Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Early Morning Fracas in Va. Square — “At approximately 1:09 a.m. on February 24, police were dispatched to the report of a fight in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business and allegedly began selecting merchandise. The victim refused the suspect service citing restrictions on the sales of alcohol during the overnight hours. The suspect and victim became engaged in a verbal dispute that escalated to a physical altercation, during which the victim was able to recover the merchandise. The suspect re-entered the business… at which point a witness intervened.” [ACPD]

Developers Selected for GMU Expansion — “George Mason University has picked a team of developers to manage the construction of the Amazon-induced expansion of its Arlington campus… The university hopes to finalize a development agreement with Edgemoor and Harrison Street by December and start construction by spring 2022. It plans to open the building by summer 2025. The Arlington campus, is located on Fairfax Drive just west of Clarendon.” [Washington Business Journal]

YHS Swimmer Breaks Two Nat’l Records — “US National Teamer Torri Huske made her mark on the final day of the 2021 VHSL Class 6 State meet, breaking two National High School records. Huske, a senior at Yorktown High School, began her meet by swimming a time of 1:53.73 in the 200 IM, chopping a tenth of a second off of Dagny Knutson’s National Public High School record of 1:53.82 that had stood since 2009.” [Swim Swam]

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Morning Notes

GMU Forms Coalition for Arlington Expansion — “George Mason University has gathered a powerhouse coalition of business executives and public sector leaders to help guide its tech-centric Arlington campus. The President’s Innovation Advisory Council, GMU announced Monday, will be chaired by Aneesh Chopra, president of CareJourney and the nation’s chief technology officer during the Obama administration.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Real Estate Prices Rise — “Year-over-year median per-square-foot prices were up in eight of nine major jurisdictions across the inner D.C. region, according to new figures… The District of Columbia led all comers, with its per-square-foot sales price standing at $521, up 16 percent from $449 in January 2020. Arlington ($465, up 16.5 percent from $399) and Alexandria ($360, up 4.1 percent from $346) ranked second and third.” [InsideNova]

Explaining Arlington to Australians — Arlington native and former Real World cast member Eric Patrick talked about his hometown and upbringing with an Australian podcast that focuses on communities. [Apple Podcasts, Twitter]

Nearby: Patrick Moran Running for Office — “Patrick Moran, son of former Northern Virginia Congressman and Alexandria Mayor Jim Moran, announced Saturday that he is running for City Council. Moran made the announcement on Facebook… [he] has yet to file his paperwork with the city registrar to run as a Democrat in the June 8 Democratic primary.” Moran was twice the subject of local controversy in 2012 and 2013. [ALXnow]

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Morning Notes

Planning Process for Pentagon City Underway — “Amazon.com Inc.’s vision for Pentagon City is decidedly futuristic, anchored by a helix-shaped building that looks straight out of a sci-fi novel. Arlington County’s existing plans that guide the neighborhood’s growth, meanwhile, date back to the days of disco… The open question is how much more development the tech giant will inspire.” [Washington Business Journal]

SUV Overturns on GW Parkway — From WTOP yesterday morning: “NB George Washington Pkwy before the Key Bridge, crash involves one on its side with the left lane only squeezing by.” [Twitter]

GMU to Partner with Local American Legion Post — “Realizing a need existed to help veterans and their families in similar situations, leaders at the law school established the Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic (M-VETS) in 2004…. A new partnership with American Legion Post 139, which will be standing up a new building in Arlington, will allow the clinic to further increase its impact.” [George Mason University]

New Apartment Building Opening — “AHC Inc., a leading developer of affordable housing in the Washington-Baltimore metro region, is pleased to introduce a new apartment community in Arlington, VA, called The Apex. Featuring a total of 256 apartments, the $100 million development has started to welcome its first residents and is currently accepting applications.” [Press Release]

Arlington Housing Remains Pricey — “The city of Falls Church in Virginia remains the most expensive housing market, by official jurisdiction, with a median price of $820,000 last month. But among larger jurisdictions, Virginia’s Arlington County remains the most expensive, at $600,000 last month.” [WTOP]

Instant-Runoff Voting Challenges — “Technical, legal and financial complexities likely will mean any start to ‘instant-runoff’ County Board voting in Arlington will be pushed back to 2022 at the soonest. ‘It’s not practical for this year. The earliest this could possibly be used is next year,’ said Arlington Electoral Board secretary Scott McGeary, summing things up during a Feb. 6 Electoral Board meeting.” [InsideNova]

Reminder: Blue Line Work Starts Tomorrow — “Metro’s entire Blue Line is being shut down for more than three months starting Saturday… platform reconstruction work [is] being performed at the Arlington Cemetery station.” [ARLnow]

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A recent national report has revealed that rents in Arlington have dropped by 14.8% since last March, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by ApartmentList.com.

Arlington has had the seventh-largest decrease compared to other (much larger) markets, like New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. D.C. had the fifth-largest decrease.

Between December and January, Arlington rents decreased by nearly 2.5%.

The median two-bedroom rent in the county is now $2,032, according to the report. However, Arlington still has the most expensive rents in the D.C. region, topping fellow close-in suburbs like Bethesda and Alexandria.

There’s one huge reason for the drop.

“It’s really tied to the economic carnage [from] the pandemic,” says Terry Clower, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. “Most of the jobs that we have lost have been in the hospitality services and retail sectors, which are typically disproportionately renters.”

Clower says parsing out data shows the pandemic has also caused behavioral changes in terms of renting. In general, high-rise units have seen a larger drop in demand than lower-rise properties, Clower notes.

If part of your calculation of where you want to live at the moment is based on how dense the development is, how [crowded] it is in the elevator,” says Clower. “Then, you are less likely to live in a high rise.”

Ballston and Rosslyn, in particular, have seen an influx of these dense-living types of properties, mostly due to construction prior to the pandemic, though there are more in the pipeline.

What’s more, there’s lower desire at the moment to live in high-density areas, according to Clower. While rent prices have declined in Arlington, they’ve risen in further D.C. area ‘burbs.

“Areas like Fredericksburg, Virginia… or Charles County, Maryland, rents have increased,” says Clower. “You’re getting… that effect of fleeing the dense inner suburbs to the less dense outer suburbs.”

The need for more space, as well, has shifted some renters to exploring buying single family homes. Between a lack of housing inventory and rising home values in Arlington, says Clower, demand for residences in the outer suburbs have also exploded.

“Most households in our region are two-income earner households, especially families with school-age children,” says Clower. “Kids need a place and both [parents] need some place to work inside the house, preferably not the kitchen table.”

Plus, lower interest rates have also encouraged first-time home buyers.

While rent decreases may be good for renters, it’s not good for property owners, developers, or even the county as a whole.

Clower says smaller landlords, those that only own a few properties, are not getting any break on mortgage payments, meaning decreasing rents impact their ability to pay their mortgage. In terms of the bigger developments, units are generating less revenue.

“They are less valuable in the market, which means that… the property taxes paid to local governments should be reduced as well,” says Clower. “Because they’re less valuable and generating less income.”

Arlington County depends on these property taxes to balance its budget and provide services to residents. But the full impact of all of this may not be seen until further into the future.

“The fiscal and economic down side of this pandemic is going to last well beyond… when we start getting the pandemic under control through the vaccinations,” says Clower.

Right now, it just may be a great moment to rent in Arlington. Clower says we can probably expect a continued slight dip in rents, but the big drop-off probably has already happened with vaccinations starting to happen.

“If you are looking for a good deal and prefer to be a renter,” says Clower, “it’s probably a good time to lock in a relatively long term lease.”

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(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) Initial preparations are underway for a major transformation of the George Mason University campus in Virginia Square.

Fencing is currently going up around the former Kann’s Department Store on the GMU Arlington campus, next to the FDIC office complex, in preparation for demolition. The aging, mid-century brick building, at 3401 Fairfax Drive, is set to be torn down starting in early 2021.

The demolition will make way for a $250 million expansion project, which will see the construction of an expansive new building to house new tech-oriented facilities.

“The university is transforming its Arlington campus to create a new innovation hub for the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor,” GMU said of the project. “The multi-million dollar expansion project will include an approximately 500,000 SF state-of-the-art building that will serve as the headquarters for Mason’s Institute for Digital Innovation and its proposed School of Computing.”

A university press release from July further clarified the GMU would occupy most of the building, while private companies may also lease space in it.

“Utilizing the site of the former Kann’s Department store, the Institute for Digital InnovAtion headquarters will be a mixed-use, multi-tenant building with approximately 400,000 square feet of new building space adjacent to Mason’s existing presence in Virginia Square,” the press release said. “Mason will occupy approximately 225,500 square feet of the new space, leaving 135,000 square feet available for leasing by industry partners.”

Abatement work will follow the fencing installation, and demolition is expected to start early next year. Design work on the new facility is expected to be complete by the fall of 2022, followed by a construction project which should be complete by mid-2025, according to an information packet about the project.

The overall goal is to position GMU, plus Arlington and Northern Virginia as a whole, as a new tech powerhouse.

“By 2024, Mason projects it will have more than 10,000 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students enrolled in computing-related degree program. More than just an addition to the Arlington skyline, the new building will directly serve those students,” the information packet says. “The first of its kind in Virginia, [Mason’s proposed School of Computing] will graduate future leaders in key tech fields and position Arlington as a global leader in computing.”

GMU is currently trying to raise $125 million, which will then be matched with another $125 million from the state, for the graduate programs. The university is set to receive another $110 million from Virginia to establish the undergraduate programs. The funding was announced in the wake of Amazon’s decision to locate its HQ2 in Arlington.

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Since launching in 2019, the Juris Master (JM) Degree Program at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School has assisted students in building professional and social connections.

This in-demand degree is designed for professionals like you who interact with lawyers and legal issues regularly in the course of their careers and is now offered by over half of all tier-one law schools. Scalia Law’s two-year part-time program is offered at the Arlington campus, and enrollment for the January 2021 class is currently OPEN.

Get your Juris Master Degree now!

Our two-year part-time program is offered at the Arlington campus, just minutes from the nation’s capital, with its next cohort class starting January 25, 2020. As listed on the JM Degree website, https://jurismaster.gmu.edu/, you will start with general legal research, writing and introductory law courses, and then choose a concentration in:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Employment & Labor Relations
  • Financial & Commercial Services
  • Government Contracts & Regulations
  • Intellectual Property & Technology
  • National Security, Cybersecurity & Information Privacy

Get a great legal education from a top-tier law school designed specifically for working professionals!

Financial aid is available.

Learn more about the Juris Master Degree Program at our Virtual Open House Tuesday, November 17 from 6-7 p.m.

Register Now!

For more information about the JM Degree Program, please visit our website or contact Jessica L. Sartorius, Director of Juris Master (JM) Degree Program, at [email protected] or 703-993-8418.

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The highly ranked master’s security studies programs at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University have received a $250,000 gift from the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation.

The funds will be used for scholarships for eligible master’s students entering the Schar School in Spring 2021 who are pursuing degrees in a security studies-related program.

“The Diana Davis Spencer Foundation gift is making it possible for many students to attend our high-ranked security studies programs and prepare for careers in intelligence and security policy,” said Schar School Dean Mark J. Rozell. “We are grateful for this new partnership that will advance our shared goal of educating and training future policy professionals in these fields.”

The scholarship gift is intended to develop and prepare future national security professionals and leaders who will study in one of the Schar School’s four master’s programs: Master’s in International Security, Master’s in Biodefense, Master’s in Public Policy with an emphasis in National Security and Public Policy, and the global No. 22-ranked Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

“We are delighted to support students to attend a top-tier policy and government school which prepares them to be the outstanding professionals who will serve in the national security arena,” said foundation Chief Executive Officer Abby Spencer Moffat in announcing the award.

The scholarships range from $3,000 to $30,000 and will be distributed over the first three semesters of the degree program. Learn more about the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation Scholarship and how to apply.

Curious about where a security-focused degree can take you? Register for our upcoming virtual job talk on October 29 for a rare chance to hear from industry experts on ways to research and build out a policy and security career roadmap from the scope of available opportunities. Panelists will also share their knowledge on skills critical to preparing for professional success.

Former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, who is now a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Schar School’s national security program, will also greet prospective students and share his security experience during a Master’s and Certificate Virtual Open House on November 12. Register to attend.

To stay updated on opportunities or information about the Schar School’s graduate programs, please visit our admissions event page or fill out our request form.

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The Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University is offering a new three-part series of “virtual visits” to campus for prospective undergraduate students to see first-hand the opportunities and world-changing subject matter that a Schar School student encounters.

“The virtual visits will showcase some of the high-profile professors, students, and graduates who make the Schar School one of the highest ranked policy and government schools in the country,” said Shannon Williams, who works in student services and is coordinating the virtual visits. “The variety of the topics of the three events range from examining the future of American democracy to justice and prison privatization to getting ready for your career in changing the world. Prospective students will be able to ask questions at the end and they can register for one session or all three, at no cost.”

The virtual visit series will be held October 13-15, at 6 p.m. EDT. Topics throughout the week include:

Register to attend any or all of the virtual visits.

With a BA in Government and International Politics and the BS in Public Administration, students are poised to make an impact globally and locally.

To learn more about other upcoming events, please visit our event calendar or connect with the Schar School Office of Undergraduate Student Services at [email protected].

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Join the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University for an upcoming virtual open house for prospective students! Learn more about our top-ranked degrees as our sessions will explore master’s, certificate and PhD programs.

Master’s and Certificate Virtual Open House
Tuesday, September 15
6:30-8 p.m. (EDT)

PhD Virtual Open House
Wednesday, September 23
7-8:30 p.m. (EDT)

Master’s and Certificate Virtual Open House
Thursday, October 22
6:30-8 p.m. (EDT)

Master’s and Certificate Virtual Open House
Thursday, November 12
6:30-8 p.m. (EDT)

George Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the No. 2 best school in the U.S. for security studies programs relating to intelligence, counterterrorism, and emergency management. With dedicated career services advisors, 16,000+ passionate alumni around the globe, and a faculty of leaders and experts in their fields, you will benefit from a world-class education.

Graduate Certificate Programs (5 Courses Each)

Part-time and full-time options available

Master’s Degree Programs

Part-time and full-time options available

PHD Degree Programs

Part-time and full-time options available

To learn more about graduate programs at the Schar School, fill out the inquiry form to indicate your interest to the Admissions team or register for a virtual open house.

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Arlington County’s new police practices review board answered questions from the public about its goals and methods in a virtual meeting Monday.

The board, announced in July by County Manager Mark Schwartz, used the meeting to elaborate on how it would “ensure that the Arlington County Police Department is current with policing best practices and continue to build trust between our police and the community” through its review.

Its work comes in the wake of increased community complaints about ACPD, local activists’ recent demands for police reform and a national reckoning on policing after George Floyd’s killing by police.

Questions were directed at representatives of the review board’s two parts: an external assessment of ACPD by a hired firm, and a 16 person Police Practices Group (PPG) with four subcommittees.

Marcia Thompson, a civil rights attorney and vice president of law enforcement consulting at Hillard Heintze, is leading her firm’s ACPD assessment.

When asked how Hillard Heintze will conduct its review, Thompson said it will first comb through ACPD data to compile a quantitative report on policies and practices like use of force. The firm will then create a qualitative report based on a climate survey and interviews with police officers and community members who have relevant lived experience.

Thompson said the firm will compare its findings to what are considered best practices for community policing, a standard set by the U.S. Department of Justice and policing accreditation groups like CALEA.

She added that reviews like this are typically asked for by police departments dealing with a publicized incident or failure, but she does not think similar pressure compelled Arlington.

“This is a progressive move by a department to actually have someone coming in and look at their practices,” Thompson said. “They have no idea what our outcomes are going to be, so that’s a very bold step that they took to have someone come in to look at their work.”

The remainder of the community’s questions were about the PPG, whose members are largely Arlington-based. The group consists of four subcommittees, with each looking at an ACPD policy area.

“Our end goal is to be able to take the assessment work that [Thompson] and her team are doing and combine it with community engagement work that the PPG group is doing, to present a set of recommendations to the County Manager by the middle of December,” Julie Shedd, the associate dean at George Mason University’s Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution and the PPG’s expert consultant, said.

Each subcommittee chair spoke in the meeting about what their intentions are and methods of analysis will be.

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