Press Club

Morning Notes

Lunchtime in Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Public Safety Watchdog Profiled — “Like a lot of people, Dave Statter got a bit bored when the pandemic hit and he was pretty much confined to his home. But unlike most of us, Statter lives high atop a Crystal City building overlooking I-395. Why binge Netflix when just outside the window is real-life drama, pathos, tragedy and comedy, all captured by the five video cameras Statter has trained on the traffic below?” [Washington Post]

Aquatics Center Struggling to Hire — “It’s been open for almost three-quarters of a year, but Arlington’s Long Bridge Park aquatics center is not immune for finding personnel that are plaguing the rest of the county government… The aquatics facility, which opened last summer after a lengthy and difficult birthing process, is still in need of a general manager and aquatics-program manager, and the 16 lifeguards on staff would require an infusion of eight to 10 more to bring it to a full complement.” [Sun Gazette]

APS May Add Some Instructional Time — “It’s a mystery: How does a school district that invariably has the highest (or close to it) per-student costs in the region also have the lowest amount of instructional time in a typical school year? Whatever the historical reasons for that anomaly, Arlington school officials are hoping to rectify the last half of that equation. Kind of.” [Sun Gazette]

Sailor Killed at Pearl Harbor Now at ANC — “A young sailor in the U.S. Navy who perished in Pearl Harbor has finally been laid to rest. U.S. Navy Seaman 1st Class Walter Stein, 20, of Cheyenne, Wyoming was buried Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery. Stein was killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor while serving aboard the USS Oklahoma… Stein’s remains were not officially identified until April 16, 2021 — about 80 years after his death.” [Patch]

Donation to Local Housing Nonprofit — “Arlington Community Federal Credit Union announced a $10,000 grant to local nonprofit, Rebuilding Together- Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church (AFF). The grant was part of a national give back program award from national credit union credit card vendor PSCU to be given to a local nonprofit of Arlington Community FCU’s choice. Rebuilding Together- AFF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that serves low-income homeowners and nonprofits.” [Press Release]

E-CARE Returning Next Month — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “Saturday, April 23, Earth Day weekend: E-CARE returns to Yorktown HS for fast, safe drop-off of household hazardous materials, old electronics, bikes and much more. Fun fact: Folks arriving by foot and bike get through even faster.” [Twitter]

Pair of Missing Persons — Arlington County police are looking for two missing people: a 16-year-old boy last seen in the Rosslyn area, and a 31-year-old woman last seen near the Arlington Ridge Shopping Center. [Twitter, Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — A chance of shower in the morning, then mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 58 and low of 36. Sunrise at 6:57 am and sunset at 7:31 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Aerial view of Rosslyn (staff photo)

County Board Wants Camp Revamp — From County Board Chair Katie Cristol: “More from the Board on expectations for reforming summer camp registration, below. Importantly for this year: 6,000 spots are still open for this summer, and families who need DPR camp can continue to register online or w/ customer service team, [email protected]” [Twitter]

Jobs in Arlington Increase Slightly — “Year-over-year employment within Arlington County improved in the third quarter of 2021, according to new federal data, but lagged the overall national rebound. There were a total of 172,600 jobs recorded in Arlington for September 2021 by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and reported Feb. 23. That’s up 0.4 percent from a year before.” [Sun Gazette]

New ACPD K9 Graduates — From the Arlington County Police Department: “Join us in congratulating Cpl. Doescher & K9 Wilson on their graduation from basic patrol K9 school, which includes training on conducting building and area searches, advanced obedience and tracking!” [Twitter]

Yorktown Hockey Is Undefeated — “With blowout victories in their final two matches, the Yorktown Patriots completed their first undefeated regular season since 2003 with a 10-0 record in high-school club ice hockey. In its final match, Yorktown blanked Flint Hill, 10-1.” [Sun Gazette]

High School Hoops Update — “Two Arlington teams advanced to the semifinals and another lost in first-round action of the girls and boys 6D North Region high-school basketball tournaments the night of Feb. 22. Moving on are the Washington-Liberty Generals in boys action and the Yorktown Patriots in girls, each Liberty District tournament champions. The Wakefield Warriors (11-10) had their season end with a first-round 69-56 loss to the host Madison Warhawks in a boys game.” [Sun Gazette]

Va. ABC Removes Russian Vodka — “In the spirit of Gov. Youngkin’s call for decisive action in support of Ukraine, Virginia ABC is removing 7 Russian-sourced vodka brands from our store shelves. Russian-themed brands not produced in Russia like Stolichnaya and Smirnoff will not be removed.” [Twitter, Axios]

Nearby: Bailey’s Xroads Arson Suspect Sought — “Fire investigators are seeking the public’s help in identifying a person of interest related to a fire that occurred on Tuesday, February 22, at approximately 6:30 a.m., in the 5600 block of Columbia Pike.” [Twitter, Fairfax County Fire/Rescue]

It’s Monday — Clear throughout the day. High of 43 and low of 31. Sunrise at 6:43 am and sunset at 6:01 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

(Updated 4:25 p.m.) Symplicity, a Clarendon-based company that helps college students find jobs and internships, is expanding its international presence.

This month, the company announced its third international acquisition in five years: Canadian company Orbis, a technology platform that connects university students with job and internship opportunities. Symplicity bought Australia-based CareerHub, an online career services platform, in 2017 and Brazil-based Contratanet, the country’s largest network of job portals for students, in 2018.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” CEO Matt Small tells ARLnow. “Together, we have most of the universities in Canada.”

Small oversaw all these acquisitions, which add to Symplicity’s growing career services platform — one of its eight solutions for institutions that range from student conduct to academic advising. In the last five years, he says, the company has simplified and improved the quality of these solutions and boosted sales to and renewal rates with universities. Today, the company has more than 2,000 college and university clients in more than 35 countries.

“We’ve been growing by leaps and bounds and have ben wonderfully successful,” he said.

That growth is happening amid a reportedly unsteady job market for college graduates due to the pandemic. Small says more colleges and universities are making employability a top priority, as hiring rates still flag for Gen Z graduates and as student loan debt deepens. He adds that institutions leaned on Symplicity in new ways when universities, and all the services they provide, had to go virtual.

But the chief problem for graduates and universities alike — a skills gap between higher education and industry — predates and has been exacerbated by the pandemic, Small says. When polled, he says, universities would say their students were ready for work, while heads of student recruiting would say students weren’t ready.

“They weren’t talking to each other: employers preferred three years work experience, so they didn’t have to train workers in the actual job,” he said. “Having right major and good grades wasn’t enough to do the job.”

Symplicity CEO Matt Small speaks at a conference (courtesy photo)

He tells students to get to the career center “early and often” to map out what work studies, internships or volunteer programs they can complete and which technology platforms they can master concurrent to their four years of classes. Symplicity placed 450,000 students in internships in the last 12 months.

“It just makes you much more marketable when you graduate,” he said.

Small was tapped in 2016 to work for Symplicity after Miami-based H.I.G. Capital purchased the company. At the time, he was the president of Blackboard International. Symplicity attracted a number of other Blackboard employees and executives, he says.

“I would say we came in and fully professionalized the company and made big product enhancements,” he said.

Two years before Small came on, Symplicity’s founder and then-CEO Ariel Manuel Friedler pleaded guilty to federal computer hacking charges after gaining access to his competitors’ computers in order to steal customer and product design information. Former President Donald Trump pardoned him in February 2020. Symplicity was not charged in the case.

Under the new leadership, Symplicity has also swelled to 300 employees, about a third of whom work from the Clarendon headquarters (3003 Washington Blvd, Suite 900), says Small. The company is actively hiring talent in the software industry.

“I joke that we’re the Ted Lasso of the software industry — everyone here is that level of caring and committed,” he said, referencing the TV show about a college football coach whose charm and optimism win over the English soccer team he is unexpectedly hired to coach.

“We work really hard, but it’s a fun, vibrant culture and a personable place,” he added.

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Morning Notes

Board OKs More Small Biz Money — “The Arlington County Board voted 5-0 today to approve the Small Business GRANT 2.0 program, which will provide direct financial assistance to small businesses as they continue to recover from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The GRANT 2.0 program will provide immediate funds to businesses and nonprofits to aid in their short-term recovery.” [Arlington County]

Amazon Ramps Up HQ2 Hiring — “That job posting is one of roughly 2,700 openings newly unveiled by Amazon for its HQ2 campus, 99% of which are full-time corporate roles. The slew of new openings was added to the company’s jobs site earlier this week, ahead of Wednesday’s annual Amazon Career Day, held virtually… This is one of the bigger hiring pushes by the tech giant, which disclosed this month that its latest HQ2 employee tally tops 3,000, nearly double its last count in December.” [Washington Business Journal]

Amazon Charts Path to Net Zero Carbon — “Amazon.com Inc.’s design for the second phase of its HQ2 development must be carbon-neutral to comply with both Arlington County’s policy, as well as the tech giant’s own climate pledge to reach that status by 2040… The company’s consultant, Seattle-based Paladino and Co. Inc., found that carbon neutrality is “likely feasible” based on the current PenPlace [HQ2] design.” [Washington Business Journal]

Another Video of Columbia Pike Flooding — “We needed some scuba gear out on Columbia Pike” during Thursday’s flash flooding near S. Greenbrier Street. [Twitter]

Lots of Locals Want to Work at the Polls — “Arlington has too many people wanting to serve as poll officials in the upcoming election. Way, way too many. About 440 are needed and more than 1,100 expressed interest in serving, said Eric Olsen, Arlington’s deputy registrar. He called it, without hyperbole, ‘an extraordinary amount of interest.'” [Sun Gazette]

Remembering the Alexandria Canal — “The canal was completed in 1843. It roughly followed today’s Metro blue line and South Eads Street in Crystal City. Canal shipping, though interrupted by the Civil War, continued until 1886, by which time, railroads had rendered it obsolete. In modern times, remnants of the Aqueduct Bridge are visible from both the Virginia and Georgetown sides of the Potomac.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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There are now more than 3,000 Amazon employees assigned to the company’s HQ2 in Arlington.

That’s more than double the amount of employees this time last year, according to a spokeswoman for the company.

Meanwhile, Amazon is seeking more than 2,500 new corporate employees for a variety of technical and non-tech jobs — another tenth of its stated goal to hire 25,000 employees for its second headquarters. Positions range from software development engineers to financial analysts to “solution architects” in a variety of departments, from Fire TV to Alexa.

Amazon reports it is now the largest job-creator in the U.S. after hiring more than 450,000 people during the pandemic. Across its more than 220 locations in the U.S., it is looking to hire more than 40,000 corporate and tech roles as well as tens of thousands of hourly positions.

And those interested will soon have the chance to engage with Amazon recruiters. The company said it will host a training and recruiting event on Wednesday, Sept. 15 to help current and future employees grow their careers. Starting today (Wednesday), people can register for the free event online.

“The event is designed to support all job seekers, whether they are looking for a new job or hoping to transition to a different career altogether — at Amazon or another company,” Amazon said in a press release. “The event is open to all, regardless of their level of experience, professional field, or background.”

During Career Day last year, Amazon said it saw the highest one-week number of job applications in the history of the company. In 2020, it saw a staggering 30 million applications, nearly double from 2019.

This year, the company will offer more than 20,000 personalized career-coaching sessions with Amazon recruiters, while two senior recruiters will lead a “How to Interview at Amazon” breakout session. Software development engineers will lead coding workshops.

Attendees will hear from Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, who replaced founder Jeff Bezos as chief executive this summer, as well as long-time Amazon executive Dave Clark, New York Times best-selling author David Epstein, and Carla Harris, vice chairman of global wealth management at Morgan Stanley.

Meanwhile, over in Pentagon City, construction continues on Metropolitan Park, the first phase of HQ2 construction, which includes two office buildings dubbed Met Park 6 and 7/8. Construction crews are working on the 10th stories now, Clark Construction employees told visitors to the National Landing Farmers Market on Saturday.

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Morning Notes

APS Working With Nonprofit on ‘Cultural Competence’ — “This week, RISE, a national nonprofit that educates and empowers the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, began facilitating interactive workshops with Arlington Public Schools Student-Athlete Advisory Council members and coaches. This is the first in a series of interactive cultural competence workshops that APS and RISE will be providing to athletes and coaches as part of a new partnership.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Northam to Sign Bill at Marymount — “This coming Monday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam will be visiting Marymount University to hold a ceremonial bill signing for House Bill 2123 and Senate Bill 1387. The legislation will make Virginia students eligible for state financial aid if they are eligible for in-state tuition in the fall of 2022, regardless of citizenship or immigration status.” [Press Release]

GOP Candidate Running Against Del. Hope — A Republican challenger has emerged to contest the re-election campaign of Del. Patrick Hope. Laura Hall said she filed paperwork last week. Hall said she would share more publicly when she hears back from the state regarding her filing. A Democratic primary for the delegate’s district did not occur, after the state Board of Elections determined challenger Matt Rogers did not meet a filing deadline. [Twitter]

Metro Changes On the Way — “Rail service will be extended to midnight, seven days a week, in July, and other bus and rail service improvements and fare changes will start being implemented in the Fall, beginning Labor Day weekend, as many in the region prepare to go back to work and school.” [WMATA, DCist]

Domino’s Is Offering a Signing Bonus — The Domino’s Pizza location on Columbia Pike has signs advertising a $500 hiring bonus for new employees, amid a national labor shortage that is hitting restaurants particularly hard. [Twitter]

Video Shows Wrong-Way Driver on I-66Updated at 8:20 a.m. — “Scary video footage shows a driver speeding the wrong way on Interstate 66 in Northern Virginia on Thursday morning.  Virginia State Police say the driver headed the wrong way on the Capital Beltway and I-66, hit at least one car and set off a wave of 911 calls… The driver finally pulled over in the Rosslyn area because of a flat tire. No information on an arrest or charges was immediately released.” [NBC 4]

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Amazon is in the process of hiring for nearly 2,000 open positions in Arlington, while it also reveals new renderings of the planned second phase of its HQ2 in Pentagon City.

Additional renderings of HQ2 Phase 2 were released by the company this morning, showing a conceptual view of “The Forest” plaza from S. Elm Street — including the base of the lush, futuristic “Helix” tower — as well as a view of the S. Fern Street Plaza that will host community events and a number of retail businesses.

The renderings “illustrate a nature-filled, pedestrian-friendly environment for all to enjoy and highlight Amazon’s continued commitment to building a neighborhood rather than a closed-off campus,” a PR rep for the company said. In addition to areas for events, Phase 2 will feature 115,000 square feet of retail and retail equivalent space across its four buildings.

The new views come as Amazon and its architecture firm prepare to present its HQ2 Phase 2 plans before Arlington’s Long Range Planning Committee tonight.

The second phase of the project will be built on the mostly vacant PenPlace site across from its Phase 1 construction site, a block from the Pentagon reservation and the Pentagon City Metro station. The company is still in the process of tearing down the former Residence Inn hotel on the site, which was once considered as a possible location for the Washington Nationals stadium.

As Amazon continues to build, it is also continuing to hire.

“Hiring across Amazon’s Arlington Headquarters is ramping up,” the tech giant said on its blog today. “Amazon is seeking 1,900 new employees for a variety of technical and non-tech jobs — this is the highest number of open positions at HQ2 since the company announced its selection of Arlington, Virginia as its second U.S. headquarters.”

“Currently more than 1,600 corporate Amazon employees call Arlington home,” the blog post adds. “Amazon’s more than $2.5-billion investment in HQ2 and the surrounding area will result in 25,000 Amazon jobs over the next decade, and thousands of indirect jobs across the entire region.”

Open positions in Arlington on Amazon’s jobs website include Alexa SmartHome software developer, Amazon Fresh Store designer, and Amazon Web Services Systems Engineer.

Last month an Amazon official said the company expects that most employees will return to offices after the pandemic, with some flexibility for remote work.

“But there is no substitute for Amazonians being together,” said the official, as quoted by the Washington Business Journal.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn.

The landscape for tech jobs is changing, according to a new study from the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

Although California still enjoys the No. 1 position for job postings, it is losing jobs while openings surge from Texas to Florida.

Virginia continues to hold its own as a hub for tech talent and jobs, coming in fourth for overall tech jobs and Artificial Intelligence jobs posted in March. Job postings increased enough from February to land the Commonwealth in the sixth, while it ranks eighth for work-from-home positions.

“While Virginia does not rank among the states with the highest tech industry employment growth rates over the past five years, this is largely due to the fact that the Commonwealth of Virginia already has a very large tech industry,” Suzanne Clark, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, said. “States that have seen the most spectacular growth in tech industry employment are by and large ones that began with very small tech industries.

Clark said the organization wants to see more economic diversification in the form of more private sector — as opposed to public sector — tech jobs.

“Much of Virginia’s underperformance in tech sector growth is attributable to our over-reliance on the federal government for tech sector jobs,” she said.

Arlington is doing its part to sustain Virginia’s tech job growth, according to Arlington Economic Development. The county’s tech industry is expected to stay ahead of the growth of the tech industry nationwide over the next five years, said Kirby Clark, a spokeswoman for AED.

“Arlington maintains its competitive edge for tech talent with its highly educated workforce, above-average millennial workforce participation, a cluster of higher education institutions and proximity to innovative government agencies,” she said.

Arlington’s tech industry grew by 19.3% from 2015 to 2020, nearly 4% more than the national average. It is expected to grow by 15.6% over the next five years, compared to the expected national growth of 14.7%, the AED spokeswoman said.

Last year, Arlington’s top industries included computer systems services and technical consulting services, sectors she said are poised to continue growing.

Many of the employers with the most job postings in March have headquarters or prominent outposts in Arlington: business and tech consulting group Deloitte has a space in Rosslyn, Amazon is moving into its HQ2 in Pentagon City, consulting group Accenture has three spaces in the county, including a cybersecurity center, while another consulting group, ICF International, has an outpost in Crystal City.

The local Deloitte office is also driving a 361-position increase in AI jobs in Arlington, with its recent announcement that it will launch a new AI research center to advance federal work, Clark said.

“Demand for AI professionals has grown substantially since 2017, when there were 165 total AI jobs posted in Arlington,” she said. “Fast-forward to 2020, there were 1,172 AI jobs posted in Arlington.”

The VEDP spokeswoman said the demand for people with AI skills in Virginia during the past year was more than twice the national average.

Nationwide, thousands of tech jobs are remote opportunities, and Kirby Clark said AED is dedicated to ensuring Arlington remains an attractive place to work from home.

“Many employers intend to adopt a hybrid work model following the pandemic, making Arlington well-positioned to remain a hub for companies by enabling them to offer an attractive home and work environment in a single setting,” Clark said. “Whether working at an office or home, Arlington will continue to provide an outstanding quality of life that attracts people to live here.”

The VEDP spokeswoman, meanwhile, said the organization expects hybrid to be the new norm as well, which could help lift up the state as a whole, not just its large metro areas.

“Capitalizing on tech telework positions is also an important opportunity for rural and small metro regions that might not have been first in line to land tech jobs in the past,” Clark said.

Charts via CompTIA 

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Amanda Browder, City of Threads, 2019.

(Update at 4:05 p.m.) The Arlington Arts Center is searching for a new executive director.

Last month, the non-profit arts organization at 3550 Wilson Blvd in the Virginia Square area announced that it is conducting a national search to hire a new leader.

The search is being headed up by D.C.-based Good Insight, which specializes in recruiting executive-level talent for non-profits.

Former executive director Holly Koons departed in October to become director of the newly-opened Christopher Newport University Fine Arts Center in Newport News. Koons was with AAC for four years.

In the meantime, the arts center’s Board of Directors has named Blair Murphy, Curator of Exhibitions since 2018, to serve as acting director.

Murphy said the organization has received more than 75 applications so far for the position, which pays in the $90,000s, according to the job announcement.

She says that many applicants are local, but they have received qualified applicants from California, Washington, Indiana, and even internationally. Many of the applicants are professional arts administrators, but she says they have also gotten some from folks “who care about the arts personally but pursued another profession.”

The quality of applicants, Murphy writes, is impressive, though she noted that there is “no one perfect profile.”

The organization is looking for someone who will deepen the Arts Center’s impact in Arlington by strengthening community partnerships, raising visibility, and broadening support.

As one of the only dedicated venues for visual arts in the county, the Arlington Arts Center and its new director will need to be able to communicate with various types of audiences.

“Our new director will be someone who can connect with all of the audiences and communities we serve,” Murphy writes. “Adults and kids who participate in our education programs, art-lovers who come to see our exhibitions, and artists who exhibit in our galleries and participate in our residency program.”

The job listing also notes that the organization is in “stable immediate financial position” due largely to a PPP loan from 2020 and a bequest received in 2019. The annual budget has been in the range of $650,000 over the last several years, the listing says, which is supported by individuals, grants, foundations, and revenue from education programs and rentals.

There are currently three full time staffers but there’s room for at least two new hires in 2021, including the executive director.

One of those hires, Murphy tells ARLnow, would be to replace a recently-departed staff member who was in a marketing and administrative role. That is in addition to part-time, contract, and volunteer support as well as 15 to 20 class instructors.

The announcement requests that those applying for the executive director position do so by February 4 for “best consideration.” However, Murphy says that they will continue to review applications through the month and expects to announce the new hire in late spring.

Arlington Arts Center was founded in 1974 and is located in the historic former Maury School. The building is leased through a partnership with Arlington County; it holds nine exhibit galleries, studio space for artists, three classrooms, offices, and event rental space.

Currently, the galleries remain closed, but a public art project that first debuted in the summer remains on display on the front lawn. The project depicts 25 wooden slave ships formed from driftwood found in the Chesapeake Bay.

Overall, the arts scene in Arlington was decimated in 2020 due to the pandemic, losing more than $10 million in revenue.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Browder and Arlington Arts Center

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Amazon has unveiled plans for the PenPlace site in the second phase of its $2.5 billion HQ2 in Pentagon City, including a lush office building shaped like a double helix.

The company will build 2.8 million square feet of office space across three 22-story buildings, an amenity building with a community gathering space and daycare center, and three retail pavilions. The focal point will be The Helix: a 350-foot tall spiraling office building that recreates a climb in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

PenPlace will also have three acres of open space with a dog run and a 250-seat amphitheater, for public use.

Amazon will start filing designs and technical documents with Arlington County Tuesday morning, Amazon spokesperson Adam Sedó said during a call with journalists on Monday.

The tech giant aims to go before the Arlington County Board by the end of 2021, with construction starting in 2022 and ending in 2025, said John Schoettler, Amazon Vice President Global Real Estate and Facilities, during the call. He affirmed that so far, HQ2 remains on-schedule.

PenPlace is bounded by Army Navy Drive, S. Fern Street, 12th Street S. and S. Eads Street. Amazon owns the entire block after it bought a hotel on the site in September. The hotel is currently being torn down.

Schoettler said Arlington County has given Amazon more flexibility for this phase than for the first phase of development on the Metropolitan Park site, which includes two, 22-story concrete office buildings, retail and open space.

“The County Board told us for PenPlace, we really want you to push the envelope,” he said. “It really gave us a clean canvas to try new things.”

The Helix will be the highlight of the site and the tallest building, said Lead Architect Dale Alberda, who works for the international architecture firm NBBJ and helped to design The Spheres within the company’s Seattle headquarters. Throughout PenPlace, he said, the designs keep employees, who will number 25,000 across HQ2, close to nature and the community.

“Amazon has been challenging us to think about how people can connect to nature not just outside when the weather is good, but inside as well, so that it’s available all day, all the time,” Alberda said.

Schoettler said Amazon is also working hard to use sustainable energy. As part of its goal of LEED Platinum certifications — and to meet its pledge to be carbon neutral by 2040 — the buildings will be powered by a solar farm in southern Virginia.

The headquarters will feature one-quarter mile of new protected bike lanes and more than 950 onsite bike spaces as well as below-ground parking for about 2,100 cars and underground loading zones for trucks. There will also be a new bus platform on 12th Street S. near the main entrance to PenPlace.

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) On the second anniversary of Amazon choosing Arlington for its HQ2, Vice President of Public Policy for Amazon Brian Huseman is celebrating the project staying the course.

Huseman spoke with ARLnow about the goals of the celebration, Amazon’s local charitable contributions, the progress the company is making toward its hiring goals, construction deadlines, and the impact of the coronavirus on work.

“We want to convey that we’re on-track and on-target to hire the employees and we want to convey that we’re deeply invested in the community,” Huseman said. “We want to be a good neighbor and contribute to community organizations as much as we can during these challenging times.”

Despite the pandemic, Phase One of construction — on the Metropolitan Park development site in Pentagon City — continues on-schedule, Huseman said. In this phase, a block of warehouses were torn down and two Amazon towers totalling 2.1 million square feet are being built in its place.

Amazon is also funding the $14 million renovation of Metropolitan Park, adjacent to the first HQ2 phase.

Both Phase One and the park are expected to be completed in 2023, when Amazon expects to open its complex. Until then, it is leasing several temporary office spaces in Crystal City.

The second phase of HQ2 should be ready to present to the community and go through the county’s approval process starting in 2021, Huseman said. That phase is expected to include several million additional square feet at the PenPlace development site, one block down from the first phase along S. Eads Street. Amazon recently bought a hotel on the PenPlace block, with plans to tear it down.

Amazon reached the 1,000-employee mark earlier this year, hiring first in Human Resources, Recruiting and Finance. It has 500 open roles currently, Huseman said, and plans to continue its hiring spree for the foreseeable future.

“We’re on-track to meet 25,000 hires over next decade,” he said.

Amazon is sticking to that number even as it grows in Bellevue, Washington, which some have speculated is becoming the “real HQ2.” In September, Amazon announced it would be increasing the number of hires from 15,000 to 25,000 in the city, not far from the company’s Seattle headquarters.

Huseman dismissed the speculation that Bellevue would be supplanting Arlington.

“We have a presence in the Puget Sound region,” he said. “We are growing there, but the key here is that we promised 25,000 jobs and we’re on target for that. That’s what we’re going to deliver.”

And employees at HQ2 will be doing a “whole range of things” from web services to retail. The Vice President of Alexa International, Rob Pulciani, was one of the first executives to transfer to HQ2 with his team to build “the next generation of Alexa services,” Huseman said.

“Whatever Amazon does, you’ve got people at HQ2 doing that,” he said.

As a result of the pandemic, Amazon employees can work from home until June 2021. Most are opting to stay home but the offices are open with temperature checks, frequent disinfecting and social distancing in place. Candidates are interviewing remotely.

“Working from home is pretty effective and collaborative,” Huseman said. “We are able to communicate with video-conferencing and channels that we have with teams across the country.”

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