Arlington, VA

A virtual tour is now online of the room developer JBG Smith used to pitch Crystal City and Pentagon City properties to Amazon.

Shirlington-based real estate marketing firm Lyons & Sucher designed the space, calling  it “the room where it happened” and posted a virtual 360-degree tour on their website earlier this week.

“Typically people in a brokerage situation might hand you a powerpoint or a book or something. But this was super life size,” Jane Lyons of Lyons & Sucher told ARLnow. “And it created a very quick impression of how much we wanted the Amazon account and what we could do in a very short time and also how it could be kept up.”

The 20,000-square-foot space was located in the 12th floor of 1770 Crystal Drive — a building Amazon agreed to lease from JBG Smith earlier this month (and which is currently under construction).

Lyons said Amazon executives visited the room three times over the course of 2018, and before each visit  JBG Smith directed her marketing firm to update the room to reflect the latest negotiations.

The third and final version of the room is the one shown on the firm’s website. It starts with a “Welcome to National Landing” mat and leads viewers around a series of freestanding, 10-foot-high walls with information about:

  • The history of Crystal City
  • Profiles of Northern Virginia and D.C. neighborhoods
  • Information on the D.C. area’s millennial workforce and comparisons to other cities
  • Connections to public transit and airports
  • Renderings of properties Amazon was considering leasing or buying

The space also features a 120-foot-long floor map of Crystal City that designers marked up to show different features depending on what JBG Smith wanted to highlight.

“It was fabricated to allow it to be updated,” said Lyons. “It was a huge print job.”

One of the other changes to the room was that the marketing firm was asked to switch out the individual building renderings along the main 64-foot wall with a 64-foot aerial image of Crystal City and its connections to Alexandria, the Potomac, and D.C.

“That one stayed up for the third visit,” she noted.

Lyons said she was not able to share the all details of the changes her firm made to the room or any still pictures, due to a non-disclosure agreement.

However, the space shown on the website offers some clues as to what Amazon found important. The floor map, for instance, notes the location of Metro stations, walking distances between certain buildings, a place for outdoor dining, and the site of a potential school.

A spokesman for JBG Smith declined to comment for the story.

Earlier this month, the developer inked its deal with Amazon to lease three office buildings in Crystal City — 241 18th Street S., 1800 S. Bell Street, and 1770 Crystal Drive — and to sell a pair of large Pentagon City development sites to the company.

In March, the County Board cleared the way for Amazon to begin developing its second headquarters in earnest by unanimously approving a controversial package granting $23 million in incentives to the company if it meets certain hiring and occupancy benchmarks.

The Virginia General Assembly approved a $750 million state incentive package for the company this winter.

Arlington also pledged to fund $28 million in transportation upgrades near the planned headquarters, and to forward public records requests concerning Amazon to the company.

An Amazon spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

Lyons’ firm was asked to replace an aerial image showing connections to transit networks with a video showing building renderings along Crystal Drive; otherwise, the presentation to one of the world’s biggest technology companies was an analog one.

“When you are working to impress somebody who has the best tech ever they’re not going to be impressed by tech,” Lyons said, adding that that being able to physically interact with the space was “part of the magic.”

As for the room itself?

It’s gone now,” said Lyons, explaining that the building is now being renovated. “It doesn’t exist anymore.” 

Screenshots via Lyons & Sucher’s website

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WHEN: Every Friday, May through October — 5-9 p.m.
WHERE: The Stand (at the Crystal City Water Park) — 1601 Crystal Drive, Arlington Virginia

Open every Friday starting in May, Fridays at the Fountain features a fantastic selection of beer and wine, live music from local bands and musicians, and a rotating lineup of local restaurants and food vendors brought to Crystal City by The Stand.

Attendees also have the option of joining the Fridays at the Fountain “Mug Club” featuring a 16-ounce, branded mug, while supplies last. The Mug Club is $10 and comes with a reusable glass mug and your first drink!

Mug Club members will get discounts on draft beers for the entire Fridays at the Fountain event series (May-October).

Buy your mug today for 1/2 price and enjoy 16 oz pours for the price of a 12 oz beer all summer long!

Purchase today’s deal now.

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A portion of the Crystal City neighborhood is without power this morning, leading to dark traffic signals and dark office buildings.

As of 9 a.m., more than 1,300 Dominion customers were without electricity, all south of 23rd Street S., according to the power company’s website. However, traffic signals were reported dark as far north as 20th Street S. and S. Eads Street.

Arlington County Police are reminding drivers to “treat any uncontrolled intersections as a four way stop.”

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By Shilpa Gogna

Business owners and residents near Crystal City’s Restaurant Row are gearing up and adapting in anticipation of Amazon’s planned HQ2 nearby.

Freddie Lutz has owned Freddie’s Beach Bar for 18 years and shepherded it through changes in the gay and straight communities. This week Lutz shared that more and more small-business owners are expressing interest in opening up shop or expanding on Crystal City’s 23rd Street S. now that Amazon inked its move-in deal.

“Restaurant Row continues to thrive, with a steady increasing flow of consumers” Lutz shared with me, adding “this trend fueled my recent decision to open up Frederico.”

Lutz also serves on the Crystal City Business Improvement District board and is the president of the neighborhood’s business development group. He said other surrounding small-businesses anticipate an increase in customer traffic in the near future, which should help business.

It’s a bonus many restaurants have looked forward to after years of lean time after BRAC and other federal government moves emptied out Crystal City office buildings and resulted in the loss of thousands of potential customers.

Fiona’s Irish Pub owner Martin White previously told ARLnow that he had chosen the former Tortoise and Hare Bar and Grill location before Amazon selected Crystal City for its second headquarters, but it was a “happy coincidence” his new restaurant would have the customers.

Now, Lutz says he’s thinking of expanding weekday business hours at Freddie’s to accommodate the growing lunch crowd.

“I imagine customer traffic will increase well with future development coming to Crystal City, and after losing some customer traffic following the Department of Defense relocations almost a decade ago, which impacted business sustainability, small-business owners here are excited about the future,” Lutz noted.

Many buildings in and around Restaurant Row are part of a trust owned by Stratis Voutsas and Georgia Papadopoulos, who seek to improve neighborhood infrastructure so that Restaurant Row can continue to flourish.

The pair told the Washington Business Journal they plan to build a park and plaza in the neighborhood, with subsidized artist housing nearby.

Restaurant Row’s unique community boasts a charming and eclectic conglomeration of small businesses, ranging from shops selling some sweet fashionable finds, like vintage dresses and post-war era accessories, shops selling prized collectables like NFL Lombardi trophies, and quaint long-time restaurants serving up food from all over the world.

The charm is also about the people behind the counters.

As I walked with Lutz, who introduced me to the owners at a few other nearby establishments, it warmed me up to see how sociable he, other shop owners, and passing patrons were.

The co-owner at neighboring Royal Pawn of Arlington, Nicholas Rizer, shared a story that exemplified just that.

“Recently, we saw a nearby shop owner having difficulty moving a bulky piece of equipment off a truck into his establishment,” said Rizer. “Within a few minutes, staff from nearby shops were outside lending a helping hand, and the job was done in a few minutes.”

Rizer noted that such behavior was common on Restaurant Row, which makes him proud to be part of the community. And the community feel is one of the reasons why Los Tios chose the spot.

Los Tios’ owner German Mejia thanked the community for spreading the word after the restaurant opened its Crystal City doors last month.

“In just our first week of opening, without much advertising, we were seeing high volumes of customers,” said Mejia.

The preceding feature article was funded by our Patreon community. Want to help fund more in-depth, independent community journalism in Arlington? Join the community

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Morning Notes

Crystal City to Grow With Amazon — “‘Amazon, and its 25,000 employees, coming to Crystal City will change everything,’ [Vornado Realty Trust Chairman and CEO Steven] Roth wrote in the letter. ‘Crystal City will become a teeming metropolis of apartments, shops and offices.'” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Couple Talks About Deadly Accident — “An Arlington couple is making a personal plea for a recall of the Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play sleeper after their son died while laying in the product. Arlington parents Evan and Keenan Overton’s baby son Ezra died in the Rock ‘N Play sleeper right before Christmas in 2017.” [WJLA]

FLIR Moves to Pentagon Row — Infrared camera manufacturer FLIR Systems is moving its D.C. area headquarters to Pentagon Row, in the former LA Fitness space. The company recently announced an investment in a drone company and a large new DoD contract. [FLIR, BusinessWire, BusinessWire]

Confusing Signs Corrected on the Pike — A pair of seemingly contradictory direction signs on Columbia Pike, at the Washington Blvd interchange, have been corrected, county officials say. [Twitter]

Arlington Holds #MeToo Event — “On Wednesday, several Arlington County groups and Arlington’s ‘Project PEACE,’ held an event named ‘#MeToo: Being Men – Raising Men’ at the Arlington County Central Library. Lisa Tingle, the senior assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Fairfax County and Falls Church, said it is important to teach men about sexual harassment at an early age.” [WUSA 9]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

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(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) An intersection in Crystal City is closed as a result of a major water main break in the middle of the intersection.

The break was reported around 1:15 p.m. at the intersection of Crystal Drive, S. Potomac Avenue and 27th Street S.

Traffic camera footage showed water flowing from a gash in the asphalt and first responders setting up “caution” tape around the intersection, which is along a dedicated bus route.

A “significant” sinkhole was forming in the roadway as a result of the break and nearby parking garages were starting to flood, according to scanner traffic. Firefighters established an incident command at the scene due to structural concerns.

As of 2:15 p.m., public works crews were on the scene and the flow of water appears to have been stopped or significantly slowed, but not before water seepage reportedly caused a power surge and outage in the Crystal City area. Several buildings in the area are also reported to be without water service.

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Morning Notes

First Debate in Prosecutor Race — “In a contentious series of exchanges that marked their first debate, candidates for Arlington commonwealth’s attorney left no doubt they have decidedly different views on the role of prosecutor – and aren’t particularly fond of one another, either.” [InsideNova]

Road Closures Tonight in Crystal City — “The Crystal City 5K Fridays races will take place each Friday evening in April (5th, 12th, 19th, and 26th). The Arlington County Police Department will close the following roadways each race day from approximately 6:15 p.m. until 8:15 p.m. to accommodate these events…” [Arlington County]

Pentagon City Ritz Hosting Easter Event — “Based on the huge success we had in 2018 holiday season with Breakfast with Santa, we have decided to celebrate Easter with the Easter Bunny for our little ones.” [Ritz-Carlton]

School Board Challenger Announces Candidacy — “He aims to knock off incumbent School Board Chairman Reid Goldstein, but in a kickoff April 3, David Priddy avoided mentioning the incumbent by name and only tangentially touched on reasons he thinks Goldstein should be ousted.” [InsideNova]

County Starts Census Push — “In a packed room at Arlington Mill Community Center, County Manager Mark Schwartz launched Arlington’s Complete Count Committee — a group of 39 community members who will serve as Census ambassadors to ensure that every person in Arlington County is counted in the 2020 Census on April 1, 2020.” [Arlington County]

Arlington Tech Firm Acquired — “Tetra Tech, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTEK) announced today that it has acquired eGlobalTech, a high-end information technology (IT) solutions, cloud migration, cybersecurity, and management consulting firm based in Arlington, Virginia.” [BusinessWire]

Police Warn of Numerous Scams — Arlington County Police are warning members of the community about a number of scams that have recently been reported, among them the “Imminent Account” fraud, the “I am in Trouble” scam and the “Jury Duty” or “IRS” scam. [Arlington County]

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An ongoing project to convert nearly the entire stretch of Crystal Drive to a two-way road has entered another phase of construction.

Work is underway on Phase 3 of the project, which is converting one-way portions of Crystal City’s main street to more transit-and-bike-friendly two-lane configurations.

Phase 3 will reconfigure a one-way stretch of Crystal Drive between 26th and 27th streets, near the EPA headquarters, as well as a portion of 27th Street S. Construction started earlier this year and is expected to last about nine months, with the early work focused on the Route 1 and 27th Street intersection.

More from the project website:

The Crystal Drive Two-Way Conversion project is beginning to establish the street network needed to support future development and transit improvements planned by the Crystal City Sector Plan and Crystal City Multimodal Transportation Study. Upon completion, Crystal Drive will be a two-way street from South Potomac Avenue/27th Street South through 12th Street South.

Improvements for Phase 3 will include a loading area near the Hyatt Regency hotel, a new right-turn pocket for northbound Crystal Drive onto 26th Street, a bike lane on southbound Crystal Drive and sharrows on northbound Crystal Drive. 27th Street South will also be converted to two-way traffic from Crystal Drive to Route 1.

The intent of the project is to improve the navigability of Crystal City and improve safety for all modes of transportation. In addition to the street work, the project includes the installation of:

  • New traffic signals
  • Street trees
  • Intersection upgrades to include ADA-compliant crosswalk markings and ramps

Temporary lane and sidewalk closures are expected during construction, but no complete road closures are planned.

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(Updated at 9:30 a.m.) JBG Smith has made it official with Amazon, announcing this morning the signing of lease and development agreements with the tech and retail giant.

The announcement should put to rest any speculation that Amazon could pull out of its HQ2 plans in Arlington, as it did in New York City.

Construction has already started on Amazon’s three temporary leased office buildings in Crystal City, with the company expecting to move into two of the buildings — 241 18th Street S. and 1800 S. Bell Street — later this year.

Amazon is also buying a pair of large development sites in Pentagon City from JBG Smith — sites that JBG will help develop into a permanent second headquarters campus for the company. The sale price of the vacant Metropolitan Park and PenPlace properties, each two blocks from the Pentagon City Metro station: just under $300 million.

“We are pleased to report that our partnership with Amazon at National Landing is moving full steam ahead,” JBG SMITH CEO Matt Kelly said in a press release, below. “With the execution of these agreements and recently legislated state and local government commitments to invest approximately $2 billion in the region’s transportation, education and housing infrastructure, we are ready to welcome Amazon’s first National Landing employees in the coming months.”

More from the press release:

JBG SMITH (NYSE: JBGS), a leading owner and developer of high-quality, mixed-use properties in the Washington, DC market, today announced that it has executed three leases and two Purchase and Sale Agreements with affiliates of Amazon.com, Inc. in conjunction with the creation of Amazon’s HQ2 at National Landing in Northern Virginia.

These agreements are the result of Amazon’s announcement in November 2018 that it had selected JBG SMITH as its partner to house and develop its HQ2 locations after a comprehensive, year-long search that included proposals from 238 cities across North America.

Amazon has executed three initial leases totaling 537,000 square feet at three existing JBG SMITH office buildings in National Landing. The leases encompass 88,000 square feet at 241 18th Street South, 191,000 square feet at 1800 South Bell Street, and 258,000 square feet at 1770 Crystal Drive. JBG SMITH expects Amazon to begin moving into 241 18th Street South and 1800 South Bell in 2019, and 1770 Crystal Drive by the end of 2020.

JBG SMITH and Amazon have also executed Purchase and Sale Agreements for two of JBG SMITH’s National Landing development sites, Pen Place and Met 6, 7, and 8, which will serve as the initial phase of new construction associated with Amazon’s HQ2. Subject to customary closing conditions, Amazon will pay $294 million for the sites, or $72 per square foot based on their combined development potential of 4.1 million square feet. JBG SMITH, which has flexibility on the timing of closing to facilitate 1031 exchange opportunities, expects to close on the Mets land sales as early as 2019 and on Pen Place as early as 2020. JBG SMITH will also serve as Amazon’s developer, property manager, and retail leasing agent for these assets.

“We are pleased to report that our partnership with Amazon at National Landing is moving full steam ahead,” said JBG SMITH CEO, Matt Kelly. “With the execution of these agreements and recently legislated state and local government commitments to invest approximately $2 billion in the region’s transportation, education and housing infrastructure, we are ready to welcome Amazon’s first National Landing employees in the coming months.”

In January 2019, the Virginia General Assembly overwhelmingly approved incentive legislation associated with HQ2 to fund $195 million toward critical infrastructure improvements, including second entrances to the Crystal City and to-be-constructed Potomac Yard Metro stations, a pedestrian connection linking National Landing to Reagan National Airport, an expanded VRE station and substantial improvements to Route 1. These investments are in addition to $570 million of regional government commitments for transportation infrastructure and transit improvements, and they follow the regional compact from mid-2018 to invest $500 million annually in Metro system improvements.

In March 2019, the Arlington County Board also unanimously approved a $23 million performance agreement with Amazon. Both packages provide post-performance incentives for Amazon to create up to 37,850 jobs with an average annual salary of $150,000 and occupy at least six million square feet of office space in Arlington County.

The General Assembly also recently approved a major education investment package that includes funding of $250 million toward Virginia Tech’s planned $1 billion Innovation Campus to be located in National Landing and $125 million planned for new Master’s degree programs in computer science and related fields at George Mason’s Arlington campus.

In addition, the County of Arlington, the City of Alexandria and the Commonwealth of Virginia have collectively dedicated $225 million to fund a range of low-income and workforce housing initiatives over the next decade.

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(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) An Arlington-based tech company is relocating its headquarters in Crystal City and pledging to add 1,000 new jobs in Arlington.

Incentive Technology Group, LLC (iTG) is investing $5.1 million in a 50,000 square-foot headquarters at the Presidential Tower office building at 2511 Jefferson Davis Highway, where it expects to hire for 128 positions this year.

The new headquarters, and the 1,000 jobs iTG pledged to add over the next three years, was announced by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam earlier today.

Virginia and Georgia both vied for iTG’s new headquarters, but Amazon appears to have helped tip the scales in Arlington’s favor.

“Arlington County’s recent influx of technical talent, as well as its ability to attract leading-edge companies to the area, such as Amazon, are the key reasons for iTG’s decision to stay in the region,” said iTG’s Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fehretdinov.

iTG consults with Amazon Web Services, per its website. Its customers include the State Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Communications Commission, National Cancer Institute, Bank of America, the General Services Administration, Vanguard, and United Healthcare.

Governor Northam described the company as a “homegrown small business” and said iTG’s choice to stay Arlington is “another example of how the region’s world-renowned tech talent and higher education system attracts and retains leading IT businesses of all sizes.

In the press release, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball, state Sen. Adam Ebbin and Del. Rip Sullivan lauded the move as evidence of the county’s growing economic power.

Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said he was “excited” that iTG planned to stay in the county.

“iTG has seen great success here, and in its new space is well-positioned to continue its growth in the field of information technology,” Dorsey said in a statement. “We look forward to continue working with iTG as a valued partner in our business community.”

iTG was founded in 2008 and is currently located at 2121 Crystal Drive. It currently has “in excess of 200 Arlington employees,” Fehretdinov told ARLnow.

File photo

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A free exhibit entitled Mister Rogers: Just the Way You Are is currently on display in Crystal City.

The exhibit is open to the public at the Crystal City Shops entrance to the PBS building (2100 Crystal Drive) through May 31. Created by Nashville-based artist Wayne Brezinka, the exhibit is described as “a unique and interactive mixed media portrait experience incorporating both two and three-dimensional elements.”

“Through the use of objects, artifacts and memorabilia assembled together, these items craft extraordinary story lines within this artistic profile of America’s most beloved neighbor, Mister Rogers,” Brezinka wrote.

The exhibit is especially relevant given “the love and affection that many have with Mister Rogers in our current social and political climate [and] the buzz around the upcoming film starring Tom Hanks who stars as Mister Rogers later this year,” he said.

The touring exhibition’s Crystal City stop was made possible by Arlington-based PBS and property owner JBG Smith. It is open weekdays from 7 a.m.-6 p.m.

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