Arlington, VA

(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) Around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, a motorcade arrived at a Rosslyn office building.

Out stepped former Arlington resident Mike Pence. The vice president then made his way up to the offices of the Trump-Pence 2020 reelection campaign to rally the troops amid falling poll numbers.

After it was over, he sent out a tweet: “Stopped by to see the great men and women of the Trump-Pence Team today! Thank you for all of the hard work, keep it up! #FourMoreYears #KAG”

The tweet showed Pence standing in front of a sea of staff members in the Arlington office, with everyone flashing Trump’s signature double thumbs-up.

The problem: staffers were not social distancing and no one was wearing masks, a likely violation of Virginia’s mask requirement for indoor public spaces, as pointed out by local Democratic operative Ben Tribbett. Shortly after he did, Pence’s tweet was deleted.

The incident made some national headlines. While the spread of coronavirus has slowed in Arlington, it has not gone away, and other states are seeing a surge in cases.

Arlington’s Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), a stalwart critic of the president, piled on with more criticism.

“This isn’t ‘law and order,'” Beyer said, in reference to Trump’s antagonistic tweets. “It’s a huge problem.”

Arlington and Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti said in a statement Thursday afternoon that no laws were broken that her office can prosecute. She said workplaces are exempted from rules about large gatherings, while the mask requirement is enforced by Virginia Dept. of Health, not local law enforcement.

The full press release about the incident from Beyer’s office is below.

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Morning Notes

New Security Measures at ANC — “Arlington National Cemetery is implementing heightened security measures after a U.S. airstrike killed a top Iranian general. The extra security will create longer lines at security checkpoints and delays… All visitors over the age of 16 will be required to show a valid state or government photo ID to enter by foot or car, Arlington National Cemetery says. Visitors aged 16 or 17 can show a school-issued ID.” [NBC 4, Twitter]

Office Building Above Rosslyn Safeway Sold — “An affiliate of The Meridian Group has paid $113.15 million for 1525 Wilson Blvd., a Rosslyn office building featuring the colorful sculpture of a dancing couple, after selling another building in the Arlington County office market last summer.” [Washington Business Journal]

Lee Highway Planning Update — “To mark the end of a year collecting ideas for the road’s ‘reimagining‘ by the nonprofit Lee Highway Alliance, its executive director, Ginger Brown, gave an update predicting that phase two — development of land-use and zoning ideas — could be ‘the most contentious.’ […] ‘Lee Highway is stuck in 1950s strip-mall zoning,’ Brown told a Dec. 19 breakfast group.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Local Shop Has Best Cheese Selection in the U.S.? — Arrowine, a long-time ARLnow sponsor, has the best wine selection in the D.C. area and possibly the best cheese selection in the country after its recent renovation, according to local restaurant reviewer Don Rockwell. [DCDining.com]

Pike Lane Closures Are Hurting Local Business — “An employee at Cinthia’s Bakery II on Columbia Pike said the restaurant is seeing a significant drop off in the number of customers and an increase in empty tables all due to the construction.” [WJLA]

Yorktown Boys Improve to 11-0 — “This is the new Yorktown basketball: Take the first available shot, press nonstop on defense, substitute in a whole new lineup every 90 seconds. It’s a strategy some other area schools have tried — Lake Braddock, most successfully — but few have perfected. And it has the Patriots, the worst team in their conference last season, undefeated at 11-0 after a dazzling 86-51 rout of Madison (6-5).” [Washington Post]

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Developer JBG SMITH is adding to its already extensive redevelopment plans in and around Crystal City.

The top property owner in the so-called National Landing area (Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard) just revealed plans for a new office building, just down the street from Amazon’s planned HQ2.

The building at 101 12th Street S. will replace a sparsely-used open green space the company owns near Long Bridge Park, on the northern end of Crystal City. The development is expected to include a nine-story “trophy” office building with 5,000 square feet of street-level retail, underground parking and a new “expansive park space.”

In a press release, below, JBG says the plans are part of its “ongoing collaboration with Arlington County and private sector partners to deliver a mix of new housing, retail, office, and public spaces to National Landing – the site of Amazon’s new headquarters.”

The developer envisions the area as a gleaming “18-hour” neighborhood, counter to its former image as a dull concrete canyon of aging offices and apartment buildings, with little nightlife to speak of.

More from the press release:

JBG SMITH (NYSE: JBGS), a leading owner and developer of high-quality, mixed-use properties in the Washington, DC market, today announced that it has submitted plans to Arlington County for the development of approximately 235,000 square feet of trophy office space and approximately 5,000 square feet of street-level retail at 101 12th Street, the proposed new address for the building. The current plan calls for a nine-story building, underground parking, and expansive park space on vacant land that JBG SMITH owns.

The submission is part of JBG SMITH’s ongoing collaboration with Arlington County and private sector partners to deliver a mix of new housing, retail, office, and public spaces to National Landing – the site of Amazon’s new headquarters.

101 12th Street is anticipated to follow 1900 Crystal Drive and RiverHouse Apartments, which are already moving through the entitlement process, and approximately 2.6 million square feet of development, which was submitted last month. In the aggregate, these projects constitute over half of JBG SMITH’s 6.9 million square foot Future Development Pipeline in National Landing. Based on current plans, JBG SMITH expects the 6.9 million square feet to comprise approximately 2.2 million square feet of office and 4.7 million square feet of multifamily, totaling approximately 4,000 to 5,000 units, which will all have ground floor retail.

In addition, 1770 Crystal Drive and Central District Retail are both currently under construction. JBG SMITH is also serving as the fee developer for Amazon’s new headquarters and the master developer for the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, all located in National Landing.

Designed to serve as a gateway between Long Bridge Park and the north-end of National Landing, 101 12th Street’s prominent eastern façade and ninth-floor terrace are expected to provide dramatic views of the DC skyline, the National Mall and monumental core, and Reagan National Airport.

JBG SMITH’s submission contains several community benefits including open space, a new expansive park, and street-level retail. A fitness center, first floor terrace, and the ninth-floor terrace will serve as amenities for the future tenants of the planned office. Keeping with JBG SMITH’s plan to foster a vibrant, architecturally distinct environment in National Landing, 101 12th will be layered with gleaming stainless-steel shingles on the 12th and 10th Street frontages to present a complementary variation against the design of surrounding buildings.

“The various development opportunities that JBG SMITH has submitted to Arlington County over the last year will work in tandem to create a more robust, 18-hour environment in National Landing,” said Bryan Moll, Executive Vice President at JBG SMITH. “The building at 101 12th Street is an important piece of the larger transformation, and we look forward to working with the County to review and refine our proposal.”

Renderings courtesy JBG SMITH/TMRW Studios, photo via Google Maps

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An office building in Virginia Square has been evacuated after a reported chemical spill in the building.

Firefighters — including hazmat teams and medics — responded to the Ballston Gateway building at 3865 Wilson Blvd around 1:45 p.m., for a report of up to 20 people suffering medical symptoms after a coolant tower leaked chemicals into the building’s penthouse.

The building was evacuated amid a large fire department response, which is currently blocking at least one westbound lane of Wilson Blvd.

Some office workers on lower floors of the building have since been let back in. First responders on the scene radioed fire dispatch to report only a couple of people with minor symptoms, including eye irritation and nausea. There’s no word yet on which chemical might have leaked.

Thus far there has been no report of anyone being taken to the hospital.

The office building is home to a number of companies, including high-profile Arlington startup ThreatConnect.

Vernon Miles contributed to this report

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(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) Nestlé is expanding its Rosslyn headquarters.

Monday Properties, which owns the company’s headquarters at 1812 N. Moore in Rosslyn, announced on this week that the company will be expanding from its presence from 252,000 square feet to 300,000 square feet.

The expansion means Nestlé will occupy 18 floors of the 35-story building. The Washington Business Journal reports that the company “plans to use the extra room for conference facilities, meetings and event space for its team.”

The company relocated its U.S. headquarters to Arlington in 2017 — a move that netted the company several million dollars in grant funding, as well as nearby infrastructure improvements, from Arlington County.

“Our Rosslyn community continues to bring in some of the country’s finest companies, and we are pleased to play a significant part in this incredible momentum,” Austin Freeman, senior vice president of asset management for Monday Properties, said in a press release.

“We’re looking forward to continuing to build our relationship with Nestlé and its employees, as well as attract exceptional companies to our community that will benefit not only from a high-quality office environment, but from Rosslyn’s social and lifestyle transformation as a true destination hub for world-class businesses,” Freeman said.

Monday Properties noted that its other marquee corporate tenants in Rosslyn include Gerber (which is owned by Nestlé), Yext, Deloitte, Gartner, Accenture, Sands Capital, Raytheon and Grant Thornton.

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Morning Notes

HQ2’s Towering Height — “Amazon.com Inc.’s planned pair of office towers at Metropolitan Park will have the same number of floors as the residential building next door. But the HQ2 buildings will lord over The Bartlett by nearly 60 feet. The 22-story HQ2 towers are expected to hit 322.5 feet at their highest point, according to plans submitted to Arlington County. JBG Smith Properties’ The Bartlett, with its Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market on the ground floor, is 22 stories but only 264-feet-tall.” [Washington Business Journal]

Retail Sales Up in Arlington — “Year-over-year retail sales in Arlington showed a boost in the first quarter of 2019, according to new data. Total retail sales of $767.2 million countywide were up 1.6 percent from $755.3 million during the first three months of 2018, according to figures from the Virginia Department of Taxation.” [InsideNova]

Univ. of Phoenix’s New Arlington Campus — The for-profit University of Phoenix this week will be celebrating the grand opening of its new Northern Virginia-D.C. Metro campus at 4401 Fairfax Drive in Ballston. [Eventbrite]

Heat Doesn’t Stop Youth Baseball Tourney — “Even as some events cancelled due to the extreme heat warning on Saturday, many people are still got outside. That included hundreds of young players from across the area who turned out for the Arlington Babe Ruth – Doc Bonaccorso Summer Classic Baseball Tournament in Arlington.” [WJLA]

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A new medical office could be coming to Courthouse after officials approved a building owner’s request to broaden its search for tenants.

The County Board unanimously approved a site plan amendment during its meeting on Saturday, allowing the property owner of the Tellus luxury apartment building at 2009 14th St. N. in Courthouse to lease the 1,807 square foot space to office tenants as well as retail tenants.

The change was made with a particular medical office tenant in mind, a county staff report said. Lawyers representing the owner during the site plan amendment process were not immediately available to comment on who the medical office tenant is.

“The applicant states that it has been unsuccessful in retaining a retail tenant for the space, despite actively marketing the space since initial County Board approval of the site plan in 2009,” noted a staff report to the Board.

Other property owners in Arlington have struggled to fill off-the-beaten path retail spaces; a residential building in the Potomac Yard area received County Board approval earlier this year to fill a retail space with a “retail equivalent” business like a medical or dental office or child care center.

The 16-story, 254-apartment-unit building is located at the intersection of N. Troy Street and 14th Street N and replaced the 1960’s Arlington Executive Building in 2013 after several years of delays. The building was awarded for its architectural design in 2017.

Images 1-2 via Google Maps, Image 3 via Arlington County

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Driven in part by Amazon’s HQ2, demand for office space in Arlington is on the rise.

That’s according to a new quarterly Northern Virginia market report from commercial real estate services firm JLL, which says “tech demand across the Herndon-to-Crystal City corridor” is leading to more office space being leased than is being built.

Here are some key takeaways and quotes from that report:

1. Metro ridership may be dropping, but office tenants still want to be near a Metro station

The Silver Line corridor, from the RB Corridor through Tysons to the Toll Road, continues to capture a disproportionate share of leasing activity, driven by tenants favoring Metro access…

Metro access continues to drive pricing, with newer Class A product on-Metro commanding a 35% premium over newer Class A product off-Metro; Class B/C saw an overall jump in asking rents this quarter driven by increases in Crystal City.

2. Technology is driving office demand, including in Arlington, but much of the tech talent is in Fairfax and Loudoun counties

Northern Virginia dominates the region’s tech office market and will continue to grow its leadership position, with a tech corridor solidifying from Data Center-centric Loudoun County, through the Toll Road and Tysons, and into RB Corridor and Crystal City…

Driven by the origins of tech in this market, neighborhoods west of Tysons offer the most access to talent, primarily along the Toll Road and into Loudoun County.

3. The Rosslyn-Ballston corridor has higher office rents, but “National Landing” — Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard — has a bigger office development pipeline

Tysons and the Toll Road offer the most scale for future ground-up development, holding 50% of the proposed office pipeline; meanwhile, inside the Beltway, greater Crystal City will form as a development hub for obvious reasons, while the RB Corridor’s future pipeline is minimal.

4. Expect rent increases to accelerate, as office buildings fill up following a decade of high vacancy

Submarkets continue to see minimal to no net effective rent growth versus a decade ago, driven by concessions remaining at peak levels, particularly as tenants are cross-shopping more than ever; however, we believe this trend is nearly over, particularly in Crystal City, RB Corridor and the Toll Road, due to market demand and tightening.

5. Defense contractors, a usual staple of Northern Virginia office demand, are not having as much of an impact on the market

The defense budget declined by $111 billion from 2011 to 2016, driving significant occupancy losses. However, the budget is surging again, up 16% since 2017…

Historically, when defense spending surges, absorption surges, and when it declines, occupancy declines; while this cycle is still early, it is already different. One reason – the major contractors all rightsized during the downturn and remain focused on efficiency in their space utilization.

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(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) WeWork will soon open its newest Arlington co-working space, the company says.

“Our new Rosslyn location at 1201 Wilson is slated to open this June,” company spokeswoman Nicole Sizemore told ARLnow on Monday. The company is also now listing the new Rosslyn location on its website with an option to call for information about pre-opening rates.

“Amid federal agencies and corporate giants, WeWork’s shared office in Arlington is a powerful locale to put down roots,” reads a description on the company’s website. “Several floors in this modern building are converted workspace, featuring comfortable lounges, bright and airy conference rooms, and sleek private offices.”

The final lease includes 83,294 square feet of space across four floors near the top of the 31-story CEB Tower, according to a December press release. The Washington Business Journal reported that the coworking space will have more than 1,400 desks and will “target large, ‘enterprise-level’ corporations — government contractors, trade associations and the tech sector.”

WeWork’s move comes as several major companies and other coworking and meeting spaces are opening up shop in Rosslyn, including Cerner, Nestle and its subsidiary Gerber, Spaces, Convene and Eastern Foundry this past year.

WeWork said Monday that it had filed to go public on the stock exchange, which will test its $47 billion private valuation.

Photo via WeWork

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Amazon executives say they’re looking forward to becoming “good neighbors” in Arlington, delivering a decidedly optimistic message to local leaders in one of the company’s first public events since tabbing the county for its new headquarters.

The tech giant’s head of worldwide economic development, Holly Sullivan, assured a crowd of government officials and business executives last night (Thursday) that the company is looking to build a “sustainable long-term partnership” in the region. That presented a stark contrast with Amazon’s recent decision to spurn New York City over concerns that local leaders were insufficiently supportive of a new headquarters there.

The event, organized by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and held at George Mason University’s Virginia Square campus, also came just a few days after Arlington officials and activists expressed concern that Amazon executives haven’t done enough to engage the community as it gears up to move into the area.

Sullivan challenged that idea Thursday, arguing the company plans to be “active in the community” and has “just started our outreach” in Arlington. But only a limited group of Arlingtonians had the chance to hear that message — the event was “invitation-only,” though the COG did offer a livestream for anyone hoping to watch from home.

That stricture prompted some local critics of the project to refuse to attend the event, calling on the company to hold public hearings with community members instead. Many have been especially critical of Arlington’s proposed incentive package for Amazon — if the County Board approves it next month, Arlington would fork over $23 million over the next 15 years to a company owned by the world’s richest man.

On that front, Sullivan was able to offer significantly less reassurance. In response to a rare question from a reporter at the event, she pointedly would not say whether the company would pull the plug on its Arlington plans if the Board rejects the incentive package.

“The talent in the area was the primary driver of this entire process,” Sullivan said. “But incentives are important to us. They give us an opportunity to reinvest in our infrastructure and development opportunities for our workforce.”

Of course, it’s quite unlikely that the Board would take such a step. Even Board members who have expressed some unease with the incentive package have reasoned that it’s a small price to pay for the 25,000 (or more) jobs Amazon hopes to bring to the county.

The business community has also been increasingly vocal in support of the project. Not only has the Arlington Chamber of Commerce repeatedly thrown its weight behind the effort, but the Crystal City-based Consumer Technology Association recently joined in the fight as well. The CEO of the tech advocacy group attended the event to welcome Amazon to the neighborhood, and the CTA organized a crowd of dozens of pro-Amazon demonstrators to hold signs outside the gathering.

“We know this is a historic moment, not just for Arlington, but the whole region,” said Victor Hoskins, head of Arlington Economic Development.

To assuage anyone concerned that the company would bring a huge surge of out-of-state workers to jam area roads and pack local apartment buildings, Sullivan stressed that, in a perfect world, company executives “hope to hire all 25,000 workers locally.”

But she followed that up with a laugh, acknowledging that such a possibility is a bit unlikely. However, she is confident that D.C. region has enough highly skilled tech workers to provide a deep hiring pool for Amazon. And it helps, she believes, that the company already has corporate offices in both Herndon and D.C. to draw from too.

“A few people may choose to relocate from our Seattle headquarters, but this is not a relocation of corporate employees from Seattle,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan added that, wherever the company’s employees hail from, Amazon plans to design its offices in a way to “push employees out into the neighborhood to support local businesses.”

While the tech giant is still in the most preliminary phases of designing the office space it plans to lease from JBG Smith in Crystal City and build in Pentagon City, she said the company fully expects to draw from the design principles it used in Seattle.

“We’ll be trying to take the indoors outdoors and vice versa,” Sullivan said. “We want it to feel very much like a neighborhood. There will be no walls around it, no big sign that says ‘Amazon’ on it.”

That includes a focus on welcoming retailers and other restaurants onto the ground floor of the company’s offices. Though JBG has already worked fervently to bring more mixed-use developments to the area, it’s a process the area’s dominant property owner is hoping that Amazon will accelerate, to the whole neighborhood’s benefit.

“Crystal City gets pretty quiet at night, because everyone leaves right after work,” said Andrew VanHorn, JBG Smith’s executive vice president. “It may not be 24/7, but we want to make it more of an 18/7 environment.”

Until the Board signs off on the incentive package and Amazon starts submitting construction plans for its new offices, VanHorn pointed out that any design conversations are quite preliminary at this point.

However, he said JBG is working under the general assumption that the company will move into all of its leased office space in Crystal City by 2020. Then development work on a new building at Metropolitan Park in Pentagon City will run roughly from 2021 to 2025; construction at the former “Pen Place” development will run from 2023 to 2027.

Sullivan stressed that the buildings won’t look too out of step with the existing skyline, saying executives hope to “integrate into what’s already there” in Pentagon City.

Arlington’s notoriously extensive civic engagement process for new developments offers a long road ahead for the company, but Sullivan said she’s looking forward to embarking on it to answer a simple question: “How can we be a better neighbor?”

“We’re all doing this together,” Sullivan said. “We’re going to be neighbors.”

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A New York-based tech company just announced a major new expansion in Rosslyn, with plans to bring 500 jobs to the county over the next five years.

Yext rolled out plans yesterday (Thursday) to lease a 42,500-square-foot office space at 1101 Wilson Boulevard. The company will occupy the top three floors of the building, and will help slash the office vacancy rate in Rosslyn, a persistent problem over the last few years.

Yext produces data management software for companies looking to manage their online presence, helping brands as large as T-Mobile and Ben and Jerry’s track and upload location information to directories across the web.

Company founder and CEO Howard Lerman, a Virginia native himself, says the move will help fuel his firm’s ongoing expansion efforts in the D.C. metro area, which he hailed in a statement as a budding tech hub now that Amazon is coming to the county.

“Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia are emerging as one of the country’s major hubs for tech talent, which was a key factor in our decision to expand in the area,” Lerman wrote. “Our new office will be a key foothold as we continue our global growth.”

Yext plans to offer an open floor plan, fully stocked kitchens and free meals to all employees at the space. The company also hopes to put up a sign displaying its name on the building, once the home of the county’s Artisphere, to adorn Rosslyn’s skyline.

Rosslyn has seen quite a few economic development victories in recent months, highlighted by Nestle bringing its American headquarters to the neighborhood last year. The tech consulting firm Accenture recently added an office in the area as well, and the We Companies recently opened a new coworking space in the neighborhood.

Rendering courtesy of Yext

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