Arlington, VA

There are now 128 known coronavirus cases in Arlington, the second-highest total among Virginia localities.

Only neighboring Fairfax County, with 328 cases, has more. That’s according to the latest Virginia Dept. of Health data, which today (Thursday) reported 1,706 cases statewide, along with 246 hospitalizations and 41 deaths.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said yesterday that the Commonwealth’s projections anticipate “a surge in the number of people who test positive between late April and late May.” With the worse yet to come — and coronavirus-related medical dispatches seemingly on the rise in Arlington — there is an increasing urgency to have plans in place in Arlington and across the state to deal with the potential for overflowing hospitals.

Officials, however, are staying mum on many of the details.

It was reported yesterday that the former ExxonMobil campus in Fairfax County, now owned by Inova Health System, “is one of three sites the state has identified for alternative care facilities if hospitals become overcrowded due to the coronavirus pandemic.” George Mason University’s main campus in Fairfax could also be used in a later stage of the response.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported over the weekend that other aspects of the planning are “mostly under wraps as some projections anticipate a shortage of intensive care beds, tens of thousands of sickened Virginians needing hospitalization and a climbing death toll in the coming months.”

“The state has also shirked repeated questions about how it will approach offering guidance to hospitals on criteria for rationing health care should the need outstrip the supply, as it did in Italy and as it threatens to in New York,” the paper said.

In Arlington, we asked the county’s Dept. of Human Services about the potential use of hotels — or even the former Virginia Hospital Center auxiliary campus on Carlin Springs Road, now owned by Arlington County and slated for demolition — as possible COVID-19 patient overflow or quarantine sites.

A spokesman did not provide specifics, only saying last week that the county was “exploring options.”

“Public safety and public health is our top priority. Our dedicated staff continues to work with local, regional and state partners to explore options for quarantine, isolation, and other measures to support an unprecedented response to COVID-19,” said Kurt Larrick. “We are following plans and protocols we have previously developed, as well as the actions and progress of communities across the country, including those in New York, Louisiana, California and elsewhere, and prudently planning to protect the health and safety of all our community.”

Billy Bayne, owner of the Highlander Motel in Clarendon, told ARLnow that the county has asked about possible use of the hotel, which has separate outdoor entrances and HVAC units for each room.

Arlington is “preparing for the worst” and looked at the Highlander as an “alternate site,” said Bayne, who also owns a pair of restaurants in Crystal City. He noted that there’s plenty of availability — he only had five paying guests to start the week.

In addition to details about the county’s plans, it has also been difficult to gather more information about COVID-19 cases in Arlington beyond the daily numbers provided by the state health department.

Virginia Hospital Center, which has implemented strict visitation policies as part of its COVID-19 response, declined to answer questions from ARLnow about how many confirmed and suspected cases it’s currently treating.

“Virginia Hospital Center is committed to protecting the privacy of our patients and complies with all applicable laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. As always, the Hospital does not share patient-specific information without prior authorization,” said Maryanne Boster, the hospital’s Director of Corporate Communications. “We are collaborating with public health authorities, including the CDC and local public health authorities, as appropriate. These authorities are best-positioned to provide public health information.”

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Morning Notes

Bloomberg Event Prompts Protests — Dozens of gun rights protesters demonstrated in front of the Bloomberg presidential campaign office last night during an event featuring D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser. [Twitter, Twitter]

Dorsey Talks to Local TV Station — “Arlington County board member Christian Dorsey is speaking out about the ethics violation that led to his resignation from the Metro board… ‘I’m embarrassed certainly, and disappointed,’ Dorsey said.” [WJLA]

ACFD Responds to Four Alarm Blaze — “Fourteen townhomes and five buildings were destroyed in a massive blaze that tore through a five-story building in… Fairfax County Saturday morning and filled the air with black smoke that could be seen for miles.” [NBC 4, Washington PostTwitter]

Smoke from Fairfax Fire, Seen Locally — Saturday’s massive fire in Fairfax County, south of Alexandria, could be seen from Arlington and other nearby locales. [Twitter, Twitter]

Superintendent Finalists Won’t Be Revealed — “Arlington School Board members will cloak their search for a new superintendent in as much secrecy as their predecessors have done. ‘We will not have a community-selection committee and will not share our finalists,’ School Board Chairman Tannia Talento said on Feb. 6.” [InsideNova]

Imperfect Arlington, Revisited — In the spirit of the late, lamented Imperfect Arlington: What’s up with the (supposedly) smaller scones at Northside Social? “Was told by @NorthsideSocial staff that they have ‘accidentally’ been making them too big, apparently for several years.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Skyline Offices to Become Housing? — “Fresh off acquiring the aging Skyline office park in Baileys Crossroads, a team of developers is sketching out plans to convert three buildings there into… a total of 764 residential units. Somera, out of New York, bought the 6.4-acre property on Leesburg Pike for $215 million back in November, pledging to bring residential and retail uses to the 1970s-era office buildings there.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Morning Notes

Cristol Reacts to Lawmaker’s Arlington Suggestion — After another Republican state Senator suggested, jokingly, that Arlington and Alexandria go back to being part of D.C., Arlington’s state lawmakers and County Board member Katie Cristol were not amused. Cristol tweeted: “Hmmm, is it possible their grievance is that my diverse, progressive constituents are EXACTLY what it means to be a ‘Real Virginian’ in 2020?” [Twitter, Blue Virginia]

More on Planned Pentagon City Study — “County staff have been overwhelmed by a flood of new development applications in the area since Amazon announced its intentions to set up its second headquarters. And the sizes of some of those projects have been so large that staff have begun urging developers to be patient and wait for a revision of the area’s planning documents before pursuing them.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Man Struck, Killed by Driver — “A 29-year-old man from Arlington, Virginia, died early Saturday morning after being hit by a dark-colored SUV on Industrial Road near Backlick Road in Springfield. David Velasquez was walking in the right lane of Industrial Road at about 1 a.m. when he was hit by the driver, who did not stop, Fairfax County police.” [WTOP]

‘We Will Buy Your Tech Business’ Signs — “There are mysterious signs all over Ballston saying ‘We will buy your tech business…’ [A person who returned our call] said they’re just interested in talking to people looking to sell their business and are not interested in being the subject of a news story.” [Twitter]

W-L, Yorktown Face Off on Hard Court — “There was a double feature of nail-biting thrillers the evening of Jan. 30 in a packed and loud Washington-Liberty High School gymnasium. That’s where the Yorktown Patriots and Washington-Liberty Generals met in all-Arlington girls and boys varsity basketball games with close finishes. The Yorktown girls won in overtime, 53-50. Then, in the nightcap, the W-L boys won, 65-63, on a last second-shot in the Liberty District high-school contests.” [InsideNova]

Minor Apartment Fire — Arlington County firefighters responded to a small cooking fire in an apartment near Courthouse on Saturday. No one was hurt and only minor damage was reported, although the apartment did fill with smoke. [Twitter]

Gymboree at Pentagon City Mall — “A popular children’s clothing retailer that closed all of its stores a year ago is taking steps to re-enter the marketplace. Officials with Gymboree this week announced plans to relaunch the brand at more than 200 Children’s Place locations nationwide,” including at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. [Patch]

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As much as it seemed to make economic sense, the announcement last year that Arlington County would no longer recycle glass collected curbside struck many residents as wasteful.

But there is an emerging silver lining.

Fairfax County said this month that the glass coming from dedicated collection bins in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax County and elsewhere in Northern Virginia has been of sufficiently high quality that, in addition to being crushed and used as construction materials, some is now going to a processing facility and is being recycled into new glass products, like bottles and fiberglass.

More from a Fairfax County press release:

North America’s largest glass recycler, Strategic Materials, has begun transporting glass from our processing plant in Lorton to one of its recycling facilities. There, the glass will be processed and sold to manufacturers of a wide range of glass products. One such customer is Owens-Illinois, Inc. also known as O-I, which produces 3.6 million bottles a day at its bottle manufacturing plants in Danville and Toano, Va.

Glass collected in Virginia and recycled into glass bottles in Virginia closes the loop on the circular economy, a goal of sustainable communities. According to O-I, glass-to-glass recycling uses less energy than making bottles from original material, reduces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and supports hundreds of jobs.

“This new market for our glass wouldn’t be possible without our residents,” said John Kellas, solid waste management program director. “They have adjusted their glass recycling habits and are filling up our purple cans almost faster than we can empty them. I appreciate their willingness to participate in the program and their patience as we identify additional drop-off locations and work through the logistics of the new collection routes.”

The quality and volume of clean glass resulted in the partnership with Strategic Materials, which is taking the glass before it’s crushed by the county’s “Big Blue” machine.

“Fairfax County probably has the highest quality of material we’ve seen in a drop-off program,” said Laura Henneman, vice president of marketing and communications for Strategic Materials. “The trial glass load was about 98 to 99 percent usable glass, which is incredible.”

The biggest problem with curbside glass recycling collection is that the glass is commingled with other materials — from recyclable paper, metal and plastic, to un-recyclable and contaminated materials that guilty residents “wish” could be recycled. The level of sorting needed to separate out the usable glass helps make it uneconomical, along with the fact that glass is a more resource-intensive material to recycle.

With a cleaner stream of glass, recycling is more feasible.

Arlingtonians can pat themselves on the back for their dedication to bringing glass to the county’s five drop-off sites. Residents dropped off more than 1 million pounds of glass at the bins in 2019, according to the county.

More on the “smashing success” of the glass recycling program, from Fairfax County:

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(Updated at 7:50 p.m.) Arlington’s interim top economic development official is leaving to be the deputy to the county’s former head of economic development, who now works for Fairfax County.

The announcement of Alex Iams’ impending departure, made today by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, could be seen as something of a setback to Arlington’s economic development efforts in the wake of Amazon choosing the county for its second headquarters.

More from a press release:

Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) President and CEO Victor Hoskins announced today that he has selected Alex Iams, a longtime economic development professional in Northern Virginia, to be executive vice president at the FCEDA.

Iams has been interim director of Arlington Economic Development (AED) since August, when Hoskins left AED to take the top job at the FCEDA. Iams has spent 13 years at AED, including five years as assistant director before being named interim director.

The position is a new one at the FCEDA. Iams will begin on January 21, 2020.

“Alex is an extraordinary talent,” Hoskins said. “Both his quantitative and qualitative skills are tops in our profession. His economic impact analysis and analysis of return on investment grounded everything we did in Arlington, and his knowledge of commercial real estate markets is second-to-none.”

Iams was a key member of the Arlington leadership that secured Amazon’s second headquarters for Northern Virginia in 2018. He said he is looking forward to working in Fairfax County because of the size and composition of the market and because of a talent attraction and retention initiative that the FCEDA will accelerate in 2020.

“The EDA’s talent initiative is unprecedented in this region, and I am excited to have the chance to make a difference in such a large community and one that is emphasizing transit-oriented development,” Iams said.

“We appreciate Alex’s contributions over the past 13 years,” Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz told ARLnow in a statement. “He has been instrumental in lowering the office vacancy rate in Arlington, diversifying the local economy, and attracting new businesses. We wish him the very best as he takes the next step in his career.

Fairfax County isn’t the only jurisdiction hiring from Arlington Economic Development’s top ranks following the big Amazon HQ2 announcement. It was announced in June that well-regarded economic development official Christina Winn would be taking over the top job in Prince William County.

Prior to poaching Iams, Hoskins suggested that Amazon “should have located in Fairfax County, with its larger, more diverse, pro-business environment.” That comment, however, followed his earlier remarks that Amazon’s arrival would help position the county as a sort of “Silicon Valley on the Potomac.”

Iams, meanwhile, said last month that despite HQ2 “there’s still a lot of work to do, and it’s going to be a steep hill to climb” in order to bring down Arlington’s still-high office vacancy rate.

Hoskins told the Washington Business Journal’s Alex Koma that he and Iams “had a really good chemistry when we worked together in Arlington,” adding that “he’s very gifted.”

An Arlington Economic Development spokeswoman tells ARLnow that the agency hopes to name a new director by the end of the year.

Photo courtesy Fairfax County Economic Development Authority

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Morning Notes

It’s Veterans Day — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed Mon., Nov. 11, 2019, on Veterans Day.” Also, ARLnow will be on a limited publishing schedule. [Arlington County]

Fracture in Ranks of Arlington Dems — “Longtime Democratic volunteer John Richardson removed his name from the roster of ‘poll greeters,’ bemoaning party ‘orthodoxy.’ After last May’s divisive primary for commonwealth’s attorney, Richardson went public with criticisms of the successful outside-funded Parisa Deghani-Tafti campaign against incumbent Theo Stamos. That led party officials, he said, to ‘disinvite’ him from being a greeter.” [Falls Church News-Press]

County Releases Flood History Map — “Working toward a more Flood Resilient Arlington, the County continues to add to its array of stormwater management resources for the public. Challenges and the Path Forward, a just-published, visually rich Story Map, illustrates how Arlington’s peak 20th century development took place amid few standards for stormwater — and the ramifications for today’s more frequent, intense rain storms lasting very short periods of time.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: Skyline Complex Acquired — “A New York-based commercial real estate firm has acquired the aging Skyline office complex in Baileys Crossroads for about $215 million with plans to revitalize the 1970s-era property Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE: VNO) relinquished ownership of nearly three years ago.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Purse Snatching Outside of Whole Foods Saturday — “The male suspect approached the victims near their vehicle and attempted to engage them in conversation before entering their vehicle. One victim confronted the suspect, who then threatened them, before attempting to steal a purse from the vehicle and flee. With the assistance of two bystanders, the suspect was stopped and the purse was recovered. The suspect was subsequently chased away from the area prior to police arrival.” [Arlington County, Twitter]

Arlington Man Dies in Route 7 Crash — “A 92-year-old man has died as a result of injuries from a crash that occurred around 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 in the 5600 block of Leesburg Pike. Donald Buzzell, 92, of Arlington, was operating a 1997 Mercury Marquis eastbound on Leesburg Pike when his vehicle hit two cars that were stopped in front of him, in traffic. The crash contributed to an additional three vehicles being hit.” [Fairfax County Police]

‘Pumpkin Patch’ Event in Ballston This Weekend — “Celebrate fall with a Pop-Up Pumpkin Patch at Ballston Quarter featuring live music, specialty drinks, crafts and of course, pumpkins! All pumpkins will be sold for $5 (cash only), with all proceeds going to Arlington Food Assistance Center. ” [Ballston Quarter]

N. Va. Atop State in Tourism — “Virginia’s tourism industry generated a record $26 billion in tourist spending in 2018 — and 40% of that, or $10.3 billion, was spent in Northern Virginia… Arlington County, Fairfax County and Loudoun County rank as the top three counties in Virginia for individual tourism spending.” [WTOP]

Winter Hours for Arlington National — Starting today, October 1, Arlington National Cemetery will close at 5 p.m. as part of its winter hours, which are in effect until the end of March. The Arlington Cemetery Metro station, meanwhile, will close at 7 p.m. during that time. [Twitter, Twitter]

ALXnow Launches Today — Our new Alexandria local news site, ALXnow, launches today at 8 a.m. Want to keep up with everything happening from Old Town to Potomac Yard to the West End? Follow ALXnow on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and sign up for our daily newsletter.

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Morning Notes

Arlington 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony — “The County’s wreath-laying ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11, at the Bozman Government Center. A moment of silence will be held at 9:37 a.m., the moment when the plane struck the Pentagon and 184 lives were lost.” [Arlington County, Press Release]

Stabbing in Boulevard Manor — “ACPD responded to a domestic violence incident in which a woman was reported stabbed in a home in the Boulevard Manor neighborhood around 11:30 a.m. [Tuesday]. She’s expected to be okay. Police are not releasing additional details, to protect the victim’s identity, per spokeswoman.” [Twitter]

ACPD Considering Ring Doorbell Partnership — “The Arlington County Police Department appears likely to become the fourth Greater Washington law enforcement agency to sign a partnership with Ring Inc., a doorbell-camera company owned by Amazon.com Inc., despite internal concerns over privacy and racial profiling.” [Washington Business Journal]

Marymount Jumps in Rankings — “Great news — Marymount has jumped more than 20 spots in the rankings for top Regional Universities in the South, according to the 2020 Best Colleges Rankings from @usnews!” [Marymount University, Twitter]

Arlington Visitor Spending Keeps Rising — “Arlington visitors spent a record $3.4 billion in 2018, a 4.3 percent increase over 2017, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Arlington has led Virginia counties in visitor spending since 2009. Tourism generated nearly $94 million in local tax receipts, benefiting County programs and services, as well as state tax receipts of nearly $127 million.” [Arlington County]

Rosslyn Neighbor Drama Does Federal — “A former analyst for the FBI admitted Tuesday to copying the private emails of a conservative conspiracy theorist and sharing them with his superiors while his wife offered them to the press… Tolson, who has left the FBI, agreed to forfeit two phones and two computers and avoid contact with Burkman, his neighbor in Arlington. He was released on bond until sentencing on Dec. 20.” [Washington Post]

Hoskins Wants ‘Innovation Campus’ in Fairfax — “As one of the lead negotiators involved in bringing Amazon.com Inc. to Arlington County, Victor Hoskins also helped Alexandria land Virginia Tech’s new ‘Innovation Campus’ — and now that he’s changed jobs, he wants to help Fairfax County do the same.” [Washington Business Journal]

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A man is fighting for his life after being struck by a driver on Columbia Pike.

The crash happened Thursday morning at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Carlin Springs Road, just over the Arlington border in Fairfax County.

Police say the victim suffered life-threatening injuries. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene and is talking to detectives who are investigating the crash, per Fairfax County Police.

Two westbound lanes of Columbia Pike are blocked as a result of the investigation.

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Morning Notes

Pence Visits Arlington, Again — Vice President Mike Pence again visited Arlington, this time the southern half of the county. The one-time Arlington resident gave a speech at an event for the “Alliance Defending Freedom” at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City hotel. As with his visit to Clarendon last week, the veep arrived via motorcade, accompanied by a sizable security detail. [White House, Twitter]

Arlington Company Facing Lawsuit — Employees of Arlington-based Evolent Health “have asserted in class-action lawsuits that the health care consulting company… has failed to pay them overtime for periods in which they worked more than 40 hours a week.” The company denied the allegations in court filings. [Insider Louisville]

Trans Events Coming to Crystal City — “An opening reception for people planning to participate in the [National Transgender Visibility March] will be held Thursday, Sept. 26, to be followed by a Friday, Sept. 27, Torch Award Ceremony in which prominent transgender and gender non-conforming leaders and activists will be honored. Both events will take place at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.” [Washington Blade]

Nearby: Serious Crash on Route 50 — Westbound Arlington Blvd was closed near the Arlington border Tuesday afternoon for a serious motorcycle crash and a subsequent Fairfax County Police investigation. The crash happened near the intersection of Arlington Blvd and Olin Drive in Falls Church. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Morning Notes

Family Sues Metro for Va. Square Death — “A family has filed a $25 million lawsuit against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), claiming negligence in the death of a man who lay down on the tracks at the Virginia Square rail station in July 2017.” [NBC Washington]

Jury Duty Process Starting Soon — “The Arlington Circuit Court… will soon begin its annual juror qualification process. Juror questionnaires will be mailed in early August to randomly selected residents of Arlington County and Falls Church City.” [Arlington County]

Tech Company Relocating to Arlington — “Still fresh off of raising millions in venture capital funding, Amify Inc. is leaving Alexandria for a larger space in Arlington just a few blocks from Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters. The company, which markets, sells and ships products for other companies on Amazon, has signed a three-year lease with JBG Smith Properties to take over the Crystal City space that was last rented by Trustify Inc., an embattled tech company that’s now in bankruptcy.” [Washington Business Journal]

Plaque Proposed for Wilson School — “Gone but not forgotten. That’s the hope of historic-preservation advocates when it comes to the Wilson School in Rosslyn… Plans for an historic marker noting the school’s provenance are wending their way through the county government’s approval process.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Exec Tapped as Accenture CEO — “Accenture Inc.’s board of directors has promoted Julie Sweet, a Greater Washington executive who now serves as the company’s North American CEO, to the top job of global chief executive effective Sept. 1. Her ascension makes Sweet, based in Arlington County, the 34th female CEO of a Fortune 500 company.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Update on Flooded Commuter Routes — “After time-consuming repairs, the District Department of Transportation reopened Canal Road between Reservoir and Foxhall roads late Monday morning…. In McLean, a rain-swollen [Pimmit] Run undermined a large section of Kirby Road. VDOT said the work to repair the road and embankment will take weeks.” [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by John Sullivan

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