Publicly-traded energy tech firm Opower is staying in Arlington, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced at a press conference this morning, marking some good news for a county beset by the departures of large government agencies.
McAuliffe and County Board Chair Libby Garvey were among those making the announcement at Opower’s current headquarters at 1515 N. Courthouse Road in Courthouse, which President Obama visited in 2010, when the company was still a startup.
Opower will be moving down the street to a new office building at 2311 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse. The building — already approved by the County Board — is set to be constructed over the next two years, replacing a row of restaurants. Developer Carr Properties had been calling the 8-story building the “Clean Technology Center,” which seems consistent with Opower’s sustainability and energy conservation mission.
Virginia and Arlington County had been fighting to keep Opower, which was being courted by the District and by The Wharf, the massive new development on the Southwest D.C. waterfront.
“Keeping Opower in Arlington County has been a high priority of my administration,” McAuliffe said. “This high-profile energy software company is growing rapidly and making a major impact on global challenges, and we are committed to further strengthening this important corporate partnership. The technology industry is booming in Virginia, and wins like this expansion help us continue to build on the momentum in this important sector.”
“Arlington has watched Opower grow from a startup venture to a thriving leader not only in the region, but in the entire clean technology industry,” Garvey said. “Arlington’s highly-educated workforce and easy transportation access were things Opower was looking for as the company continues to grow, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them for a long time to come.”
McAuliffe helped arrange a $1 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to help Arlington keep Opower.
“Arlington County will match the state funding with a performance-based local economic development incentive grant,” the county notes in a press release. “Arlington will provide an additional annual performance grant through the remaining years of the lease term subject to job and occupancy requirements. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.”
Opower plans to invest about $10.5 million in its new, 63,000 square foot headquarters and expects to add 70 new employees within three years. The company will also retain 357 jobs that currently pay above the region’s prevailing wage.
“Opower has been with Arlington since the beginning,” said Victor Hoskins, Director of Arlington Economic Development. “The company is a model for the fast-growth technology companies we’re hoping to attract to Arlington, and we simply could not be more pleased that Opower has decided to continue to be a part of Arlington’s business community.”
The building at 2311 Wilson Blvd will have a total of 150,000 square feet of office space plus ground floor retail spaces when it’s completed.
MakeOffices is constructing a new, 40,000 square foot, 550 seat office space on the second floor of 3100 Clarendon Blvd, across from the Clarendon Metro station and the Trader Joe’s.
MakeOffices Clarendon is expected to feature high-end interior furnishings, multiple conference rooms, two “bullpen” shared office spaces, dozens of private offices and a large central pantry/coffee bar.
It will be MakeOffices’ largest coworking space in the D.C. area, we’re told. (The company’s original office in Rosslyn remains open but is much smaller than its newer locations.)
The Clarendon location is expected to open in April. It is one of a number of new offices the company is planning, in D.C. and other major North American cities.
In the D.C. area, MakeOffices just opened a new coworking space in Reston and has another in the works in Logan Circle. The company also has plans to open offices next year in Chicago and Philadelphia, to be followed by new outposts in New York City and Toronto.
MakeOffices, meanwhile, will be getting some competition in Arlington, albeit a few miles away. WeWork, the largest company in the fast-growing coworking industry, is planning to open a new location in Crystal City this spring.
Disclosure: Local News Now, the publisher of ARLnow.com, has offices in MakeOffices locations in Arlington and D.C.
Prosecutor: Black Asked for Help Killing Wife — At a bond hearing Monday, prosecutors said that David Black asked a friend to help kill his wife in a classic case of domestic violence. Black was denied bond and will remain in jail, charged with killing his estranged wife Bonnie Black in their home near Pentagon City. The trial is set for Feb. 29. [WUSA 9]
One of the Worst Traffic Bottlenecks — Arlington has one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the country, according to the American Highway Users Alliance. I-395 between Washington Blvd and the GW Parkway ranked No. 26 on the list, wasting 1.1 million hours and 322,600 gallons of fuel annually. [WTOP]
TSA HQ Move May Be Delayed — The Transportation Security Administration’s headquarters may be staying in Pentagon City past 2017 after all. A judge has halted the TSA’s move to Alexandria in response to a protest of the lease bidding process by a losing bidder. [Government Executive]
Arlington GOP May Ditch Office — In order to save money, the Arlington County Republican Committee is considering giving up the $1,100 per month office it rents in the Dominion Arms apartment building. [InsideNova]
See Something, Type Something — Arlington County’s website has a “Homeland Security Tip Form,” for reporting “suspicious activity that may be related to terrorism” in Arlington. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Water Main Break in Courthouse — Courthouse Road is closed between Route 50 and 14th Street N., near the police station, due to a water main break that was discovered overnight. Repairs are still underway as of this morning’s rush hour. [WTOP]
Arlington Scores New Office Tenant in Va. Square — Arlington County will fill 50,000 square feet of vacant office space in Virginia Square thanks to a new tenant. GW Medical Faculty Associates will be moving into 3811 N. Fairfax Drive this coming spring, creating more than 200 jobs. [Arlington County]
Secret Chopsticks Open Today — The previously secretive Secret Chopsticks is planning to open to the public today. The 120-seat upscale, white tablecloth Chinese restaurant is located at 1850 Fort Myer Drive, on the ground floor of the Turnberry Tower condominium. [Washingtonian]
Garvey Wants Strategic Plan for County — Should County Board member Libby Garvey become the board chair next year, she wants to develop a strategic plan for Arlington. “We really don’t have one,” she said over the weekend. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Marine Corps Birthday — Its the Marine Corps’ 240th birthday today. On Thursday, the Corps’ birthday will be celebrated by hundreds of Marines participating in a group run from the Pentagon to the Marine Corps War Memorial, prompting rolling closures on Route 110 between 10 and 11 a.m. [AL.com]
Owner Not Worried About Vacant Rosslyn Office Tower — Monday Properties, the owner of the 1812 N. Moore Street office tower in Rosslyn (and an ARLnow.com advertiser), says they’re not worried that the two-year-old building is still vacant. Monday CEO Anthony Westreich says the company and lender Goldman Sachs are “confident” about the future of Rosslyn and patient as they search for a large anchor tenant. [Bisnow]
School Board Argues H-B Woodlawn Cost — Some Arlington School Board members are worried that a $100 million proposal for a new building in Rosslyn for the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program would be a budget buster. Superintendent Patrick Murphy has proposed options for bringing down the cost to $85 million, but other School Board members are arguing that such a proposal sacrifices long term good for short term savings. [InsideNova]
Human Rights Award Winners — Arlington County has announced the winners of its 2015 James B. Hunter Human Rights Award. The winners are: immigrant advocate Leni Gonzalez, Catholic charity Hogar Immigrant Services, Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church and the Nauck Civic Association. [Arlington County]
Maureen O’Hara Buried at ANC — Actress Maureen O’Hara was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday. O’Hara, who died last month at the age of 95, was laid to rest alongside her husband, an Air Force brigadier general. [WTOP]
Winter Weather Forecast — NBC 4 chief meteorologist Doug Kammerer says Arlington and D.C. should expect 20-25 inches of snow this winter. Kammerer predicts that December will be unseasonably warm, while January and especially February will be colder than average, with a large snow storm expected in February. [NBC Washington]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
Arlington K-9s to Retire With Handlers — The Arlington County Board on Saturday unanimously voted to officially sanction the transfer of ownership of retiring law enforcement K-9 officers to their handlers, thus allowing police dogs to live out their lives with their long-time partners. [NBC Washington, Arlington County]
Big Changes Coming to Crystal City Building — The U.S. Marshals Service is consolidating its offices into one Crystal City office building. That will leave another Crystal City office building, 1750 Crystal Drive, vacant. Owner Vornado is planning a big facelift for the building, with more glass and steel and less concrete on the outside. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington, Falls Church Renew Service Agreement — Arlington County will continue to provide court, jail, fire department and other services to the City of Falls Church, under a new agreement approved by the Arlington County Board on Saturday. Fall Church will pay Arlington just over $1 million per year for the services. [Arlington County]
McAuliffe to Start Marine Corps Marathon — Next weekend’s Marine Corps Marathon will be officially started by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. [Twitter]
M.J. Stewart Suspended at UNC — Former Yorktown High School football standout M.J. Stewart has been suspended from the University of North Carolina football team after being charged with assault in connection to an off-campus altercation. Stewart, a sophomore, had been a starting cornerback on the team. [Associated Press]
Resident to County: Cover Sandboxes — A Shirlington resident spoke before the County Board on Saturday to raise concern about uncovered sandboxes. She urged county officials to keep sandboxes covered when not in use, to keep pets and disease out. [InsideNova]
First Day of Fall — Today marks the autumnal equinox and the first day of astronomical fall in the Northern Hemisphere. We’re losing about two-and-a-half minutes of daylight per day, as the sun rises later and sets earlier. [Capital Weather Gang]
Arlington Unveils New Mobile Visitors Center — Arlington County, which generates about $81 million per year in tourism-related tax revenue, has unveiled a new mobile visitor center. The “Stay Arlington” branded cargo van will provide visitor information and services, primarily from parking spots near five Arlington Metro stations, but also at large events like the Marine Corps Marathon. [Arlington County]
New Traffic System on I-66 Underwhelms — Drivers are scratching their heads, wondering what exactly VDOT is accomplishing with its new, $39 million Active Traffic Management system. The system went live last week. It “combines sensors, cameras, computers and signs to help drivers figure out what’s ahead between Route 29 in Gainesville and the D.C. line.” [Washington Post]
ACFCU Launches New Marketing Campaign — The Arlington Community Federal Credit Union, a nonprofit local financial provider and ARLnow.com advertiser, has launched a new website, NotABank.org as part of a new marketing campaign. “We are for people, not for profit,” the website says.
Pike Office Building Purchased — Bethesda-based Cascade Realty Partners has purchased the 30,000 square foot office building at 3401 Columbia Pike for $4.8 million. The office building is 75 percent leased to Bank of America. [Virginia Business]
One BR Rental Near Clarendon: $4,300/month — A sub-800 square foot one bedroom apartment in a newly built building in Lyon Park, near Clarendon, is leasing for a staggering $4,300 per month. [Real House Life of Arlington]
Metro Delays Planned This Weekend — Trains on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines will run every 20 minutes this weekend due to “emergency call box installation and testing for a safer ride.” [WMATA]
Ballston Office Building Sold — JBG Cos. has sold a five-story office building on Fairfax Drive in Ballston to a partnership that hopes to eventually tear it down and build a new mixed use development. The building sold for about $22 million. [Washington Business Journal]
Delhi Dhaba Turning 25 — Delhi Dhaba restaurant in Clarendon is turning 25 next year. “Although it’s not at the pinnacle of Indian food in Northern Virginia, Delhi Dhaba is a great restaurant with more than decent service,” writes a reviewer. [Falls Church News-Press]
Park Service Studying Bricks — The National Park Service is studying the original bricks at Arlington House, Robert E. Lee’s family house in what is now Arlington National Cemetery, in order to help with a preservation and renovation effort. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
TSA currently occupies a complex at 601 and 701 12th Street S. in Pentagon City, across from the Pentagon City mall.
It’s planning to move to the Victory Center building at 5001 Eisenhower Avenue, near the Van Dorn Metro station, in about two years. (In 2013, the TSA renewed its lease in Pentagon City for five years.)
The General Services Administration touted the new lease as a money-saving move that will save taxpayers more than $95 million over a 15-year lease. The government is paying rent of $36 per square foot, more than 25 percent below projected market rents, and getting $50 million for tenant fit-out costs and moving expenses.
“This is yet another great GSA-negotiated deal for government and the American people,” said GSA’s Darren Blue, in a press release. The new lease agreement allows TSA to consolidate four locations into one at a rental rate and utilization rate that will ensure the agency is more efficient and effective in executing its mission.”
The City of Alexandria was similarly triumphant in its announcement of the deal.
“GSA’s decision to locate the TSA headquarters at Victory Center is a huge economic boost for Alexandria as a whole, and for the West End in particular,” said Mayor William Euille. “The City is working on a small area plan for Eisenhower West that encourages new investment, redevelopment and business activity. TSA will serve as a catalyst, and will add a daytime office population and on-site retail activity to this developing market.”
TSA has about 3,400 employees at its headquarters, which will boost total employment in Alexandria by four percent after the move from Arlington, according to an Alexandria press release.
“Over the initial 15-year lease, the headquarters is expected to generate close to $16 million each year for Alexandria’s economy,” the city said. “The economic impact includes new salaries and wages for Alexandria residents, and spending by TSA employees and visitors at local businesses. Occupancy of the existing Victory Center building will result in a 3.0% decrease of the City’s overall office vacancy rate (from 16.5% to 13.5%), making it one of the lowest in the Washington, D.C. region.”
This is just the latest office loss for Arlington County, which is coping with relatively high office vacancy rates.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service moved its headquarters from Ballston to Falls Church last year, while the National Science Foundation is planning to move its headquarters and more than 2,000 employees from Ballston to Alexandria by 2017. In both cases, the GSA said the moves would save millions of dollars in leasing costs.
Victor Hoskins, who took over as the county’s head of economic development earlier this year, said the county was disappointed but not surprised by the deal.
“Obviously, we’re very disappointed in the decision to relocate from Arlington,” Hoskins said. “The TSA has called Arlington home for quite some time, and the County worked aggressively throughout the procurement process to try to keep the agency here. The decision aligns with the trend of valuing direct occupancy costs (rent) over the overall costs of siting federal facilities.”
“This move represents a challenge, but not one that was unexpected,” Hoskins continued. “We pledge to continue to move forward with our strategy of diversifying Arlington’s economic base and focusing on bringing fast-growing technology companies, particularly those in the fields of cybersecurity, ed tech, med tech, big data, clean and green tech, and nonprofits/associations, to Arlington.”
“It is a different strategy than Arlington has experienced in the past, but one that we believe will drive us ahead in the future of the office market,” he said.
Photo via Google Maps
Construction on the large, eight-building Liberty Center project in Ballston has been wrapping up this week, but just temporarily.
Construction barriers have been removed from the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, a new sidewalk is open and construction cranes have come down. However, the project isn’t quite complete: one of the buildings has yet to be built.
As reported by the Washington Business Journal in January, developer Shooshan Co. decided not to built the eighth and final building — a 20-story office building at 4040 Wilson Blvd — without significant lease commitments. With none apparently forthcoming, Shooshan decided against building on “spec” during a period of high office vacancies in Arlington and the rest of the D.C. region.
“The construction has been paused until we have the right deal in place,” Director of Leasing and Marketing Kevin Shooshan told ARLnow.com. “We could start again in a month, or in a year, it all depends on the market and finding our deal.”
Currently, passersby can see the top of a five-level underground parking garage, behind the chain link fence, on the site of what will eventually be 4040 Wilson Blvd.
The tower will eventually be built on top of the garage. Until then, Shooshan says the company is planning to place wrap signage around the site.
Rep. Beyer Holding Taylor Swift Fundraiser — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is holding a fundraiser with 15-20 guests at tonight’s Taylor Swift concert in D.C. The National Journal says Beyer is “Congress’ biggest Taylor Swift fan.” The Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans pounced on that headline for a punny press release. “When it comes to the national debt and big government regulations, Millennials want to ‘shake it off,'” the AFCYRs wrote. [National Journal, AFCYR]
Arlington Appoints DHS Director — Arlington County Dept. of Human Services deputy director Anita Friedman is getting a promotion. Friedman has been appointed as head of the department by Acting County Manager Mark Schwartz, less than two weeks after Schwartz took over for now-retired County Manager Barbara Donnellan. [Arlington County]
Rosslyn Metro Center Building Sold — The 22-story office building atop the Rosslyn Metro station has sold for $180 million. Rosslyn Metro Center, located at 1700 N. Moore Street, may be due for renovations following the sale. [Washington Business Journal]
Washingtonian Lauds ARLnow — ARLnow.com, along with its sister sites Borderstan, Hill Now and Reston Now, have been honored as the “Best News Blogs” in the D.C. area by Washingtonian. “Obsessive (but not mind-numbing) reporting on communities paid off,” the magazine said of our company’s expansion. Thank you to the staff of Washingtonian for this honor. [Washingtonian]
Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk
Advisory Board Considering Vacant Rosslyn Tower — The D.C.-based Advisory Board Company is considering a move to Arlington — specifically, to the vacant 1812 N. Moore Street office tower in Rosslyn. The tower is the tallest building in Arlington and has remained without a tenant since it was completed two years ago. Arlington and Virginia officials are facing off with D.C. officials in an effort to woo the $2.4 billion company. [Washington Post]
Sewage Spills in Arlington — Two separate sewage spills were reported in Arlington this weekend. On Saturday, the county alerted residents that a broken sewage pipe had released sewage into Donaldson Run. On Sunday, the county warned of a raw sewage release in Four Mile Run, near the 700 block of Arlington Mill Drive. Residents should avoid Four Mile Run from the site of the spill to the Potomac, the county said. [WTOP]
GGW: County Must Seek Transit Consensus — As Arlington begins to chart a course for its next generation of smart growth, one pro-transit writer says the county should do a better job of seeking support for its future transit investments. “As we recently learned from the fallout over the streetcar, broad-based support has to be a top priority for any project,” writes Dennis Jaffe. “If it’s not there, sustainable transportation projects won’t be so sustainable.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Arlington County has started running a new video series on its local cable TV and YouTube channels.
As the county works to shrink its high office vacancy rate — it was recently reported to be 21 percent — Arlington TV has started featuring “awesome offices.”
In a video released last week, Jessica Miller, co-chair of Arlington Economic Development’s Arlington Real Estate Group, leads viewers on a tour of LMO Advertising, which is based at 1776 Wilson Blvd, between the Rosslyn and Courthouse Metro stations.
LMO, the largest advertising agency in the D.C. area and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Business of the Year, has the kind of light, airy and amenity-filled office one might expect of a creative agency or a tech company.
Among the notable features:
- Game room with Xboxes and ping pong tables
- In-house, sound-proof studio
- 3-D printer
- Standing desks
- Star Trek-themed conference rooms
- Green roof and rooftop patio with Wi-fi
Scott Laughlin, co-founder of the agency, said that there’s an economic argument for putting ping pong tables, autographed guitars and video game consoles in a work environment. It comes down to building a collaborative, team environment.
“You don’t need an office to do the work we do anymore,” he said. “What you do need is a home, a place where people want to come and be and spend time with others.”
Fire at Columbia Pike Gas Station — A small fire, reportedly started by an acetylene torch, prompted a large fire department response at the Citgo gas station on Columbia Pike yesterday morning. The fire was quickly extinguished. [Twitter]
Bills Proposed to Scuttle Immigration Office — Three Republicans are sponsoring legislation in the House of Representatives that would block the Obama administration from opening a new immigration office in Crystal City. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office could bring some 1,000 jobs to the area, but Republicans worry that it may eventually be intended to process cases of what they term Obama’s “executive amnesty” program. [Washington Business Journal, Breitbart]
Arlington Housing Cools a Bit — Arlington’s hot real estate market cooled a bit in May, according to recently released housing sales data. The volume of sales was down 10 percent in May while the median selling price held steady. [Washington Business Journal]
Association Moving to Crystal City — The Aluminum Association, a trade group, is moving into a new headquarters in Crystal City this week. The association is moving into the refurbished, LEED Gold certified office building at 1400 Crystal Drive. [Associations Now]
Flickr pool photo by Alves Family
Record for Rainfall Set — A record amount of rain fell on Arlington yesterday. Reagan National Airport recorded 2.49 inches of rainfall, overtaking the previous record of 2.20 inches in 1907. [Washington Post]
Sun Gazette Endorses Fallon, Lander — The Arlington Sun Gazette newspaper has endorsed Peter Fallon and James Lander for the Democratic County Board nomination. The paper said Fallon can be “prickly” but has the “strongest community background,” while Lander can sometimes “wing it” on important matters but has “specific and out-of-the-box proposals.” [InsideNova]
Hynes Endorses Lander, Schneider — County Board Chair Mary Hynes has endorsed James Lander and Andrew Schneider ahead of the June 9 Democratic County Board primary. Hynes said Lander, the current chair of the Arlington School Board, is “the best partner on the School Board I’ve ever had.” She said she’s been “impressed with [Schneider’s] diligence and openness to different perspectives, new ideas.” [InsideNova]
New Rooftop Deck for Rosslyn Buildings — Rosslyn’s Twin Towers office building complex is getting a new rooftop deck. Located at 1100 Wilson Blvd, the 5,000 square foot terrace will feature sweeping views of the D.C. skyline, for use by tenants of the 31-story buildings. Tenants of the complex include WJLA and Politico. The terrace is expected to be completed by next spring. [Virginia Business]
Rise in New Catholic Priests — Following a national trend, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington is seeing a rise in the ordination of new priests. Bishop Paul Loverde is scheduled to ordain seven men to the local priesthood on Saturday, bringing the number of new priests ordained since 2012 to 20. [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]
No Big Buses on the Pike, Yet — There’s a reason why there are no articulated buses running down the Columbia Pike corridor, at least not yet. For one, standard bus service is sufficient at this time. Another reason: there’s no local storage space for big articulated buses. [Greater Greater Washington]
Arlington Students to Attend Governor’s School — Twenty Arlington Public Schools students will attend the prestigious Governor’s Schools or Governor’s Foreign Language Academy this summer. [Arlington Public Schools]
Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4