More School Boundary Changes Ahead — The always-controversial process of changing school boundaries in Arlington is on the School Board agenda during the next school year. The School Board plans to tackle middle school boundaries in the fall and elementary school boundaries in the spring. [InsideNova]
Arlington’s Energy Lending Program Lauded — “Arlington County’s Energy Lending Library program has received the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) 2017 Achievement Award… Through the program, residents can borrow free energy efficiency tools from their local library, along with the information needed to identify and act on energy efficiency opportunities. These tools include: a thermal camera, a sampler kit of 10 different LED lightbulbs, an energy meter to manage home electricity use, and Do-It-Yourself energy retrofit books.” [Arlington County]
Vornado Trying to Offload Rosslyn Plaza — Vornado, which recently spun off most of its Arlington properties to the newly-renamed JBG Smith, retained ownership interests in a number of local properties. Among them is Rosslyn Plaza, which was approved for a massive development last year. Vornado is now trying to sell its share in the 7.65 acre property. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Arlington Man’s Dog Found Days After Fatal Crash — Ten days after 57-year-old Arlington resident William F. Schlesinger died in a crash on I-95 in North Carolina, his dog has been found alive. Nellie is being called a “miracle dog” after she wandered into a convenience store late at night with a broken leg and numerous bug bites. She had been riding in the pickup truck with Schlesinger when he reportedly fell asleep, veered off the highway and slammed into a tree. [Fayetteville Observer]
Local Election Fundraising Very Light — The frontrunners for Arlington County Board and School Board only have a few thousand dollars apiece in the bank as of the beginning of the month. Their opponents have even less. “It may turn out to be one of the least costly County Board general elections in recent history,” the Sun Gazette reports. [InsideNova]
State Dept. Office Staying in Arlington — The U.S. State Department is keeping its footprint in Rosslyn for another decade-and-a-half. The GSA signed a lease worth just over $200 million over 15 years for nearly 350,000 square feet of office space in central Rosslyn. The lease extends over two buildings, with one of the buildings also housing a private State Department contractor. [Washington Business Journal]
Update: W-L Expected to Reopen Next Week — Washington-Lee High School is expected to reopen for summer school classes next week after an air conditioning issue closed the school this week. W-L’s summer school classes were temporarily moved to Yorktown High School this week. [Arlington Public Schools]
‘Capital Bikeshare Fiesta’ in Nauck — “Arlington’s Dieta Cero-Auto program will be promoting Capital Bikeshare this Saturday at Drew Sprayground (3514 22nd Street S.) from 2-5 p.m. Stop by and purchase your CaBi membership for 50% off!” [Event Calendar]
Discovery Named ‘Green Ribbon School’ — “Discovery Elementary School is being recognized as a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School… Discovery is one of 45 schools being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.” [Arlington Public Schools]
County Opts to Acquire Hospital Site — Arlington County Board members on Tuesday voted to formally seek a large tract of land along S. Carlin Springs Road in a land swap with Virginia Hospital Center. In exchange, the county is offering to VHC county-owned land next to the hospital, which would allow it to expand. [Arlington County, InsideNova]
Bike Thefts Up in Arlington — Bike thefts were up for the first 6 months of 2017, compared to a year prior. No one seems to be safe from the prolific bike thieves, who often target high-end bikes parked in garages and bike lockers; among those reporting recent thefts were Henry Dunbar, the director of BikeArlington and Capital Bikeshare in Arlington, and an ABC 7 employee. [WJLA]
Gondola Project Not Dead — Though Arlington County has moved on from it, D.C. is still budgeting money to advance the proposed Rosslyn-to-Georgetown gondola project, including $250,000 for an environmental review of a potential gondola site near the C&O canal. One other intriguing factor: should the gondola run north of the Key Bridge, as shown in renderings, it may reach Arlington at the Key Bridge Marriott property, which is in the early stages of a potentially large-scale, mixed-use redevelopment. [Bisnow]
County Buys Office Building — As expected, the Arlington County Board has voted to purchase a low-slung office building at 2920 S. Glebe Road, to house Arlington’s head start program. The program is currently housed in the Edison Center next to Virginia Hospital Center, which is slated to be transferred to VHC in a land swap (see above). Arlington is paying $3.885 million for the Glebe Road property, nearly $1.5 million above its assessed value. [Arlington County]
JBG Has Big Plans for Crystal City — JBG Smith, the newly-formed combination of JBG and the Washington properties of Vornado, says repositioning and enhancing its 7 million square foot portfolio in Crystal City is a “top priority.” Among the changes in the works for the Bethesda-based firm: expanding the vacant office building at 1750 Crystal Drive, converting it to residential, and adding an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and a grocery store. [Washington Business Journal]
Sycamore Street, Carlin Springs Projects Approved — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved a pair of major road projects. One, intended to improve pedestrian safety along N. Sycamore Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood, “will reduce travel lanes from four lanes to two lanes by adding raised medians planted with trees and grass,” at a cost of $1.4 million. The other will replace the Carlin Springs Road Bridge over North George Mason Drive at a cost of $7 million. [Arlington County, Arlington County]
Fox 5 Zip Trip Comes to Arlington — Fox 5 brought its “Zip Trip” morning news segment to Pentagon Row in Arlington on Friday, highlighting a variety of local organizations, businesses and leaders. Among those making an appearance on live local TV: Bayou Bakery, Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, District Taco, Lebanese Taverna, the Arlington County Fire Department and County Board member Katie Cristol. [Fox 5, Twitter, Twitter]
Park Improvements Approved — The Arlington County Board has approved a $2.1 million series of improvements to Stratford Park — including new, lighted tennis and basketball courts — and the replacement of the artificial turf at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. The turf replacement is expected to cost just under a half-million dollars. [Arlington County]
County Can’t Halt Development — Despite the desires of some anti-development advocates, Arlington County does not have the legal authority to impose a moratorium on development, County Board members and the County Attorney told a speaker at Saturday’s Board meeting. [InsideNova]
Forest Inn Makes Dive Bar List — The Forest Inn in Westover has made the Washington Post’s list of the “best true dive bars in the D.C. area.” The Post’s Tim Carman and Fritz Hahn recommend ordering “a cold Budweiser, which was, for years, the only beer on tap.” [Washington Post]
Monday Properties Refinances 1812 N. Moore Street — Monday Properties has obtained fresh financing for its 1812 N. Moore Street tower in Rosslyn, which was once on uncertain financial ground as it sought its first tenant but is now set to be the U.S. headquarters of food giant Nestle. A portion of the new financing will be “used for tenant improvements and building upgrades featuring an expanded fitness center and new 12,000-square-foot conference facility on the building’s 24th floor.” [Washington Business Journal]
Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Map Updated — The County Board has voted 5-0 to update its Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area map. “The more accurate map will help Arlington protect environmentally sensitive lands near streams and ensure that the County can comply with local and State regulations,” and “will allow the County to review development projects fairly and provide accurate information to residents and other stakeholders,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
DOE Highlights Discovery Elementary — The U.S. Department of Energy has profiled Arlington’s Discovery Elementary in a new video. DOE lauds the school for its net zero energy design, which “saves $100,000 per year in utility costs, enough to cover the salaries of two teachers” and was implemented under-budget. [YouTube, Blue Virginia]
Hackathon in Clarendon — Capital One is holding a Women in Tech hackathon at its Clarendon “lab” office next week. “Attendees will have the opportunity to ‘create a technical solution for Women Who Code that empowers girls and women to stay in the tech field.'” [Technical.ly DC, Women in Tech Demo Day]
Arlington Native Pens New Bodice Ripper — On the heels of the success of her debut novel, Seven Days, Arlington’s Ariel Atwell (the pen name of Leslie Aun) has written a follow-up, Twenty-One Nights. The Regency romance is No. 28 on Amazon’s chart for that category. [Amazon]
Nearby: JBG Announces New HQ in Bethesda — In a bit of a blow to Arlington, JBG has announced that it will be opening a new headquarters in downtown Bethesda. JBG has numerous properties in Arlington and will soon be merging with Vornado’s D.C. division, which includes extensive holdings in Arlington. [Bethesda Beat]
Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards
Free Donuts Today — Today, June 2, is National Donut Day. To celebrate, Dunkin’ Donuts and Duck Donuts are offering a free donut with the purchase of any beverage. Sugar Shack is offering a free donut for those who wear a Sugar Shack hat, t-shirt or other article of clothing with the company logo. [Dunkin’ Donuts, Duck Donuts, Facebook]
Stabbing on Columbia Pike — Arlington County Police are investigating a stabbing that occurred near the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Rolfe Street early this morning. The victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries. [Fox 5, WJLA, ACPD]
Owner Wants Out of Ray’s Hell Burger Lease — Michael Landrum, owner of Ray’s the Steaks and Ray’s Hell Burger, wants out of the Hell Burger lease at 1650 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. The restaurant closed and went on “hiatus” last month. Landrum’s company owes the landlord just over $300,000, according to a bankruptcy filing. [Washington Business Journal]
Why Arlington and Alexandria Couldn’t Collaborate on a Pool — Sharing the costs of an indoor aquatics center seemed like a good idea in theory, but ultimately those in Alexandria did not like the idea of using their taxpayer dollars to build a pool in Arlington. Now Arlington’s planned Long Bridge aquatics center is moving forward while Alexandria’s plans to build an indoor pool are on hold. [Washington Post]
New Tenants to the Rescue in Courthouse — “Adding Reston-based VideoBlocks to its tenant roster was a good get for the owners of Courthouse Tower, but as it turns out, the lease was part of a larger plan to avoid letting about three quarters of the building’s office space go dark.” [Washington Business Journal]
Metro ‘Prepares for Life After SafeTrack’ — We’re a day and a half into June and there have been no major Metro service disruptions so far, something the transit agency hopes is the norm. From a press release: “As the yearlong SafeTrack program winds down, Metro is preparing for a new era of less disruptive preventive maintenance and planned capital work to ensure that the rail system remains in a reliable state for years to come.” [WMATA]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Kal Penn Spotted at A-Town — Eddie Lacy wasn’t the only famous person spotted at an Arlington bar over the past week. Actor and former Obama administration official Kal Penn was photographed hanging out at A-Town Bar and Grill in Ballston this past weekend.
Monday Properties Refinances Rosslyn Portfolio — “Monday Properties has completed an $888 million refinancing of its Rosslyn portfolio… resolving one of the largest chunks of expiring commercial real estate debts taken out before the recession.” Meanwhile, Monday says that Nestle moving its corporate headquarters to 1812 N. Moore Street “has prompted other prospects to consider Rosslyn that wouldn’t have in the past.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington’s Bond Rating Affirmed — “For the 17th year in a row, all three credit ratings agencies have reaffirmed Arlington County’s debt ratings of Aaa/AAA/AAA — the highest rating. Arlington is one of just 45 Counties in the United States, and 9 in Virginia, to receive the highest rating from all three credit agencies for its bonds.” [Arlington County]
Nearby: Video of Fire in Falls Church — Arlington County firefighters assisted on a shed and house fire in the Falls Church section of Fairfax County last week. The blaze was caught on video by a neighbor. [Statter 911]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
A building adjacent the Crystal City Metro station is getting a bold new red paint job.
Property owner Vornado will be adding color to its currently beige office building at 251 18th Street S. The painting is expected to begin soon.
The new color “will create an iconic new landmark at [the Metro station] and at the gateway to Crystal City at 18th Street,” according to the Crystal City Business Improvement District, which has been “adding color, vibrancy and art to Crystal City” via projects like Artomatic, Art Underground and various murals around the neighborhood.
While efforts to add to the vibrancy of the neighborhood and improve its aesthetics have been well-received — they were a main topic of an extensive Washingtonian feature last week — the reality is that many of the buildings around Crystal City date back to the 60s and 70s; 251 18th Street was built in 1975 according to Loopnet.
With a wholesale redevelopment of older buildings financially infeasible at a time of high office vacancy rates, Crystal City and its property owners have instead been finding ways to refurbish, creatively re-purpose — and now repaint — existing buildings.
Fourth High School Option Floated — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy has added a fourth option for adding additional high school seats to the three finalists announced last month. Murphy said the existing Arlington Education Center near Washington-Lee could be used to house 600 students while adding another 700 seats in an expansion of the Arlington Career Center. [InsideNova]
World of Beer Sues Local Owner — Just a week after it was first reported that the owner of the World of Beer franchises in Ballston, Reston and Fairfax was rebranding the restaurants as “Crafthouse,” comes word that the World of Beer corporate office is suing him for allegedly violating their franchise agreement. [Reston Now]
VideoBlocks Moving to Courthouse — After announcing last year that the company would be moving to Arlington, subscription stock video service VideoBlocks has settled on a location: a full floor of Courthouse Tower at 1515 N. Courthouse Road. [Washington Business Journal]
County Board To Discuss Taxi Changes – After a vote on Saturday, the Arlington County Board will hold a public hearing next month to discuss proposed changes to the county’s taxicab ordinance. The changes, recommended by the county’s Transportation Commission, would allow the removal of lights from the vehicle’s roof, modifications to cabs’ color and lettering, and use of GPS metering instead of traditional taxi meters. [Arlington County]
How Rosslyn Landed Nestlé — It was a team effort to land Nestlé as the anchor tenant of the 1812 N. Moore Street tower in Rosslyn, says the head of the Rosslyn Business Improvement Districts. In the end, Rosslyn’s urban amenities, the area’s talented millennial workforce and a handful of state and local incentives helped to “sweeten the deal.” [LinkedIn]
Flickr pool photo by Arlington VA
A small two-story building that’s now in the shadow of a much larger development in Courthouse has been placed on the market.
The owner of SuperStar Tickets and its building at 2305 Wilson Blvd says he is searching for a buyer, with the help of a real estate firm, but will only sell for the right price.
Omar Sider said he’s seeking an above-market price for the building, which he thinks could be attractive to investors given its proximity to the Courthouse Metro station and the new development at 2311 Wilson Blvd, which will house the headquarters of local tech firm Opower.
Sider’s building was grouped into the site plan for its larger neighbor and designated as a “stand alone retail pavilion.” Sider says he’s grandfathered in to keeping the building as-is, housing SuperStar Tickets’ offices, but he could also opt to build a new 6,400 square foot building with additional underground space and a connection to the parking garage of 2311 Wilson.
The latter is what any potential purchaser would likely intend to do. Because of the small size of the lot, a tall building is not possible.
“It’s a diamond in the rough,” Sider said of his property. “I don’t really want to sell it.”
Sider purchased the building in 2010 for $1.2 million and refused to sell it to the developer of 2311 Wilson, who he said made an offer only slightly above its market value. At least one anonymous tipster who reached out to ARLnow.com didn’t think holding on to the building was a good idea.
“They could have sold out at any time and made big bucks, but they refused,” said the tipster.
Sider, an Arlington native, said he thinks Courthouse will continue to be an attractive neighborhood, with more development and changes in the works. He said he is content to keep the building in his family “forever” if need be.
Should the building sell, he hopes to move SuperStar Tickets to another office in Arlington. Even if it doesn’t sell, the business is growing and may eventually require a bigger space, according to Sider.
The Arlington County Board approved Tuesday a $12 million package of state and local grants for the relocation of Nestlé’s U.S. corporate headquarters to Rosslyn.
The food giant will receive $6 million in Commonwealth Opportunity Fund grant money from Virginia. COF money is incentive-based, and requires at least $36 million in capital investment and 748 new jobs with an average annual salary of $127,719.
That state grant will be matched by the county’s Economic Development Incentive grant and related infrastructure improvements. The $4 million EDI grant has the same requirements as the state grant but also requires that at least 205,000 square feet of space be leased.
The additional $2 million in infrastructure improvements is already planned in the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, said Christina Winn of Arlington Economic Development.
Winn said those improvements include the Corridor of Light public art installation on N. Lynn Street, the Lynn Street Esplanade and Custis Trail Improvement project, and relocation of bus stops on N. Moore Street.
The combination of grants shows “everybody giving a little bit to get so much back,” Winn said. She added that such incentives help Arlington stay competitive against its regional rivals, and that such programs are only used 7 percent of the time, when AED looks to attract big companies like Grant Thornton.
Board vice chair Katie Cristol said that she has previously been “skeptical” of such incentive programs, but that she sees their value in cases like this. Nestlé is projected to bring $14.2 million in net tax benefit to Arlington, and will bring an anchor tenant to the previously empty skyscraper at 1812 N. Moore Street. The move is seen as a big economic development win for the county.
“The case has been well made about what this means for Arlington County and why this is a significant decision on the part of Nestlé,” Cristol said.
Photo courtesy Monday Properties
With the National Science Foundation moving out of Ballston this year, its current building is slated for renovations.
The NSF will relocate to Alexandria, starting no later than September 1, and leave its present headquarters at Stafford Place on Wilson Boulevard.
And with its federal tenant on the way out, property owner Jamestown LP is looking ahead to the future of its buildings, which it bought for a combined $300 million in 2015.
The two buildings will be renamed the Ballston Exchange, with the 12-story atrium in 4201 Wilson Blvd set for a revamp in addition to new electronic systems and elevators and new tenants for the upper and lower levels.
All told, the renovation work will cost approximately $140 million, and will include new retail space on the ground floor.
Michael Phillips, president of Jamestown, said the firm is looking to take advantage of the growth in high-tech and cybersecurity jobs in Northern Virginia when searching for new tenants.
“We have specialties in internet security and in technology around that sort of process, but we also have the associations and the lobbying groups and the private industry that have all started to make Northern Virginia home,” he said. “To provide an environment for that for both small companies to incubate ideas and large companies to be part of the campus is our goal.”
To attract those tenants, Phillips said, Jamestown will make sure the renovated space embraces the new “interactive culture” of the workplace. Phillips said the redone space will include an interactive conference center and communal spaces, as well as amenities like yoga and spin classes to help with employees’ health and wellbeing.
And despite the departure of a federal tenant and the departure of more than 2,000 NSF employees, Phillips said Jamestown relishes the opportunity to revamp its property given the apparent region-wide trend away from government work.
“We bought the building knowing they [the NSF] were going, with the intent to do what we’re doing,” Phillips said. “I think there was a time that submarket was a very high percentage of government contractors and agencies, and I think that is shrinking and being replaced by private sector companies.”
Phillips said the renovation should be complete by next spring or summer, given that it will not begin until the NSF vacates.
Helen Duong, spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, said the last permit application submitted for the NSF property was last August to remove the existing sky bridge.
Arlington Economic Development spokeswoman Cara O’Donnell said the organization is looking forward to seeing what Jamestown will do.
“We’re excited about the significant new investment Jamestown is making that will deliver high quality Class A office space as well as new ground floor retail frontage in the heart of Ballston,” she said. “Additionally, this ideally-located property is located just across the street from the new Ballston Quarter public-private redevelopment.”
The redevelopment of Ballston Common Mall across the street — and its rebranding as Ballston Quarter — means there is plenty going on in that part of the county.
Demolition of portions of the mall to make way for the new apartment tower and retail center began last year.
The Arlington County Board on Saturday is set to consider a lease renewal for county government headquarters at 2100 Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse.
Under the proposed agreement with property owner Vornado, according to a staff report, rent on the 235,000 square foot facility would actually go down, at least initially, though it would then rise 2.5 percent per year through the end of the lease in October 2033.
Starting in 2033, the county would have the option of renewing in five-year increments through 2062. Arlington, however, is also considering building its own headquarters nearby, to open before the end of the 15-year lease term.
More from the staff report:
The rent under the proposed lease Amendment will be substantially below the rent under the existing terms of the Lease. The current total rent under the existing Lease is approximately $11.2 million per year ($47.71 per square foot). In October, 2018 (immediately before the Amendment’s rent schedule takes effect), staff estimates that the total rent under the Lease will be approximately $11,500,000 per year ($48.95 per square foot) (charges for common-area maintenance and taxes must be estimated because they vary). Significantly, once the new rent takes effect in November, 2018, the total rent under the Amendment will start, and be reduced to, $9,867,354 per year ($42 per square foot), a savings of over $1.6 million per year.
The 15-year term of the Amendment is sufficient to give the County time to plan for and build a new administrative building at Courthouse Plaza if the County decides to do so. Based on the length of the term extension, staff believes it is now necessary to refurbish the County’s leased premises. The refurbishment would be paid for, in part, by the tenant improvement allowance provided by Landlord, the free rent, and the commission rebate (total = approximately $35.9 million). The scope and cost of any refurbishment will be determined by the County after a space utilization study.
In addition to a multi-million dollar office refurbishment, paid for by landlord and leasing agent concessions, under the lease renewal Arlington would gain the right to add a daycare facility to the building and to place an emergency generator on top of 2300 Clarendon Blvd, to serve the county’s Emergency Communications Center there.
County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending the Board approve the lease renewal, given what the staff report describes as “fair and reasonable terms” offered by Vornado.
Traffic Lights Dark in Rosslyn — Due to power outages, several traffic signals at busy intersections in Rosslyn were dark during the morning rush hour. Police were stretched for resources as they tried to direct traffic and deal with wind-related issues elsewhere in the county. [Twitter, Twitter]
Arlington’s Child Care Shortage — “In Arlington, Virginia, Erika Gibson, child care supervisor for the Arlington County Department of Human Services, said most of the county’s 50 licensed care centers have waiting lists for children under 2.” [WTOP]
Grocery Association Coming to Rosslyn — On the heels of food and beverage giant Nestle’s announcement that it is moving to Rosslyn, the Grocery Manufacturers Association has announced it is going to move from D.C. to Rosslyn, leasing 34,000 square feet at 1001 19th Street N. [Washington Business Journal]
New 2017 Commission Chairs — The Arlington County Board has approved the new 2017 chairs of more than a dozen county commissions and boards. [InsideNova]
Obit: Bill Hurd, Jr. — Arlington resident Bill Hurd, Jr. died Jan. 27 at the age of 66 after “aggressive battle with prostate cancer.” The last decade of Hurd’s life was eventful: his first wife died in 2010, shortly after they moved to her hometown in Minnesota. He became active in the community there and was elected mayor. A native of Northern Virginia and a fan of politics, sports, cigars, dogs and Texas Hold’em poker, Hurd later remarried and in 2015 moved back to Arlington. [Legacy]
Struggling Skyline Sold — Vornado has taken its properties in Skyline off of its balance sheet after the 2.6 million-square-foot, half-vacant complex sold at a foreclosure auction last week. The cancelled Columbia Pike streetcar project would have run to Skyline, with Fairfax County set to pay 20 percent of the project’s cost. [Washington Business Journal]
More on ‘Pop-Up’ Hotel — The inauguration will be the big test for WhyHotel, the “pop-up” hotel in the new Bartlett apartment building in Pentagon City. Developer Vornado sees this as an experiment that could yield temporary revenue while a building is leased up. Arlington County planning commissioner Erik Gutshall says the county could benefit from additional tax revenue and a more lively streetscape. [Washington Post]
Arlington = NYE Destination? — Travelers coming to the D.C. area for New Year’s Eve should consider staying in Arlington due to its proximity to the District and lower hotel rates, says an article on “last minute deals for New Year’s Eve hotels.” [Travel + Leisure]
Transracial Adoption in Arlington — Arlington is “a fantastic community in which to raise a transracially blended family,” says the father of (now grown) adopted children from Vietnam, Sri Lanka and India. [Arlington Magazine]
Clarendon Post Office Murals — A local man has written a 44-page book on the artist who painted seven New Deal-era murals in the Clarendon post office. [Washington Post]
Reporting Issues to the County — Arlington County is reminding residents that they can report out-of-sync traffic signals, crosswalks with broken buttons and other non-emergency service requests via an online form. [Twitter]