Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

One Year Since HQ2 Announcement — “I cannot believe it’s been one year since I had the privilege of announcing our Arlington, VA HQ2! It’s been amazing to work with all of the government officials and the community on this project. It’s just Day One and I look forward to many more successful years together!” [Twitter]

Crystal City Office Market Tightening Up — “There’s still an awful lot of empty office space in Crystal City, but a year after Amazon.com Inc. picked National Landing for its second home, conditions have already started to become less favorable for non-Amazon tenants in the Arlington County submarket.” [Washington Business Journal]

Lots of Amazon Employees Elsewhere in the Region — “Amazon’s biggest base locally is miles from HQ2. Some 2,500 corporate employees, not connected to the second headquarters, work in its D.C. and other offices. In Herndon, where the company already has a significant and growing footprint, there are nearly 800 job openings. For much of this year, many of Amazon’s Arlington job openings were allotted for Ballston, where the company leases some 52,000 square feet.” [Washington Business Journal]

Video of the Big Water Main Break — “Dramatic early footage from Friday’s break. Fast-acting crews were able to restore pressure to the water system within a few hours through a bypass. Repairs starting tonight” — N. Glebe Road is closed near Chain Bridge during the morning rush hour — “will allow renewed use of the main and then long-term resurfacing of Glebe Road.” [Twitter]

Rosslyn Renovation Mean Changes for Local Barber — “When it’s done, Rosslyn City Center will boast a new food hall, reimagined workspaces and experiential activated environments. And Rosslyn Metro Barber Shop will move to a highly visible, first-floor location where would-be customers are sure to take notice.” [Rosslyn BID]

W&OD Trail Upgrades Proposed in Arlington — “Arlington County Board members on Saturday will be asked to add their voices in support of a request from the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks) for $5.65 million in regional funding to improve and expand the Washington & Old Dominion Trail over a two-mile stretch in the western part of the county. NOVA Parks aims to replace the existing 12-foot-wide, shared-use trail with a 12-foot-wide bicycle trail and an 8-foot wide pedestrian trail.” [InsideNova]

New Scanner for County Jail — “A new security measure that will help prevent the smuggling of prohibited items into the Arlington County Detention Center by people who are arrested is now in use, Sheriff Beth Arthur announced.” The announcement follows the death of a homicide suspect in the jail. [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Yung Chen

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Morning Notes

HQ2 Business Boom Strains County — “A full year after Amazon.com Inc. announced that it would set up shop in Arlington, there’s little doubt the company has drawn the sort of surge in business and development interest that local leaders promised as they pursued HQ2 — but all of that activity has also put a strain on the local government as it prepares for the tech giant’s arrival.” [Washington Business Journal]

Tour of Amazon’s Temporary Crystal City Office — “Amazon almost has 200 employees working in leased space in @ArlingtonVA, with more on the way.” [WJLA, Twitter]

‘National Landing’ Name Falls Flat — “It’s been one year since the HQ2 announcement, and with it the coordinated airdrop of the name, ‘National Landing,’ on an unsuspecting and bewildered population… So has National Landing stuck? Not really, at least among the common people, according to the folks I interviewed.” [Washington Business Journal]

Amazon Adjacent Real Estate Skyrockets — “The median home price in the 22202 ZIP code, which encompasses all of HQ2, was $815,000 in October. That’s about a 51% year-to-date increase or a $275,000 difference, according to data provided by MarketStats by ShowingTime, based on listing activity from Bright MLS.” [Washington Business Journal, WTOP]

Housing Affordability Increasing? — “With mortgage rates at a three-year low and a healthy job market, housing affordability rose to its highest level in three years in the third quarter of 2019… for the Washington area, high incomes helped to offset the pricey cost of housing, with the resulting regional opportunity index higher than the national average.” [InsideNova]

County Pleased With Water Main Break Response — “How well did Arlington County in Virginia think it handled the water main break that triggered a boil water advisory for more than 100,000 customers in the county and parts of Northwest D.C.? Pretty well, it seems.” [WTOP]

New American Legion Bridge Coming — “Commuters heading to and from Maryland on the Beltway may see some relief from the constant traffic woes. The governors of Virginia and Maryland announced an agreement Tuesday morning that would see the construction of a new American Legion Bridge.” [Tysons Reporter]

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Morning Notes

Dorsey in Trouble With Metro BoardUpdated at 10 a.m. — “Metro board member Christian Dorsey to return $10,000 donation from ATU Local 689, the main Metro union, and be reprimanded and removed as chairman of Metro finance committee.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

South Arlington Pupatella Now Hiring — “Official Job Fair at Pupatella South Arlington — 1621 South Walter Reed Drive — Thursday, Nov 7 thru Saturday, Nov 9 between 10am and 4pm – All positions available (kitchen and front of house).” [Twitter]

JBG May Hold Off on Crystal City Office Building — “Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters is expected to generate additional demand for office space in Crystal City and Pentagon City, but for now… the Chevy Chase developer does not plan to start construction on the Crystal City office building without enough commitments from future tenants.” [Washington Business Journal]

Robbery on Columbia Pike — “The suspect then walked around the counter and confronted the victim, implied he had a weapon, and demanded the merchandise. The suspect fled the scene with the merchandise prior to police arrival.” [Arlington County]

Ballston Company Partnering With Google — “AES Corporation and Google have entered into a 10-year strategic alliance which they hope will speed up the expansion and adoption of clean energy. In an announcement Wednesday, the Arlington, Virginia headquartered power firm said it would leverage ‘Google Cloud technology to pioneer innovation in the sector.'” [CNBC]

Arlington Blvd Bus Stop Temporarily Closed — “4A riders: The stop on Arlington Blvd at S. Highland St will close on 11/6 for two weeks. Customers may board/exit at an adjacent stop.” [Twitter, WMATA]

Nearby: Beyer to Host Impeachment Town Hall — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) “is planning to talk impeachment at a town hall meeting later this month. [Beyer] announced today that he will be holding the event on Thursday, Nov. 21, from 7-8:30 p.m., at the T.C. Williams High School auditorium.” [ALXnow]

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Arlington company, Eminent IT, wins a 2018 Fast Four Award

This article was written by Sindy Yeh, Senior Business Ambassador for Arlington Economic Development.

For the fifth year in a row, Arlington is celebrating its fastest growing companies.

The Fast Four Award honors Arlington companies that are growing quickly in a variety of revenue categories. Whether a technology-based or retail business, the Fast Four Award aims to recognize thriving companies across industry sectors. The award is also an opportunity for local companies to showcase their growth while demonstrating Arlington’s business-friendly environment.

To be eligible, companies must be privately held, be based in Arlington, and show continuous revenue growth between 2016 and 2018. To apply, companies must submit an online application and provide income statements to show proof of growth and revenue. The company with the fastest growth rate in each revenue category will be honored as one of Arlington’s fastest growing businesses.

The 2018 award winners were Arlington companies, AM LLC, LiveSafe, Eminent IT, and Mind, Body, Health.

The 2019 Arlington Fast Four winners will be formally announced on December 5 at the Arlington Premiere event to be held at Ballston Quarter. Arlington Premiere is an exclusive event where Arlington’s newest business owners have the opportunity to meet key community and government leaders while learning about the many resources available to them within the County.

We encourage fast-growing companies to apply for the 2019 Fast Four Awards.

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Amazon is now listing more than 300 open positions in Arlington on its jobs website.

After hovering in the double digits for much of the year since hiring began in April, the number has been quickly increasing, though it includes both jobs at Amazon’s new, temporary HQ2 in Crystal City and at an existing office in Ballston.

The top job categories listed are mostly technical in nature, including:

  • Software development (113 jobs)
  • Sales, advertising and account management (54 jobs)
  • Systems, quality and security engineering (28 jobs)
  • Project/program/product management-technical (22 jobs)
  • Solutions architect (22 jobs)

Amazon has repeatedly said it is hoping to hire 400 people to work at its new headquarters by the end of the year. There seems to be no shortage of interest — thousands attended an Amazon job fair in September and a poll found that three-quarters of IT workers in the region would consider jumping ship to Amazon.

The Amazon jobs website says the tech giant is “looking to foster a sense of place for our teams and community residents” at HQ2. The website encourages applicants to “come build the future with us.”

Amazon selected Arlington, Virginia as the location for its second headquarters. Amazon will invest $2.5 billion dollars, occupy 4 million square feet of energy efficient office space, and create at least 25,000 new full-time jobs. Our employees and the neighboring community will also benefit from the associated investments from the Commonwealth including infrastructure updates, public transportation improvements, and new access to Reagan National Airport.

By working together on behalf of our customers, we are building the future one innovative product, service, and idea at a time. Are you ready to embrace the challenge? Come build the future with us.

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A group of large local employers and small local businesses has formed a new group intended “to support National Landing’s transformation.”

The Arlington Community Coalition says the arrival of Amazon’s HQ2 is a golden opportunity to bolster housing and transportation options in the National Landing area, which includes Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard. The group also wants to build a sense of community and support local businesses as the area grows.

“After seeing years of decline from BRAC, National Landing will significantly help small businesses attract a steady stream of new and regular customers,” said Freddie’s Beach Bar owner Freddie Lutz, one of the coalition’s members. “National Landing will become an economic engine driving new growth and opportunities for small business retail and restaurants.”

Members of coalition include the Consumer Technology Association — outspoken supporters of Amazon’s arrival — along with Amazon’s National Landing landlord, JBG Smith, and Virginia Tech, which is developing an Innovation Campus in Potomac Yard. Other members include Lyft, Freddie’s, Commonwealth Joe and Mothersauce Partners.

The group believes that Amazon-fueled growth will foster a “collaborative ecosystem for education, innovation, and entrepreneurship” that will help “further establish Northern Virginia as the next great technology hub.”

Countering the anti-Amazon sentiment that made headlines prior to Arlington’s approval of millions in local incentives for the retail and tech giant, the new coalition says the community will benefit from the area’s growth, and not just because of Amazon.

“From housing to transportation, education to entertainment, National Landing will be not only a global technology hub but a vibrant community for all of us who live, work, and visit here,” said Glenda MacMullin, Chief Operating Officer and CFO, Consumer Technology Association.

The full press release from the Arlington Community Coalition is below, after the jump.

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The Java Shack, a beloved local coffee shop in the Lyon Village neighborhood near Courthouse, is planning to close.

Commonwealth Joe, which took over the cafe at 2507 N. Franklin Road from its original owner five years ago, made the announcement Friday morning after informing staff of its plans.

Java Shack will serve its final mugs of coffee on Nov. 24, unless Commonwealth Joe can find a buyer for the business “that understands and respects the rich heritage of the cafe and the important role it plays in the community.”

One frequent customer said the loss of Java Shack would be a detriment to the sense of community that unique local businesses like it help to build.

“I live down the street from Java Shack and it’s a huge loss for me to know that they’re closing,” Jacob Gersh told ARLnow, noting that he recently filled his fourth punch card at the shop, marking 40 cups of coffee. “It’s such a powerful feeling of connection to the community to be able to sit in their garden.”

Commonwealth Joe says it was not able to negotiate a new lease that would allow it to continue operating Java Shack. It will instead focus on its Pentagon City cafe, near Amazon’s future HQ2, and its growing coffee keg business.

Maintenance of the aging building on Franklin Road — which once housed the headquarters of the American Nazi Party but is now home to Java Shack, a barber and a pet store — has been a challenge for the cafe’s owners.

“The Java Shack holds a special place in our hearts,” said Commonwealth Joe co-founder and CEO Robert Peck. “However apart from the great memories and successes we had at the cafe, our building lease brought some hardships.”

The full press release is below, after the jump.

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Sholom Harold “Doc” Friedman, the long-time proprietor of the former Public Shoe Store in Clarendon, has died. He was 86.

Friedman’s father opened the store in 1938. It moved from its original building in the 1970s to make way for the construction of Metro, ending up at its recognizable 3137 Wilson Blvd location, where it stayed for decades before closing in 2016 to make way for a 7-Eleven.

“Doc” was a beloved figure for generations of shoe store customers and patients of his podiatry office. He took over the store when his father could no longer work there, but there were no potential successors when it came time for Doc to retire a few years ago.

From a 2015 profile:

Friedman has children and several grandchildren, but none of them wanted to take up the mantle of Public Shoe Store the way he did from his father. His children are all at or near retirement, and the next generation are aspiring teachers and scientists.

“They don’t seem to be interested in it,” he said. “Kids today are into different things, it’s a different world.”

Although his loyal customers will miss coming into the shop and seeing him every day, shuffling deliberately across the store and trying his hardest to find the perfect shoe for each foot problem, he hasn’t thought much about what his next step will look like.

First, he said: tending to his Lyon Village home, which is just a few minutes ride from the store via his motorized red scooter.

“I’m going to clean out all my junk,” he said. He smiles when he’s asked what he’ll miss most about the store, and said only, “I don’t know yet.”

An obituary notes that Doc was a proud Mason and member of Arlington’s Congregation Etz Hayim.

Known and beloved in the Washington area as Doc Friedman, proprietor of Public Shoe Store; the family business founded by his late father, Samuel, and co-owned with his late brother, Joel, was in business for 78 years until Doc’s retirement in 2016. He was a proud Mason, and a founding and lifetime member of Congregation Etz Hayim. Graveside services will be held Thursday, October 10, 1:00 p.m., at King David Memorial Gardens in Falls Church, VA. Family will be receiving following burial with a minyan service at 6 p.m. at the late residence. Memorial contributions may be made to Capital Caring and Relay For Life of Olney – American Cancer Society. Services entrusted to Sagel Bloomfield Funeral Care.

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It’s hard to run a small business in Arlington, and Lyndsey DePalma of the former House of Steep knows the ups and downs as well as anyone.

Now, she’s making sure other business owners don’t make the same mistakes she made.

After DePalma sold her Lee Highway teahouse in 2017 — it permanently closed a year later — she took time off to reflect and spend time with her family. One day she had an epiphany: why not turn her experience into an opportunity to help others?

“I call myself a business sanity specialist,” DePalma said in an interview with ARLnow. “I look at people who are overwhelmed and see what we can do to make it better.”

After two years of writing, DePalma transformed her pile of business notes and personal reflections into a book called “READY: What To Expect When Starting a Business.” In addition to being sold online, the book will soon be on the bookshelves of local stores One More Page Books and Trade Roots, she said.

While the book is catered to business owners everywhere, DePalma understands starting up in Arlington comes with both unique hardships and positive value.

“Rent is expensive, sure, but when you rent in Arlington you’re also renting within a local community,” she said. “The county’s only 26 square miles — there’s a proximity and connectedness that makes this special.”

In 2011, DePalma knew her business idea for a “tea house and foot sanctuary” would be a hard sell.

“Everyone kept telling me, it’s too ‘West Coast’ for Arlington,” she said. “But I did it anyway.”

It took a year and a half to get the store off the ground, with multiple roadblocks such as zoning requirements and hiring certified staff.

“And then on opening day, we had things go wrong that we never would have imagined,” DePalma said. “We had a huge check-list, and I threw it out the door.”

DePalma credits much of her early success to a mentorship within the Arlington Economic Development’s BizLaunch program. BizLaunch is billed as a “small business and entrepreneurial assistance network” and a “one-stop-shop for everything you’ll need to know about starting or growing a business in Arlington.”

DePalma said small businesses should take advantages of opportunities to seek help whenever possible.

“There are still headaches [there], and I wish there was a focus on programs, but small businesses do need to know there are resources there,” she said.

After becoming pregnant with her second child, DePalma made the decision in the fall of 2017 to sell the businesses.

“My identity had been wrapped in this, and I loved every part of it,” she said. “It wasn’t easy.”

One last piece of advice?

“Make those relationships. Start them early,” she said. “That was the differentiator for me, I had time to really get to know the real estate brokers and bankers, and I had to figure out what people I clicked with, and that made the biggest difference.”

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Morning Notes

GMU to Expand Va. Square Campus — “George Mason University wants to transform its Arlington campus into an ‘innovation district’ as it kicks off an Amazon-inspired overhaul… Mason expects to use the expansion to add 3,000 to 4,000 graduate students to the campus by 2024.” [Washington Business Journal]

Man Arrested For Assaulting Police in Ballston — “At approximately 8:32 p.m. on September 11, police were dispatched the report of a disorderly subject inside a restaurant who had allegedly been throwing items and threatening staff. Upon police arrival, the business staff requested the subject be banned from the property. While speaking with the subject, he threatened an officer and took a defensive stance. While placing him under arrest, the subject became combative, kicked and spit at the officers.” [Arlington County]

Home Inventory Tight in Arlington — “New listings in Arlington declined 16.5% in August compared with last year, said Chris Finnegan, vice president at Bright MLS. The median sale price for all home types in the 22202 ZIP code, where Amazon is building and staffing up HQ2, was $749,000 in August. It’s a 23% jump since the company made its HQ2 announcement in November 2018.” [Washington Business Journal, InsideNova]

Coffee Beanery Open in Va. Square — Coffee Beanery, a coffee chain with locations across the northeast, has opened a new location at 3444 Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square. [Facebook]

Tech Company Picks Arlington for U.S. HQ — ” Varjo, the technology leader in industrial-grade VR/XR headsets, today announced the opening of its U.S. headquarters… in Arlington, Virginia, located just outside of Washington D.C.” [Varjo via Potomac Tech Wire]

Potomac Kempo Now Open — Martial arts studio Potomac Kempo yesterday held a grand opening ceremony for its fifth location, at 3650 S. Glebe Road, in the Potomac Yard area. The studio started holding classes on Aug. 31, we’re told. [Facebook]

Video: USS Arlington Crew Welcomed at Fire Station — “Crew members from the USS Arlington were welcomed at Arlington’s Fire Station 5 before running in the The Arlington Police, Fire & Sheriff 9/11 Memorial Race. The USS Arlington honors the 184 victims and the thousands of emergency, fire and rescue personnel of Arlington County and localities in the National Capital Region who provided critical emergency assistance after the attack on 9/11.” [YouTube]

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It’s been a tumultuous road to recovery for two Westover stores devastated by this summer’s record-breaking floods.

Ayers Variety and Hardware and Westover Market and Beer Garden are local institutions that were unfortunately placed directly in the path of floodwaters. Waters flooded both stores and knocked out power to the block.

“Every week it gets better,” said Devin Hicks, manager of Westover Market. “This place has never looked so clean and the community support has been tremendous.”

As Westover Market approaches its ten-year anniversary, Hicks said he’s feeling optimistic.

“It’s been a fight the entire time,” Hicks said. “But everyone’s been remarking that they’re happy to see us persevere. It’s been a rough two months, but it gets better every day.”

Next door, however, recovery has not been as easy for Ayers. The local store has been in business for 70 years selling everything from gardening supplies to plastic toys. But Kristy Peterkin, a manager for the store, said the business was already hard-hit by recent tariffs from the ongoing trade war with China.

“At the same time as the flood, one tier of the China trade tariff hit,” Peterkin said. “Now the second tier is starting to take effect. That’s a big hit.”

Peterkin says the company tries to buy American, but most of the stock they sell is almost exclusively manufactured overseas.

“Probably about 75 percent of what we sell is not American-made,” Peterkin said, “and we’ve seen a 25 percent increase in the prices. Walmart absorbs that price, but we can’t.”

The flood heavily exacerbated what was already a not-so-great situation. Water poured into the Ayers basement, ruining thousands of dollars in merchandise and leaving the store with nowhere to put overstocked goods. Today, half of the basement remains unusable.

“Until that’s fixed, we have nowhere to store additional [stock] that comes in,” Peterkin said. “We’re out of money to spend paying people to fix things, so repairs are on us now, which takes a lot longer. My husband and I work evenings trying to clear the basement.”

The basement flooding has left the store with limited inventory, as Peterkin said they have to be more careful about what they purchase because there’s no room to store surplus and they can’t afford to take a risk on items that they aren’t sure will sell.

“We’re kind of in a rough place right now,” Peterkin said. “I don’t know how that will look in the long run. We’re taking it one step at a time.”

Both stores said a GoFundMe campaign set up to support Westover retailers was a tremendous boon at a time of dire need. Hicks said Westover Market received roughly $30,000 and was particularly thankful to Whitlow’s On Wilson in Clarendon, which hosted a fundraiser event for the Westover stores.

“The event at Whitlow’s was great,” Hicks said. “It had a great turnout, there was great music, and everyone really rallied.”

Ayers received roughly $32,000 and Peterkin said the funding took a chunk out of the estimated $250,000 in lost sales and merchandise.

Peterkin also said there was an initial uptick in sales after the flood where members of the community came out to support the store, but since then numbers have dwindled back down and revenue is flat.

“In business, flat basically means down,” Peterkin said. “If business is flat, everything else still goes up, like rent and payroll and insurance. But to stay competitive, we can’t raise prices to accommodate.”

With winter on the way and a heating unit still out of service from the floods, Peterkin said there are still more costs looming on the horizon and no clear way to afford to pay for them.

There are also concerns that if heavy storms sweep through the area again, the same damage will happen all over. During the floods, Hicks said he saw the sewage pipes in the area become almost immediately overwhelmed and start spewing the water back up into the streets.

“The county needs to address this,” Hicks said. “They need to clean the sewage drains. They have to address it county-wide because it’s only going to get worse.”

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