Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Road Closures for 9/11 5K — “The 18th annual Arlington Police, Fire & Sheriff Memorial 9/11 5K race will take place on the evening of Saturday, September 7, 2019. The Arlington County Police Department will close several roadways around the Pentagon and in Crystal City to accommodate the event.” [Arlington County]

Pentagon, Rosslyn Rank Among Busiest Stations — “In Virginia, the Pentagon [Metro] station averages around 14,000 entries and exits each weekday, ranking it and Rosslyn ahead of Pentagon City, Crystal City, Ballston, Vienna and Wiehle-Reston East.” [WTOP]

Hotel Occupancy Rate Going Down — “Arlington’s year-over-year hotel-occupancy rate is down from 2017 for the first seven months of the year, but the average room rate is higher, according to new data.” [InsideNova]

Even Shirlington Feeling Amazon Glow — “It might be a bit of a stretch to call it proximate to the e-commerce and cloud computing company’s second home in Arlington County, but a Shirlington office building with future ‘Amazon HQ2 upside’ is being offered for sale.” [Washington Business Journal]

Startup Moving After Big Funding Round — After raising a new $51 million funding round, Arlington-based Federated Wireless is moving its 80-person team to a new 20,000+ square foot space at 4075 Wilson Blvd in Ballston. [Washington Business Journal]

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(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) An Arlington man has been arrested and charged with murder after a woman fell from an upper floor of a Crystal City hotel early this morning.

Police were called to a hotel on the 1300 block of Richmond Highway — which corresponds to the Embassy Suites by Hilton Crystal City National Airport — for a report of a woman who fell from a height onto the hotel lobby below.

The victim, who died at the scene, was identified as 63-year-old Arlington resident Zelalem Abedje. Following an initial investigation, police arrested a 27-year-old man for murder.

“The circumstances preceding the fall remain under investigation,” police said in a press release, below. “Tebebe Makonnen, 27, has been charged with Murder and is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility on no bond.”

Last year Makonnen was arrested in Arlington and charged with sexual battery in connection with a reported assault of a woman inside a local medical office.

Including today’s incident, there have been three homicides in Arlington County in 2019 so far.

More from an ACPD press release:

Arlington County Police announce the arrest of an Arlington man following a suspicious death investigation in Crystal City. Tebebe Makonnen, 27, has been charged with Murder and is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility on no bond.

At approximately 1:38 a.m. on August 20, police were dispatched to the 1300 block of Richmond Highway for the report of an EMS assist. Upon arrival, an adult female was located deceased inside the lobby of a hotel after falling from an upper floor. The circumstances preceding the fall remain under investigation.

The victim has been identified as Zelalem Abedje, 63, of Arlington, Virginia. Cause of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

This remains an active criminal investigation. Based on the preliminary investigation, this appears to be an isolated incident with no ongoing threat to the public.

Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective R. Munizza of the department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4171 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Photo (1) via Google Maps, (2) via Embassy Suites

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Morning Notes

Storms Expected Today — “Strong to locally severe thunderstorms are in the forecast Tuesday afternoon and evening, and the potential exists for this to be a significant severe weather event.” [Capital Weather Gang]

ACPD: Expect Police at Fair — “As in years past, the [Arlington County Fair] will have dedicated police staffing and resources and fairgoers can expect to see a visible police presence… There are no known threats to Arlington County, however, the public is encouraged to remain aware of your surroundings at all times.” [Arlington County]

Local Volunteer Firefighting Legacy — “Tucked inside the Clarendon fire station on N. 10th St. is a special closed-off room. By long-standing arrangement with the county, it is dedicated to honoring the station’s decades of reliance on volunteer firefighters. Today’s professionally staffed Fire Station 4 deploys ‘no active volunteers, but retains a volunteer presence.'” [Falls Church News-Press]

Hotel Near HQ2 Sells For Big Bucks — “Host Hotels & Resorts sold the Residence Inn Arlington Pentagon City, a 299-room high-rise property at 550 Army Navy Drive, for $99.1M in a deal that closed July 1, according to Arlington County property records.” [Bisnow]

Deer Rescued from Fence — “Last week, Officer Solano and several neighbors were able to safely untangle this juvenile deer from a soccer net in a resident’s backyard. The deer immediately ran away, uninjured, back into the woods nearby.” [Twitter]

Man Brings Loaded Shotgun to Pentagon — “A Kentucky man taken into custody at the Pentagon last week had a shotgun, ammunition and a machete in his pickup truck, according to court documents… While speaking to the officers, [the man] made ‘incoherent statements about being in the area for ‘liberty business.”” [Fox 5]

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Morning Notes

New Coworking Space Coming to Ballston — “Piedmont Office Realty Trust signed a 29K SF lease with WeWork at its Arlington Tower office building at 901 North Glebe Road in Ballston, the REIT said in its Q2 earnings release Wednesday evening. The coworking giant will take the entire fifth floor and plans to open before the end of the year, Piedmont Director Chris Poppell tells Bisnow.” [Bisnow]

Disaster Declaration May Be Coming Soon — “A disaster designation based on damage assessments in Arlington County would allow homeowners and businesses in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County to apply for low-interest federal loans beginning as soon as next week to help pay for repairs. Fairfax County Emergency Management Coordinator Seamus Mooney expects the designation to be approved within the next two weeks.” [WTOP]

Changes Proposed for Pentagon City Hotel — “The owner of the DoubleTree by Hilton in Crystal City is gearing up for a play to capitalize on the 627-room hotel’s proximity to Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters. Tom Baltimore, CEO of the hotel’s owner, Park Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: PK), told analysts on its second-quarter earnings call Thursday that the hotel is one of several the company is evaluating as possible redevelopment opportunities.” [Washington Business Journal]

Video: Dark Star Park Day — A timelapse video captured the moment on Thursday morning when the shadows lined up at Rosslyn’s Dark Star Park, as happens once a year on Aug. 1. [Twitter]

Arlington Boy Lives Dream in Boston — “There was a special visitor to the WBZ Weather Center on Thursday. Noah Coon from Arlington, Virginia is a big weather fan and stopped by the studio thanks to Dream On 3. Noah has cerebral palsy and was in Boston to visit the Red Sox. Because he’s also a fan of meteorology, he came to visit the WBZ weather team.” [WBZ]

Video: Yorktown vs. W-L — Just published online: “Long-lost footage of the famous Nov. 5, 1970, mud bowl football game between the Yorktown High School Patriots and the Washington-Lee Generals. Yorktown was favored with a 9-0 record but W-L won 12-0 and earned the Potomac District championship. [YouTube]

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Morning Notes

Officials Pledge Action on Flooding — “Perhaps sensitive to growing community disenchantment over past performance in addressing heavy-rain incidents, County Board members on July 13 pledged to find ways to improve local-government efforts to address the impact of flooding. ‘We have to up our game,’ acknowledged County Board Chairman Christian Dorsey.” [InsideNova]

Residents Demand Stormwater Fixes — “Alexandra Lettow was near tears as she described the losses her family suffered in Monday’s flooding to neighbors and county officials gathered at a home in Arlington’s Waverly Hills neighborhood… It was at least the seventh time the neighborhood had flooded in 19 years.” [Washington Post]

Flood Insurance Doesn’t Cover All Losses — “They have a FEMA-backed flood insurance policy through Liberty Mutual… When the insurance adjuster came Tuesday to assess the damage she dropped a bombshell. Right there in the middle of the policy it reads, for property in a basement, coverage is limited.” [WJLA]

Arlington Man Leads Police on Chase — “At first the Expedition refused to stop for the trooper, but finally pulled off and stopped on the shoulder. A few minutes into the traffic stop, the driver of the Expedition drove off from the trooper and a pursuit was initiated westbound on I-66.” [Press Release]

Board Approved 23rd Street Tunnel Request — “After years of maintaining the little-used 23rd Street pedestrian tunnel that runs under Richmond Highway in Crystal City, Arlington will request its closure from the state.” [Arlington County]

New Renderings of Rosslyn Hotel Development — “The proposed development… would replace the Holiday Inn at 1900 N. Fort Myer Drive with a building which combines residential, hotel and conference center uses along with retail and restaurant space. A 38-story tower fronting N. Fort Myer would contain a four-star hotel with 344 rooms (compared to the previously-proposed 327), and a 25-story residential tower fronting Nash Street would deliver roughly 500 studio-to-three-bedroom units (compared to the previously-proposed 490).” [Urban Turf]

Interim Economic Development Director Named — “Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz has named Alex Iams interim director of Arlington Economic Development. Iams currently serves as assistant director of the department. He succeeds Victor Hoskins, who has served as director since January 2015.” [Arlington County]

Hoskins: Arlington in Good Shape — “Hoskins said that Arlington County has ‘nothing to worry about’ with Amazon coming in, adding that the move to Fairfax County is coming at the right time — ‘Yes, I’m done in Arlington.'” [Tysons Reporter]

Photo courtesy Craig Fingar

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Newly-revised plans for the redevelopment of the Key Bridge Marriott site in Rosslyn include a new bike path.

Los Angeles-based developers Woodridge Capital Partners and Oaktree Capital Management purchased the hotel at 1401 Lee Highway for $190 million last year. Since then, the developers proposed renovating the 582-room hotel and adding three residential buildings to the site — two with condominiums and one with apartments.

On June 11, Woodridge and Oaktree Capital Management LP submitted plans to build a pedestrian and cyclist “esplanade” on the north side of the site, with a connection to Lee Highway. The county noted earlier this month that the developers need to ensure pedestrians and cyclists weren’t hampered by their plan to demolish the footbridge over Lee Highway, which connects the Custis Trail and Gateway Park.

“This area, which will be fully open to the public, will offer spectacular views of the Potomac River and connect to the bike path leading to the Key Bridge,” the developers wrote in the new plans.

“The esplanade, which will not be open to general vehicle traffic, will be fully open to pedestrians and cyclists and offer a new option for cyclists to access and navigate through the site,” the developers added. “It will also offer greater connectivity to the Custis Trail from the Key Bridge through a new bicycle path connection on the northeastern end of the property.”

A February traffic impact analysis indicates that developers plan to close the hotel’s current connection to N. Fort Myer Drive and keep the two entrances off of Lee Highway. The plans also call for several roadways on the site itself, including:

  • an east-west roadway connecting the buildings to be used for pick-ups and drop-offs
  • two north-south roadways on either side of the hotel
  • an emergency vehicle access road along the backside (northside) of the property

“The new streets, combined with esplanade, will provide much improved bicycle and pedestrian circulation through the site,” the developer’s site plan application says.

Woodridge and Oaktree are requesting the County Board’s permission to build 446 rooms in the renovated hotel along with 151 condominium units, 300 apartments units, and 635 parking spaces. The apartment building will sit on the parking garage on the west side of the lot, bringing its total height to 16 stories.

In exchange for increased density, Woodridge and Oaktree are promising to build LEED-certified energy efficient buildings and a yet-to-be-determined public art project.

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Morning Notes

Metro Removes 3000-Series from Service — “Metro overnight temporarily removed all 3000-series cars from service after we received a report of a door malfunction for which we need to identify the cause. This voluntary safety action reduces the number of available rail cars by ~15%” [Twitter, Twitter]

Courthouse Hotel May Become Apartments — “The owner of an Arlington hotel is now hoping to flip the building into residential space instead. The Arlington Court Suites Hotel in Courthouse could soon become a 180-unit apartment building dubbed ‘Park Arlington at Courthouse,’ according to plans filed with the county this week.” [Washington Business Journal]

More HQ2 Jobs Listed — There are now 18 open HQ2 jobs listed on Amazon’s website, with roles ranging from HR to sales to software engineer. Some of the jobs were reportedly first listed as working out of Amazon’s existing Ballston office, the long-term prospects for which are now in question. [Amazon, Washington Business Journal]

NPS’ Massive GW Parkway Backlog — “ABC7 asked the National Park Service how big the [GW Parkway’s] maintenance problem is. The… Parkway has a maintenance backlog of $717-million, but that includes 25 sites, such as Arlington House and Great Falls Park. $649-million of that amount is for paved roads. 33 million vehicles drive on the GW Parkway every year.” [WJLA, Twitter]

Va. Reps Call for Telework Option During ‘Summer Shutdown’ — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and other Northern Virginia representatives have written a letter to the director of the Office of Personnel Management, calling for federal employees to be given expanded telework options during the May 25-Sept. 8 “Summer Shutdown” of Metro stations in Alexandria. [House of Representatives]

Yellow Line Extension Starting This Weekend — “Metro today announced it will begin running all Yellow Line trains to Greenbelt more than a month earlier than expected – starting Saturday, May 25 – when the Platform Improvement Project begins at six Yellow and Blue line stations south of Reagan National Airport.” [PoPville]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

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A developer is planning to raze two office buildings on 601-701 12th Street S. in Pentagon City and build four new towers with residential, office, and retail space.

That’s according to a preliminary site plan filing with Arlington County. The plan also notes that the property’s current occupants — the Transportation Security Administration — are soon leaving the county.

Renderings in the filings from property owner Brookfield Properties depict four buildings planned for the area:

  • a 14-story, 240-foot high southwest tower for office space
  • a 20-story, 235-foot high southeast tower for residential or hotel use
  • a 24-story, 275-foot high northeast tower for residential or hotel use
  • a 26-story, 300-foot high northwest tower for residential use, with a penthouse

The company’s proposal says the development will occur in phases and will include “new access to the Pentagon City Metro, upgraded streetscapes and sidewalks, a new internal pedestrian pathway, public open spaces and outdoor seating” as well as public art.

Brookfield’s plans indicate that retail space is planned along the ground floor of the four towers and along 12th Street S.

Tysons-based law firm Venable LLP submitted the proposal, which included a request to make an exception to the site’s limits on building height and density for the project, on behalf of Brookfield.

The document notes that, “the proposal will help address the significant increase in demand for residential housing and hotel space, which will only grow considering the potential for office development in the region.”

The plan says it aims to “ease congestion on surrounding roads by integrating with nearby sites, improving internal circulation, and connecting to Metro.”

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is currently using the two buildings on-site and is scheduled to move out next fall, per agency spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.

“The new building will be located at 6595 Springfield Center Drive, Springfield,” said Farbstein.

The TSA had been planning to stay at the property, which is next to the Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters and across the street from the Pentagon City mall, until mid-2020.

TSA announced in 2015 that it would move to Alexandria in a bid to save $95 million over the next 15 years, but the move was later overturned by a federal judge.

Brookfield Properties describes the two, 12-story buildings currently occupied by the TSA as, “aging, obsolete” and “unattractive.”

The county posted the address of the project on its website under “Preliminary Development Proposals” last week. However, the process of obtaining the plans revealed the county’s permitting and zoning offices were adapting the way they process records requests.

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(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) A development plan for a new hotel and a new apartment or condo tower in the Rosslyn area has decreased the number of units originally planned for the site.

Grant Investment Properties, LLC which owns both the Best Western Iwo Jima hotel at 1501 Arlington Blvd and 14-unit Ellis Arms Apartments at 1523 Fairfax Drive, is now seeking to build a 10-floor, 48-unit residential building and a 12-story, 160-room hotel building on the Rosslyn site, according to county documents.

The Arlington County Board is set to vote Tuesday on the amended plan, and county staff is recommending approval, according to a staff report. The plans also include a 160-space parking garage, LEED Gold certification for both proposed buildings and “an extensive green roof.”

An earlier proposal called for a 250-room “dual brand hotel” and a 64-unit residential building, as ARLnow previously reported.

“While the number of proposed units decreased, the total residential [gross floor area] is unchanged, as the average unit size increased due to the elimination of studio units and increase in two (2) bedroom units,” the staff report said.

During an April 8 Planning Commission meeting several community members expressed concern about how the development may displace current residents from the Ellis Arms apartment building, which is considered market rate affordable housing, according to County Board documents.

“In response, the applicant has indicated that, in addition to the required Tenant Relocation Plan, it is working to identify potential affordable units, nearby the site, where existing tenants may have an option to move,” the documents note.

Depending on whether the residential building becomes rental apartments or condominiums — the staff report suggests the current plan is for condos — the developer would provide either on-site affordable rental units or a multi-million dollar contribution to the county’s affordable housing fund, respectively.

The Arlington Park and Recreation Commission supports the plan, noting in a letter that the development’s community benefits package includes a donation to the nearby Ft. Myers Height Park, which will help fund improvements to “the picnic area (furnishings, ADA access, drinking fountain, invasive species removal), the half basketball court, and landscaping on a vacated playground site.”

Photos via Arlington County

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WhyHotel, which uses a portion of new luxury apartment buildings as a “pop-up” hotel, has opened a new location in Ballston.

The new WhyHotel at the Origin Ballston building (700 N. Randolph Street), next to Ballston Quarter mall, is officially opening to its first guests today, a PR rep said.

WhyHotel launched in 2017 and operates temporary hotels in D.C., Baltimore and Northern Virginia, taking advantage of the fact that it usually takes a year or more for all of a new apartment building’s units to be leased.

More from a previous article on WhyHotel’s new Ballston location:

WhyHotel… will soon offer 175 rooms for rent in the residential tower attached to the Ballston Quarter development, and another 150 rooms in the “Centro Arlington” project, which is taking the place of the Food Star grocery store off Columbia Pike. The company recently scored $10 million in venture funding to power the new projects, in addition to a similar “pop up” hotel in “The Boro” development in Tysons.

Unlike a home-sharing service like Airbnb, WhyHotel strikes agreements directly with the owners of large residential properties to rent out blocks of furnished apartments, bringing along an on-call staff to handle cleaning and other guest needs. The company is hoping to provide a happy medium for customers between staying at a friend’s place and shelling out for a hotel room, while helping developers fill space in new buildings as they lease them out.

Jason Fudin, WhyHotel’s co-founder and CEO, told ARLnow that he was interested in opening up shop more properties around Arlington because of the area’s potent mix of tourism and booming residential development. WhyHotel is aiming to open its first “pop up” in D.C., but Fudin says he never lost sight of the county as a “great place to be.”

“We do expect to be in Arlington in perpetuity,” Fudin said. “And as there’s more and more development, we’re hoping to be the solution people look to as they activate their developments.”

Fudin noted that the company has its roots in Arlington. The concept began as an initiative by developer Vornado Realty Trust at “The Bartlett” complex in Pentagon City, but its backers then struck out on their own, initially joining up with Crystal City startup incubator 1776.

Considering that Fudin viewed the company’s work in Pentagon City as a clear success for all involved, driving plenty of business to retailers near the building in the process, he’s hoping to replicate the same formula in Ballston and along the Pike.

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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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