Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Office Vacancy Rate Dropping — “The commercial vacancy rate in the County continues to improve. The vacancy rate as of the second quarter of 2019 stands at 16.6%, down nearly 5% from its historic high of 21% in 2015. Arlington Economic Development also announced it successfully closed 26 deals in FY 2019, representing 7.2 million square feet of office space and 43,000 jobs.” [Arlington County]

County Adopts New Bathroom Policy — “The Arlington County government has adopted what amounts to an anything-goes policy for government-building restrooms and locker rooms. The policy, outlined to County Board members on July 16, will formally allow any individual to use a male or female restroom ‘that corresponds with gender identity or expression,’ county staff said.” [InsideNova]

Human Remains Found Near GW Parkway — Human remains, in a skull, have reportedly been found near the GW Parkway and Reagan National Airport, in the same area where a D.C. cadaver dog was hurt earlier this week, prompting a medevac flight. The dog is now recovering from serious injuries. U.S. Park Police are investigating the source of the remains. [Fox 5, Washington PostWTOP]

New Provost, Plans for Marymount — “Marymount is proud to welcome the university’s new Provost, Hesham El-Rewini, Ph.D., P.E., who officially begins his duties on campus this week… ‘We have bold plans for the future of Marymount as we strive to become an elite Catholic institution that is nationally recognized for innovation,’ said Dr. Irma Becerra, President of Marymount University.” [Marymount University]

GoFundMe for Westover Residents — A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to benefit residents of Westover whose homes were damaged by flash flooding last week. So far more than $8,000 has been raised. [GoFundMe]

Big Crane Assisting With DCA Project — “A 250 ft. crane is being used to lift and put steel into place for a new 14-gate concourse that will replace Gate 35X” at Reagan National Airport. [Twitter]

Pentagon City Apartment Sold for Big Bucks — “Dweck Properties Inc. has picked up another multifamily property in Pentagon City, not far from where Amazon.com Inc. is settling into its second home. A Dweck affiliate paid $117 million July 9 for the Park at Pentagon Row, a 299-unit apartment building at 801 15th St. S.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Driven in part by Amazon’s HQ2, demand for office space in Arlington is on the rise.

That’s according to a new quarterly Northern Virginia market report from commercial real estate services firm JLL, which says “tech demand across the Herndon-to-Crystal City corridor” is leading to more office space being leased than is being built.

Here are some key takeaways and quotes from that report:

1. Metro ridership may be dropping, but office tenants still want to be near a Metro station

The Silver Line corridor, from the RB Corridor through Tysons to the Toll Road, continues to capture a disproportionate share of leasing activity, driven by tenants favoring Metro access…

Metro access continues to drive pricing, with newer Class A product on-Metro commanding a 35% premium over newer Class A product off-Metro; Class B/C saw an overall jump in asking rents this quarter driven by increases in Crystal City.

2. Technology is driving office demand, including in Arlington, but much of the tech talent is in Fairfax and Loudoun counties

Northern Virginia dominates the region’s tech office market and will continue to grow its leadership position, with a tech corridor solidifying from Data Center-centric Loudoun County, through the Toll Road and Tysons, and into RB Corridor and Crystal City…

Driven by the origins of tech in this market, neighborhoods west of Tysons offer the most access to talent, primarily along the Toll Road and into Loudoun County.

3. The Rosslyn-Ballston corridor has higher office rents, but “National Landing” — Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard — has a bigger office development pipeline

Tysons and the Toll Road offer the most scale for future ground-up development, holding 50% of the proposed office pipeline; meanwhile, inside the Beltway, greater Crystal City will form as a development hub for obvious reasons, while the RB Corridor’s future pipeline is minimal.

4. Expect rent increases to accelerate, as office buildings fill up following a decade of high vacancy

Submarkets continue to see minimal to no net effective rent growth versus a decade ago, driven by concessions remaining at peak levels, particularly as tenants are cross-shopping more than ever; however, we believe this trend is nearly over, particularly in Crystal City, RB Corridor and the Toll Road, due to market demand and tightening.

5. Defense contractors, a usual staple of Northern Virginia office demand, are not having as much of an impact on the market

The defense budget declined by $111 billion from 2011 to 2016, driving significant occupancy losses. However, the budget is surging again, up 16% since 2017…

Historically, when defense spending surges, absorption surges, and when it declines, occupancy declines; while this cycle is still early, it is already different. One reason – the major contractors all rightsized during the downturn and remain focused on efficiency in their space utilization.

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Madison Manor Park (6225 12th Road N.) will close starting next week for renovations.

Arlington County Board members began considering updates to the park back in 2017 and finally voted in May to begin construction.  

Planned updates include “a new nature-themed playground with loose play elements for kids to create their own spaces,” plus added greenery, sheltered picnic areas, a new basketball and volleyball court, news sidewalks, a change in fencing and upgraded irrigation system and an update to the multi-purpose sports field at the park.

More from Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation:

The existing combo-field (i.e. a field where both diamond and rectangular sports can be played) will be renovated with a new relocated backstop to improve water runoff. The combo-field will also have new dugouts, spectator seating, irrigation and sod. The Resource Protection Area, a space that helps filter water into our streams, will be planted with new trees and shrubs to help protect our natural resources. The project also features new native plants with pollinators in the park, as well as minimal fencing, new ADA-accessible walkways, a new picnic shelter and new site furnishings.

Over the last year, the county hosted public forums for residents to share input or raise concerns about the project. Capital maintenance funds are paying for the project.

Completion of the Madison Manor Park project is slated for spring 2020, according to the county website. 

Photos via Arlington County

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A new bowling alley is delaying its plans to open in Crystal City by a year.

“The Bowlero location is undergoing construction,” Jillian Laufer, a PR rep for Bowlero Corp., said in an email. “But there are tentative plans for the center to open in spring 2020.”

Bowlero is a bowling alley and restaurant chain with three locations in Northern Virginia. The location at 320 23rd Street S. is described as family friendly, though plans for the Crystal City location include a bar. A press release from the organization said Bowlero features blacklight bowling lanes, lounge seating, and an interactive arcade.

The Queen Ammanisa Uyghur restaurant previously in the location has since vacated, though signs for the restaurant remain in the windows. Inside, the space has been gutted.

Laufer said the delay is caused by construction “taking longer than anticipated.” The location was originally slated to open “mid-2019.”

Image 3 via Bowlero

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Updated 11:15 a.m. — Last year’s construction at Washington Golf & Country Club meant viewers of the 4th of July fireworks — traditionally seated on the course — had to find new accommodations.

This year, Arlington’s other tradition of eternal construction work means viewers will still need to find another place to watch the fireworks.

Member Services Coordinator Jordan Marks said in an email that the club will still hold its fireworks celebration, but can’t promise seating:

The golf course at Washington Golf & Country Club is currently undergoing a renovation. During the renovation there is no access to the golf course because it is an active work area. As a result of this ongoing work, there will unfortunately be no seating available on the course to view the fireworks display. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope you have a wonderful 4th of July

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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A proposed streetscape improvement project has revealed rising construction costs in Arlington County due to ongoing work to add new lanes to I-66 and I-395 — and associated projects.

“We believe the shortage of qualified contractors resulting from the abundance of work generated by the I-66 & I-395 Express Lanes projects is contributing to the higher than expected bid prices,” according to a county staff report.

The project in question — which “will reconstruct curbs and sidewalks to install [Americans With Disabilities Act] compliant curb ramps and sidewalk areas,” mostly along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor — will be considered by the Arlington County Board at its Saturday (June 15) meeting.

The county selected Fort Meyer Construction Corporation, which submitted the lowest bid for the project at $718,580.97.

“We have observed a high volume of construction in the region because of many projects, including major ones such as the I-66 and I-395 Express Lanes, and this work is distributed over a limited number of qualified contractors,” Ramzi Awwad, the engineering bureau chief at the Department of Environmental Services, told ARLnow today (Thursday).

“Contractors have indicated they are paying more to compete for qualified laborers, and we have observed less competition in the form of lower numbers of bidders for some projects,” Awwad said. “The result is higher than expected costs in comparison to estimates.”

He added that this trend has affected other recent projects, especially in the last six months.

VDOT does not provide funding to offset the rising construction costs in Arlington, according to Awwad.

On Saturday, the Board will vote to accept Fort Meyer’s bid and could approve an additional $107,787 for the project in case costs rise further.

For now, the pedestrian proposal is still within the $2.02 million budget set for the two-phase project.

The pedestrian project aims to make eight areas in Rosslyn and Ballston ADA compliant by extending curbs, widening sidewalks, repainting crosswalks, and building new curb ramps. One of the sites is the intersection of 36th Street N. and N. Kensington Street, which aims to make students walking to Discovery Elementary School safer.

The seven other intersections slated for improvements are:

  • N. Nelson Street & 9th Street N.
  • Washington Blvd & N. Nelson Street
  • Washington Blvd & Jackson Street N.
  • Washington Blvd & 9th Street N.
  • Clarendon Blvd & N. Barton Street
  • Wilson Blvd & N. Barton Street
  • N. Troy Street & 14th Street N.
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Morning Notes

Polls Open for Democratic Primary — All Arlington voters can vote in today’s Democratic primary. Polls are open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. You can find your polling place and other information on the state elections website. [Twitter]

Politico Profiles Prosecutor Primary — “One sign that this era of agitated civic life is not merely a reflection of Donald Trump or Twitter is that the agitation has penetrated, of all places, into Arlington County, Virginia. In normal times, Arlington politics are polite and consensus-driven, almost proudly dull.” [Politico]

Clarendon Street Closed for Construction — “Through mid-August: North Edgewood Street closed between Clarendon and Wilson boulevards due to construction. Absolutely no impact on Whole Foods organic produce or imported cheese selection.” [Twitter]

Trade Group Moving to Ballston — “The Infectious Diseases Society of America announced today that it will be relocating its headquarters to 4040 Wilson Boulevard in the Ballston Quarter area of Arlington, Va., a hub of advanced research learning, technology and science in the Washington, D.C. metro area.  The Society has been at its current location at 1300 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington since 2006.” [PR Newswire]

How Glass Is Being Recycled — “Ever wonder where your glass goes? If you properly recycle it in Northern Virginia these days, it gets crushed into sand and turned into construction material… ABC7 recently took a trip to Fairfax County’s I-95 landfill in Lorton, where we found a glass graveyard and a big blue machine.” [WJLA]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Morning Notes

Goldstein Fends Off Challenger — “Incumbent School Board Chair Reid Goldstein emerged as the victor Saturday night in the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s [School Board endorsement] caucus… Goldstein received 1,231 votes out of 1,999 ballots counted, or 61.6%… Challenger David Priddy received 763 votes.” [Arlington Democrats]

Car Runs Off Glebe Road Into Ditch — “At 1:54pm Sunday, units were called for a car off the road in 4500 blk of N Glebe Rd. Crews were able to walk 1 patient out with minor injuries. Patient was transported to local hospital while Hazmat team worked to contain leaking fluids. Please watch your speed on the wet roads.” [Twitter]

Del. Hope Not a PAC Man — Del. Patrick Hope (D) has joined a group of Democratic state Senators in announcing “their intention to introduce legislation in the 2020 General Assembly legislative session to limit excessive campaign contributions from influencing Virginia elections.” The proposed bill is in response to a PAC contributing nearly $1 million to the commonwealth’s attorney primaries in Arlington and Fairfax. [Blue Virginia]

New Additions to Amazon HQ2 Job Page — There are now 47 open jobs listed on Amazon’s HQ2 jobs page. Among the positions Amazon is hiring for in Arlington are hardware, system and software development engineers; recruiters; and numerous Alexa-related technical positions. [Amazon]

Middle School Project Running Behind — “It might be a little cramped for the first few months as students settle in at Arlington’s Dorothy Hamm Middle School… County school officials have known for months that the expansion of the school won’t be ready for occupancy when classes begin in September… On its website, the school system now pegs completion of the expansion at next March.” [InsideNova]

Wardian Places Third in Horse Race — “Mike Wardian, 45, of Arlington, Va. did not succeed at outrunning all the horses at the 40th anniversary of Whole Earth Man v. Horse Marathon in Wales yesterday, but he did pretty well nonetheless, placing third among the humans and finishing in 2:34:03.” [Trail Running]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Arlington County will begin tearing down the S. Clark Street bridge over 18th Street S. in Crystal City next week, which is expected to generate noise and traffic disruptions for the rest of the month.

Demolition work will begin Monday, June 10, according to the county’s website. The work is part of a $6 million project to tear down the elevated section of S. Clark Street and rebuild a “new open space” in what will soon become a hotspot with the arrival of Amazon’s second headquarters.

“There will be a lot of noise near the work site. No explosives will be used,” the county wrote about the demolition. It added that while debris is being removed, residents “should expect more truck traffic in the area.”

Crews will work Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, road detours will stay in effect during the weekend and will last for the next two to three weeks. Per Arlington County:

There will be a series of eastbound and westbound closures on 18th Street between South Eads and South Bell Streets during this work. Northbound South Bell Street between 18th and 15th Streets also will be closed. Detours are expected to last for 2-3 weeks, weather permitting.

Drivers will be able to detour around the closure by taking 15th Street S. or using 20th Street S.

The June demolition date for the bridge is slightly after the “tentative” May start date the county originally had hoped for. The project’s demolition of the S. Clark Street overpass over 15th Street S. wrapped up this winter.

Images via Arlington County and Google Maps

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Construction is underway and turn restrictions are in place — now the “Clarendon Circle” intersection reconfiguration project is entering its third phase.

Starting as early as Monday (June 3), N. Irving Street, near Silver Diner, will be blocked off at the busy intersection where Clarendon, Washington and Wilson boulevards all meet. Irving Street has “low traffic volumes,” according to Arlington County, and the permanent closure will — along with the new no-left-turn from Washington Blvd to Wilson Blvd — help simplify the intersection.

Phase 3 of the project will move the focus of construction to the south side of the intersection, starting next week. More details via a construction update from Arlington County:

Next phase of construction starting June 3

As sidewalk work wraps up near Bar Bao, the contractor is preparing to start the next phase of construction on the south side of the intersection on June 3.

The next phase will take about six weeks, weather permitting. Crews are expected to start working near the Silver Diner and then progress toward the Wells Fargo Bank.

North Irving Street’s connection to Clarendon Circle will be permanently closed starting June 3

North Irving Street (next to Silver Diner) will be permanently closed at the intersection. Closing this portion of Irving Street, which has low traffic volumes, will help make traffic operations simpler by reducing the number of streets at the intersection.

Per the project design, green streets elements will be added at the end of this street.

Image via Arlington County

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VDOT has officially kicked off construction on the new Washington & Old Dominion Trail bridge over Lee Highway.

A new county video, above, shows renderings of the white bridge with decorative safety walls over the highway. The bridge is expected to accommodate the approximately 2,000 daily trail users.

The construction is part of the project to widen I-66 eastbound between Exits 67 and 71, which began last year. As part of the construction, some disruptions are expected for trail users and drivers in the area.

Per Arlington County:

Bicyclists and pedestrians should expect a temporary trail realignment and detours during construction. The first trail detour has closed the W&OD Trail between Little Falls Street and Lee Highway (near mile marker 5.5) and for a short portion on the east side of Lee Highway. In addition, Fairfax Drive will be closed to traffic, Lee Highway will have short traffic stoppages at night, and there may be lane closures on side streets.

“Once the project is complete, cyclists and pedestrians can expect a much-improved experience on this portion of the W&OD Trail,” the county said in a press release.

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