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Podcast: A Conversation with ARLnow Intern Anna Merod

For the last four months, you might’ve noticed Anna Merod’s byline here at ARLnow; regrettably, that won’t last much longer.

Anna’s time as a spring intern is almost up, but before she leaves, she stopped by for a podcast conversation with ARLnow’s Alex Koma.

Topics included some of Anna’s favorite stories, like an analysis of racial disparities in suspensions in Arlington Public Schools and in-depth look at why millenials struggle to buy homes in Arlington, and what she’s learned in her time growing up in and covering the county.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

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Arlington’s Millennials Want To Buy Homes, But It’s Complicated

(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) Arlington’s millennials have mixed reactions about buying a house in the county some day.

About 36 percent of current U.S. home buyers across the nation are millennials, or those who are under 37 years old, according to a National Association of Realtors survey.

But Eli Tucker, an Arlington-based realtor who also writes an ARLnow column, doesn’t think that home buying trend studies are accurate, because of the different life changes that people aged 20 through 37 face. Two-thirds of Tucker’s clientele is considered millennial-aged and those ages 20-34 make up about a third of Arlington’s population.

“Absolutely, those millennials that are in their thirties and have children and are starting a family have zero interest in a condo,” Tucker said. “But you talk to somebody who is 25 or 26, they have zero interest in being in anything other than a condo — but they’re both millennials.”

The cost of housing in Arlington doesn’t help.

The average cost of an Arlington single-family home is $950,000, while a townhouse costs $650,000 on average, and a condo will, on average, take a $425,000 bite out of your wallet, according to numbers cited by Tucker.

Courthouse resident, Elvin Lee, 25, already owns a condo in Arlington, something he says he couldn’t have done if he didn’t live with his parents for the first two years out of college.

Lee said he could see himself purchasing a house one day, but not until much later when he wants to start a family.

Another Arlington millennial, Adam DeSanctis, 31, and his wife want to buy a home in Arlington, but he says that the county’s pricy real estate market it too difficult to jump into.

“The area desperately needs more entry-level new home construction (single-family and condos) to keep affordability in check — especially as mortgage rates rise,” DeSanctis said via email.

Though home purchases by millennials increased by two percent over the past year, the NAR study found that millennials’ overall activity was subdued due to higher housing costs causing some to continue staying in their family’s homes.

“Home prices have rapidly increased in many communities [nationwide]” said Jessica Lautz, NAR’s survey research and communications director. “The D.C. area is no exception to that.”

Massive amount of student loan debt nationwide is contributing to the problem, said Lautz. Though the study found that millennials were more likely to have higher household incomes than past generations their age, 46 percent had student debt. The median student loan debt is $27,000.

The concern is mitigated somewhat in Arlington as salaries are higher than other communities, Lautz added.

For Kelly Kuang, 22, who just moved into a Shirlington rental apartment, she probably won’t be buying in Arlington. Her parents want her to buy a townhouse with her brother in the near future and it will likely be in a less expensive community.

“Just to be honest, Arlington is a great area from what I’ve heard, but it’s crazy expensive,” Kuang said.

Patrick Muggil, 21, who currently plans to live with his family in Pentagon City after working for a year, said he plans to save up for a house over the course of five to 10 years.

“I love the county so much that I definitely to make it work somewhere,” said Muggil. “I want to stay a long time.”

File photo

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Morning Notes

Arlington Revamps Engagement on Projects — “The County’s new ‘Six-Step Public Engagement Guide for Capital Projects’ aims to strengthen engagement and communication processes across County government – for hundreds of capital projects both large and small… The guide identifies four types of engagement that can occur with capital projects: Communicate… Consult… Involve… Collaborate.” [Arlington County]

Barre3 Opening ‘For Real’ — After construction, permitting, and inspection delays, Clarendon’s new Barre3 exercise studio has set a new opening date of March 22 — “for real.” An email to customers apologized to those who have been “waiting (and waiting and waiting)” for the studio to open in Clarendon’s Market Common shopping plaza at 2800 Clarendon Boulevard.

Millennials Buying Homes at Modest Pace — “Home purchases by Millennials ticked up over the past year, but inventory constraints and higher housing costs kept their overall activity subdued and prevented some from leaving the more affordable confines of their Gen X and Baby Boomer parents’ homes.” Meanwhile, Northern Virginia’s population continues to boom while many rural Virginia locales are shrinking. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

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Arlington No. 3 on New ‘Best Cities for Millennials’ List

(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) In news that should be music to the county officials’ ears as they court Amazon, Arlington County is among the top 3 best places in the U.S. for millennials, according to new rankings compiled by Niche.com.

Arlington is third behind San Francisco (#2) and Cambridge, Mass. (#1). The Boston area is also among Amazon’s top 20 potential HQ2 destinations.

The county bested Amazon’s home city, Seattle (#4), along with D.C. (#5) and Berkeley, Calif. (#6), according to the rankings, which take into account things like the percentage of residents ages 25-34; access to coffee shops, restaurants and bars; diversity; walkability; higher education rate; and cost of living.

Niche also just announced that Arlington is its No. 5 “best city to live in America,” after Ann Arbor, Mich. (#1), Naperville, Ill. (#2), Berkeley (#3) and Plano, Texas (#4).

Those rankings “explore 15,000+ cities, towns, and neighborhoods nationwide based on cost of living, public schools, safety, jobs, local amenities, and more,” according to Niche.

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Morning Notes

Family Still Searching for Missing Arlington Woman — Family and friends spent the weekend searching for Katherine Hawald, who went missing Thursday, last seen in Arlington. Volunteers checked places Hawald would hang out and handed out flyers, enlisting others to assist in the search effort. [Fox 5]

Veep Participates in Veterans Day Ceremony — Vice President Mike Pence participated in the annual Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday. “From the hour of our nation’s birth, our best and bravest have stepped forward to defend our freedom,” Pence said. “And as we speak, a new generation of American veterans is being forged across the wider world.” [Dept. of Defense]

Millennials Moving Out = Lower Rents — “More millennials are leaving Greater Washington than moving in, and that could spell trouble for commercial real estate developers across the region. Those young professionals helped the region avoid oversaturation of new apartments, but the diminishing pool will likely shrink demand for those units, among other potential consequences.” [Washington Business Journal]

Which Restaurants Are Open on Thanksgiving — Those hoping to avoid the hassle of making a turkey at home have a few options for dining out in Arlington on Thanksgiving. [Patch]

Burrito Bros Now Offering Taco — Perhaps responding to competition down the street, the Burrito Bros stand on Columbia Pike — formerly known as Pedro & Vinny’s — is now offering tacos. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk

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Morning Notes

Two Arrested After Fleeing from ACPD — Two men who fled from a traffic stop in Arlington were later arrested in Northwest D.C. Arlington police tried to stop the vehicle near Washington Blvd and N. Kirkwood Road, in the Virginia Square area, but the car took off and police did not pursue, per department rules. U.S. Park Police then tried to stop the men in D.C. and they fled again but were eventually taken into custody after crashing their car along Connecticut Avenue. [Fox 5]

WSJ Highlights W-L’s 178 Valedictorians — Washington-Lee High School in Arlington had 178 valedictorians this past school year. Having multiple valedictorians is a national trend among high schools. W-L considers any student with a 4.0 GPA or above to be a valedictorian. [Wall Street Journal, Falls Church News-Press]

Arts + Startups = Millennials? — “Arts groups should work to make common cause with high-tech firms and Millennials in an effort to bring benefits to all, one panelist said at an arts forum sponsored by Opera Nova and held Oct. 8 at Washington Golf & Country Club.” [InsideNova]

Distil Hires New CEO — Distil Networks, the cybersecurity firm with offices in Arlington and San Francisco, was just trying to hire a new Chief Operating Officer but ended up with a new CEO. Tiffany Olson Jones will lead the company, with $20 million in revenue and 65 percent annual revenue growth, from Arlington. [San Francisco Business Times]

HUNGRY Adds New Chefs — Rosslyn-based food delivery startup HUNGRY has added a number of notable chefs to its platform, including Bryan Voltaggio of VOLT and Lunchbox. [PRNewswire]

‘Speedy’ Tolliver Dies — “Roy ‘Speedy’ Tolliver, an Arlington-based bluegrass fiddler who performed at local folk festivals for 65 years and was an inaugural recipient of the Virginia Heritage Award in 2009, died Sept. 18 at an assisted living center in Arlington, Va. He was 99.” [Washington Post]

Photo courtesy Michael Thomas

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Morning Notes

Construction at Shirlington Library — Construction is expected to begin this week on renovations to the Shirlington Branch Library, to bring the library into Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. Library administrators caution that “certain areas of the building may be closed for short periods, and noise may be unavoidable at times.” [Arlington Public Library]

Millennials Leaving D.C. for Cheaper Cities — “A new analysis by George Mason University researchers finds that… more people are leaving the region than arriving for the first time since the Great Recession. Millennial deserters — ages 20 to 29 — are one factor. But another big one is baby boomers leaving to begin retirement life elsewhere. Families and the unemployed are also going.” [Washington Post]

‘Anti-Muslim’ Group Holding Conference — Despite opposition, ACT for America — which describes itself as “a nonprofit national security organization” but which is described by critics as “the largest anti-Muslim organization in the U.S.” — kicked off its annual conference yesterday at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Crystal City. [Southern Poverty Law Center]

Yorktown Teacher Publishes Third Book — “Melanie McCabe, an English teacher at Yorktown High School and now three-time author, will debut her new work, His Other Life: Searching For My Father, His First Wife, and Tennessee Williams at the Arlington Central Library (1015 N Quincy St., Arlington) on Thursday, Oct. 5.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Region’s Dry Spell Continues — Today is expected to be the 20th straight day without measurable precipitation at Reagan National Airport. But it is still far from the region’s record of 34 straight rainless days in the fall of 2007. [Washington Post]

Photo courtesy Leslie Aun

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Morning Notes

Reaction to Las Vegas Shooting — Reactions from local officials are beginning to come in in response to the mass shooting at a Las Vegas concert, which is now the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. “Will the corporate gun lobby please wake up? #PrayersAreNotEnough #HowManyMore?” tweeted state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D). Meanwhile, a “gun violence prevention roundtable” planned today in Alexandria, with former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, has been cancelled “in light of today’s events.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Stats Behind Arlington’s Millennial Growth — The growth rate of Arlington’s millennial population between 2007 and 2013 was 82 percent, the highest in the nation. Meanwhile, development and transportation stats bear out how Arlington is growing and attracting young people. For instance, only 44 percent of Arlington’s population drives alone to work, compared to the 76.4 percent national average. [Bisnow]

Conservative Reporter vs. Donut Store Employee — Ashley Rae Goldenberg, a reporter for the conservative Media Research Center who goes by the Twitter handle @Communism_Kills, says she was harassed on Twitter by an employee of the new Dunkin’ Donuts store in Virginia Square. [Twitter]

Bomb Threat at Rosslyn BuildingUpdated at 11:15 a.m. — Someone called 911 with a bomb threat against an office building on the 1100 block of Wilson Blvd Thursday evening. That is the same block as TV station WJLA (ABC 7). No explosives were found during a police search of the building. [Patch, Arlington County]

Teen Provides Art to the Formerly Homeless — Allison Stocks, a 15-year-old sophomore at Yorktown High School, founded a nonprofit that takes donations of art and then provides it to those “making the transition from homeless shelters into permanent housing,” thus helping to cover bare walls and make their new home feel more homey. [Washington Post]

Local Gamer Raises Money for Hurricane Relief — In the wake of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, local resident Scott Jones helped raise more than $1,700 for disaster relief by broadcasting a 24-hour video game marathon from his Arlington apartment. Jones is one of numerous gamers who have used their gaming skills to raise serious cash for charitable causes. [Los Angeles Times]

Sports Pub Employees to Stand During Anthem — Late last week the Crystal City Sports Pub (529 23rd Street S.) sent a press release to broadcast outlets saying that its employees would “stand united for the national anthem” during Sunday’s football games. [WJLA]

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Survey Says: Millennials Favor More Transit, Less On-Street Parking

Millennials in Arlington appear most concerned about adding more transit options, removing on-street parking and finding new locations for public meetings, at least according to a county-run online forum.

The findings come from the county’s Engage Arlington website, which launched a millennial-focused forum about county issues earlier this summer.

The forum is part of a wider push by the county to get more millennials involved in local government and civic life. Arlington was named the best city for millennials in the U.S. by the website Niche, with the millennial generation making up between 30-40 percent of the county’s population of just over 220,000.

The most popular suggestion on the forum — as determined by a Reddit-style up-voting system —  is to expand transit options in North Arlington, which has nine “likes.”

I’d love to embrace “Millennialism” and be car-free, but the inconsistency in transit options in parts of North Arlington is difficult — there is minimal bus service and a lack of bikeshare stations, even near Marymount University. Adding bikeshare locations along the northern portion of Glebe Road from Lee Highway up to Chain Bridge would be helpful in continuing to connect this area with other parts of the County!

Just below that is a proposal to remove on-street parking, to encourage more walking and biking in neighborhoods.

Along the major corridors we should remove subsidized on-street parking, to encourage walk-able and bike-able neighborhoods. Many of these on-street parking spots reduce visibility at cross walks and cause dooring and blocking situations for bike lanes, increasing danger and reducing foot traffic. Remove a few strategic parking spaces along the pike and Roslyn [sic] Ballston corridor and use that space to widen the sidewalks or add bike lanes.

Following that, two suggestions are tied for third with seven likes: requests to change the locations of public meetings to “places millennials frequent,” as opposed to always at community centers or schools, and to find a “transit solution” for Columbia Pike after the canceled streetcar project. (The Pike’s “Premium Transit Network” is set to launch next summer.)

A request to “figure out how to bring reasonably priced housing to Arlington” was among those with six up-votes.

A full list of suggestions and the number of likes they received, in parentheses, is below.

  • Expanding transit options (9)
  • Remove on-street parking (8)
  • Different public meeting locations (7)
  • A transit solution for Columbia Pike (7)
  • Reasonably priced housing market (6)
  • More multi-use properties (6)
  • Replacing the parking lot next to Whole Foods in Clarendon with a multi-story parking garage (6)
  • Affordable child care options (5)
  • More public art along Columbia Pike (5)
  • More programs for renters who want to be more energy efficient (4)
  • Programming for those aged 20-50 at county buildings (4)
  • Dedicated bike lane on Washington Blvd (4)
  • Engaging the county’s LGBTQ population (3)
  • Better advertisement of the county’s performing arts groups (2)
  • Expanding Arlington Alerts to include community news (2)
  • More transparent policing (2)
  • A dog park for Crystal City (2)
  • Bike paths on westbound Arlington Blvd (2)
  • A bridge on the Bluemont Trail at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. George Mason Drive (1)
  • Add sidewalks to encourage more walking (1)
  • Reclaim some community centers to use as elementary schools (-1)

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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County Making New Efforts to Engage Millennials in Civic Life

Arlington County says it is stepping up its efforts to get millennials involved in local government and civic life.

Arlington was just named the best city for millennials in the U.S. by the website Niche. Depending on how you define the millennial generation, it makes up between 30-40 percent of the county’s population of just over 220,000.

Yet when it comes to involvement with county government and civic organizations, millennials are underrepresented. Attend a County Board meeting, or a meeting of an Arlington commission or working group, and it is older residents typically speaking out or helping to shape policy.

To get millennials more involved, last month Arlington County partnered with the Ballston Business Improvement District (BID) and hosted a happy hour with County Board Vice Chair Katie Cristol, herself a millennial. More then five dozen young people attended the happy hour and discussed local issues with Cristol.

Along with the event, Arlington County launched an interactive forum called Engage Arlington where people can publicly post and discuss county issues. Focused on feedback from millennials, Engage Arlington has a voting system, similar to Reddit.com, where posts that receive “likes” from other users move up the list.

Within Engage Arlington there is a separate forum specifically for Arlington millennials to engage and discuss. Popular topics include expanding transit options and affordable housing solutions. As of today (Friday) at noon, the last post on the forum was 14 hours ago.

In a press release, the county said its goal is to “determine the areas of civic interest to residents in their twenties and thirties and connect them with convenient ways to engage — online or in-person– with plenty of time commitment options.”

“The common misconception is that millennials don’t care about government,” Melissa Riggio, a millennial living in Ballston, is quoted as saying. “What, to me, is more accurate, is that we connect to government in different ways than the generation before us, so it can go unseen by those who are unaccustomed to it.”

“Young people inject new life and energy into Arlington’s neighborhoods, businesses, culture and nightlife,” concluded the county’s press release. “By getting involved, millennials can help shape and develop the kind of Arlington they’ll want to call home for a long time to come.”

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Katie Cristol to Attend Happy Hour To Promote Millennial Civic Engagement

A happy hour and listening session tomorrow (May 31) will look to encourage more young people to get involved in Arlington’s local government. County Board vice chair Katie Cristol is among those set to attend.

According to a brief blurb on the event, attendees can expect “an evening of lively conversation and discussion of the issues and topics of interest to millennials and young professionals in Arlington.”

Arlington was recently named the best city for millennials by website Niche.com, with its report card noting the good public schools, commute, health and fitness and other factors.

The event is from 6-8 p.m. at the offices of the Ballston Business Improvement District (4600 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100).

The event is nonpartisan and is expected to be attended by those on both sides of the political aisle. In an email to supporters, Arlington-Falls Church Young Republicans chair emeritus Matthew Hurtt said young people can play a key role in helping shape county policy. He pointed to the legalization of Airbnb last year and the AFCYRs’ role in helping beat back some proposed regulations on rentals.

“Whether you realize it or not, the AFCYRs is the largest Arlington-focused millennial political organization in Arlington — even bigger than the Arlington Young Democrats, according to club election statistics,” Hurtt wrote. “During the community conversation about legalizing Airbnb, AFCYRs made up a significant portion of the community feedback, rebuffing a number of destructive (and ridiculous) regulations. AFCYRs played a key role in the favorable outcome of that debate.”

The event is jointly sponsored by the county’s Office of Communications and Public Engagement and the Ballston Business Improvement District. Those interested in attending can register online.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Falls in Parks Ranking — Arlington and D.C. both fell in the annual ParkScore rankings of cities by The Trust for Public Land. Arlington was ranked sixth in the nation this year and D.C. ranked fourth, while last year they were ranked fourth and third respectively. [The Trust for Public Land, Washington Post]

Neighborhood Conservation Projects Approved — The Arlington County Board last night unanimously approved $5.5 million in neighborhood improvement projects, including “street improvements, streetlights, intersection improvements and a neighborhood sign.” [Arlington County]

How to Live in Arlington on $50,000 — A young woman who works as a case manager outlined her expenditures while living in Arlington on a $50,000 salary, as part of a “Money Diaries” feature. Eschewing the urban millennial stereotype of profligate spending, she manages to save $1,000 a month — although that is helped by her parents continuing to pay her cell phone bill. [Refinery 29]

County to Sell Millions in Bonds — The County Board has approved issuing up to $185 million in general obligation bonds to help fund various capital priorities, including: Metro, Neighborhood Conservation, paving, parks land acquisition, maintenance capital, Lubber Run Community Center planning, Nauck Village Center action plan and transportation. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Arlington Named ‘Best City for Millennials’

Arlington County is now the No. 1 best “city” for millennials in the entire country, according to new rankings from the website Niche.com.

Last year Arlington ranked second on the same list. This year, as also noted by the New York Times, Arlington is at the top, ranked highly for nightlife, diversity, public schools, and being “good for families.”

Nearby Alexandria was ranked No. 4 on the list.

The rankings reflect that the millennial generation is getting older and having children. Last year’s list included grades for “access to coffee shops” and “access to restaurants,” which appears to have made way for the schools and families grades.

The top 10 cities for millennials in 2017, according to Niche:

  1. Arlington, Va.
  2. Cambridge, Mass.
  3. San Francisco, Ca.
  4. Alexandria, Va.
  5. Minneapolis, Minn.
  6. Seattle, Wa.
  7. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  8. Berkeley, Ca.
  9. Sunnyvale, Ca.
  10. Sandy Springs, Ga.

Depending on how you define the millennial generation, it constitutes somewhere between 30-40 percent of Arlington’s population, though some worry that many millennials starting families may be forced to move out due to the high cost of housing and childcare.

Previously, Arlington was ranked as having the most affluent millennials in the U.S. by Niche and Clarendon was ranked as being Washington’s best neighborhood for millennials by Zillow.

Image via Niche.com

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Morning Poll: Moving Out of the Area?

In Monday’s Morning Notes, we linked to a Washington Business Journal article that noted that there is more domestic migration out of the D.C. region than into the area last year.

Slower job growth and a high cost of living were blamed as possible reasons for the outflow.

We have previously predicted that Arlington will struggle to retain millennial residents as they start having families due to the high cost of housing and childcare. Those millennials may seek greener pastures outside the region, particularly in the kinds of cities that saw a net influx of domestic migration: Phoenix, Dallas, Seattle and Houston.

Would this prediction bear out in a poll of our readership? Let’s find out.

Photo courtesy James Mahony

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Morning Notes

Blooms on ice

Arlington’s Irish Bars on St. Patrick’s Day — Today is St. Patrick’s Day and that of course means that Guinness will be flowing like water at Arlington’s half dozen Irish pubs. Among them: The Celtic House on Columbia Pike (recently lauded by Yelp and Travel + Leisure), Samuel Beckett’s in Shirlington, Ireland’s Four Courts in Courthouse, O’Sullivan’s in Clarendon, P. Brennan’s on Columbia Pike and Sine Irish Pub on Pentagon Row.

Arlington’s High-Earning Millennials — “Arlington has more millennials with a household income of $350,000 or more than any other jurisdiction in the country, with 8.7 percent of millennials among that wealthy cohort.” [Washington Post]

Donaldson Run Neighborhood Profiled — “Tracy and Jeremy Penfield bought their first house in Donaldson Run in Arlington County because they liked the location and the price. After living close to Metro for almost a decade, they welcomed the hilly, wooded neighborhood, which is largely car-oriented.” [Washington Post]

WeWork Creator’s Awards — WeWork, which has both co-working and co-living space at an office building in Crystal City, is giving out $20 million in grant awards to creators around the world, including here in the D.C. area. Applications to pitch an idea in D.C. are due this coming Monday. [WeWork]

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