New Lyon Park Neighborhood Plan Approved — “The Arlington County Board today accepted the first update to historic Lyon Park’s Neighborhood Conservation plan since 1973. The update, spearheaded by the Lyon Park Citizens Association, seeks to address increased non-resident traffic and other challenges through 19 recommendations for improvements.” [Arlington County]
ACPD Traffic Enforcement in Crystal City — “Motor Officers conducted high visibility traffic enforcement along Crystal Drive today to curb illegal practices including stopping/parking in the bike and travel lanes. Increase roadway safety [by] being a PAL — Predictable | Alert | Lawful.” [Twitter]
How to Beat the Heat in Arlington — With a scorching weekend of dangerous heat ahead, and an Excessive Heat Watch issued, Arlington County is reminding residents of some ways they can keep cool, stay informed and help at-risk individuals. [Arlington County]
Metro Waterfall, Explained — Metro has an explanation of why a waterfall developed in the ceiling of the Virginia Square Metro station and inside a passing train during the Flash Flood Emergency last week. [DCist]
Grants for African-American Heritage Projects — “Two Arlington-based organizations are among 25 non-profits statewide that will share more than $140,000 in new grant funding from Virginia Humanities” for projects exploring local African-American heritage and history [InsideNova]
Beyer on Trump Impeachment Vote — “I strongly support an impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Trump. I voted to table H. Res. 489 because it would effectively prevent the House from conducting such an inquiry… It would initiate an impeachment trial in the Senate solely to consider whether the President should be removed from office for his recent racist tweets.” [Twitter, Blue Virginia]
Dueling APS Letters to the Editor — On one hand, Arlington Public Schools should stick to funding only the basics, like providing textbooks and pencils, according to one letter to the editor published in the Sun Gazette. On the other hand, APS should have a comprehensive approach to sustainability, including recycling and excess cafeteria waste, according to another letter to the editor writer. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Amazon is planning to award four Arlington schools with a $10,000 grant for robotics programs.
Abingdon, Hoffman-Boston and Drew elementary schools, along with Kenmore Middle School, have been selected for the grant along with 96 other schools nationwide, according to the statement released this morning.
Amazon is also awarding grants to 13 schools in D.C., six in Alexandria, and two in Prince George’s County.
The “Amazon Future Engineer Robotics Grant” funds the costs of starting up a robotics club and registering it with FIRST, a non-profit that hosts robotics competitions. The awarded schools will decide how exactly to spend the funds, reported the Washington Post.
The round of grants comes a month after the Arlington County Board approved an incentive package to welcome the Amazon’splanned second headquarters in Crystal City.
The deal has drawn repeated controversy from local activists who criticized the $23 million in incentives and $28 million in transportation upgrades offered by the county if Amazon meets certain job creation benchmarks. Critics have also expressed concern over a part of the deal where the county agreed to forward public records to Amazon without redacting filers’ personal information.
Schools were eligible for the grant based on their proximity to Amazon’s sites and their participation in the federal Title I program that awards additional funding for schools serving many low-income families, per the Post.
Amazon is doling out the robotics grants via its “Future Engineer” charity which is funded by a $50 million the tech and retail giant pledged to invest in STEM education by providing students with computer science courses, scholarships, and internships.
Amazon’s Offices Will Be Dog-Friendly — Amazon’s new “HQ2” offices in the Crystal City area will be dog-friendly, its head of economic development said at an event yesterday. Property owner JBG Smith wooed Amazon, in part, by making sure there were lots of dogs around during Amazon’s visit to the area. [Bisnow]
HQ2 Still Not a Certainty — “While there aren’t any signs Amazon.com Inc. plans to walk away from National Landing after abandoning Long Island City, the company’s future landlord and development partner warned Tuesday that HQ2 is still just an agreement in principle, not a done deal.” [Washington Business Journal]
Autonomous Vehicles in Ballston? — “In collaboration with the Ballston Business Improvement District, [a Virginia Tech] research team is seeking current public attitudes towards [self-driving vehicles] in Ballston through an online survey.” [Virginia Tech]
Arlington Gets ‘Love’ Tourism Grant — “The Arlington Convention and Visitors Service (ACVS) announced today that it has received a $10,000 grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) ’50 Years of Love’ grant fund. ’50 Years of Love’ is part of VTC’s efforts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Virginia is for Lovers tourism slogan.” [Arlington County]
Marymount Names New Provost — “Marymount is pleased to announce that the search process for its new provost has drawn to a successful conclusion. From a distinguished national pool, the University has selected Hesham El-Rewini, Ph.D., P.E. as the newest member of the Marymount team.” [Marymount University]
Beyer on Bryce — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) quoted Star Wars upon new of now-former Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper signing with the Phillies: “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.” [Twitter]
Marine Corps Marathon Recap — A D.C. man and a Costa Rican woman were the winners of the 43rd annual Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday. Meanwhile, the last “Groundpounder,” who had run every Marine Corps Marathon since its inception in 1976, announced his retirement on Saturday after deciding to withdraw from this year’s race. [RunWashington, Stars and Stripes, WTOP]
Arlington Gets Addiction Treatment Grant — “Arlington County has been awarded $250,000 from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) to help people with substance use disorders. The grant is part of the insurer’s nearly $2.1-million investment in community health organizations working to combat substance use disorders, including opioid use disorders.” [Arlington County]
Parking Concerns For Nauck Pool — “Nauck Civic Association president Portia Clark, whose organization supports” a planned pool in Nauck, “pressed county officials to make sure the neighborhood had a say on issues related to its development, including operating hours and parking. ‘Our community has some parking challenges,’ Clark said. ‘The community should be involved.'” [InsideNova]
‘Signs of Fatigue’ For Real Estate Market — “There was a pronounced drop in the number of homes for sale in Northern Virginia in September, and prices may be showing signs of topping out… The number of sales across the Northern Virginia region almost universally fell in September, with sales in Arlington County down 12 percent from a year ago.” [WTOP]
Major Crystal City Development Approved — “The Arlington County Board today approved a two-phase plan to redevelop a portion of Crystal Square, in the heart of Crystal City. The project will add 100,000 square feet of street-oriented retail businesses, including a new Alamo Drafthouse movie theater and a grocery store, to Crystal Drive, and upgrade an existing office building to ‘Class A’ office space.” [Arlington County]
Sunflower Restaurant Closed in Falls Church — Vegetarian restaurant Sunflower recently closed its location in Seven Corners. In its place, Bawadi Mediterranean restaurant has opened. Meanwhile, Sunflower has a location in Vienna that remains open. [Twitter]
HUD Grant to House Low-Income Arlingtonians — “The nearly $464,000 HUD Housing Choice Mainstream Voucher Grant is a specialized voucher program that will help non-elderly persons with disabilities who are transitioning out of institutional settings, at risk of institutionalization, homeless, or at risk of being homeless, rent housing in Arlington. The County’s Department of Human Services expects 40 Arlington residents to will be housed through the grant.” [Arlington County]
Another Arlington Money Diary — Another Arlington resident is the subject of a Refinery29 “money diary.” The latest profile subject is “an administrative assistant working in law who makes $57,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on candles for her daughter’s birthday cupcakes.” [Refinery29]
GW Unveils New Clubhouse at Barcroft Park — “[GW] Baseball’s first on-site clubhouse was unveiled at Tucker Field Saturday after more than a year of renovations. The Fassnacht Clubhouse and Training Facility is a 6,200-square-foot space that includes a locker room, coaches’ offices, a players lounge and an indoor turf training space. Each player received a customized locker, and the existing batting cages at the field were also enclosed, according to an athletics department release.” [GW Hatchet]
Fall Foliage Mostly MIA in Va. — “By the final third of October, fiery colors of fall are usually all over the place in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Not this year. While we are still at least a week or two from typical peak fall foliage in the immediate D.C. area, this year’s delay in autumn color is unlike anything in recent memory.” [Washington Post]
The Clarendon War Memorial, which honors Arlington residents killed in major armed conflicts, is getting new signs to explain its significance and context.
The memorial, located on the opposite end of Clarendon Central Park from the Metro station entrance, has generated some controversy in recent years due to it separately listing the two “colored” troops from Arlington killed during World War I.
On Saturday the Arlington County Board voted to accept a $2,000 grant from the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission to fund new interpretive signs.
“The original 1931 plaque on the memorial lists the names of the 13 Arlington servicemen who died in WWI, and segregates the names by race,” said county spokeswoman Gina Wimpey. “A main goal of this interpretive project will be to provide historic context for the segregation of the names, as well as information about Arlington during each of the time periods and conflicts represented on the memorial.”
The new interpretive signs will ring the memorial. The first is expected to be unveiled later this fall.
“The proposed interpretive panels related to the Clarendon War Memorial will be installed in phases, with the first panel focusing on the history of the memorial itself,” said Wimpey. “That panel is planned (pending the final fabrication and installation schedule) to be unveiled at a Centennial Armistice Day event to be held Nov. 11 and hosted by the American Legion, in partnership with Arlington County and Arlington’s WWI Commemoration Task Force.”
Some have called for the original plaque to be removed and replaced due to its segregation of African American service members, though task force member (and former county treasurer) Frank O’Leary argued on the 26 Square Miles podcast earlier this year that it would have been considered progressive at the time for the way it was designed.
Nestle is now in line to earn half of the $4 million in local grants Arlington promised the company in exchange for moving to Rosslyn, after meeting the county’s targets to qualify for the incentives.
In all, the packaged food giant will receive $12 million in cash and infrastructure improvements after agreeing to relocate its corporate headquarters to 1812 N. Moore Street last February. But the money did come with some strings attached, forcing the company to prove that it will create 748 new jobs with an average annual salary of $127,719 in the county and lease at least 205,000 square feet of office space by the time 2020 arrives.
Only $4 million will come from the county itself, through a “Economic Development Incentive” grant, while a $6 million state grant and $2 million in nearby infrastructure construction round out Arlington’s deal with Nestle. Even still, the grants have become a hot-button political issue around the county, with plenty of observers questioning whether the incentive money might’ve been better spent elsewhere.
So far, at least, the company seems to be holding up its end of the bargain. According to documents released through a Freedom of Information Act request, Nestle has created and maintained 358 new jobs at the Rosslyn office, and has leased 229,000 square feet of space in Rosslyn through June 30. Daniel Nugent, chief legal officer and general counsel for the company, signed a July 18 affidavit attesting to those statistics.
That means the company has well exceeded its office space requirement to earn the grant money, but fell just short of the 374 new jobs it needed to create by the time June 30 rolled around.
However, Cara O’Donnell, a spokeswoman for Arlington Economic Development, noted that the company only needed to hit 90 percent of the grant’s requirements to earn the money. Accordingly, the county will now release $2 million to Nestle.
“This year, Nestle achieved 95 percent of its new jobs target and 111 percent of its facility lease target, well above the 90 percent required in each category,” O’Donnell told ARLnow. “They are currently meeting targets as required.”
Josh Morton, a spokesman for Nestle, added that the discrepancy in the job figure is because “the number is always changing as more people are hired in Arlington.” In July and August alone, he says the company hired another 125 employees.
Though she generally remains “skeptical” of such relocation incentives, County Board Chair Katie Cristol thinks “it’s great, but not a surprise to know that Nestle is performing consistently with those expectations.” She attributes that to the work of county staff to “develop an incredibly conservative incentives program where we can see a very clear and really significant return on investment in any incentive we make.”
“We’re not going to do something speculative where we’re giving away the public’s money without a lot of confidence that we’ll see that money return to us well in orders of magnitude beyond what we invested,” Cristol said.
Cristol is well aware what kind of controversy the Nestle incentives kicked up after the Board approved them last year, and how the prospect of similar grants going to Amazon to bring HQ2 to Arlington has roiled the community.
So while she does remain “a little uneasy” about the prospect of “a community like Arlington, that has so much else to offer, seeking to offer cash incentives,” Cristol thinks the Nestle deal does show that these grants can work, if managed properly.
“We’re delighted to have Nestle here, they’ve been a great partner in the community already,” Cristol said. “And in the long term sense… we’re going to be really gimlet-eyed about continuing to look at all over those targets and looking at the return on investment over the life of any deal we put together.”
Nestle will next report back to the county on July 15, 2019 to affirm that it’s indeed created all 748 jobs it promised for the Rosslyn office.
The Virginia Hospital Center’s Outpatient Clinic has an additional $70,354 to support uninsured and low-income pregnant women in the area, thanks to a recent grant from the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation.
The bulk of the grant money — $64,354 — will support the second year of a telemedicine pilot program, which facilitates virtual appointments for patients with high-risk pregnancies who are unable to schedule some appointments in-person due to work, child care commitments or transportation barriers.
Another $5,000 will go to “transportation cards” for pregnant women who are low-income. The remaining $1,000 will go to purchasing “pack-and-plays,” which provide a safe place for newborns to sleep, for families in need.
The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation was founded in memory of Jennifer Lawson, a mother of three who died in a 2014 accident. Registration is now open for the fourth annual Jennifer Bush-Lawson 5K & Family Fun Day, scheduled for Nov. 17. The event will raise additional funds for the Virginia Hospital Center’s Outpatient Clinic.
Photo courtesy Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation
County Board to Vote on Arts Grants — “County Board members on July 14 are slated to approve $215,810 in direct support to Arlington arts groups for the coming year. The funding request, which is in line with those of previous years, comes from the Arlington Commission for the Arts.” [InsideNova]
New Building Sign in Rosslyn — The logo for the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business now sits atop one of Rosslyn’s skyscrapers. The school recently expanded its facilities within the building at 1100 Wilson Blvd. [Twitter]
‘Instagrammable’ Sights in Arlington — Stay Arlington, the county’s tourism promotion agency, has a list of the “Most Instagrammable Places in Arlington.” The list includes: the Air Force Memorial, the Netherlands Carillon, murals in Crystal City, Theodore Roosevelt Island, New District Brewing Co. and the Mount Vernon Trail. [Stay Arlington]
Local Young Professionals Spend Wisely — A “money diary” for a married, young professional couple in Arlington has none of the excesses usually found in the genre. Instead, the couple jointly makes $175,000 per year, plus bonuses, and spends it modestly on things like cheddar Chex Mix and a $1,600 per month one bedroom apartment. [Refinery 29]
New Look for Our Homepage — You might have noticed that ARLnow’s homepage has a new look. This is an interim step on our way to launching an entirely new website design. Please let us know what you think about it in the comments. Also, let us know if you find any significant bugs or problems, as we’re still working out the kinks.
Nearby: Dual-Use Path on W&OD Trail — “Within the next year, pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to use separate, parallel sections along the trail in the city of Falls Church.” [InsideNova]
Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick
ARLnow’s Eighth Birthday — Today is the eighth anniversary of the founding of ARLnow.com. Here is our first post ever.
Sexual Harassment FOIA Folo — In a follow-up to our FOIA request seeking any records of sexual harassment or assault allegations against senior Arlington officials since 2000 — no such records were found — we asked about any such cases, against any county employee, that were handled by the County Attorney’s office over the past decade. The response from the county’s FOIA officer: “There are no records responsive to your request because no such cases exist.” The last publicly reported case was that against an Arlington police officer in 2007.
Vihstadt Launches Re-election Bid — Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt made it official last night: he is running for re-election. Vihstadt, who is running as an independent, has picked up at least one Democratic challenger so far. However, he again has the backing of a number of prominent Democrats, including fellow Board member Libby Garvey, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos and Treasurer Carla de la Pava. [InsideNova]
County Accepts Millions in Grant Funds — “The Arlington County Board today accepted $17.85 million in grant funding from three transportation entities that will be used for transit, bridge renovation and transportation capital projects in the County.” Among the projects is a new west entrance for the Ballston Metro station. [Arlington County]
County Board Accepts Immigration Donation — “The Arlington County Board today accepted a resident’s anonymous donation for a Citizenship Scholarship to help Arlingtonians pay the $725 federal application fee charged to those seeking to become U.S. citizens.” [Arlington County]
Man Convicted of 7-Eleven Robberies — A man arrested last year for a string of robberies has been convicted by a federal jury of three armed robberies and an armed carjacking. Among the crimes were two armed robberies of 7-Eleven stores in Arlington. [Alexandria News]
Arlington Lauded for Solar Program — The U.S. Department of Energy has named Arlington County a “SolSmart” community “for making it faster, easier and more affordable for Arlington homes and businesses to go solar.” [Twitter, Arlington County]
Flickr photo by John Sonderman
Two Arlington-based companies are set to receive incentive-based economic development grants as they expand in the county.
Rosslyn-based technology company Higher Logic and Clarendon-based media firm Axios are both in line to receive $60,000 each under the county’s incentive-based Gazelle Grant program. The program, administered through Arlington Economic Development, encourages businesses to move into or stay in Arlington.
Under the terms of the grants, both companies must commit to leasing a certain amount of office space and creating more full-time jobs. If they do not fulfill the terms as of December 31, 2020, they will be required to pay back at least some of the grant.
For its grant, Higher Logic must lease at least 31,000 square feet of office space, maintain its existing 107 full-time jobs and create 133 new full-time positions.
Founded in 2007, Higher Logic had been exploring a new location for its headquarters, having expanded to take up 15,000 square feet by 2015. It will move to 1919 N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn and occupy an entire floor of the building on a 10-year lease.
Axios, meanwhile, must lease at lease 15,000 square feet of office space, maintain its existing 60 full-time jobs and create 60 new full-time positions.
Having initially located at the MakeOffices coworking space at the office building at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, Axios is set to expand into the 13th floor at the same address and sign a 10-year lease.
The Arlington County Board will vote on whether to award the grants at its meeting Saturday (January 27). Staff recommended approval of both.