Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Bezos Talks HQ2 — “[Amazon CEO Jeff] Bezos was pressed on why Amazon would seek to build its headquarters in a dense area like Arlington, given the potential disruptive impacts of the company’s army of new workers moving into the area. But he reiterated that he’s ‘glad it’s not in the suburbs,’ arguing that the new HQ’s location demonstrates Amazon’s commitment to environmental sustainability.” [Washington Business Journal]

No Plan to Change Lee Highway Name — “Speculation that the currently active Lee Highway Alliance has a name change as part of its planning for re-imagining that major road is unfounded, according to its vice president, Sandra Chesrown.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Pedestrian Tunnel to DCA? — “Plans are slowly coming together for a pedestrian connection linking Reagan National Airport to Crystal City, one of the crucial transportation improvements Arlington pitched when luring Amazon to the area… A crucial decision the county will need to make: whether the pedestrian connection will be a bridge or a tunnel.” [Washington Business Journal]

Solo Commuters on the Decline — “Compared with 2004, the number of [D.C. area] commuters driving alone is down; transit use is up. 58% drive alone — down 13 percentage points.” [WTOP]

Arlington Company Moving to Tysons — Woman-owned consulting firm eGlobalTech moved its headquarters to Tysons after outgrowing its Arlington office. [Tysons Reporter]

Reminder: PARK(ing) Day Today — PARK(ing) Day will transform 13 parking spaces around the county into pop-up parks today. [ARLnow]

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(Updated at 5:25 p.m) Amazon drew an overflow crowd to its Crystal City career fair this morning as people vied for the 30,000 jobs Amazon recently announced it’s hiring nationwide, including at its new HQ2 in Arlington.

At last minute, the company tacked on extra hours to the event, which was one of six job fairs Amazon held as it looks to fill 30,000 jobs nationally — including 1,600 jobs in Virginia and 400 in Arlington. The fair was held at The Grounds at S. Eads Street and 12th Street S. today (Tuesday), leading applicants toting resumes to line up along 12th Street almost to the Route 1 overpass.

“I would say that we are incredibly pleased, and humbled, by the response from the community, ” said Amazon’s Vice President of People Operations, Ardine Williams. “I’m not sure what we expected but it’s what we hoped for. This is just amazing.”

Around noon Williams offered tips about interviewing for the company’s jobs (show leadership), writing resumes (be specific), and what the company culture was like (permits failure) in an on-stage conversation with Linda Thomas, a former Seattle journalist who now leads in-house content creation for Amazon.

“I spent a lot of time thinking about what we’re doing to ensure that there is a pipeline of talent. We came to Arlington because of the talent,” Williams said.

The head of hiring noted that the D.C. area’s universities were a big part of that pool and the company’s strategy for thinking of the 25,000 people it plans to hire for its new headquarters over the course of the next 10 years.

Thomas touted promotional videos throughout the event, which showcased Amazon’s decision to raise its minimum hourly wage to $15 last year for all workers, after facing criticism for the conditions in its warehouses.

Some job seekers at the Crystal City fair today wore fitted suits with ties knotted four in hand, while others chose more casual attire — with one job seeker wearing cargo shorts and a Nirvana t-shirt.

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Rasa, a fast-casual Indian restaurant based in D.C., is coming to Arlington with a new location in Crystal City.

“Rasa National Landing,” is expected to open at 2200 Crystal Drive this coming spring, near the existing Sweetgreen and Chick-fil-A restaurants. The row of restaurants is popular with the lunchtime office crowd, which these days includes employees of Amazon’s growing HQ2.

The location will mirror Rasa’s D.C. location’s colorful interior with basket swing seats, bookshelves stocked with South Asian authors, and paintings from local artist Nandita Madan, the company said in a press release.

The bowl-based menu will also stay the same, featuring popular dishes such as “Tikka Chance of Me” with chicken, pickled onions, and toasted cumin yogurt, along with “Caul Me Maybe” made with cauliflower, peanut sesame sauce, and lemon turmeric rice.

Owners Rahul Vinod and Sahil Rahmam, who have long worked as a duo, have introduced one more to their team: Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis, who is now an investor and brand ambassador.

“Once I tried the food, I immediately fell in love,” said Davis in a press release. “I loved Sahil and Rahul’s energy and passion. I could tell they were driven to succeed and most importantly their humility was few and far between.”

Rahman and Vinod opened Rasa in December 2017 in D.C.’s Navy Yard area, with the goal of making Indian cuisine more accessible, at a $10 price point. Davis, who also attended Dunbar High School in D.C., also owns several area Jamba Juice franchises.

Rasa also recently announced a second D.C. location, in the Mt. Vernon Triangle neighborhood.

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(Updated at noon) New scooter docks have been added to Crystal City in an effort to curb intrusive sidewalk scooter parking.

Four new docks from the electric scooter company Spin were placed throughout Crystal City last week after their debut in D.C., with five more expected to be added sometime in the next week.

“Spin is one of the operators that has been participating in Arlington’s [scooter] pilot,” said Rob Mandle, chief operating officer of the Crystal City BID. “They reached out to us about a pilot that they had initiated, rolling out in D.C. to provide a dock solution.”

Mandle said the BID is working on getting locations spread out across Crystal City, Pentagon City and Arlington’s portion of Potomac Yard.

“Our goal is to enhance connectivity in the core areas,” Mandle said.

The current docks are located at:

  • 251 18th Street S.
  • 220 20th Street S.
  • 520 12th Street S.
  • 1901 S. Bell Street

Though the docks are branded by Spin, Mandle said any scooters will be able to park in them. They also charge the scooter batteries while they’re docked.

“We see it as an interesting approach to addressing how to park scooters throughout the neighborhood without losing the value of dockless scooters,” Mandle said. “We’re a year from when these things first hit the streets, maybe not even, and the industry continues to evolve. The number one concern in any downtown area is ‘how do you manage the parking of the scooters in the downtown core?'”

There’s currently nothing to encourage scooter riders to use the docks outside of good civic values, but Mandle said incentives could be on the way.

“There are other ways to incentivize users to park in those facilities,” Mandle said. “I don’t think anybody’s seen that yet, but that’s where it’s going.”

Photo courtesy Rob Mandle/Crystal City BID

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Developer JBG Smith may be planning to let people sip alcohol as they browse shops and sit outdoors in shopping areas near Amazon’s future headquarters in Pentagon City and Crystal City.

State records with the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Authority Control Authority indicate that the developer applied for a “Commercial Lifestyle Center” license this week. The special license is part of a 2018 law allowing shoppers to bring alcoholic beverages into shops or outdoor plazas to encourage consumers to stay longer and attend outdoor events.

Under the new law, shopping centers can apply for a license provided they have at least 100,000 square feet of retail space and demonstrate they can police the area, as reported by the Washington Business Journal. The law also requires the application come from an association of businesses in a shopping area, not a single business on its own.

JBG Smith applied for the license via a newly-created organization called National Landing Business Owners Association Inc., which listed a phone number in the application matching JBG Smith’s Chevy Chase office.

A spokeswoman for the developer declined to comment when reached yesterday (Tuesday.)

The Association was formed in June by an attorney from the Arlington-based law firm Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh, which represents JBG Smith on several projects, including the two towers they’re building at Amazon’s Metropolitan Park headquarters.

One place in the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard area — dubbed “National Landing” — at which the developer could use the license would be its Crystal Square project. The project aims to redevelop the block of Crystal Drive into a “retail hub” between 15th Street S. and 18th Street S.

JBG Smith has called for adding new retailers like an Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, a grocery store, and an outdoor dining area to the block near the Crystal City Metro station.

Image via Gensler

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Arlington is one of six locations where Amazon is holding an “Amazon Career Day” next week.

The tech and retail giant is seeking to fill some 30,000 open positions — including around 75 at Amazon’s growing second headquarters in Arlington.

The company noted on the page for its Arlington jobs event that it already had a sizable presence in the Commonwealth prior to HQ2.

“In Virginia, Amazon has created more than 10,000 full-time jobs and we’re excited to create even more,” the page says. “Arlington is the new home of our second headquarters and we have plans to create 25,000 new jobs here over the next 12 years. We also have over two dozen customer fulfillment facilities, wind farms and retail locations throughout the state, and tens of thousands of authors, small and medium sized businesses, and developers growing their businesses using Amazon products and services.”

Previously, a company spokesperson said Amazon was on track to hire 400 HQ2 employees by the end of the year.

The career fair is scheduled to take place at The Grounds in Crystal City, at 1102 S. Eads Street, from 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17. It will include talks from Amazon leaders and information about working at the company.

Any interested member of the public is invited to attend. Amazon says recruiters will be on hand but they will not be conducting interviews or taking applications at the event.

More from a press release, after the jump.

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(Updated at 11 a.m.) County crews replaced the first “Jefferson Davis Highway” sign this morning as officials work to complete Route 1’s renaming to “Richmond Highway” in Arlington.

Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey and Del. Mark Levine stomped on the sign honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis, folding it up as crews placed the first new “Richmond” signs in Crystal City this morning at the 23rd Street S. intersection.

“It felt great,” Dorsey said afterward. “We are at a point now where we don’t have to have these monumental signs hanging over the streets of Arlington.”

Arlington’s lawmakers have pushed for the change for several years, but were stymied by conservative representatives in Richmond. The county renewed its efforts last year in the wake of Amazon’s arrival.

Earlier this year, at the prompting of Del. Mark Levine, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion that local leaders could sidestep Richmond entirely. The opinion clarified that the Arlington County Board had the authority to change the name on its own.

In an statement Wednesday, Levine wrote that today’s event was important because the General Assembly named the highway after Davis long after the Civil War — in 1922 — and Davis himself few connections with Virginia.

“The purpose instead was to terrorize Virginia’s black population into submitting to unconstitutional second-class legal status under Virginia law,” said Levine. “In 1922, Jim Crow laws, lynching, and the KKK were at their peak power, while poll taxes, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses kept the descendants of the courageous African-Americans who fought Davis and died for the Union from exercising their constitutional right to vote.”

“While it is necessary for us to honestly discuss and interpret Virginia’s history, I feel strongly that commemorating the president of the Confederacy through the name for a major thoroughfare is not appropriate,” Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board Secretary said after approving the name change in May.

The highway was named after Davis at the request of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a group which sponsored confederate monuments across the south in the 20th century, including a now-removed plaque in Bluemont Park. In 1946, the group also commissioned a stone marker along the highway bearing Jefferson Davis’ name, which county or state transportation officials are not quite sure what to do about.

“I’m proud of Mark Levine for getting this through,” said Freddie Lutz, owner of longtime Crystal City LGBT bar Freddie’s Beach Bar, who attended this morning’s ceremony. “It’s a great, progressive move. I’m all about celebrating diversity.”

“It’s been a long time coming,” Levine said. “It’s a sign of oppression. It was wrong to put it up [then] and it was wrong today.”

Levine added that having himself and Dorsey personally take the Jefferson Davis sign down “wasn’t planned that way, but it’s wonderful symbolic justice.”

Officials previously estimated that total cost of changing Jefferson Davis Highway to Richmond Highway in Arlington would be around $17,000, and that work would continue through October.

Alexandria voted to nix the name last year. Earlier this year Google Maps began display the new name on the Arlington portion of the highway.

“We are thrilled about the overdue name change,” Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, President of the Crystal City Business Improvement District, told ARLnow. “It’s much more consistent with our values — and provides a progressive and inclusive environment to live and work.”

Jay Westcott contributed to this report.

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Morning Notes

Spotted: Leading Edge of Dorian — The “exhaust” of Hurricane Dorian could be seen over the D.C. area yesterday afternoon, in the form of a large sheet of cloud. [Twitter]

Arlington Name Centennial Approaching — “Arlington government officials currently are in the brainstorming phase on plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Arlington becoming ‘Arlington.’ It was on March 17, 1920, that Gov. Westmoreland Davis signed legislation formally changing the county’s name from Alexandria County to Arlington County.” [InsideNova]

Bloomberg BNA Changes Name — Crystal City-based news organization Bloomberg BNA has changed its name to Bloomberg Industry Group. [Twitter]

Video: APS Staff Gets School Year Started — Arlington Public Schools staff starred in a music video to the tune of the Black Eyed Peas Hit “Let’s Get It Started,” created for start of the new school year. The video also features now-former superintendent Patrick Murphy dancing while getting off a school bus at the end. [YouTube]

Local Startup Raises $51 Million — Arlington-based telecom startup Federated Wireless has raised $51 million in Series C funding, the company announced yesterday. [Federated Wireless]

What Long-Time Residents Like About Arlington — “Judy and Raoul Wientzen have owned their home in North Arlington since 1984. Judy told us what they love about their home.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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Crystal City may not be without an Irish pub for much longer.

Fiona’s Irish Pub (567 23rd Street S.) closed suddenly in June, after only a few months in business. Signs in the window said the closure was temporary, but those signs have since been replaced with new ones announcing McNamara’s Pub and Restaurant.

Signs say McNamara’s will be opening soon, though inside much of the decorations and furniture still bear the Fiona’s Irish Pub logo.

Owners of the pub could not be reached for comment, but staff at a nearby restaurant said they were told it would also be an Irish pub. McNamara’s will be stepping into a space that has a long history as a pub, with Fiona’s being preceded by local sports bar Tortoise and Hare.

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Arlington County is asking residents to share their thoughts on a developer’s plan to turn areas of a lot at 1900 S. Eads Street into public parks.

The plan is part of the Crystal City Houses redevelopment project to build four new apartment buildings at S. Eads Street and 18th Street near the existing, 12-story Crystal House apartment buildings. The project is two blocks from Amazon’s planned permanent HQ2.

As part of the proposed 798-unit construction, the developer pledged to provide a 31,000 square feet of space in the center of the buildings as public space, and another, 23,986 square feet of space in the corner of the lot by S. Fern Street and 22nd Street as another privately-owned, public park.

Now the Department of Parks and Recreation is asking residents to share their feedback on this second park proposal via an online feedback form.

“The significant additional open space will also be a crucial addition to the Crystal City community,” the developer wrote in site plans revised earlier this year.

The county says it will stop accepting feedback via the form at midnight next Friday, September 6.

Feedback will used to finalize draft designs scheduled to be shared on September 16 from 5:30-7 p.m. at county government headquarters in Courthouse (2100 Clarendon Blvd), per the county’s website. The Long Range Planning Commission will also review the feedback during their own meeting later that night from 7 -9 p.m.

County staff expects to present the final designs to the Arlington County Board in October.

Image via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

Shooting Suspect Served Time for MurderUpdated at 8:40 a.m. — Crystal City shooting suspect Mumeet Ali Muhammad was released from prison two years ago after being convicted of a 1991 murder in Arlington. And he had recently been arrested but then released after allegedly threatening to shoot a man in D.C. and possessing a gun as a felon. [WTOP, NBC 4]

Witness Recounts Hiding in Office During Shooting — “An association employee described the scene to InsideNoVa on Thursday, saying recent active-shooter training helped employees get through the terrifying episode. ‘Everybody did precisely what they should have done,’ said the employee, who asked that his name not be published… ‘I got right up next to door, crouched down and made myself as small as possible,’ he said. ‘I heard screaming, him yelling at her, her pleading with him.'” [InsideNova]

Labor Day Closures in Arlington — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019 for Labor Day.” Trash and recycling will be collected as normal, but parking meters will not be enforced. [Arlington County]

Amazon Brain Drain Worries — “Amazon is only just starting to post job openings for its second headquarters in northern Virginia — and local startup founders are watching with apprehension. The big picture: Amazon HQ2 has the potential to turn the D.C. region into a tech hotspot, but smaller companies are worried that the short-term impact of Amazon coming to town will be a brain drain.” [Axios]

‘Clarendon Jam Session’ Sunday — “The long weekend is almost here and it’s time to celebrate with a jam session at The Lot in an urban beach party setting! $20 gets you access to CLARENDON JAM SESSION 2019.” [Instagram]

Oktoberfest Ticket Prices Increasing — Early bird $30 ticket pricing for the Crystal City Oktoberfest ends this weekend. General admission tickets will be $45 thereafter. [Eventbrite]

Dominion Funding Electric School Buses — “Schools across Virginia could have all-electric school buses by 2030, under a plan from Dominion Energy. The company said it could be the largest deployment of electric school buses in the nation… The announcement comes the same day as a Virginia State Corporation Commission reported that Dominion’s 2018 profits were higher than regulators approved.” [WAMU, Dominion, Virginia Mercury]

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