Arlington, VA

Arlington’s office vacancy rate could drop below 15% next year as business continue to move to the area, according to some local experts.

Leaders of commercial real estate Avison Young and Arlington Economic Development (AED) said there is likely to be continued progress in Arlington’s long-standing struggle with a high number of empty office spaces.

“There’s still a lot of work to do, and it’s going to be a steep hill to climb,” said AED Interim Director Alex Iams during a “Future of Arlington” panel organized by Bisnow yesterday (Thursday.)

However, Iams and Avison Young Principal Nick Gregorios both said they expect the office vacancy rate to drop again in 2020. If growth continues at its current rate in 2020, the vacancy rate could fall by up to 1.5 percentage points, Gregorios said.

As of Sept. 30, commercial real estate firm JLL reported an office vacancy rate of 16% in Arlington, down 5% from the county’s all-time high of 21% in 2015. This puts Arlington just below the current national average of 16.7%.

Iams said companies like Yext, PBS, and iTG coming to Arlington or renewing their leases have contributed to the vacancy rate drop.

There is still about 7 million square feet of empty office space across Arlington to fill, according to Iams. Seven building vacancies have over 125,000 square feet of space apiece, leaving room for large companies, according to Iams.

Thursday’s panel itself was held on an empty floor of the Ballston Exchange office space.

“Just look around you, we’re sitting in a building right now where the National Science Foundation vacated in one fell swoop,” Gregorios said, referring to the NSF’s departure from Ballston to a new space in Alexandria.

In 2015, now-former AED director Victor Hoskins pledged to bring Arlington’s office vacancy rate down to as low as 10 percent within the next six years. That goal is thus far unrealized, but Arlington might come close with Amazon’s arrival continuing to generate interest in Arlington office space.

Shortly after helping Arlington woo Amazon, Hoskins left his position to head the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. Since then, Iams has been left to continue Hoskins’ work, with HQ2 as a tailwind.

“[Heading into 2020] with Amazon and HQ2, we’re doing things a little differently,” Iams said, speaking to AED’s business recruitment strategy. “We’re approaching different markets with a list of 10-15 companies that we’ve identified in advance, knowing that we can get in front of them when they’re in the market for relocation and expansion.”

According to the 2019 Q2 earnings release from Amazon headquarters developer JBG Smith, since the HQ2 announcement one year ago the company has executed one million square feet of new leases in the National Landing area — Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard — plus 400,000 square feet of renewals.

“What we used to do is go to tech conferences to get out name out there in order differentiate ourselves, but that’s not the case anymore,” Iams said. “Northern Virginia put itself on the map during the HQ2 process, and we’ll continue to work closely together for out-of-market deals with our Northern Virginia partners.”

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Morning Notes

One Year Since HQ2 Announcement — “I cannot believe it’s been one year since I had the privilege of announcing our Arlington, VA HQ2! It’s been amazing to work with all of the government officials and the community on this project. It’s just Day One and I look forward to many more successful years together!” [Twitter]

Crystal City Office Market Tightening Up — “There’s still an awful lot of empty office space in Crystal City, but a year after Amazon.com Inc. picked National Landing for its second home, conditions have already started to become less favorable for non-Amazon tenants in the Arlington County submarket.” [Washington Business Journal]

Lots of Amazon Employees Elsewhere in the Region — “Amazon’s biggest base locally is miles from HQ2. Some 2,500 corporate employees, not connected to the second headquarters, work in its D.C. and other offices. In Herndon, where the company already has a significant and growing footprint, there are nearly 800 job openings. For much of this year, many of Amazon’s Arlington job openings were allotted for Ballston, where the company leases some 52,000 square feet.” [Washington Business Journal]

Video of the Big Water Main Break — “Dramatic early footage from Friday’s break. Fast-acting crews were able to restore pressure to the water system within a few hours through a bypass. Repairs starting tonight” — N. Glebe Road is closed near Chain Bridge during the morning rush hour — “will allow renewed use of the main and then long-term resurfacing of Glebe Road.” [Twitter]

Rosslyn Renovation Mean Changes for Local Barber — “When it’s done, Rosslyn City Center will boast a new food hall, reimagined workspaces and experiential activated environments. And Rosslyn Metro Barber Shop will move to a highly visible, first-floor location where would-be customers are sure to take notice.” [Rosslyn BID]

W&OD Trail Upgrades Proposed in Arlington — “Arlington County Board members on Saturday will be asked to add their voices in support of a request from the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks) for $5.65 million in regional funding to improve and expand the Washington & Old Dominion Trail over a two-mile stretch in the western part of the county. NOVA Parks aims to replace the existing 12-foot-wide, shared-use trail with a 12-foot-wide bicycle trail and an 8-foot wide pedestrian trail.” [InsideNova]

New Scanner for County Jail — “A new security measure that will help prevent the smuggling of prohibited items into the Arlington County Detention Center by people who are arrested is now in use, Sheriff Beth Arthur announced.” The announcement follows the death of a homicide suspect in the jail. [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Yung Chen

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Morning Notes

Dorsey in Trouble With Metro BoardUpdated at 10 a.m. — “Metro board member Christian Dorsey to return $10,000 donation from ATU Local 689, the main Metro union, and be reprimanded and removed as chairman of Metro finance committee.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

South Arlington Pupatella Now Hiring — “Official Job Fair at Pupatella South Arlington — 1621 South Walter Reed Drive — Thursday, Nov 7 thru Saturday, Nov 9 between 10am and 4pm – All positions available (kitchen and front of house).” [Twitter]

JBG May Hold Off on Crystal City Office Building — “Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters is expected to generate additional demand for office space in Crystal City and Pentagon City, but for now… the Chevy Chase developer does not plan to start construction on the Crystal City office building without enough commitments from future tenants.” [Washington Business Journal]

Robbery on Columbia Pike — “The suspect then walked around the counter and confronted the victim, implied he had a weapon, and demanded the merchandise. The suspect fled the scene with the merchandise prior to police arrival.” [Arlington County]

Ballston Company Partnering With Google — “AES Corporation and Google have entered into a 10-year strategic alliance which they hope will speed up the expansion and adoption of clean energy. In an announcement Wednesday, the Arlington, Virginia headquartered power firm said it would leverage ‘Google Cloud technology to pioneer innovation in the sector.'” [CNBC]

Arlington Blvd Bus Stop Temporarily Closed — “4A riders: The stop on Arlington Blvd at S. Highland St will close on 11/6 for two weeks. Customers may board/exit at an adjacent stop.” [Twitter, WMATA]

Nearby: Beyer to Host Impeachment Town Hall — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) “is planning to talk impeachment at a town hall meeting later this month. [Beyer] announced today that he will be holding the event on Thursday, Nov. 21, from 7-8:30 p.m., at the T.C. Williams High School auditorium.” [ALXnow]

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Morning Notes

School Shuffle Blowback Starts — “Alicia Rich, president of Key’s PTA, said she has been fielding texts and messages over WhatsApp from parents and staff members worried about the prospect of moving. ‘This issue is so huge for us,’ Rich said.
School system officials said they ‘urgently need’ the Key building as a neighborhood school because of the lack of space for students.” [Washington Post]

Arlington Office Market Improving — Arlington County landing Amazon HQ2, a selection announced one year ago this month, has helped move its office market in the right direction after years of struggles. The office vacancy rate in National Landing, the newly branded area comprising the Crystal City and Pentagon City neighborhoods, dropped from 19.6% in Q3 2018 to 16% as of Sept. 30, the lowest level since 2012, according to JLL.” [Bisnow]

Chamber Supports Keeping Dillon Rule — “Facing a possible Democratic majority in the General Assembly, @ArlVAChamber is standing firm in its support of the Dillon Rule. Why? A Dem majority could allow localities like Arlington to raise the minimum wage.” [Twitter, InsideNova]

Storms Don’t Deter Trick or Treaters — From a family that tracks the number of trick or treaters visiting their Arlington home: “Despite threatening weather and a tornado watch issued by the National Weather Service… 2019 was our second best year ever with 161 visitors, 13 goblins behind the all-time high of 174 visitors in 2016.” [Facebook]

ACPD Helps With Snakes, Too — “Sgt. Morrison proves he’s a jack of all trades! Yesterday he responded to a citizen assist call and helped safely relocate this snake.” [Twitter]

Opera Fans Plan Outreach Effort — “Reports of the demise of a certain musical genre are not just premature. They are just plain wrong, supporters say. ‘Clearly, opera is not a dying art – the music is still transcendent,’ said Paul Dolinsky, a board member of Opera Nova, which on Oct. 27 held its annual fund-raising brunch at Washington Golf & Country Club.” [InsideNova]

Local Teen Is Runner Up in Entrepreneurship Competition — “Ela Gokcigdem has good news to share about her ePearl noise-cancelling wireless earbuds. They were a big hit in the Big Apple… The 17-year-old senior at Wakefield High School in Arlington participated in the NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. More than two dozen competitors from around the country pitched their products to a panel of judges.” [WJLA]

Nearby: Road Closure Planned in Seven Corners — “The Wilson Boulevard (Route 613) bridge over Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) will be closed from 9 p.m. Monday night, Nov. 4 to 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, Nov. 5 for bridge deck work, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Eastbound Wilson Boulevard traffic will be detoured via Route 7, Patrick Henry Drive, Route 50 and the westbound Route 50 service road back to Wilson Boulevard.” [VDOT]

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Morning Notes

New Noise Enforcement Tools — “Arlington government officials have added new tools in an effort to address nighttime noise violations from restaurants and bars. The new policy is designed to target ‘the ones who consistently refuse to comply’ in resolving noise complaints, County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac told County Board members on Oct. 22.” [InsideNova]

Beyer on Aircraft Noise — “Today, Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08) sent a letter to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration expressing concerns about its recent announcement to make changes to flight paths at DCA to accommodate Secret Service needs without giving meaningful consideration to community interests.” [Press Release]

Video: Amazon Truck Towed in Crystal City — “Can’t say we didn’t warn you… controversial Advanced Towing removes an @amazon truck from ‘National Landing.'” [Twitter]

Housing Supply Down, Prices Up — “The Arlington County, Virginia, housing market continues to get more expensive, and potential buyers continue to have fewer and fewer houses and condos to consider.” [WTOP]

What Goes Into an Arlington Nat’l Cemetery Burial — “If you live near Arlington, you may be familiar with the sound of cannon fire early in the morning. The Presidential Salute Battery fires cannons for military ceremonies in Washington and is the only unit of its kind in the Army. ” [WAMU]

Nearby: Nats World Series Scam — Per Fairfax County Police: “Our Detectives are investigating an increasing number of scams involving the sale of @Nationals World Series tickets. Please use caution when purchasing tickets from sources other than @MLB authorized dealers.” [Twitter, FCPD]

Courtesy photo

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Morning Notes

Construction Underway on Hospital Expansion — “Shovels are in the ground and buildings are coming down as Virginia Hospital Center embarks on the nitty-gritty of a three-year, quarter-billion-dollar expansion effort.” [InsideNova]

Marymount Launches Intrapreneurship Initiative — “Marymount University’s School of Business and Technology (SBT) has launched an initiative to address one of the most significant talent gaps in the greater Washington region – a shortage of graduates who are prepared to use entrepreneurial skills to help employers grow and meet the challenges of an ever-changing world.” [Press Release]

Courthouse Office Building Sold — “Another Arlington office building has traded hands with the buyer citing Amazon HQ2 as a reason for optimism.  American Real Estate Partners, in partnership with Rockwood Capital, announced Tuesday it acquired the Arlington Plaza office building at 2000 15th St. North.” [Bisnow]

Metro Seeking Feedback on Bus Changes — “Metro is proposing service changes to selected bus routes based on input from customers and local governments, to increase on-time performance and ridership, and respond to planning studies and market changes.” Changes are proposed for the 3Y, 7F and 7Y routes. [WMATA]

Why Hoskins Left for Fairfax — “Victor Hoskins may be done working on Amazon HQ2 in Arlington County, but he’s certainly not done talking about it. The former head of Arlington Economic Development, in an interview with Bisnow, cited post-Amazon fatigue as one of the reasons he decided to leave and take a new job as CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. ” [Bisnow]

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Morning Notes

Road Closures for 9/11 5K — “The 18th annual Arlington Police, Fire & Sheriff Memorial 9/11 5K race will take place on the evening of Saturday, September 7, 2019. The Arlington County Police Department will close several roadways around the Pentagon and in Crystal City to accommodate the event.” [Arlington County]

Pentagon, Rosslyn Rank Among Busiest Stations — “In Virginia, the Pentagon [Metro] station averages around 14,000 entries and exits each weekday, ranking it and Rosslyn ahead of Pentagon City, Crystal City, Ballston, Vienna and Wiehle-Reston East.” [WTOP]

Hotel Occupancy Rate Going Down — “Arlington’s year-over-year hotel-occupancy rate is down from 2017 for the first seven months of the year, but the average room rate is higher, according to new data.” [InsideNova]

Even Shirlington Feeling Amazon Glow — “It might be a bit of a stretch to call it proximate to the e-commerce and cloud computing company’s second home in Arlington County, but a Shirlington office building with future ‘Amazon HQ2 upside’ is being offered for sale.” [Washington Business Journal]

Startup Moving After Big Funding Round — After raising a new $51 million funding round, Arlington-based Federated Wireless is moving its 80-person team to a new 20,000+ square foot space at 4075 Wilson Blvd in Ballston. [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Metro’s Fire Hydrant Problem — “A fire safety advocate and a D.C. firefighter took to social media Tuesday to criticize the transit agency after a Metrobus was spotted parked in front of a hydrant in Pentagon City for about 10 minutes. They also said it’s a chronic problem.” [Washington Post]

Va. Was Amazon Oasis After NYC Debacle — “In late January, Holly Sullivan, the head of world-wide development at Amazon, returned to Washington, D.C., where she and some colleagues dined with executives from JBG Smith, the real-estate firm managing the Arlington County site.. A JBG Smith official remarked that Amazon’s team looked like it had come from a war zone. ‘How much more space can we get in Virginia?’ one of the Amazon executives joked.” [Wall Street Journal, Twitter]

Ballston Office Building Sold — “Hines Interests LP has acquired Ballston’s Two Liberty Center” — where ARLnow has its offices — “from New York-based real estate investment management company Westbrook Partners for $93.2 million. Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. (NYSE: JLL) brokered the Aug. 20 sale of the 178,000-square foot, nine-story building.” [Washington Business Journal]

APS Expanding Healthy Lunch Options — “In 2017, Café + Teria was originally introduced to high school students attending Arlington, Virginia’s three public high schools, Wakefield, Yorktown and Washington-Lee. Due to the success at these schools in Arlington it will also expand to The Heights (the new home of H-B Woodlawn) and the Arlington… Career Center on September 3.” [Press Release]

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Clarendon nightlife mainstay Whitlow’s on Wilson is “actively negotiating” for a new lease, manager Jon Williams says.

Readers tipped ARLnow off to a commercial real estate website listing the Whitlow’s space at 2854 Wilson Blvd as available for lease starting on July 1, 2021.

Per the listing:

Total street-level, enclosed area of approximately 8,450sf; plus 350sf of sidewalk seating area; plus 500sf of outside dining area (under tent); plus 4,100sf of Rooftop area; plus 2,500sf of Basement area (storage and walk-ins); and a private driveway for storage, parking and loading.

Fans of Whitlow’s and its rooftop tiki bar shouldn’t start breaking out the hankies just yet. Williams said the listing is part of the lease negotiation process.

“We plan on being here for years to come,” he said.

Whitlow’s celebrated its 20th anniversary in Clarendon in 2016. Earlier this month the bar raised some $8,000 to benefit flood July 8 victims in Westover, according to Williams.

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Morning Notes

Storms Expected Today — “Strong to locally severe thunderstorms are in the forecast Tuesday afternoon and evening, and the potential exists for this to be a significant severe weather event.” [Capital Weather Gang]

ACPD: Expect Police at Fair — “As in years past, the [Arlington County Fair] will have dedicated police staffing and resources and fairgoers can expect to see a visible police presence… There are no known threats to Arlington County, however, the public is encouraged to remain aware of your surroundings at all times.” [Arlington County]

Local Volunteer Firefighting Legacy — “Tucked inside the Clarendon fire station on N. 10th St. is a special closed-off room. By long-standing arrangement with the county, it is dedicated to honoring the station’s decades of reliance on volunteer firefighters. Today’s professionally staffed Fire Station 4 deploys ‘no active volunteers, but retains a volunteer presence.'” [Falls Church News-Press]

Hotel Near HQ2 Sells For Big Bucks — “Host Hotels & Resorts sold the Residence Inn Arlington Pentagon City, a 299-room high-rise property at 550 Army Navy Drive, for $99.1M in a deal that closed July 1, according to Arlington County property records.” [Bisnow]

Deer Rescued from Fence — “Last week, Officer Solano and several neighbors were able to safely untangle this juvenile deer from a soccer net in a resident’s backyard. The deer immediately ran away, uninjured, back into the woods nearby.” [Twitter]

Man Brings Loaded Shotgun to Pentagon — “A Kentucky man taken into custody at the Pentagon last week had a shotgun, ammunition and a machete in his pickup truck, according to court documents… While speaking to the officers, [the man] made ‘incoherent statements about being in the area for ‘liberty business.”” [Fox 5]

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Morning Notes

New Coworking Space Coming to Ballston — “Piedmont Office Realty Trust signed a 29K SF lease with WeWork at its Arlington Tower office building at 901 North Glebe Road in Ballston, the REIT said in its Q2 earnings release Wednesday evening. The coworking giant will take the entire fifth floor and plans to open before the end of the year, Piedmont Director Chris Poppell tells Bisnow.” [Bisnow]

Disaster Declaration May Be Coming Soon — “A disaster designation based on damage assessments in Arlington County would allow homeowners and businesses in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County to apply for low-interest federal loans beginning as soon as next week to help pay for repairs. Fairfax County Emergency Management Coordinator Seamus Mooney expects the designation to be approved within the next two weeks.” [WTOP]

Changes Proposed for Pentagon City Hotel — “The owner of the DoubleTree by Hilton in Crystal City is gearing up for a play to capitalize on the 627-room hotel’s proximity to Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters. Tom Baltimore, CEO of the hotel’s owner, Park Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: PK), told analysts on its second-quarter earnings call Thursday that the hotel is one of several the company is evaluating as possible redevelopment opportunities.” [Washington Business Journal]

Video: Dark Star Park Day — A timelapse video captured the moment on Thursday morning when the shadows lined up at Rosslyn’s Dark Star Park, as happens once a year on Aug. 1. [Twitter]

Arlington Boy Lives Dream in Boston — “There was a special visitor to the WBZ Weather Center on Thursday. Noah Coon from Arlington, Virginia is a big weather fan and stopped by the studio thanks to Dream On 3. Noah has cerebral palsy and was in Boston to visit the Red Sox. Because he’s also a fan of meteorology, he came to visit the WBZ weather team.” [WBZ]

Video: Yorktown vs. W-L — Just published online: “Long-lost footage of the famous Nov. 5, 1970, mud bowl football game between the Yorktown High School Patriots and the Washington-Lee Generals. Yorktown was favored with a 9-0 record but W-L won 12-0 and earned the Potomac District championship. [YouTube]

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