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
Henninger Media Services, a production company with ties to Discovery Channel, National Geographic and Oscar-winning documentaries, has found a new home in Courthouse.
The production company is responsible for “finishing” videos, whether it be a show on National Geographic or a documentary that wins an Academy Award. In finishing, or post production, specialists at the company edit the film, color and audio in order to make a show look cleaner. It’s very much a behind the scenes job — if it’s done correctly, a viewer wouldn’t realize that anything had been done.
In addition to editing, the company also does design work, such as creating the main menu on a DVD, and archive work, including helping the National Archives.
The company’s new space is tucked away at 1320 N. Courthouse Road, near the Arlington County Police Department and county government offices. It was previously located on Wilson Blvd, next to Earl’s Sandwiches. Although slightly hidden, the company’s new office on the first floor of the building is anything but small.
The company has 13 editing suites, six audio studios, three color correction suites, two quality control rooms, a voice recording studio, various administrative and design spaces and the “core,” where it hosts all the servers and technology needed to run a production company. Henninger bills itself as “the largest production/post-production company in the Mid-Atlantic.”
“It is relatively rare that one company houses all the expertise,” said Mike Weiss, vice president of Business Development.
The new move allowed Henninger Media Services to have a fresh start when it came to the technology in the office, said CEO Robert Henninger. The space now uses fiber glass cables with the capability to run videos in ultra high definition, one of the newest trends in video.
“It gave us a lot of flexibility in terms of technical capability,” Weiss said. “It modernized us.”
Innovation and embracing new technology is one of the five core values of the company, Henninger said, with the other four being quality, service, teamwork and creativity.
These five values have helped Henninger Media Services, which was founded in 1983, become the company it is today, he said.
Today, the company works with big names like Discovery Channel, National Geographic and PBS, where they put finishing touches on shows and documentaries run on the networks. It also works with corporations, such as Capital One, small businesses, colleges, such as American University, and political campaigns.
The company declined to list some of the well-known television programs it works on, citing confidentiality agreements, but one such program — verified independently by ARLnow.com — is “Gold Rush: Alaska,” one of the Discovery Channel’s top-rated series.
Henninger Media Services worked with President Barack Obama’s first campaign to help edit a 30-minute paid ad. They also worked with Sen. John McCain when he ran against George W. Bush in a presidential primary.
Political campaigns are a specialty because they have an intense workload and very quick deadline.
“You have to really be prepared to do what it takes,” Henninger said.
The company has also worked with Oscar-winner documentary “Innocente.” The company has done multiple projects with directors Sean and Andrea Fine, as well as Sean’s father, who was also a director.
“We were part of the team that won an Oscar,” Henninger said.
In addition to the many non-fiction films that company works with, Henninger said he would like to get involved with feature films.
“Doing some fiction work would be fun,” he said.
The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news website, is moving its headquarters from D.C. to Rosslyn.
The company, founded in February 2012, has signed a lease at 1000 Wilson Blvd, one of Rosslyn’s silver “twin towers.” About 25 employees are expected to move into the new office this spring, according to Free Beacon president Aaron Harison.
“I thought we were getting a lot more bang for our buck in Rosslyn,” Harison told ARLnow.com. The publication, described by its soon-to-be Rosslyn neighbor Politico as a “pot-stirring, hyper-conservative news and opinion site,” previously had offices on K Street NW in the District.
“We’re getting this great panoramic view of the whole city,” Harison said. “That’s something you don’t get in D.C.”
The Free Beacon recently transitioned from being a nonprofit organization, founded as a project of another conservative nonprofit, to being a for-profit entity. Harison said the new office will allow the publication to continue to grow.
“We really want to increase our footprint,” he said.
Harison, a Ballston resident, said the expanding Rosslyn restaurant and bar scene should help to ease the transition from D.C.
“We’re certainly going to be looking for a couple of new bars and restaurants to make our local haunts,” he said.
Rosslyn has become something of a minor media hub. Among the media organizations calling Rosslyn home are WJLA-TV, Politico, Washington Business Journal, ARLnow.com and Graham Holdings (owner of Slate, theRoot and Foreign Policy).
In addition to the Free Beacon, twin towers owner Monday Properties on Wednesday announced two other new leases at 1000 Wilson Blvd: Cobro Ventures, an investment and management company, and Riveron Consulting, a financial firm.
Monday will go before the Arlington County Board this weekend to seek permission to build a new roof deck on 1000 Wilson Blvd. That roof deck will be used by Sands Capital, an existing tenant, according to a spokeswoman.
Disclosure: Monday Properties is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Crumbs Could Reopen — The shuttered Crumbs Bakeshop in Clarendon could reopen, after the bankrupt cupcake company was purchased by a new owner. Fischer Enterprises has yet to reveal which of Crumbs’ 48 stores will reopen. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington’s Naturalist Blogs on the Side — Frustrated with “days filled with meetings and paperwork” after he started working as the natural resources manager for Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation, Alonso Abugattas founded an educational blog and Facebook group called Capital Naturalist. The blog has a loyal following among readers and respect from fellow naturalists. [Washington Post]
Transportation Among Reasons Politico Stayed — The president of Monday Properties, the major Rosslyn property owner, says political publication Politico decided to renew its office lease in Rosslyn largely because of “superior transit options and greater concentration of housing and retail.” [Washington City Paper]
Changes Coming to ARLnow — ARLnow.com is expected to roll out a website redesign this afternoon. The site may experience brief downtime during the transition. Readers should also expect various menu and visual changes immediately after the transition.
Photo courtesy Donna Gouse
Spencer, who started at Clarendon Patch in May 2011 before taking over Arlington and McLean as Patch began losing staff, is a casualty of Patch’s mass layoffs, which were announced today. The 900-site hyperlocal news network is restructuring under new owners Hale Global, which is in the process of acquiring majority control of the business from Aol.
The Patch sites Spencer had helmed will still be operational, but its unclear at this point who will be running the site and how the site will cover local news, if at all.
“Today will be my last day at Patch,” Spencer wrote on Arlington Patch’s Facebook page. “For those of you I’ve worked with over the past (almost) three years, it’s been a pleasure. Arlington has been a great place to get to know and to cover — it certainly was a social and political 180 from the community I had previously covered in South Carolina! And thanks to the readers who have kept us going.”
The editor of the Alexandria and Del Ray Patch sites, Drew Hansen, was also let go today. Media watchdog Jim Romenesko reports that somewhere between two-thirds and 90 percent of Patch editors across the country were let go today.
Photo via Twitter