Arlington, VA

A small commercial building at the corner of Lee Highway and N. George Mason Drive has a pair of new tenants.

The building was briefly vacant, its future in question, after previous tenants TitleMax and Sam Torrey Shoe Service moved out last year. But the property owner, Virginia Hospital Center, has filled both spaces.

The old TitleMax space is being taken by Page Global Cyber Solutions, which bills itself as “an award winning industry provider of office solutions, strategic communications and information technology.” A sign on the building says the space will be a “neighborhood business center,” offering everything from private offices to nap rooms to drone video services.

The business center will also offer private mailboxes, office supplies and secure video conferencing rooms, according to the sign.

The former shoe shop, meanwhile, is being occupied by a roofing company called Augustine Roofing, according to VHC spokeswoman Maryanne Boster.

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(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) Coworking giant WeWork is planning to shut down its Crystal City location next month, according to an email sent to members this morning.

“I am reaching out to regretfully inform you that the WeWork Crystal City location will be closing,” said the email, which was shared with ARLnow by a member. “This location has stood strong for 5 years, and leaves a historic mark on the legacy of WeWork.”

“We know the last year has been full of surprises and challenges for every person all over the world,” the email continues. “In order to address some of these challenges, it was imperative that we carefully evaluate and right-size our portfolio.”

Amid the pandemic, WeWork has been preparing to take “drastic action” as it pursues the goal of profitability at the end of this year. The company currently has 759 open and coming locations in 119 cities worldwide, according to its website. That’s down from 828 locations at one point last year.

Fueled by massive private investment, WeWork grew at a torrid pace during the second half of the last decade, but as growth stalled its CEO and cofounder was ousted from the company and its planned IPO was scrapped.

The JBG Smith-owned building that houses WeWork in Crystal City — 2221 S. Clark Street — also contains one of the only two WeLive locations ever opened. An experiment in communal living, WeLive was reported to be on the chopping block last year.

It was not immediately clear whether WeWork plans to close the residential space along with the coworking space — the former occupies most floors of the aging office building, while WeWork is housed in the top two floors. JBG, meanwhile, has been on a redevelopment spree in Crystal City following the arrival of Amazon’s HQ2.

After the initial publication of this article, a WeWork spokeswoman confirmed to ARLnow that WeWork would be closing, but said nothing final has decided about the future of WeLive. WeWork locations in Rosslyn and Ballston are remaining open, she said.

“In streamlining our portfolio towards profitable growth, we have decided to move on from 2221 Clark St. in Arlington,” the spokeswoman said. “With several excellent locations in the immediate area, including 901 N. Glebe and 1201 Wilson, we look forward to providing our members with first-class, flexible space solutions.”

The move-out date for the Crystal City WeWork is Feb. 26, she added.

WeWork is also closing three locations in D.C., according to the Washington Business Journal.

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The value of homes in Arlington County has soared during the pandemic.

Residential property values in Arlington are up 5.6%, while commercial property values slumped 1.4% from last year, according to newly-released stats. Arlington County is starting the process of mailing the new assessments out to homeowners and commercial property owners.

“Arlington’s overall property tax base grew modestly from last year due to continued residential growth despite a slowdown in some commercial sectors due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the county is saying in a letter to property owners. “Property values increased 2.2% overall in Calendar Year (CY) 2021 compared to 4.6% growth in CY 2020. New construction contributed to 1% of the 2.2 % overall property assessment growth.”

The sharp rise in residential property assessments shows “the continued attractiveness of our Arlington community, even as our businesses and residents face the burdens and challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. The average value of existing residential properties is now $724,400, up from $658,600 two years ago.

The average value of hotels, meanwhile, plummeted amid the pandemic, while apartment and office buildings increased in value — with the latter propped up by the arrival of Amazon.

“Overall commercial property assessments decreased by 1.4% over the previous year, mainly driven by a double-digit decrease in the hotel sector where operations have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the county said. “Apartment and general commercial (malls, retail stores, gas stations, commercial condos, etc.) property values saw small decreases offset by new construction. After strong growth in CY 2020, apartment property assessments increased by 0.8% overall in CY 2021. General commercial property assessments increased by 0.1% overall.”

“While many office property assessments decreased due to increases in vacancy rates and changing demand for office space, total office property values increased by 0.8% over last year,” the county added. “The overall office market tax base increased, in part, due to the increased presence of Amazon and the related development activity.”

Last year, assessments rose 4.6% on average — 4.9% for commercial properties and 4.3% for residential properties. The big rise in 2021 residential assessments will likely result in another effective tax hike for homeowners.

Last year, Arlington’s property tax rate — $1.026 per $100 in assessed value — was held steady despite the higher property values. This year, budget pressures brought on by the pandemic have prompted the county to warn of the likelihood of both budget cuts and tax rate hikes.

The height of Arlington’s budget season is set to kick off on Feb. 20, with the release of the County Manager’s proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget. The final budget is expected to be adopted on April 17. The county’s new fiscal year begins July 1.

“The County continues to feel the economic impacts on local revenues, including the slowdown in sales, meals and hotel taxes, as well as cost increases and additional costs related to the pandemic,” the county said in a press release today. “The projected budget shortfall remains at more than $40 million, excluding the needs of the Arlington Public Schools (APS).”

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(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) Goodbye Ruby Tuesday, Microsoft is going to hang its name on 1300 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.

The tech giant announced today that it has signed a lease to establish a new sales hub at the Arlington office building, which formerly housed the chain restaurant on the ground floor. Last month the County Board voted to allow the former Ruby Tuesday space to be used for office purposes, in anticipation of “a sizeable office tenant.”

In a LinkedIn post, Microsoft said its new hub at 1300 Wilson Blvd, also known as Commonwealth Tower, would “become the new home of our regional Global Sales and Marketing Organization teams, and the Microsoft Sales Headquarters Office for the [D.C.] area”

The office is expected to open in mid-2022, after a construction project set to kick off this summer. The office brings Microsoft closer to a major customer: the Pentagon, which awarded the company a $10 billion cloud computing contract in 2019.

Microsoft will occupy more than 180,000 square feet of space in the 15-story, 360,000 square foot building, a source told the Washington Business Journal after the announcement.

It’s the latest D.C. area move for the Redmond, Washington-based company. In May, Microsoft announced that it would be creating 1,500 jobs at a new research and development hub at Reston Town Center.

The full LinkedIn post is below.

With Microsoft’s growing presence in the Washington, D.C. area, today we signed a new lease at 1300 Wilson Blvd in Arlington, VA. This will become the new home of our regional Global Sales and Marketing Organization teams, and the Microsoft Sales Headquarters Office for the DMV (Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) area. My U.S. Regulated Industries team, including our Microsoft Federal organization, will operate out of this new facility.

These new offices will feature a Microsoft Technology Center, state-of-the-art customer facilities, and innovative employee workspaces to support collaboration and innovation. It is built to help us engage with customers more personally, using our latest technologies to help them reimagine the digital transformation efforts of their organizations and agencies.

From the facility to the location itself, everything about this project was planned with our customers in mind, creating a proximity that enables us to support their evolving needs. Additionally, this move unites our teams in the mid-Atlantic region, fostering a communal atmosphere that can inspire us to do our absolute best work.

While we are all navigating the remote work environment, securing this space is an exciting step that maps to current needs around our growing presence, and ensures that when we transition back to the workplace, we can do so as seamlessly as possible. Construction on the site will begin this summer and we look forward to opening it to employees in mid-2022.

I am excited about the potential that this new DMV Sales Headquarters enables for our growth in the region, our ability to create more meaningful customer engagements, and the opportunity to provide modernized workplaces for our teams.

Photo via Microsoft

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What was once a watering hole and lunch spot for Rosslyn office workers may itself become an office.

The Arlington County Board last weekend approved a Site Plan Amendment for Commonwealth Tower, at 1300 Wilson Blvd, that will allow the building’s street-level restaurant space to instead be used as an office or a “retail-equivalent use,” like a doctor’s office.

The space — which includes a somewhat inconspicuous outdoor plaza — was last used by Ruby Tuesday, which closed two years ago.

“Since the Ruby Tuesday restaurant vacated the space in December 2018, the applicant has unsuccessfully marketed the space for restaurant or retail use,” a county staff report notes. “In addition to the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on retail viability, the subject space’s elevated frontage above street level and the plaza retaining wall pose challenges related to visibility and accessibility from the street.”

The building’s owner has a prospective office tenant that may be interested in the space, the report says.

“The applicant is proposing flexible use of the subject space and upgrades to the plaza and building entrance to increase attractiveness and viability for future tenants and better engage the street,” county staff wrote. “Currently, the applicant is in negotiations with a sizeable office tenant that would occupy space in Commonwealth Tower, including use of the subject space and plaza.”

The amendment, which was approved unanimously as part of the Board, consent agenda, will also allow the building’s entrance and plaza to be renovated, while making it easier to put up a rooftop sign.

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After a myriad of controversies, Purple Lounge is set to vacate the property at 3111 Columbia Pike.

Property owner Jorge Escobar confirmed that the lease for the business runs out in January, at which point the Purple Lounge will leave the premises. A “for lease” sign currently hangs from the second story of the building.

Purple Lounge has repeatedly been in hot water with state alcohol regulators over the last few months. The business lost its liquor license on Oct. 9 after violating a settlement it reached with Virginia ABC on Sept. 16 to resume alcohol sales with a number of restrictions.

The October suspension came after Arlington County police officers recovered a gun and charged two people with narcotics offenses. Arlington County police notified Virginia ABC, which determined that Purple Lounge was not complying with two restrictions set by the settlement:

  • Restriction #4: The licensee agrees to have at least four (4) clearly identified Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) certified security personnel on duty every day of operation between the hours of 9 p.m. and closing with at least one (1) guard assigned to patrol and monitor the parking lot, who will begin monitoring the parking lot no later than 8:30 p.m. and will remain on duty after closing until the parking lot has been cleared or until at least thirty (30) minutes after closing (whichever is longer).
  • Restriction #5: The licensee will not permit any loitering, loud music or drinking in the parking lot at any time.

The settlement came after the business had its liquor license suspended earlier in September after multiple shootings at the location. The September suspension immediately followed a double shooting on Aug. 30, and a triple shooting in June that resulted in one death.

The Purple Lounge had its live entertainment permit revoked by Arlington County last December amid local safety concerns. The business was also the site of violence the previous September when a man was shot outside the venue.

Purple Lounge’s nightlife predecessors at the same location have had similar controversies in the past. Pines of Italy restaurant previously occupied the building and had its live entertainment permit revoked in 2014, with a restaurant manager calling County Board members a vulgar term after the vote.

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Morning Notes

ANC and Addison Alternatives Announced — “Metro will offer free shuttle bus service and other travel alternatives during the spring closure of Addison Road and Arlington Cemetery stations on the Blue and Silver lines, the transit agency announced today. Addison Road and Arlington Cemetery will be closed from Saturday, Feb. 13 through Sunday, May 23, 2021, to allow for construction.” [WMATA]

Business Buys Ballroom Building, Before Bar by Beer Boss Brings Big Bucks — “Monument Realty has acquired the former Clarendon Ballroom as the owners of popular beer garden The Lot plan to open a temporary event venue inside the building on Arlington County’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. MR 3185 Wilson Retail LLC, an affiliate of the District-based commercial real estate developer, acquired the building at 3185 Wilson Blvd. Dec. 11 for about $6.7 million, according to Arlington County land records.” [Washington Business Journal]

COVID Concerns Cause County Crew Changes — “You can now add snow removal to the long list of things that have had to change because of COVID-19. ‘This year, what makes it different than many other years, is the threat of COVID and really the concern of just keeping the employees safe, keeping them distanced enough to where they can do their work but also go home safely,’ said Jeremy Hassan, the chief operating engineer for Arlington County’s Water, Sewer, and Streets Bureau.” [Fox 5]

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Morning Notes

State Dept. Staying in Rosslyn — “The Department of State will be staying put in an aging Rosslyn office building for another two decades after the General Services Administration ruled out options elsewhere in Northern Virginia for the agency’s space needs. The General Services Administration intends to seek a succeeding lease of 20 years with the owner of 1800 N. Kent St.” [Washington Business Journal]

Va. Square Development Underway — “Mill Creek Residential has begun construction of Modera Kirkwood, a 270-unit apartment community in Arlington, Va., in the heart of the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor… at 3415 Washington Boulevard.” [Commercial Observer, Multi-Housing News]

Combine VRE and MARC? — “Creating a unified brand and fare policy for the Washington region’s commuter rail systems could help reduce travel times and improve economic development opportunities over the next few decades, according to a new report released Thursday… [The report says] plans should begin to physically connect the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) and Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) lines and create a unified brand and fare policy to make commuters’ travel experience faster and easier.” [InsideNova]

Does Anything Look Different?Updated at 10 a.m. — We made some upgrades to the website last night. Expect some additional minor updates over the next few weeks.

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Morning Notes

Major Metro Cuts Proposed — “With sharply reduced ridership and lacking fresh federal relief, Metro is proposing a new operating budget with a nearly $500 million deficit. Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said Monday the proposed 2021 budget includes closing Metro rail at 9 p.m., ending weekend service, closing 19 stations and reducing the number of trains, which would result in longer wait times.” Among the stations that would close under the proposal are the Arlington Cemetery, Clarendon, East Falls Church and Virginia Square stations. [WTOP, Washington Post]

County Working on New Payment System — “Arlington officials continue to work on developing a one-stop online presence so the public can pay for a wide array of local-government services from their computers or smartphones. The initiative, being worked on by the treasurer’s office and Department of Technology Services, would go beyond the current CAPP [Customer Assessment and Payment Portal], which allows local residents to pay certain taxes, utility bills and parking tickets online.” [InsideNova]

Renovations for Mostly Vacant Building — “Wheelock Street Capital is seeking to renovate a long-vacant Arlington office building with the hope of attracting companies to the same corridor as Virginia Tech’s planned innovation campus and Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters… All of 3550 S. Clark St.’s office space thus far remains vacant. Small portions of the building’s retail space are leased to LA Fitness and child care center operator Bright Horizons.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Charitable Giving Portal — “New Looking for a way to add more charitable giving to the season of giving while supporting your neighbors in need? Arlington Community Foundation is launching its first ever Nonprofit Wish Catalog featuring grant ideas of 24 local nonprofits with wishes of up to $5,000 each this Giving Tuesday.” [Arlington Community Foundation]

Art Event Still On This Weekend — “The Arlington Artists Alliance presents its 18th annual Artful Weekend at Fort C.F. Smith Park. The show, featuring 30 top local Arlington-based artists and held in historic Hendry House at Fort C.F. Smith Park in Arlington, will be held December 4 to 6 this year. The show will feature paintings, ceramics, sculpture and cards, in addition to bins of unframed works.” [Event Calendar]

New Top Doc at VHC — “David Lee, MD, a member of the medical staff of Virginia Hospital Center for 30 years, has been tapped as the hospital’s senior vice president and chief medical officer.” [InsideNova]

It’s December — Today is Dec. 1. After today, there are only 30 days left in 2020.

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Morning Notes

Raytheon Remaining in Rosslyn — “Raytheon Technologies Corp. has reached a deal to extend its stay in a Rosslyn office building nearly three years before its current lease was slated to expire. The Waltham, Massachusetts, defense contractor has signed a long-term lease renewal with Monday Properties for its roughly 116,000 square feet at 1100 Wilson Blvd.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Man Leaves ‘Bachelorette’ — “Our Arlington man Jason has departed the Bachelorette. Now all we’re left with is a man with the vaguely similar name of Chasen. Sad!” [Washingtonian]

Local Food Bank Expanding — “The Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) is continuing its expansion efforts to ensure it has the ability to meet future needs of the community. Next up: Renovation of a newly acquired warehouse space at 2704 South Nelson St. next to the AFAC headquarters in the Four Mile Run corridor.” [InsideNova]

HQ2 to Help Fight Counterfeiting — “Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters appears to be the base for the company’s latest global effort to rein in faux goods sold on its e-commerce platform. The head of its so-called ‘Counterfeit Crimes Unit’ is based in Arlington, and the company was recently recruiting for the division at its Crystal City offices.” [Washington Business Journal]

TV Broadcast from Ballston — “Live, work and play in the Ballston area! FOX 5’s Kevin McCarthy visits Arlington County during our FOX 5 Fall Field Trip.” [Fox 5]

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