A two-alarm fire scorched the top floor of a small office building in Virginia Square tonight (Tuesday).
A passerby called 911 just after 7:45 p.m. to report flames and smoke coming from the building at 933 N. Kenmore Street. The blaze was extinguished thanks to an “aggressive attack” by firefighters, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Ben O’Bryant, but not before causing “heavy fire damage on the fourth floor.”
Smoke and water damage was also reported on the third and second floors. No injuries were reported. The Fire Marshal’s Office is now investigating the cause.
The office, across from the George Mason University Arlington campus, houses a number of small businesses, including an insurance agent and a massage therapy center. A web search found two businesses on the fourth floor of the building: an immigration law office and long-time conservative political magazine The American Spectator.
More photos and video via social media below, after the jump.
Map via Google Maps. Video courtesy Arash Tafakor.
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More on Axios Staying in Arlington — Media startup Axios, which just inked a 10 year lease in Clarendon, is getting a $60,000 performance-based “Gazelle Grant” from Arlington County. It is the fourth company to receive the economic development grant, joining Stardog, VideoBlocks and Phone2Action. “Axios is an excellent example of a Gazelle tech company here in Arlington — fast-growing and a leader in Arlington’s robust media industry,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “Axios’ decision to remain here in Arlington as it grows and expands is the true purpose behind the Gazelle incentive program and demonstrates how Arlington’s assets are truly paying off. We are thrilled to continue to work with Axios as a partner in our business community.”
County Giving Away Free Snow Shovel — Updated at 11 a.m. — As part of a social media promotion, the Arlington County Dept. of Environment Services is giving away a free snow shovel, courtesy of Twins Ace Hardware in Courthouse, to one lucky winner who “describe[s] to us [on Twitter] or on DES Facebook your favorite phase of Arlington snow treatment and why.” [Twitter]
Public Invited to Gutshall Swearing-In — “The public is invited to join the Arlington County Board on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 for the swearing-in of Board Member-elect Erik Gutshall… The ceremony will begin at 5 p.m., and will be followed by a reception outside the Board Room, Room 307 in the County Office Building, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA, 22201.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Eric
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly feature that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
(Updated at 12:20 p.m.) It’s less than a year old, but media startup Axios is growing fast and ready to put down roots in Clarendon.
Axios will soon start the build-out process for its new space on the 13th floor of the office building at 3100 Clarendon Blvd. It expects to move out of MakeOffices and into the new space by mid-2018.
Roy Schwartz, who co-founded Axios with fellow Politico veterans Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, says the new space will provide room for Axios’ growing team while also offering “monumental views” of D.C. and Northern Virginia.
The new office is expected to have all of the accoutrement of a startup company that bridges the media and technology worlds: bigger versions of its employee lounge, dubbed “Relaxios,” and its free snack bar, “Snaxios,” in addition to features like a video studio and a “live shot” camera for television interviews of its journalists.
Schwartz says Axios currently has 90 employees but will likely have 120 by the time of the move and 150 by the end of 2018. Last month the company announced that it had raised another $20 million from venture capital firms, NBC Universal, Laurene Powell Jobs and others.
Axios received an economic development grant from Arlington County to incentivize it to stay here, Schwartz told ARLnow.com. The amount of that grant was not immediately available.
There were other factors that led the company to launch and now stay in Arlington, according to Schwartz. For one, he and Allen live in the neighborhoods around Clarendon, while VandeHei lives in Alexandria, making for an easy commute. Beyond that, however, Schwartz praised Arlington and Clarendon for its proximity to bars and restaurants, ease of access to D.C., and comparatively lower rent and lower taxes than the District.
“We’re very excited to be in Arlington,” he said. The company also has satellite offices in New York City and San Francisco.
Axios covers a number of news verticals, including politics and policy, business, technology, media, healthcare, science, energy and the “future of work.” While plenty of other national news outlets cover the same topics, Schwartz said the secret to Axios’ success is its focus on “smart brevity.”
In a world where there is “too much noise” in people’s lives, Schwartz said, Axios stands out by publishing radically concise articles that include only the most important facts and no filler.
“We’re going to cut straight to the chase,” he said. “Here is the information and, even more importantly, here is why it matters.”
Smart brevity extends to the business side of Axios. The company eschews programmatic banner ads, which Schwartz says are ineffective, and instead publishes very brief pieces of sponsored content on its site and in its popular email newsletters. Some recent clients include Morgan Stanley, Koch Industries, Fusion Media Group and Boeing.
Axios also holds sponsored events, which take advantage of smart brevity by featuring brief one-on-one interviews with newsmakers and subject matter experts, as opposed to long panel discussions.
Schwartz says its advertising has been working, producing audience engagement that is “off the charts.” Readers, he said, appreciate that in its coverage and its advertising, Axios is respectful of their time.
While BuzzFeed, Mashable and other venture capital-funded, online-only media companies have stumbled this year in their quest for growth, Axios is exceeding growth expectations. Schwartz credits smart brevity for that, in part, but also attributes Axios’ success to having the three pillars of its operation — the editorial, business and technology sides — working in concert.
Despite the challenges faced by others in the digital media industry, Schwartz he is “very confident” that Axios’ model is scalable and that its growth will continue.
Lost Hikers Found Near Chain Bridge — Two men who had apparently been hiking along the Potomac River got lost and had to call emergency dispatchers after one of them fell and hurt himself. The call came in around 2:30 a.m. this morning. Arlington, Fairfax County, D.C. and U.S. Park Police units helped to search for the men — Fairfax used its police helicopter — and eventually they were found and transported to the hospital. [WUSA 9]
Video: ACFD Responds to FC Vehicle Fire — A minivan caught on fire in Falls Church over the weekend and a camera was rolling as Arlington County firefighters arrived to extinguish the blaze. [Twitter]
Holiday Decorations Going Up — Around Clarendon yesterday — and perhaps in other parts of the county as well — lights, window paintings and other festive decorations were being put up in anticipation of the holiday season. [Instagram]
Arlington Mill Gym Floor Installed — The new gym floor has been installed and is ready to use at the Arlington Mill Community Center. The gym’s previous floor had to be removed due to water damage stemming from a March snow storm. [Twitter]
County Announces Human Rights Award Winners — Among the recipients of Arlington County’s 2017 James B. Hunter Award winners are: Signature Theatre’s Eric Schaeffer; the Building Bridges community initiative; Saint George’s Episcopal Church and its refugee advocacy; Café Sazón and its support of immigrant rights; and Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City, which is considered the only gay bar in Northern Virginia. [Arlington County]
Reporter Accused of Unwanted Advances in Local Bar — New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush has been suspended following accusations that during his time at Arlington-based Politico, he made unwanted sexual advances at young, female colleagues while drinking at a Rosslyn bar. [Vox]
For hundreds of thousands of monthly readers, DCist was a one-stop shop for news about the District. It also featured the work of talented local writers who covered arts and culture in the city.
While there are other outlets that cover news and happenings in the District, there is nothing that will fully replace DCist. However, we are going to try to fill at least some of the void left by its closure.
Starting tomorrow morning, former DCist editor-in-chief Rachel Sadon will be publishing a daily D.C. news link roundup here on ARLnow.
We’re calling it “Meanwhile in DC,” and it will feature links to just about everything you need to know about the day’s local news in the District. Plus, whenever possible, it will include links to the work of former DCist writers who are now covering their food, arts and culture beats elsewhere.
We think this will be a great resource for ARLnow and former DCist readers alike, and can give the DCist community a new place to congregate. However, for now it’s envisioned as a temporary resource — a sort of “popup” feature on the site, while the local news ecosystem adjusts to the big void left by DCist. There is no timeframe for how long it will run, but we hope you enjoy it.
While we prefer the nomenclature “local news website,” ARLnow launched at a time when “blogging” was still a thing. We were basically a blog.
The granddaddy of all big, D.C. area local news blogs was DCist and late today came the sad news that its billionaire owner has closed all of the DNAinfo and Gothamist websites, including DCist, following a vote to unionize the company’s New York City newsroom.
It was always a thrill to get a link from DCist. Early on it would bring a rush of traffic at a time when we were still trying to build our audience. Even in 2017, getting a DCist link was a sign that an article we published here in Arlington has resonated across the Potomac.
DCist was a consistently interesting and entertaining one-stop-shop for D.C.-centric local news, it had a loyal and often very funny commenting community, it jumpstarted the careers of some excellent journalists, and it was an important component of the slowly shrinking D.C. local news ecosystem.
RIP DCist, you will be missed.
— Rachel Kurzius (@Curious_Kurz) November 2, 2017
One DCist employee found out the site had shut down when she refreshed the homepage https://t.co/rOavIepYTg
— Andrew Beaujon (@abeaujon) November 2, 2017
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) November 2, 2017
— Sommer Mathis (@sommermathis) November 2, 2017
— Sommer Mathis (@sommermathis) November 2, 2017
A local blogging legend, Dan has been tirelessly chronicling community news, happenings and minutia in D.C. for more than a decade.
We asked him about how he started the site, his approach to PoPville’s coverage and about the parallels (and partnership) between PoP and ARLnow.
Photo by Hugh Clarke
A decade later, Politico is a major force in the news industry and VandeHei has moved on to found another media startup: Axios.
Launched in January and based (for now) at MakeOffices in Clarendon, Axios has made some big hires, broken some big stories and is growing rapidly, thanks in part to investment from major media companies.
In this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we talked with Jim about his vision for Axios, the current state of the media industry and his take on what’s happening inside the Trump White House.
Some of the initial headlines about Axios, before it launched, revolved around a number VandeHei threw out as a potential price for a subscription: $10,000 per year.
“It could be that number, it could be higher,” VandeHei told us. Large companies and lobbying groups, he said, have that kind of money to pay for information that’s valuable to their business.
For those of us who don’t have thousands to spend on enterprise-focused news and analysis (the subscription service will be launched at a later date) the site and its email newsletters, from marquee names like co-founder Mike Allen and former Fortune columnist Dan Primack, are free. The first thing you’ll notice: the emphasis on brevity. It’s a key ethos at Axios and VandeHei says the goal is to give busy people only the facts they need — “long enough to give you what you need but not so long that it bores you and turns you off.”
In addition to the subscription business, Axios is making money by holding events and by selling advertising to blue chip advertisers like Bank of America, Walmart and BP. VandeHei said that at a time when Facebook and Google are vacuuming up many of the dollars streaming into digital advertising, a diversified revenue stream is important.
On the topic of Trump, VandeHei was candid about what he described as “an unprecedented presidency.” We asked him what might happen to Arlington and the D.C. area under Trump, given the president’s rhetoric about “draining the swamp” and reducing the size of government.
“I don’t know, and I don’t know because the president doesn’t know,” VandeHei said. “I think people assume he came with a very specific plan and a very team that would carry it out, and none of those things is true. They’re making it up on the go.”
VandeHei, who together with Allen interviewed Trump last month, said the president does not have “a strong ideology” outside of immigration and trade. Other issues, he said, are “fully negotiable.”
Lest an optimist think that Trump will get his administration to stabilize and function more like those before it, after a rocky first few weeks in office, it probably isn’t going to happen, according to VandeHei.
“People need to pinch themselves,” he said. “This is not normal.”
“Having had pretty good visibility into this White House, it’s a mess and I’d say it’s arguably worse than you think it is,” VandeHei said. “It’s just competing factions, no trust… it’s a tough way to run a White House. We’re three weeks in, half the people at the senior level think they’re on thin ice and going to lose their job, the other half are angling for a better job that they can have, and none of them are focused on carrying out an agenda that’s going to be awesome for America.”
“The idea that he’s going to suddenly change and that he’s suddenly going to run a more stable White House or that he’s going have a very clear vision of where he wants things to go… there’s a very low percentage chance that that happens. I would just anticipate this level of volatility and this level of insanity until further notice.”
That all said, VandeHei defended Axios’ Trump Tower interview and Mar-a-Lago visit from others in the journalism world who criticized it for appearing too cozy with the incoming administration.
“I find a lot of these arguments silly,” VandeHei said when asked about that and about the turmoil over the news organizations pulling out of the White House Correspondents Dinner now that Trump is president.
“Most reporters are liberal, no doubt about it. Most of them are being egged on to take a very hostile stand against Trump and Republicans,” he said. “But guess what, Republicans run town, they have the House, they have the Senate, they have the White House, they’re about to have the judiciary, they have almost every state government. This is a Republican-run country and you darn well better figure out what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.”
VandeHei had the following advice for journalists in the Trump era: focus on facts, hold people accountable, avoid media “self-flogging” and “maybe stay off Twitter.”
Photo courtesy Axios
Average Paycheck Decreases — The average weekly paycheck in Arlington was $1,734 in the first quarter of 2016, down 0.2 percent compared to one year prior. Nationally, however, the average paycheck was down 0.5 percent. Arlington ranked in the top 10 of U.S. counties with the highest pay. [InsideNova]
New Media Venture Based in Clarendon — Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei’s next media venture is headquartered in Arlington. VandeHei, along with Politico’s Mike Allen and the publication’s former Chief Revenue Officer, are among those helping to found the venture, which has reportedly secured $10 million in financing and is said to be “a media outlet targeting corporate executives and other professionals with a mix of business and political news.” While Politico remains in Rosslyn, VandeHei’s new venture is based in MakeOffices in Clarendon. [Wall Street Journal]
Porn Discussion at DJO — Last night Bishop O’Connell High School hosted a public discussion, aimed at parents and teens, about “the effects of pornography on teenagers.” Today the founder of the website The Porn Effect will address DJO students and “present the reality behind pornography to the entire student body.” [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]
First Responders Cup This Weekend — The annual First Responders Cup fastpitch softball tournament will take place in Arlington this weekend. Among the participants, one team from Salem, Va. is paying tribute by wearing the name of fallen firefighters on the back of their jerseys. The players, who also wrote letters to the families of the firefighters, will be visiting Arlington’s Fire Station No. 5 near Pentagon City today. [WDBJ]
New Website for Chamber — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has launched a redesigned website. [Arlington Chamber]
AHC Seeking Volunteer Mentors — Updated at 2:15 p.m. — Affordable housing organization AHC Inc. is seeking volunteers to serve as mentors and tutors for middle- and high school students. Before the start of the school year, AHC provided backpacks filled with school supplies to more than 900 low-income, school-aged children living in its apartment communities. “Along with scores of generous individuals, several local organizations donated funds or supplies, including Arlington County Community Outreach, BM Smith, Boeing, The Reading Connection, and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington,” AHC noted in a press release. [AHC Inc.]
In Rosslyn: WJLA Stays, Politico Implodes — In Rosslyn yesterday, there were two big pieces of local media news in the same building, on the same day. First, it was announced that Sinclair Broadcast Group signed a five-year, 100,000 square foot lease that will keep WJLA and NewsChannel 8 in the 1000/1100 Wilson Blvd twin towers. Later, it was revealed that Politico — which renewed its lease in the same complex in 2014 — would soon be losing CEO Jim VandeHei, chief political reporter Mike Allen and three senior executives. [Washington Business Journal, Huffington Post]
Arlington OKs Gondola Study Contribution — Arlington County will kick in $35,000 to study the feasibility of a gondola running from Rosslyn to Georgetown. Some County Board members expressed skepticism of the plan, though the county’s economic development director said it would at minimum give local hotels and tourism a boost. [Washington Post]
Apartment Complex Deemed Historic District — The Arlington County Board yesterday voted to designate Cambridge Courts — “a garden apartment complex built from rationed materials to house defense workers during World War II” — a local historic district. The apartment complex along Route 50 will now be protected from redevelopment. [Arlington County]
New Rules for Bus-Only Lanes — New rules have been approved for the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway. After it opens this spring, the transitway’s lanes in Crystal City will be designated bus-only during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Police will issue warning to drivers who violate the rules during the first 30 days, then will issue $200 fines to lane violators after that. [WTOP, Arlington County]
County Board Approves ‘Complete Streets’ Guidelines — The Arlington County Board has approved a set of guidelines intended to “help transform busy neighborhood streets into ‘Complete Streets’ – ones that will be safe for users of all ages and abilities whether they are walking, driving, cycling or using transit.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by J.D. Moore