sessions, said they decided to start the nonprofit after Moy got frustrated about the lack of options to recycle the clothes outgrown or barely worn by her two boys, who attend Arlington Public Schools, within the community.

At the Clothesline (2704 N. Pershing Drive), parents and children can find high-quality clothing including brands like Ralph Lauren and Northface.

The clothes hang on the racks, sorted by item type, gender and age range. Moy and Sessions said they invested in racks and hangers to mimic a retail store and to save people from picking through bags of unsorted clothing — what Moy calls ” a big bin of ‘good luck.'”

Students living and attending school in Arlington from kindergarten to 12th grade are eligible if they either receive benefits from the free or reduced lunch program or have a referral from a school social worker, place of worship, the county’s Department of Human Services or a local social services organization. One out of three students in Arlington schools qualifies for the lunch program.

The Clothesline lets children acquire a new wardrobe twice a year. The switch to colder weather clothing happened in mid-October, so families picking out wardrobes now can come back in March, April and May for spring and summer attire.

The full package includes:

  • five tops, shirts or blouses
  • four pants, shorts or skirts
  • five pairs of new underwear
  • five pairs of new socks

Additionally, students can pick out one coat or jacket, a pair of shoes, formal wear and a dress, along with accessories as available. If they need more shirts than pants, they can swap within the allotted number.

“They have really fun clothes they get to choose from,” Moy said. “It’s really a thrill when a little girl comes in and she says, ‘Mom, can I have this dress?’ and the mom can say, ‘Yes, you can have that dress.’ Money is not a hindrance.”

Parents can call ahead if they need to pick out formal clothes or are looking for specific items in certain sizes.

“Parents don’t have the time to shop and go all over town, so this is a nice one-stop shopping for their kids,” Moy said, adding that she and the volunteers keep tabs on who needs what and will let families know when requested clothing becomes available.

All of the shopping happens by appointment only, which gives Sessions and Moy a chance to prepare inventory based off of children’s ages and sizes. The store is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Volunteers help inspect the clothing multiple times, Moy said. No ripped, stained, torn or overly worn clothes are allowed. Clothing that doesn’t make the cut gets donated to places like H&M and Goodwill.

Once approved, the clothes get washed and steamed before they go on the rack. “We don’t want them wearing something that looks weird or has a huge stain on it,” Sessions said. “We want to get them into clothes that look exactly like their peers and help them focus on their classwork.”

Sessions, who has a background in finance, takes care of the business side. Moy used her 15 years of clothing retail experience to create simple and inexpensive store decor, which features green painted walls based on the color scheme of their logo, which she said a friend designed.

“People like to shop here,” Sessions said. “The idea is not only to provide a place for kids to get clothing but also to provide a place that really values the families that are coming in by providing a really nice place for them to shop.”

The Clothesline accepts items year-round and stores off-season clothing in boxes for the next switch. People can drop off new and gently used clothing in the donation bins in the front of the store on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Moy and Sessions said the support from the Arlington community has been a “heartwarming experience” — from Girl Scout Troops and churches helping them collect clothes to the bevy of volunteers who have helped staff the program.

So far, they have relied on more than 200 volunteers since they started collecting clothing last year, with usually one to eight volunteers helping out on any given day, they said.

“Arlington is a very generous community, so we’ve been very fortunate,” Moy said.

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Arlington County is searching for families willing to foster or adopt children, and anyone interested in learning about taking in a child can attend an information session tomorrow.

Foster care is a temporary arrangement for children who cannot live in their homes because of neglect, abuse or serious family trouble. These children might stay with a foster family for just a few days, or for years. Adults who are approved to foster can explore the possibility of adopting children as well.

Although the county needs families to accept all types of foster children, it has a particular need for people who will care for those of Hispanic, African American and other cultural backgrounds. There’s also high demand for families to take in teenagers, children with special needs and siblings.

Foster parents must be over 21, be employed either inside or outside the home and live in a house or apartment in or near Arlington County.

Adults interested in becoming a foster parent — or even just learning about what it entails — can attend an information session tomorrow (Thursday) night from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Contact Erica Serrano for information about the session location, at [email protected] or 703-228-1559.

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Arvaye Robinson, the mother of two elementary school girls she had hoped to enroll in the Arlington Public Schools extended day program, stood in front of the Syphax Education Center this morning during the system’s technical problems that ultimately suspended sign-up indefinitely.

“I’m so disappointed,” Robinson said, exasperated, with her phone in her hand waiting to hear from a school staffer. “I wanted some confirmation.”

After setting an alarm for exactly 7:59 a.m. so she could hop online and enroll her children, Robinson realized that the site was down and that she would have to drive to the center to enroll her children in person. She was told that she would receive a call about placement, but she didn’t feel confident about that.

“They have the means to take payment, but no concrete confirmation,” said Robinson.

A father who overheard ARLnow interviewing Robinson cut into the conversation, calling the situation absurd and saying that it had thrown his work schedule out the window for the second year in a row.

Indeed, this is the second consecutive year that extended day registration has flopped. There are varying reports of exactly how many parents waited in line to secure a spot for their children, but one parent told ARLnow she saw at least 100 people in the Syphax Education Center’s lobby this morning.

The extended day program allows parents “who can’t juggle everything” to leave children in their school’s care before and after classes, according to the program’ director, Bobby Kaplow.

According to Kaplow, after last year’s technical failure with the same vendor, APS spent the year troubleshooting with the contractor, trying to find a solution.

“All year we worked with him, we told him what we needed, we told him what the problem was, can he see it on his end,” Kaplow said, adding that he had demanded that the contractor fly in from Michigan to be on-site for the enrollment rollout today in case any issues cropped up.

“I talked to him 20 minutes before it started today, and said, ‘Are we good?'” Kaplow said. The contractor told the director that there wouldn’t be any problems.

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