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Ballston Quarter has a 50,000-square-foot vacancy problem.

The redeveloped mall at 4238 Wilson Blvd is home to a rotating roster of restaurants, as well as clothing stores, pet facilities, eye doctors, gaming experiences and other retail businesses, as well as an attached office building and the MedStar Capitals Iceplex.

But filling the retail roster has not been smooth sailing, writes land use attorney Kedrick Whitmore in a letter to the county on behalf of Brookfield Properties, which owns the mall.

Reading the changing economic winds, Brookfield Properties is looking to tack.

During the Arlington County Board meeting this weekend, the Board is slated to review the property owner’s request to lease about 28,000 square feet of second-floor retail space to a medical tenant. This tenant — which was not named — would provide primary care, ear, nose, and throat and eyes and vision specialists, speech therapy and other medical care, according to a staff report.

“Approving this application would help resolve the Project’s significant, systemic leasing challenges and creatively reposition the Mall,” Whitmore writes in the letter, filed last month. “The Applicant envisions a holistic and mutually beneficial relationship between potential medical offices and the local retail and entertainment market.”

New medical offices benefit those living and working in the heart of Ballston, and would result in more patients patronizing local businesses, Whitmore said.

Although current zoning permits office conversions by-right, the mall is governed by a retail plan that requires Brookfield to file a site plan amendment to make the change.

The mall had struggled for years, due to its large size and age, before its redevelopment was approved, with the goal of improving its performance against newer counterparts in the region. The work wrapped up at the end of 2018.

Around the same time, a county retail plan from 2015 recommended pulling storefronts to the street, creating outdoor activity and attractions, and making interior renovations to encourage activity there. The plan also called for “flexibility and creativity” to encourage these changes.

Per the county report, county staff looked over the retail plan and “understand[s] the challenges in leasing second floor internal spaces in a shifting retail market and that these spaces require greater flexibility in terms of permitted uses.”

This request is not out of the blue, either. The report adds that “even at project inception, office tenancy was viewed as a likely leasing option.”

Not everyone agrees with this assessment. The Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association said it does not believe the change aligns with the retail plan, but should it pass anyway, it suggested the medical provider “target underserved, lower income communities which would benefit most from the easy access to public transportation.”

The mall recently approved another non-retail tenant, which agreed to lease a large space inside the mall: Grace Community Church. Still, tenants are cycling in and out, as there are fewer office workers from the nearby buildings visiting due to the rise of remote work, not to mention the convenience of online shopping.

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An Amazon delivery worker delivers packages in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Feeling the pressure to respond to its soaring office vacancy rate, Arlington County is looking to fill empty buildings quickly.

One option for adding tenants and knocking down the 20.8% vacancy rate would be to permit companies to set up small warehouses, or micro-fulfillment centers, inside of office buildings that are struggling to attract new tenants — especially as remote work appears here to stay.

The proposed solution is part of a new initiative to modernize and add flexibility to the county’s zoning approval process. In addition to micro-fulfillment centers, this plan suggests a few other non-traditional uses for office buildings, from breweries to urban farms. It also provides an expedited public process with shallower community engagement so that the Arlington County Board can sign off more quickly.

“The goal of this different approach for new or amended uses is to have them ready for board consideration more quickly than other typical zoning studies,” said Jill Hunger from the Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD). “This is the first application of the county manager’s strategy to ensure commercial market resiliency.”

After a discussion that called out county staff for not engaging enough with the community, all but one member of the Planning Commission voted to send the amendment to the Arlington County Board for approval on Monday. Commissioner Stephen Hughes abstained.

The proposed zoning change limits each micro-fulfillment center to 10,000 square feet, reflecting industry best practices and staff discussions with center operators, Hunger said. If the center is in a ground-floor space and opens onto an active street, it must provide a walk-in customer sales area.

Staff recommend that no fewer than 10% of deliveries should be made by a delivery worker on foot or on a bicycle.

“It’s anticipated that quite truthfully after the initial startup, and if more than one micro-fulfillment center operates in Arlington, this modal split may actually increase,” Hunger said.

While Planning Commission members ultimately voted in favor of permitting micro-fulfillment centers, a number criticized the plan for not talking to the civic associations that could be impacted.

According to a draft county document, the county placed public notice ads with the Washington Times for the Planning Commission and County Board meetings, updated its webpages for zoning studies and its response to office vacancies, and briefed the Planning Commission and the Economic Development Commission.

“We feel we have done the outreach that’s consistent with many zoning text amendments,” Hunger said.

But without asking residents for their input, Commissioner James Schroll said he has a hard time believing the County Board can approve the change without additional public hearings. The Board is expected to take up the matter at its Saturday, Oct. 15 meeting.

“How we do what we do matters,” he said. “I get that you want to move quickly and I support that and I also want staff to be engaging with broad stakeholders as you do that.”

He said he’ll be reticent to support future amendments to consider permitting breweries and urban farms in office spaces, for instance, if there isn’t more stakeholder outreach.

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Person working on laptop (Photo by Burst on Unsplash)

Nearly half of remote and hybrid government workers say their team performance has improved during the course of the pandemic.

That’s according to new research from Crystal City-based consulting firm Eagle Hill Consulting.

From a press release:

 Forty-six percent of government employees who telework – both fully remote and hybrid employees – say their team’s performance improved during the past two years. Only 35 percent of in-person government workers say their team’s performance has improved during the period, according to new research from Eagle Hill Consulting.

And as the trend for remote work continues among both federal and state and local governments, more than half of the government workforce reports teleworking, either in a fully remote (26 percent) or hybrid environment (24 percent). A substantially higher number of younger workers in government report working fully remotely (34 percent) as compared to mid-career (24 percent) and older workers (11 percent). Those working in-person are far more likely to be older workers (70 percent).

Findings like this may lend further credence to the idea that hybrid and fully-remote work environments are not just a pandemic blip and are here to say, which will present significant challenges for both office building owners and local governments, including here in Arlington.

Today, we wanted to pose the performance question to readers, as well.

Are you working remotely, either on a full-time or hybrid basis? And, if so, do you think remote work has improved or hurt your team’s overall productivity?

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Morning Notes

Sunset along Columbia Pike at the Arlington National Cemetery expansion site (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington Resident Moving to San Diego — Baseball superstar Juan Soto, who recently moved to Arlington, has been traded by the Nats to the San Diego Padres. He’ll presumably take with him some photos and art that were framed at a Clarendon frame store. [MLB]

Fairfax Barricade EndsUpdated at 9:25 a.m. — A man reportedly barricaded in a condo with a rifle near Lake Barcroft has been taken into custody. The barricade situation prompted a Fairfax County police helicopter to circle over parts of Arlington for hours. [FFXnow, Twitter]

County Getting Part of Opioid Settlement — “It’s not a princely sum, but cash is cash and the Arlington County government is set to receive its share of a new payment based on a legal settlement with a number of opioid distributors… Of the first settlement payout, about $9.94 million will go to the state government’s Opioid Abatement Authority and about $4.07 million will be distributed to localities. Arlington is entitled to 1.378 percent of that latter figure, which works out to $56,034.” [Sun Gazette]

Ballston Quarter Gets Small Tax Break — “Owners of the Ballston Quarter retail-restaurant-and-entertainment complex came away from a recent Board of Equalization hearing with a very partial victory, as that body reduced the property’s assessed valuation but not nearly as much as its owners had sought. On a unanimous vote, Board of Equalization members on July 13 voted to reduce the assessment rate – which is used to calculate the property’s annual tax bill – from $91.1 million as determined by staff to $86.7 million.” [Sun Gazette]

Va. Sens. Celebrate Vets Bill — “Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine celebrated Senate passage of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 following obstruction efforts by Senate Republicans last week. This legislation will expand health care and benefits for toxic-exposed veterans under the Department of Veterans Affairs.” [Sen. Mark Warner]

YHS Grads Makes Youth National Team — “Yorktown High School graduate Lauren Flynn was named to the U.S. Under-20 Women’s Youth National Team soccer roster for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica from Aug. 10-28.” [Sun Gazette]

Feedback Sought for Eco Plan — “Arlington County would like your input on the draft Forestry and Natural Resources Plan. To assure future generations of Arlingtonians enjoy the benefits of nature, the County must identify what needs are urgent, what are aspirational, and how each can be addressed through both long-term initiatives, incremental change and immediate action.” [Arlington County]

Crash in D.C. Shut Down Chain Bridge — From WTOP’s Dave Dildine: “Chain Bridge closed both ways along with Canal Road and Clara Barton Parkway at the bridge. A crash occurred when traffic signals were malfunctioning. Witnesses say an officer was struck under the malfunctioning signals. These lights fall out of phase frequently.” [Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Another hot and humid day. High of 90 and low of 71. Sunrise at 6:13 am and sunset at 8:19 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A rainbow in the sky without the rain (photo courtesy Leslie Koch)

Saturday Afternoon’s Painted Sky — From the Capital Weather Gang: “A couple more nice examples of this circumhorizon arc being see all over the DMV. We wrote about these a few years ago… not uncommon high in the sky around midday during summer.” [Twitter]

Local Woman Harassed in Metro Station — “A 21-year-old woman is sharing the frightening experience she had when a stranger yelled at and harassed her for 10-straight minutes at a Metro station this week in Washington, D.C. Helen Molteni, of Arlington, Virginia, said she was on the platform at the Foggy Bottom station when a man came up to her and started harassing her.” [NBC 4]

Va. Attorney General Visits — “Virginia’s attorney general met with local nonprofit groups in Arlington, Virginia, on Friday for a roundtable listening session about addressing poverty and community needs… Miyares was joined by representatives from the Office of the Attorney General and the Arlington County police in sitting down with members of various faith organizations and nonprofit programs, including Arlington Bridge Builders, a local community coalition with the mission of helping people in need.” [WTOP]

APS Students Top National Competition — “Lina Barclay and Ellie Nix, two Arlington Tech graduates from the Arlington Career Center, won the first-place gold medal in the Television (Video) Production contest at the annual National Leadership and Skills Conference and SkillsUSA Championships in Atlanta. Barclay and Nix represented Virginia in this contest and competed against 37 other teams across the United States.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Are These Pike Apartments Historic? — “Members of the Arlington Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) have opted against moving forward, for now, on a proposal to confer historic-district status on a 70-year-old apartment compound in the Arlington Mill neighborhood. But the buildings may end up preserved, nonetheless.” [Sun Gazette]

Rents Keep Rising Rapidly — “The median rental price for an Arlington apartment grew 2.8 percent from June to July, according to new data, ranking the county third nationally among the 100 largest urban areas in terms of price growth. With the increase, Arlington’s median rent now stands at $2,121 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,538 for two bedrooms.” [Sun Gazette]

Crash at Infamous I-395 Exit — From Dave Statter: “Another considerate driver signals before making a left turn across 4 lanes of I-395S. But their #8CDash came to an abrupt halt when the driver in the last lane somehow didn’t see that signal — or just didn’t believe what they were seeing.” [Twitter]

Office to Apartment Conversions Ramp Up — “‘There really hasn’t been a time like right now, where office is on the decline to the point that [an empty building] is basically the same value as just the land,’ says Lindsay Stroud, a structured-finance broker with the commercial real-estate firm Savills. One possible solution: more office-to-residential conversions like Park & Ford.” [Washingtonian]

It’s August 1 — Partly cloudy throughout the day, with spotty rain possible later. High of 86 and low of 72. Sunrise at 6:11 am and sunset at 8:21 pm. [Weather.gov]

Photo courtesy Leslie Koch

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Amazon HQ2 construction (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The pandemic and work from home trends are causing pain for owners of office buildings in Arlington and across the region.

Arlington’s office vacancy rate reached 20.8% this month, according to data from CoStar, as relayed by Arlington Economic Development. That’s up from 16.6% at the beginning of 2020, as the pandemic first took hold, and 18.7% at the beginning of 2021.

Arlington two main office submarkets, meanwhile, are seeing even higher vacancy rates. The Rosslyn-Ballston corridor’s office vacancy rate rose to 23.3% and that of National Landing (Crystal City and Pentagon City) rose to 24.4% as of the second quarter of 2022, according to new data from commercial real estate firm Colliers.

“The trend of rising vacancy and falling demand in the Northern Virginia market continued during the second quarter,” Colliers said in a report. “Vacancy rates reached 19.0 percent and over a million square feet of space has been returned so far in 2022.”

Northern Virginia office rental rates compared to vacancy rates (courtesy Colliers)

That’s despite some positive developments, like the renewal of Accenture’s 120,687 square foot lease at 800 N. Glebe Road in Ballston, the company said. Likewise, recent news of Boeing and Raytheon moving their corporate headquarters to Arlington are likely to mostly be moral victories for the county, as neither company is believed to be leasing any significant amount of additional office space.

Colliers noted that the highest-end office space (“Class A”) had the highest total area of additional vacancy. It also noted that a significant amount of office space is currently under construction in Arlington — though much of that can be attributed to Amazon’s forthcoming HQ2 in Pentagon City.

Demand in Northern Virginia fell for the third consecutive quarter returning 522,850 square feet of space to the market. In the second quarter, Class A product was the largest contributor to the negative demand, with 385,327 square feet of negative net absorption. The combined Class B and C product also registered negative demand, returning 137,523 square feet to the market. Subsequently, overall absorption figures for Northern Virginia in the first half of the year reached negative one million square feet.

[…] At the end of the quarter, just under four million square feet of construction was underway with half of that future inventory in Arlington County. This is down from the recent peak of over five million at the end of 2021.

On its face, high office vacancy rates might not seem like a problem for those living in Arlington, but in reality it could raise costs for residents. That’s because nearly half of Arlington’s local tax base comes from commercial property and more vacancy means less tax revenue for the county, which in turn puts pressure on residential property owners to make up the difference — or accept lower levels of local government services.

Arlington Economic Development, which helps to promote the county to potential office tenants, tells ARLnow that it is working to reverse the current trends.

“The commercial office market is an important component of the Arlington County tax base, which leads Arlington Economic Development to closely monitor vacancy trends and proactively direct resources to attracting and retaining businesses in Arlington,” the department said in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered the way businesses operate, particularly those in an office environment, and the elevated office vacancy rate across Northern Virginia is an indicator of this change.”

More from AED:

AED is committed to further reducing the office vacancy rate through a multi-faceted approach, including the following three areas:

  • Targeted business attraction and retention efforts within our key industries to bring new operations to Arlington and support existing operations expand within the County
  • Cultivating and catalyzing the local entrepreneurial ecosystem to further produce homegrown startups that mature into larger companies using more space.
  • Enhanced regulatory flexibility that will expand the number of allowable uses within commercial buildings and quickly adapt to economic and market shifts.
  • AED is pursuing this area In collaboration with the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development and other County stakeholders.

AED is confident that communities like Arlington with a skilled workforce, flexible and proactive policies, and a high quality of life will be well-positioned to capture growth in the coming years.

Colliers, meanwhile, says it’s difficult to predict what will happen with office space down the road, though for many companies the days of bringing every employee into the office five days a week may be a relic of pre-pandemic times.

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Morning Notes

Raytheon, Boeing Mostly Moving Execs — “The real answer is that these are relatively easy shifts for both new companies — each of which already had a sizable presence here for years. They are both racing to be closer to their top customer, the federal government, in what appears to be a pretty simple change for each. Based on the little that the companies have shared publicly thus far, it’s essentially relocating a few key executives and support staff from one existing office to another.” [Washington Business Journal]

Wardian Completes Coast-to-Coast Run — “Around sunrise on Friday, July 1, 2022, ultrarunner Mike Wardian completed his run across America… [he] was greeted by the soft waves of the Atlantic Ocean and a beautiful sunrise at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.” [iRunFar, Instagram, Washington Post]

Arlington SUV Used in Crime Spree — “An Arlington County man whose vehicle was stolen after thieves went inside his home to take the keys was surprised to find out his car was connected to a pursuit where three teens were charged with the attempted murder of an officer. The man, who asked to remain anonymous, said his BMW was stolen out of his driveway in the overnight hours of June 17 after thieves went into his home and took the keys.” [WUSA 9]

Fawn Finds Way Out of Stairwell — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “Earlier today Officer Barrett responded to a call for a fawn stuck at the bottom of a stairwell. It turns out the fawn wasn’t really stuck, but just needed a little encouragement!” [Twitter]

Colonial Place Listed for Sale — “A trio of Arlington office buildings dubbed Colonial Place at Courthouse Metro, which haven’t changed hands in going on three decades, hit the market this week. Colonial Place, located at 2101, 2107 and 2111 Wilson Blvd., weighs in at more than 750,000 square feet, immediately across the street from the Courthouse Metro station… the four parcels that comprise the total property, sitting on 7.1 acres, assess altogether at more than $315 million, per public records.” [Washington Business Journal]

Ed. Dept. Rules Against APS — From Arlington Parents for Education: “US ED’s Office of Civil Rights ruled against APS, finding that online platforms and paper packets used during remote instruction posed barriers to individuals with disabilities, particularly those with vision disabilities or who use assistive technology.” [Twitter]

New School Board Leadership — “The Arlington School Board held its annual organizational meeting for the 2022-23 school year and elected Reid Goldstein as Chair and Cristina Diaz-Torres as Vice-Chair. The terms for the new Chair and Vice-Chair begin immediately and will continue until June 30, 2023.” [Arlington Public Schools]

It’s Tuesday — Rain and possible storms in the afternoon and evening. High of 86 and low of 71. Sunrise at 5:50 am and sunset at 8:38 pm. [Weather.gov]

Flickr pool photos by Dennis Dimick, Tom Mockler and Emma K. Alexandra

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Raytheon building in Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) Hot on the heels of Boeing moving its corporate headquarters to Arlington, another Fortune 100 company is about to call the county home.

Raytheon Technologies, which has an existing office at 1100 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, is planning to move its global headquarters to the neighborhood, the company and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced this morning. It is currently based outside of Boston, where the company was founded a century ago.

Raytheon, a major defense contractor and aerospace company, is slightly larger than Boeing in terms of revenue and global workforce — $64.4 billion and 174,000 employees, respectively, in 2021. It currently has 116,000 square feet of space in one of the “twin towers” buildings in Rosslyn, after renewing its lease there in November 2020.

Youngkin hailed the move as proof that “the Commonwealth is the best destination for the aerospace and defense community.”

Four of the top five U.S. aerospace and defense companies will now be based in Northern Virginia: Boeing and Raytheon in Arlington, plus Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics in Fairfax County. (The fifth, Lockheed Martin, is based in Bethesda but has offices in Arlington.)

Arlington Democrats also touted the move this morning, saying that “the County attracts business by smart public investment and being welcoming to everyone.”

Raytheon, meanwhile, said its move “increases agility in supporting U.S. government and commercial aerospace customers.”

“Defense executives have long cited access to decision makers as a reason to be in the Washington region,” industry publication Defense One noted this morning.

A Raytheon spokesperson told the Boston Globe that that there would be “no reduction in the defense company’s Massachusetts workforce as a result of the move” and that “there would not be a net increase in employment in Arlington as a result.”

The spokesperson also noted that the “corporate address change” will take place between July and September and would only result in a “‘slight expansion’ of Raytheon’s existing leased space in Virginia,” per the Globe.

Other notable corporate headquarters in Arlington include the U.S. operations of Nestle, in Rosslyn; Amazon’s HQ2, under construction in Pentagon City; as well as AES Corporation and E-Trade, both in Ballston.

The full press release from Raytheon is below.

Raytheon Technologies (NYSE: RTX) announced today that it will establish its global headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. The location increases agility in supporting U.S. government and commercial aerospace customers and serves to reinforce partnerships that will progress innovative technologies to advance the industry. Washington, D.C. serves as a convenient travel hub for the company’s global customers and employees.

The company will maintain its strong U.S. presence which includes 600 facilities across 44 states and territories. Each of the company’s four business units currently have operations in Virginia. The new global headquarters office will be in Arlington’s Rosslyn neighborhood alongside the Raytheon Intelligence and Space business.

Raytheon Technologies has not accepted or sought any financial incentives from any state or municipality to support the establishment of the global headquarters office in Virginia.

About Raytheon Technologies
Raytheon Technologies Corporation is an aerospace and defense company that provides advanced systems and services for commercial, military and government customers worldwide. With four industry-leading businesses ― Collins Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon Intelligence & Space and Raytheon Missiles & Defense ― the company delivers solutions that push the boundaries in avionics, cybersecurity, directed energy, electric propulsion, hypersonics, and quantum physics. The company was formed in 2020 through the combination of Raytheon Company and the United Technologies Corporation aerospace businesses.

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Morning Notes

A pedestrian crosses Wilson Blvd. near a protected bike lane with artificial sunflowers (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fish Kill in Four Mile Run Last Week — “Anyone visiting lower Four Mile Run in the last several days should have noticed many dead fish, large and small, along the streambank and floating out in the water, the result of a pollution incident that occurred some time Thursday, May 12.” [Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation]

Rumor: Board Members May Not Run Again — “My spies in the Arlington Democratic infrastructure say odds favor neither County Board member up for election in 2023 actually running for a third term. And if Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey do skedaddle (and just as they’d start earning some bigger bucks …), the field would seem to be wide open.” [Sun Gazette]

More Big Changes at DCA — “Reagan National Airport is about to go through a massive rebranding. Because of recent expansions, the airport will be split into Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Terminal 1 will be the original airport building housing the A gates. Terminal 2 will house the newly named B, C, D and E gates. More than 1,000 signs in and around the airport will be changed starting June 4.” [NBC 4]

Arlington Apartment Buildings Bought — “Cortland, one of the largest apartment owners in the U.S., is making a huge entrance to Greater Washington, acquiring four Arlington multifamily properties in an expected $1B investment. The Atlanta-based investment firm acquired a newly developed 23-story, 331-unit apartment building in Rosslyn and a 534-unit building in Pentagon City, Cortland announced Wednesday.” [Bisnow, Washington Business Journal]

County Honors Trees, Volunteers — “Mother Nature is smiling! Arlington County recognized five individuals who volunteer at Bon Air Park as recipients of the 2021 Bill Thomas Park Volunteer Award and highlighted its 2022 Notable Trees — both which honor the people and natural resources that preserve Arlington’s green spaces — during the Arlington County Board’s recessed meeting on May 17.” [Arlington County]

Wawa Coming to Falls Church — “Philadelphia-area convenience store chain Wawa is under contract to ground-lease the shuttered Stratford Motor Lodge site in the city of Falls Church, which it will replace with a roughly 6,000-square-foot store — but no gas pumps… The motor lodge closed last fall, the Falls Church News Press reported.” [Washington Business Journal]

Four Mile Run Dredging Approaching — “Alexandria and Arlington will start clearing debris and dredging Four Mile Run in September, and the project will close sections of [an Alexandria] park from the public for four to six months. The City and County maintain a shared flood-control channel in the lower portion of the nine-mile-long stream, and have partnered to dredge Four Mile Run since 1974.” [ALXnow]

It’s Thursday — Rain early in the morning, then clearing later in the day. High of 82 and low of 61. Sunrise at 5:54 am and sunset at 8:19 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Pastel colors in the skies over the National Mall during peak bloom weekend, as seen from Arlington (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Traffic Restricted on Deteriorating Bridge — “As a result of a bridge inspection today, Friday, March 25, engineers closed the existing southbound lane of the West Glebe Bridge between Arlington and Alexandria due to further degradation of structural beams.  The northbound lane of the bridge over South Four Mile Run will remain open, making the bridge one-way to traffic and requiring a detour for southbound automobiles. The bridge’s maximum load rating of 5 tons will remain in place with a critical need for heavier vehicles – primarily buses and dump trucks — to comply for public safety.” [Arlington County]

Graupel Covers Fields, Prompts Tweets — An ice pellet downpour covered the ground in parts of Arlington on Saturday afternoon: “Well that was wild… heavy downpour rain and graupel swept through near Clarendon.” [Twitter, Twitter]

The Story Behind the Pentagon Chicken — “The Pentagon Building Operations Command Center initially considered using on-staff pest control to capture the chicken. But the pest control staff wasn’t scheduled to come on duty for another hour. The Building Operations Command Center, or BOCC, then came up with the idea to contact the emergency number at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.” [Patch]

Bullying Incident at Middle School — “After a bullying incident involving her 6th grade son with autism, an Arlington mother asked the school board Thursday night to do more to create an environment where such incidents don’t happen to any child. On Friday both mother Kathleen Clark and her son Colton described what happened to 7 News, and Kathleen talked about changes she hopes Arlington Public Schools makes to help children better know how to relate to others who are different from them in some way.” [WJLA]

Seventh Grade Hoops Team Goes Undefeated — “An Arlington Travel Basketball girls teams capped an undefeated 16-0 season in the Fairfax County Youth Basketball League with victories in postseason tournament-championship games. The seventh-grade girls squad, coached by John Lomas, won the Division I championship game, 51-42, over Lee-Mount Vernon.” [Sun Gazette]

Lease Above Courthouse Metro Extended — “Chickasaw Nation Industries, Inc. (CNI) extends federal services division office lease in Arlington, VA. Represented by Edward Saa and Timothy Jacobs, CNI Federal experienced explosive growth in the 2020-2021 government fiscal year in awarded contracts necessitating a 10,000-SF office presence to service customers.” [Press Release]

More Afternoon ART Buses — “More of a good thing: Midday frequency gets a boost for ART 52 and 75 bus weekday routes starting Monday.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Stabbing in Seven Corners — “Fairfax County police officers arrested and charged a 21-year-old Falls Church man after two men were stabbed just before 2 p.m. yesterday (Thursday). Police were called to Seven Corners at Arlington Boulevard and Patrick Henry Drive for an assault and determined a man was involved in two separate assaults that escalated when he stabbed both men, police said.” [FFXnow]

It’s Monday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 37 and low of 28. Sunrise at 7:00 am and sunset at 7:29 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

As a commercial real estate broker, Greg Carpentier always felt he was missing or struggling to find two important pieces of information when negotiating office deals.

Floor plans and square footage.

“It was a treasure hunt,” he said.

If that information did exist, Carpentier says it was disorganized and did not reflect the upgrades landlords would make to suites and amenity spaces. But those numbers had to be accurate since the constantly fluctuating amount of usable space determines the price to buy or lease office space.

So he set out to do something about it. Carpentier talked to colleagues and clients — who shared similar frustrations — and researched the competition. Finding few competitors, he hired an overseas software developer to build a prototype solution: a platform for real estate brokers, architects and landlords to store, access and share floorplans and other office layout information.

That’s how floorwire, based out of Carpentier’s apartment near Rosslyn, was born. He incorporated the company in 2019, had domestic software developers build a new version of the software, and began taking on clients in 2020. He assembled a small team of employees in August.

Brokers, architects and landlords are not the only people who benefit from a 21st-century alternative to scrolls and scrolls of paper floorplans. The product saves tenants time and money and gives them peace of mind, says Abby Caldwell, a former client of Carpentier’s who is now the Director of Operations for floorwire, the first letter of which is deliberately displayed as lower case.

“I was in a few situations when I was a tenant where I was under pressure to move quickly and acquire additional space on a tight timeline,” she said. “The current leasing timeline is longer than you might think, and we save you time by creating a more efficient process. Also, the tenants sleep easier at night knowing the data is accurate.”

A promotional graphic from floorwire (courtesy photo)

Carpentier’s company began taking on clients during the pandemic, which he says was the catalyst the commercial real estate market needed to abandon its outdated, low-tech approach to calculating and keeping tabs on square footage.

“What Covid did, as a whole, is make everyone realize how far behind commercial real estate is with regard to technology,” he said. “It exposed the problems and sped up the need for technology.”

For example, he said, Covid pushed people in commercial real estate to invest in sensors that are more accurate than architects at measuring office layouts, which are being reconfigured on a massive scale to entice workers back into the office.

“It’s a great opportunity to change the model,” he said.

This emerging industry sector is dubbed “proptech,” or property tech. Carpentier says venture capital funding is flowing into the sector, which he predicts will grow rapidly in the next five years.

“There’s so much opportunity for such a fundamental industry,” he said. “There’s a lot of money in commercial real estate. It’s a huge market: second to the stock market.”

As proptech grows, so too does floorwire. In August 2021, the company was able to hire full-time employees. In 2022, its leaders aim to take on new clients and keep working with existing ones.

“I’m really excited to take groundwork we laid in 2021 and run with it this year,” Caldwell said.

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