44°Clear

Morning Notes

Rolling Thunder to Coming to a Stop — The 2019 Rolling Thunder rally will be the group’s last Memorial Day rally in the D.C. area, organizers say. The rally has brought thousands of bikers, along with road closures and motorcycle noise, to Arlington over the past three decades. [Washington Post]

The Gritty Pre-History of Crystal City — “Before development flourished (the entrepreneurs offered bargain rates to federal agencies), the area ‘was a conglomeration of places that sold junk, used tires, a drive-in movie theater, a run-down ice skating rink, second-hand materials — it was very unattractive…’ The industrial area leading to the Potomac Yard railway tracks for decades was bordered by sketchy bar-rooms of the 19th-century Jackson City and National Airport’s precursor, Hoover Field.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Seasonal Pop-Ups at Pentagon City Mall — A trio of “seasonal pop-up shops” are opening at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City: Chukulata, a sweet shop selling crepes and other treats; PolarX Ornaments, selling holiday decor and personalized ornaments; and Trunk and Drawer, which “specializes in men’s fashionable undergarments as well as sleepwear, activewear and swimwear,” per a press release.

Stepped Up DUI Enforcement Underway — “To help spread the message about the dangers of drunk driving, the Arlington County Police Department is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to get drunk drivers off the roads and help save lives during the national high-visibility enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, which runs from December 13-31, 2018.” [Arlington County]

JBG Buying More Sites in ‘National Landing’ — “JBG Smith Properties has reached a deal to buy a development site across from Virginia Tech’s planned innovation campus in Alexandria, part of a larger strategy to acquire land in and around the National Landing area that includes Amazon.com Inc.’s new headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Old Town Getting Left Behind? — “The old guard of Alexandria, mainly in Old Town, has for decades wielded a sort of NIMBY clout and deployed ample financial resources to fight projects. The plans to activate Alexandria’s 8.6-acre waterfront were delayed for years due to community pushback and legal challenges… But fears that Alexandria will be left behind as competition intensifies with flashier destinations such as National Harbor and The Wharf are spurring change.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

0 Comments

Rosslyn High Rise Owner Rolls Out ‘Flexible’ Leasing Options to Lure Government Contractors

The owner of a Rosslyn office building is changing up how it leases out some of its space, in a bid to be more flexible and responsive to the needs of government contractors.

Washington Real Estate Investment Trust announced today (Wednesday) that it’s rebranding some of its space at the Arlington Tower (1300 17th Street N.) as “Space+.” The firm acquired the property, located just across the street from Dark Star Park, back in January for about $250 million.

The program is designed to offer prospective tenants “high quality office space that can be customized and configured to be as large or small as a business needs at any given time,” according to a press release. The developer is marketing a variety of spaces in the building that resemble traditional coworking offices, but can also be customized to suit each business’s desires.

In all, about 22,000 square feet of the building’s 398,000 square feet of space will be reserved for the “Space+” offerings, according to spokeswoman Liz Wainger. The space will be available for lease right away, she added.

“Space+ reflects our willingness to be creative on lease term and structures, all to accommodate tenants who are grappling with rapid change in their industries,” Wainger wrote in an email. “Our bread and butter are smaller growing enterprises and contractors with immediate needs.”

Primarily, the company is hoping to ride a projected surge in new federal business in the area. Though many property owners in Rosslyn, in particular, have struggled with high vacancy rates in recent years, the developer doesn’t expect that trend to last much longer — particularly with Amazon coming to town soon.

“According to an analysis of government contracts awarded in the six zip codes in and around Arlington Tower, the data shows that nearly 370 contractors have been recently awarded or imminently expect to be awarded contracts that will notch a greater than 10 percent funding increase in 2018, with continued hikes in year-over-year funding in 2019,” the company wrote in the release. “With the ability to meet company demands — regardless of size — Space+ availability at Arlington Tower answer[s] the anticipated demand with straightforward pricing and fast move-ins to single offices, collaborative work spaces and furnished suites.”

Several other firms offering coworking offices and other flexible spaces have also opened in Rosslyn in recent months, including WeWork, Spaces, Convene and Eastern Foundry.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Emergency Water Main Repairs — Work is scheduled from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. today to repair a 20-inch water transmission main along 7th Road S. from S. Florida Street to S. Dinwiddie Street and Columbia Pike. Upwards of 200 customers are expected to lose their water service during the work. [Twitter]

Stamos Picks Up Challenger — Parisa Tafti, a “lifelong public defender and innocence protection attorney with a more than 18-year record of defending the indigent and speaking for the innocent,” has announced that she will be running against Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos in her bid for reelection to the top prosecutor job. [Blue Virginia]

Kanninen Calls for Kaepernick — Arlington School Board member Barbara Kanninen is among those calling on social media for the Redskins to “#BringColintoWashington” amid a rash of season-ending injuries at the quarterback position. [Twitter]

Fisette Launches Consulting Firm — Former Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette has started a consulting firm to “advise business, nonprofits and local governments throughout the Washington region” with former Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner. [Bethesda Beat, Maryland Matters]

Office Rent Expected to Rise in Crystal City — “Crystal City is at risk of losing its status as the low-cost alternative for nonprofits and others on the hunt for office space in Northern Virginia as Amazon.com Inc. rolls out its headquarters plans… Colliers projects rental rates in Crystal City could jump by 17 percent in five years and by 37 percent in a decade.” [Washington Business Journal]

Amazon Effect on Residential Real Estate — “Any immediate impact on the local housing market is expected to be muted… Long & Foster predicts the Amazon effect will add an additional 3 percent to appreciation the Washington area would otherwise experience.” [WTOP]

Harper Leaving Rosslyn? — Possibly outgoing Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper “has chosen not to renew his lease at his penthouse condo in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington, VA, according to a source.” [Real House Life of Arlington]

0 Comments

Proposed Rosslyn Hotel Redevelopment Could Transform Neighborhood’s ‘Gateway’

The proposed redevelopment of the Rosslyn Holiday Inn could not only bring hundreds of new apartments and revamped hotel rooms to the area, but also lead to a major transformation of the neighborhood’s appearance.

The Vienna-based developer The Dittmar Company has submitted plans to the county calling for a total overhaul of the hotel, located at 1900 Fort Myer Drive. As first reported by the Washington Business Journal, the proposal calls for two new towers of 26 and 38 stories on the site, totaling about 73,200 square feet of residential, hotel and retail space.

In all, the plans call for 490 apartments, 327 hotel rooms, 275,000 square feet of conference and event space and 13,400 square feet of ground-floor retail. Dittmar is asking for a site plan amendment and some zoning changes to complete the work, requiring a lengthy county approval process, but is aiming to kick off work by 2020 and open up the development in 2023.

“Though the hotel remains active and profitable, with very low vacancy rates, redevelopment will be of significant benefit to Arlington County and the surrounding community,” Nan Walsh, a land use attorney representing Dittmar, wrote in an Oct. 19 letter to county planners.

While the redevelopment would see the demolition of a hotel that’s been a part of the neighborhood’s skyline since 1972, it could also prompt a host of other aesthetic changes for the heart of Rosslyn.

Dittmar would demolish the hotel’s sky bridge over Fort Myer Drive as part of the construction, removing a main pedestrian path over one of the area’s busiest roads. However, Walsh argues in her letter that such a change largely meets the vision of the updated “Rosslyn Sector Plan,” which pushes for a move to more street-level pedestrian walkways after “execution of the skywalk concept fell short of expectations.” Plans for the development do call for a new “east-west” pedestrian path through the site, but that would connect N. Nash Street to Fort Myer Drive.

Walsh also argues in her letter that the new development’s design would help meet the sector plan’s vision of “creating a gateway to Rosslyn from Lee Highway and the Key Bridge.” The building’s offerings could also contribute to “the transformation of Rosslyn from an office-oriented downtown to a true mixed-use community with 24/7 activity,” she wrote.

To that end, Dittmar envisions using about 7,700 square feet of the development to offer a “full-service restaurant,” most likely located closest to Lee Highway to the property’s north. The remain 5,700 square feet of retail space could go to a commercial tenant, or be set aside for “civic space to be used by the county” — the plans suggest a public library could be a decent fit in the space.

Dittmar also plans to contribute cash to the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund as a condition of the development, and could even send the county enough money to complete its long-debated “Corridor of Light” public art project in the area.

As for the hotel portion of the development, Walsh envisions the new establishment as a “four-star, full service hotel.” Of the building’s apartments, 70 will also be set aside as “short term rentals,” designed for people looking to stay for 30 days or less.

The 38-story tower would also include a “6,000-square-foot event space” on its top floor, complete with panoramic views of the area. Rosslyn has increasingly become home to buildings marketing a similar view of the D.C. skyline.

The towers would also sit on top of three levels of underground parking and another four above ground, with 858 parking spaces available in all. A traffic study prepared by Dittmar’s consultants estimates that the project would only create “minor increases in delays” in the congested section of Rosslyn.

The county has yet to schedule any review of the proposed development, but it could eventually require work from the Site Plan Review Committee and Planning Commission before heading to the County Board.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Police Investigate Stabbing Near Alexandria BorderUpdated at 2:45 p.m. — Arlington County Police are investigating a stabbing that happened last night at S. Arlington Ridge Road and S. Glebe Road. The incident, which started when the victim asked for help finding a ride, was initially believed to be a shooting, but was later determined to be “the result of a sharp weapon.” The victim was found with non-life threatening wounds just across the border in Alexandria. [Twitter, ACPD]

Major Redevelopment in Rosslyn — The Dittmar Co. has filed a preliminary site plan to redevelop the Holiday Inn hotel in Rosslyn, building 26- and 38-story towers housing 490 apartments and 327 hotel rooms. The proposal includes a 6,000 square foot event space on the top floor of the taller tower and the demolition of a skybridge crossing Fort Myer Drive. [Washington Business Journal]

Leonsis Says Build the Gondola — In a joint WaPo op-ed, Caps and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, JBG Smith CEO Matt Kelly and former GOP Congressman Tom Davis say the proposed Georgetown-Rosslyn gondola would be a “forward-looking and innovative” investment in our transportation infrastructure. [Washington Post]

Local CEO Buys Rosslyn Buildings — “Affiliates belonging to Cogent Communications Holdings Inc. CEO Dave Schaeffer, one of the region’s highest-paid chief executives, have acquired a pair of Rosslyn office buildings (1550 and 1560 Wilson Blvd) recently renovated to include upgraded common-area space and a new boutique boxing-oriented fitness facility.” [Washington Business Journal]

Sheriff’s Office Raises Money for Prostate Cancer — The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office helped to raise money for prostate cancer treatment at Virginia Hospital Center during the month of November via its “Beards with a Badge initiative.” [Virginia Hospital Center, WJLA]

November Sets Weather Record — Last month was the wettest November on record for the Washington area. It was also the second-wettest meteorological fall on record for the area, according to the National Weather Service. [Twitter]

Police Searching for Missing Man Last Seen in Georgetown — Police are still looking for David Stern, a D.C. accountant last seen at Dixie Liquor on M Street in Georgetown. The 29-year-old, who is engaged to be married, hasn’t been seen since buying a bottle of Crown Royal at the store this past Tuesday. [Fox 5]

Photo courtesy @wwwchris

0 Comments

Major Pentagon City Redevelopment Nears Opening, Just in Time for Amazon’s Arrival

Update, Nov. 30 at 9 a.m.: After this story was published Kimco spokeswoman Jennifer Maisch contacted ARLnow to clarify that Glazer’s comments regarding the new parking garage were inaccurate. The garage will serve only retail customers, while each residential building will have its parking available on lower floors, she said.

A massive new mixed-development in Pentagon City is nearly ready to open — and its backers hope it’ll be perfectly positioned to serve the thousands of Amazon employees who will start arriving in the area in the next few months.

The first phase of the Pentagon Centre redevelopment project, backed by New York-based developer Kimco Realty, should start leasing apartments as soon as spring 2019, according to a news release.

The company hopes to open “The Witmer,” a 26-story residential tower complete with 440 apartments and 7,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, by the second half of the new year.

The new building will be the first of many new changes to come for the shopping center, located between S. Hayes and Fern Streets and 12th and 15th Streets S., as the developer embarks on a decades-long effort to redevelop the area. Kimco earned the county’s approval for the project back in 2015, but it’s taken on new significance now that Amazon plans to construct a pair of new buildings for its headquarters right next door — the company purchased the “PenPlace” and “Metropolitan Park” developments from JBG Smith as part of its move to the county.

“Our Pentagon Centre ‘Signature Series’ redevelopment is in excellent position to take advantage of the incredible growth Amazon’s National Landing headquarters will bring to the area,” Kimco CEO Conor Flynn wrote in a statement. “With ‘The Witmer’s’ location directly above the Metro Station and its stunning views of the Pentagon, Potomac River and Washington Mall, it will be at the heart of this new center of gravity.”

Geoff Glazer, Kimco’s senior vice president for national development, also told ARLnow that a seven-story parking garage along 15th Street S. is already “complete and operational” as well. The garage will serve residents of the new apartment building, as well as help replace parking lots for Costco customers to be occupied by the next phase of development in the area.

Kimco plans to build a 10-story residential tower, complete with 253 units and 15,541 square feet of ground-floor retail, once the first the building is ready. Glazer says the timeline for that project is a bit unclear just yet, however, calling it a “market-driven decision” with plans to “evaluate timing for the second tower in 2019.”

Real estate watchers expect that the market will demand plenty of new construction in the area as Amazon ramps up hiring, so the company may not need to wait long. Brad Dillman, the chief economist for national real estate developer Cortland, says that data suggest Crystal City and Pentagon City both have slightly higher residential vacancy rates than the D.C. metro area as a whole, but there will still be a huge demand for new development as Amazon’s 25,000 workers descend on the area.

“If you look across the whole market on the multifamily side, there were just under 9,000 new units delivered in the last year,” Dillman said. “It’s pretty clear that just Amazon alone is going to require some above and beyond new housing development.”

However, Kimco’s ambitions for the 17-acre property extend far beyond just residential buildings. Eventually, the company plans to demolish the mall building (the current home of retailers like Best Buy and Nordstrom Rack) and then tear down the Costco as well, replacing them with three new office buildings, 377,000 square feet of retail and commercial space and 180-room hotel.

Those plans are quite ways off yet, though, with Glazer estimating that they’re “many years down the road given our existing lease obligations.” The company’s initial estimates suggest that the first phase of demolitions wouldn’t start for another 20 years yet, with more to come another 20 years after that.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Human Rights Award Winners Announced — The 2018 winners of Arlington County’s James B. Hunter Human Rights Award have been announced. The two individuals and two groups to be honored at a Dec. 13 ceremony are: former Arlington Public Schools social study teacher Marty Swaim, former Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette, the Arlington chapter of Awesome Women Entrepreneurs, and Arm & Arm, “an Arlington-based community group providing a variety of services to veterans and the incarcerated to aid in their reentry to society.” [Arlington County]

Fill the Cruiser Tonight Near Crystal City — Today, on Giving Tuesday, the Arlington County Police Department will bring its “Fill the Cruiser” toy drive to Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Aurora Highlands, from 6-8 p.m. [Twitter]

JBG Re-Ups Crystal City Tenant — “JBG Smith, just weeks removed from winning D.C.’s biggest economic prize in a generation in Crystal City, is already reaping side benefits. The REIT signed National Cooperative Bank to a 15-year extension on its 66K SF lease at 2011 Crystal Drive, it announced Monday. The building is a few blocks from where Amazon is leasing space from JBG Smith for Phase 1 of its HQ2 requirement.” [Bisnow]

Amazon News Roundup — Questions are being raised about the nondisclosure agreements Amazon required of jurisdictions bidding for HQ2. Alexandria officials “are confident housing prices and rental rates won’t become unbearable when Amazon sets up shop in Crystal City.” The spillover effects of Amazon’s Crystal City campus on the commercial real estate market may not extend much beyond Arlington’s Metro corridors. And finally — no, Amazon did not rename Crystal City.

0 Comments

Westmont Shopping Center on Columbia Pike Could Soon Be Torn Down, Redeveloped

The Westmont Shopping Center, located at the intersection of S. Glebe Road and Columbia Pike, could soon be torn down and redeveloped into a new mixed-use building.

A developer has submitted plans to the county looking for permission to build a six-story building on the lot, long home to shops and restaurants including a Boston Market and an INOVA Urgent Care. The proposal calls for about 250 new apartments on the site, sitting above 23,225 square feet of retail space.

The new development would also include an underground parking garage for residents with about 285 spaces, and another 60 surface parking spots for visitors. The project is backed by Republic Properties Corporation, the developer of a variety of projects around the D.C. area. Perhaps its most notable effort is the sizable Potomac Mills mall in Woodbridge.

The proposal calls for the current shopping center to be razed in its entirety, but it would generally preserve the existing traffic pattern in the area — for instance, visitors would still be able to reach the parking lot via a left-hand turn lane on S. Glebe Road. It also includes some streetscape improvements along Columbia Pike and S. Glebe Road, including the addition of new trees, benches and trash bins.

Though the development would bring plenty of new residents to the Pike, an area notorious for its transportation challenges, the county’s traffic consultants wrote in an August report it would still be a good fit for Arlington’s vision of “creating a mixed-use environment focused on multimodal transportation.”

They added that the redevelopment would result in only “minor increases in delay” at major intersections in the area, with differences of just a few seconds at each traffic signal.

County planners are still in the preliminary phase of reviewing the development, though the traffic analysis notes that the developer hopes to have it “complete and fully occupied by 2020.”

H/t Chris Slatt

0 Comments

Morning Notes

GMU Arlington Building Renamed — “Founders Hall, one of two major academic buildings on George Mason University’s Arlington Campus, was officially renamed Van Metre Hall after Mason’s Board of Visitors approved the change at its Oct. 10 meeting. The board’s action recognizes the generosity of the Van Metre Companies, a major regional builder that donated 37 acres in Ashburn, Virginia, to the George Mason University Foundation.” [George Mason University]

Overturned Vehicle on Washington Blvd — Near the tail end of yesterday morning’s rush hour a vehicle flipped on its roof along Washington Blvd, between Route 50 and Clarendon. The westbound lanes of Washington Blvd were blocked for a period of time. One person suffered minor injuries. [Twitter]

County Ranks High for Resident Satisfaction — “According to Arlington’s recent Community Satisfaction Survey, 88 percent of residents surveyed are satisfied with the overall quality of County services, 38 percentage points above the national average… Arlington also rated significantly above the national average for overall quality of life — 86 percent compared with 75 percent.” [Arlington County]

Local Credit Union Merger — “Arlington Community Federal Credit Union (ACFCU) announced today the merger of ACFCU with the Queen of Peace Arlington Federal Credit Union (QPAFCU). The combined asset size is $325 million, with nearly 22,500 members.” The Queen of Peace Arlington FCU is located in a church in the northeast corner of the Nauck neighborhood, near the back entrance to Army Navy Country Club. [CUInsight]

Venture-Funded Company Moving to Rosslyn — “FELA, the financial education and literacy company, today announced its rebrand to LifeCents. The name LifeCents is also the company’s health and wellness app that inspires and empowers people to improve their financial health and well-being… The team will move to Rosslyn, VA, at the beginning of next year to accommodate its continued growth.” [BusinessWire via Potomac Tech Wire]

Arlington Has Nightlife Advantage Over Tysons — Despite worries about competition from Tysons among local economic development boosters, the Fairfax County community doesn’t yet have Arlington’s nighttime vibrancy. Said one Tysons bar owner: “A lot of people leave here. They’re done with their job at 6:30 or 7 p.m. and they go home. They don’t come back. If they want to go out, they go to Arlington.” [Tysons Reporter]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

0 Comments

JBG Smith’s Major Crystal Square Project Nears Approval, Though Some Concerns Linger

Plans to transform a section of Crystal City into a new retail hub for the neighborhood could soon move ahead, though neighbors and cyclists are still pressing for changes to the redevelopment effort.

Many of JBG Smith’s plans for the “Crystal Square” project, centered on a block of Crystal Drive between 15th Street S. and 18th Street S., are up for approval by the County Board this weekend. The long-awaited project would completely revamp the existing office buildings on the block, adding a new movie theater, grocery store and other retailers to replace the existing Crystal City Shops at 1750.

County staff and planners have generally given the project a green light, given its potential to help speed along the transformation of a block centered around the area’s Metro station. Even still, some people living nearby worry that the construction will blot out some of Crystal City’s limited green space, and won’t address the neighborhood’s transportation challenges.

The heart of the Crystal Square development, backed by the area’s largest property owner, generally isn’t up for dispute. In all, JBG Smith plans to add 84,000 square feet of retail and commercial space along Crystal Drive by renovating some of the existing buildings on the property, and tacking on some additions as well.

The main draws will be a three-story movie theater, reportedly an Alamo Drafthouse location, and a 15,000-square-foot “small format specialty grocer,” like a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Those businesses, and perhaps many others, will generally be centered closest to Crystal Drive’s intersection with 15th Street S., and the existing one-story retail in the area will likely be demolished to connect the theater and the grocery store, removing a small park in the process.

County staff note in a report for the Board that the proposal “not a complete redevelopment that breaks up the existing superblock with new public streets,” as might eventually be desirable for the area, it is a chance to “create a high-quality public realm…[that] enhances multimodal access and connectivity by placing large regional draws such as a movie theater and grocer within easy access of the Metro, bus stops, and VRE station.”

However, cycling advocates worry that all these plans will do little to improve connectivity to the Mt. Vernon Trail, leaving people highly dependent on cars in the area. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is urging cyclists to press for protected bike lanes along both Crystal Drive and 18th Street S. to create a safer, low-stress place to bike that wouldn’t be constantly blocked by parked cars.

JBG Smith declined to comment for this article, but it seems the developer doesn’t see much room for protected bike lanes in the area. While a bike lane along Crystal Drive is included in the Crystal Square plans, county transportation staff told the Planning Commission back in February that “there is not enough space to provide a protected bike lane” on the road.

Eventually, JBG says it could also build a two-story retail building further down the block, at Crystal Drive’s intersection with 18th Street S. That feature has drawn a bit more scrutiny from neighbors, who note that the site was long envisioned as a new park to replace the green space set to be removed in the earlier construction.

“The proposed two-story building would take a chunk out of that green space and destroy the sight line from Crystal Drive up to Clark/Bell [Streets,” Crystal City Civic Association President Carol Fuller told ARLnow. “The CCCA has been fighting this for months.”

Fuller points out that the location is also the proposed place for a second Metro station entrance, but with the county putting the brakes on that project as it deals with a funding crunch, she argues it would make much more sense to delay consideration of adding a new building there as well. Otherwise, she sees it as a “poison pill” impacting the whole development proposal.

The Planning Commission ultimately voted to endorse that building back in May, though many members expressed grave concerns about the proposal. The Parks and Recreation Commission even said it was “premature” to allow the building until securing firm funding commitments from JBG to ensure a park of some kind is indeed built on the space.

Those concerns aside, the Board seems unlikely to take action on that part of the proposal, at least in the near term.

JBG is also asking for permission to revert one office building on Crystal Drive back to office space, doing away with plans to convert it into an apartment building, a move fueling speculation that the company wants to wait to see if Amazon tabs the neighborhood for its second headquarters before committing to plans for the building.

Staff recommend that the Board defer any consideration of that request, and plans for the two-story building, for up to a year, given all the uncertainty still surrounding the site.

The Board will take up consideration of the project at its meeting Saturday (Oct. 20).

0 Comments

De Ferranti Goes on the Offensive Over Vihstadt’s Handling of Arlington’s Office Vacancy Rate

Arlington’s lone County Board race this fall has largely been a genteel affair so far, but Democratic challenger Matt de Ferranti is sharpening his attacks on incumbent John Vihstadt’s record, claiming the independent hasn’t done enough to address the county’s high office vacancy rate.

County officials of all stripes have long identified Arlington’s challenges filling vacant office space in corridors like Crystal City and Rosslyn as a prime reason that the county’s tax revenues have shrunk, squeezing its budget and creating a whole host of challenges for the county government.

Accordingly, both Vihstadt and de Ferranti have made the issue a central one for their respective campaigns, particularly because whoever wins a spot on the Board will likely need to wrestle with a budget that includes tax increases to tackle those revenue challenges.

Yet the Democrat has pledged a laser focus on the issue in recent debates and forums, and the Committee of 100 Board debate on Wednesday (Oct. 10), moderated by ARLnow’s Scott Brodbeck, was no exception. De Ferranti even went a step further to critique Vihstadt’s handling of the vacancy rate since he first won a special election four years ago, when he became the first non-Democrat on the Board since 1999.

“It’s been at 20 percent for four years,” de Ferranti said. “We need to bring it down and make it our priority to bring it down… and we need new vision to bring down that vacancy rate.”

Vihstadt pointed out that the county has successfully lured major companies during his tenure, with few bigger than Nestle and Gerber, in addition to smaller firms like trade associations and tech companies.

He added that he remains committed to “business and tax base diversification” to address the office vacancy rate as federal tenants increasingly go elsewhere, noting that “we’re not just a company town anymore.”

“We need green tech, med tech, cybersecurity and so forth,” Vihstadt said.

De Ferranti agrees on that point, but noted he’s been discussing the prospect of luring those industries to Arlington since his successful primary campaign this spring, charging that Vihstadt was coming to that particular talking point a bit late in the game.

“I’m glad that we’re both mentioning now, clean tech, green tech, energy efficiency technology,” de Ferranti said. “Those are the right fields, but we should’ve identified those four years ago.”

The spat over the office vacancy rate also carried over to perhaps the most contentious topic in Arlington at the moment: whether Amazon’s potential arrival in the county should be welcomed, or feared.

Vihstadt, as he has for months now, struck a cautious tone on the matter, noting that the county winning HQ2 would be a “mixed bag” in terms of its impacts on Arlington.

“We need to confirm the purported positives of this development coming to Arlington, but we also need to be mindful about addressing mitigants and negatives,” Vihstadt said.

De Ferranti acknowledged that caution is warranted, given the myriad ways in which the sudden arrival of 50,000 Amazon workers could disrupt the county’s housing market and strain its infrastructure. But he was also considerably more bullish on how the company could solve the very problem he spent so much time discussing, should Jeff Bezos follow through on the rumors and tab Crystal City for his second headquarters.

“With a vacancy rate of above 20 percent in Crystal City, we can’t turn it down,” de Ferranti said. “Count me as someone who says, we have conditions, but we have to move forward. That’s not to say your anxieties, and all Arlingtonians’ concerns on this, aren’t relevant, but eventually you have to take a position. My position is we need to ensure there are net benefits…but we also need to have a solid plan before we sign on to anything.”

You can listen to the entire debate on this week’s edition of the 26 Square Miles podcast.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Arlington Losing Big Office Tenant — “BAE Systems Inc. is moving its headquarters to Falls Church as part of a consolidation of its Northern Virginia office space… The move will also further ding Arlington County’s office vacancy rate, which at the end of 2017 was 20.6 percent.” [Washington Business Journal]

Hazmat Situation at Kaiser Permanente — Arlington County firefighters responded to a hazardous materials incident at Kaiser Permanente in Falls Church yesterday. Five people were evaluated by medics and, of them, two were transported to the hospital. [WJLA, Twitter, Twitter]

Red Top Development Groundbreaking Nears — “The Shooshan Co. has teamed up with Trammell Crow Residential on the first phase of its planned Red Top Cab site redevelopment in Clarendon, with groundbreaking slated for early next year. The partners closed Sept. 29 on their acquisition from The Red Top Cab Co. founder Neal Nichols of several parcels along Irving and Hudson streets for a listed consideration amount of nearly $28.2 million, according to Arlington County’s Recorder of Deeds.” [Washington Business Journal]

RIP Lance Newman and Tim Wise — Two notable Arlingtonians have died: “Tim Wise, the longtime president of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association, died Friday in Fredericksburg after a 10-month battle with cancer and heart trouble… Lance Newman, one of four black students who in February 1959 began attending a previously all-white middle school in Arlington… had died after a short illness.” [InsideNova]

ACSO Launches Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign — “Breast cancer hits close to home for the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, which has launched a campaign to raise awareness about early detection and preventative care. Over the last six years, two employees at the county’s sheriff’s office have been diagnosed with breast cancer.” [WUSA 9]

Forum Planned to Discuss Accessory Dwellings — “A forum looking at current regulations related to accessory-dwelling units in Arlington will be held on Monday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at Central Library. Speakers will discuss how changes made to the county’s housing ordinances in 2017 impact the regulatory process, and will look at whether further changes are needed.” [InsideNova]

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Local Investment Firm CEO Arrested — Todd Hitt, the founder of Falls Church-based Kiddar Capital, was arrested by the FBI and charged with securities fraud last week. Hitt was developing a new company headquarters in Falls Church. He made headlines as a young housing developer in the 1990s for clashing with Arlington neighbors while building what residents dubbed “McMansions.” [Tysons Reporter]

More White Nationalist Posters Spotted — A reader says he saw more white nationalists posters around Clarendon over the weekend. The reader, who wished to remain anonymous, says he removed the posters after photographing them. [Twitter]

New 1100 Wilson Blvd Rooftop — “Monday Properties hosted a VIP event for real estate brokers Wednesday evening to showcase the 6,200-square-foot indoor-outdoor space atop the 31-story building, part of the two-building The Towers. It is being unveiled as landlords in Rosslyn and across Greater Washington seek to up their communal spaces to appeal to tenants who increasingly want more than just office space to attract and hang onto employees.” [Washington Business Journal]

Bamboo Removal This Week — “Arlington County contractors will be removing bamboo in Benjamin Banneker Park during the week of Oct. 8. Depending on weather conditions, treatment is expected to conclude by Friday, Oct. 12.” [Twitter]

Maryjane Arrested for Car Theft, Weed — “Police caught a woman named Maryjane in Ballston who they say stole a car in Fairfax County — and they also hit her with a marijuana charge.” [Patch]

Windfall for Ballston Company — “Arlington-based AvalonBay Communities Inc. expects to clear north of $450 million from the sale of a majority stake in five Manhattan apartment communities.” [Washington Business Journal]

2000th Morning Notes Post — This is Morning Notes post No. 2000. ARLnow.com launched in January 2010.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Pentagon Ricin Case Update — “Letters sent to the White House and the Pentagon did not contain a finished form of ricin, law enforcement officials said Wednesday, but did contain a primitive form or precursor… A man was arrested in Logan, Utah, on Wednesday in connection with [the] suspicious letters.” [NBC News, NBC News]

Candidates Call for Speedier Lee Highway Planning — “Indications are pointing to redevelopment of significant portions of the Lee Highway corridor through Arlington beginning to gather steam. But is the Arlington County government going to be left behind as the process grinds on? The two candidates for County Board say the local government needs to get moving on its efforts to lead a comprehensive effort in helping plan the corridor’s future.” [InsideNova]

GMU ‘No Scooter Zone’ Nixed — George Mason University “recognizes the popularity of the scooters, so it is softening the message, [spokesman Buzz] McClain said. ‘I think the ‘no scooter zone’ sign got the attention of a lot of people, a little exclamatory. So we’re gonna tone down the messaging and say, ‘park the scooters over by the bikes,’ and that’s it.'” [NBC Washington]

Bistro 1521 Reviewed — Washington Post food critic Tim Carman gave a mostly positive review to Bistro 1521, the Filipino restaurant on N. Glebe Road in Ballston. [Washington Post]

Tonight: Family Film Showing in Clarendon — “Join Market Common Clarendon each Thursday in October starting at 6:30 p.m. for a FREE family-friendly movie on The Loop! Pre-movie fun begins at 4:30 with face painting and balloon twisting and free popcorn and candy from 6-8 p.m.” [ARLnow Events]

Teachers Endorse Kanninen, de Ferranti — The Arlington Education Association PAC has endorsed Democratic candidate Matt de Ferranti for Arlington County Board and incumbent Barbara Kanninen for School Board. The PAC represents Arlington teachers. [Twitter, Twitter, Arlington Education Association]

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Kickoff — “Project PEACE is hosting Kate Ranta, a local domestic and gun violence survivor… for a community conversation about sex, violence and the Arlington community. The event takes place [on] Thursday, October 4 [at] 6:30 p.m., at the Walter Reed Community Center.” [Press Release]

Arlington’s Pros and Cons Compared to Tysons — “‘Arlington has old office spaces with bad floor plans,’ said [GMU Professor Stephen] Fuller. ‘That’s sending people out to Tysons, which has newer office space… [But] when Amazon was looking at Northern Virginia, they were looking at Crystal City, not Tysons. Tysons just doesn’t offer lifestyle that they’re looking for.'” [Tysons Reporter]

0 Comments

Trump Re-Election Headquarters May Be Based in Arlington

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is reportedly looking for office space in Arlington.

The Washington Post reports that Trump 2020 HQ could be located in Arlington, a departure from the 2016 campaign, which was headquartered at Trump Tower in New York City.

Per the Post:

The campaign has not yet signed a lease on office space, but campaign manager Brad Parscale and other officials are looking at several Arlington options, including in Rosslyn, which boasts easy Metro access.

The move is not expected until after the Nov. 6 midterm elections, at which point Trump’s reelection campaign will begin ramping up in earnest, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the plans.

With its deep bench of political talent and proximity to the White House and Congress, Arlington has been a go-to spot for presidential campaigns. Among the notable campaign headquarters in the county:

  • John McCain 2008 (in Crystal City)
  • Hillary Clinton 2008 (in Ballston)
  • George W. Bush 2004 (in Courthouse)
  • Ronald Reagan 1980 (near Columbia Pike)

Other candidates to set up shop in Arlington, according to a county press release from 2016, include Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Joe Lieberman and Mike Gravel.

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list