Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Landmark Trees Felled During Storm — A well-known, historic oak tree near the Reevesland farmhouse, one of seventeen designated specimen trees on private property in Arlington, was among the trees that fell during yesterday’s storm. Trees were also downed in Arlington National Cemetery; one tree crushed a car. [Twitter, Twitter]

May 23 Storm vs. 2012 Derecho — “The ~36,000 Dominion customers without power in Arlington at the post-storm peak today is just over half the ~68,000 after the 2012 derecho.” [Twitter]

Rosslyn Trump HQ Rent Raises Questions — “President Trump was ‘thrilled’ that his campaign acquired northern Virginia office space at ‘bargain basement’ rates, a campaign official told the Washington Examiner in an interview in the plush 14th floor offices overlooking the Potomac River from Arlington, Va. But campaign finance specialists say the ‘steal’ could violate election law, which views below-market rates for rent as an illegal in-kind campaign donation.” [Washington Examiner]

Median Home Price in Arlington Up $100K — “Amazon’s impending move to Northern Virginia has had a significant impact on home list prices in Arlington County, a new analysis by online real estate platform Realtor.com finds. The median list price for a home there has grown 17 percent since last November.” [Curbed]

Amazon Employees Seeking Furnished Apartments — “Oakwood, which already managed a full Crystal City building at 505 18th St. South, recently extended its deal at the property for another five years, Eicholtz said. She said Oakwood is already seeing demand from Amazon employees, but it is not just coming in Crystal City.” [Bisnow]

Another County Board Contender — “Arlington resident Arron O’Dell has qualified to be on the ballot in the Nov. 5 County Board race. ‘My focus is on affordability. I will work to keep Arlington the place we enjoy living in now while controlling costs and taxes’ and ‘making the county more efficient and small-business friendly,’ O’Dell said on a nascent campaign website.” [InsideNova]

Police Chase Ends in Pentagon City — “Alexandria [Police] chased a robbery suspect on NB I-395… Chase reportedly ended at Army Navy Drive and S. Hayes Street near Pentagon City mall. Three suspects in custody.” [Twitter]

Senators Unveil Metro Funding Proposal — “Metro, which is about to undergo extensive summer track work, would receive $150 million a year for badly needed capital improvements under legislation outlined Thursday by U.S. senators from Virginia and Maryland.” [WTOP, Blue Virginia]

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Amid difficulties for American shopping malls, Arlington’s two malls are betting on new eateries to turn more diners into shoppers.

Management at the newly-renovated Ballston Quarter and the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City say elevated dining options — from Ballston Quarter’s trendy local eateries to newer, healthier options at Pentagon City mall — are becoming an increasingly important part of mall design.

Commercial real estate experts say food options are now the key driver of mall traffic.

A new study released by the International Council of Shopping Centers shows that 40 percent of customers choose which mall they go to based solely on the food there, and nearly 38 percent of those surveyed said healthy options were a priority, according to CNBC.

“People increasingly value experience-based shopping and place higher expectations on how they spend their time,” said Will Voegele, senior vice president of mixed-use development for Brookfield Properties, in an email to ARLnow. “We designed the revitalized Ballston Quarter with the community in mind and our vision reflects a strong focus on experiential retail, innovative food and beverage concepts, and diverse entertainment offerings to create a new all-season neighborhood experience with the density of an urban center that is purposeful, thoughtful and unique.”

Voegele said part of the redesign for Ballston Quarter was to maintain a focus on local vendors for the 25,000 square-foot food hall.

“The uniform array of national names that we associate with the traditional food court does not provide the richness and authenticity that is so important to our mission at Ballston Quarter,” Voegele said. “Families and young professionals still want grab-and-go, but they are also looking for better quality and healthy dining options. Food halls offer the perfect solution in this case.”

Voegele said the new food hall design has gradually supplanted the traditional fast food-oriented food court of the archetypical ’80s and ’90s malls.

“The fundamental design of the traditional mall no longer supports the way people like to shop and dine as consumers are craving visually stimulating and creative experiences,” Voegele said. “The boxy retail behemoths of yesterday are just not practical for today’s landscape.”

Healthy options were also a big part of the expansion and renovation of the Pentagon City mall.

“Fashion Centre at Pentagon City has introduced enhanced dining options over the recent years, including Matchbox American Kitchen + Spirit, honeygrow, Sugar Factory and Shake Shack,” management at the mall said in an email. “In addition, the center added modern furniture, finishes and additional seating during the renovation in 2016 to offer an even better experience for shoppers visiting the dining pavilion.”

But does this translate into sales at other retail options in the mall? Voegele said the Ballston Quarter’s food hall, Quarter Market, has seen consistent traffic across all age groups — and events like Quarterfest last weekend boosted its local profile. The study said transactions increase as much as 25 percent at malls with quality food and beverage options, with shoppers who eat at the mall spending 15 percent more per trip.

Shoppers inside Ballston Quarter weren’t so sure. While several said they came for the food hall and loved the dining options, many also said this wouldn’t necessarily translate into going into the upstairs part of the mall to shop.

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UNTUCKit, a clothing brand focused on untucked, professional shirts, has just launched a new store in Pentagon City.

The new store opened late last week on the second floor of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.

According to a press release:

UNTUCKit was created in 2011 to solve the problem of the long, sloppy look of untucked and ill-fitting dress shirts, by designing shirts that are meant to be worn untucked. They’ve since introduced categories ranging from t-shirts and polos to sports jackets and performance wear — plus, the launch of women’s and boys’ lines in 2017.

UNTUCKit at Pentagon City was the brand’s 61st store nationwide and the third in the region.

“We’re excited to be here, even closer to the District,” said Tomas Kurtz, assistant manager at the Pentagon City location. “It’s a new brand and we’re excited to see it grow.”

Kurtz said the store stands out for the way staff works closely with customers to find the right cut and style for them.

“It’s interesting because it’s not at all like a department store,” said Kurtz. “If you come in, you get fitted and staff will help walk you through it. It’s very personalized.”

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Amazon is planning to build 2.1 million square feet of new office space in Pentagon City as part of the first phase of construction for its permanent “HQ2” in Arlington.

The retail and tech giant announced its plans today in a blog post.

We are looking to build an urban campus that will allow our employees to think creatively, to be a part of the surrounding community, and to remain connected to the region’s unique culture and environment. As with our Seattle headquarters, we plan to invest in developing a new headquarters in Arlington that will grow alongside its neighbors, supporting local businesses, building new public spaces for all to enjoy, and integrating sustainable design features throughout our campus.

Amazon says it filed its initial development plans with the county this week.

The plans call for a first phase of development that will replace vacant warehouses on the Metropolitan Park site along S. Eads Street, while a second site — the vacant PenPlace site along Eads closer to the Pentagon — will presumably await a second phase.

Included in the plans for the first phase:

  • 2.1 million square feet of office space in two LEED Gold-certified, 22-story towers
  • 50,000 square feet of retail space “for shops, restaurants, and a daycare center for area residents and Amazonians”
  • 1.1 acres of public open space for use as “a dog park, recreation areas, farmers markets, and more”
  • On-site bike facilities, a new cycle path along S. Eads Street, and storage space for 600 bikes
  • A “below-grade parking structure with 1,968 parking spaces,” per the Washington Business Journal, though Amazon says it will encourage transit use

“These buildings are the first step to creating an urban campus where our future 25,000 employees and the local community can live, work and play,” the blog post says.

The buildings will likely take several years to build, requiring a public process and County Board approval prior to construction. In the meantime, Amazon is leasing temporary office space in Crystal City as it starts to ramp up hiring for HQ2.

More from Amazon’s blog post:

We plan to invest more than $2.5 billion dollars in building our campus over the next decade, driving the creation of thousands of indirect jobs in construction, building services, hospitality and other services industries across the region. In Seattle, where we have invested more than $4 billion in our campus and hired an average of 5,000 people every year since 2010, we estimate that Amazon’s investments have created an additional 53,000 jobs on top of our direct hires.

We are grateful to our new neighbors, and all the elected officials, civic leaders, local businesses, nonprofits and associations who have talked with us about our plans, asked questions, and shared their views. We will continue to listen to their feedback during this process and learn from them as we continue to grow our teams in Virginia.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column 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 presentation

(Update 1:25 p.m.) Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters (CWJ) has a shop in Pentagon City, but the company has its eyes set on bringing cold brew to vending machines nationwide.

The company recently closed on $1.2 million in funding aimed at continuing deployment of Kegerator Vending Machines (KVM), on-tap vending machines that operate as a pay-by-the-ounce self-service kiosk. The company plans aims to raise $4 million.

The coffee shop opened in 2012, but the company pivoted toward delivering office coffee in 2017. The company currently operates the portable machines in D.C., New York, and Philadelphia.

“The $4 million raised in this round will be used to fuel CWJ’s continued growth in vending, as the tech-enabled coffee brand develops closer ties with [KVM] and continues to take a vending-first approach with its coffee program sales strategy,” the company said in a press release. “The KVM is the only one-of-its-kind in the commercial coffee market, essentially acting as a gas pump and only charging the end-user for the amount of liquid dispensed.”

The machines also allow CWJ to track statistics like consumption habits and inventory depletion. The press release noted that some of the funding is planned to go toward including new features like digital payments, automatic reordering, maintenance issue identification and service ticket creation.

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Morning Notes

DEA Staying in Pentagon City — “The Arlington County Board today approved an incentive grant that will keep the headquarters of the Drug Enforcement Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, in Pentagon City following a lengthy federal competitive bid process. The agency occupies more than 511,000 square feet of space, and employs about 3,000 people at its Pentagon City location.” [Arlington County]

‘Take Your Child to Work Day’ for Cristol — Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol’s new baby boy made his public debut at Thursday’s meeting for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. [Twitter]

Activists Still Pressing for Tree Removal Explanation — “Remember back last year, when top Arlington officials said they would provide the public – in writing – with the reasons the government would not take further steps to protect removal of a tree that had become symbolic to environmental activists across the county? You may have forgotten, but those activists have not.” [InsideNova]

‘Notable’ Trees Recognized — “Arlington has more than 750,000 trees of at least 122 species that provide $6.89 million in environmental benefits to the County annually in the form of pollution removal, carbon storage, energy savings, and avoided stormwater runoff. The Arlington County Board will designate 24 of these trees as Notable Trees at its April 25 Recessed Meeting. [Arlington County]

Water Main Break in Fairlington — Some 100 Arlington households were without water service for part of Thursday due to emergency water main repairs in the Fairlington neighborhood. [Twitter]

Gerber Incentives Pass — Gerber’s move to Arlington is one step closer thanks to an incentive package unanimously approved by the County Board on Tuesday. The package is divided between money from the state’s Commonwealth Opportunity Fund (COF) — $862,500 — and money earmarked for nearby infrastructure upgrades — another $862,500.

Nearby: Alexandria Peeved By Metro Surprise — “A month after Metro learned additional closures would be needed at the end of this summer’s Blue and Yellow line shutdown, Alexandria’s City Council lit into the agency’s top leaders Tuesday night about why the Virginia city and the public only learned of the extended work through a news release last week.” [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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A developer is planning to raze two office buildings on 601-701 12th Street S. in Pentagon City and build four new towers with residential, office, and retail space.

That’s according to a preliminary site plan filing with Arlington County. The plan also notes that the property’s current occupants — the Transportation Security Administration — are soon leaving the county.

Renderings in the filings from property owner Brookfield Properties depict four buildings planned for the area:

  • a 14-story, 240-foot high southwest tower for office space
  • a 20-story, 235-foot high southeast tower for residential or hotel use
  • a 24-story, 275-foot high northeast tower for residential or hotel use
  • a 26-story, 300-foot high northwest tower for residential use, with a penthouse

The company’s proposal says the development will occur in phases and will include “new access to the Pentagon City Metro, upgraded streetscapes and sidewalks, a new internal pedestrian pathway, public open spaces and outdoor seating” as well as public art.

Brookfield’s plans indicate that retail space is planned along the ground floor of the four towers and along 12th Street S.

Tysons-based law firm Venable LLP submitted the proposal, which included a request to make an exception to the site’s limits on building height and density for the project, on behalf of Brookfield.

The document notes that, “the proposal will help address the significant increase in demand for residential housing and hotel space, which will only grow considering the potential for office development in the region.”

The plan says it aims to “ease congestion on surrounding roads by integrating with nearby sites, improving internal circulation, and connecting to Metro.”

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is currently using the two buildings on-site and is scheduled to move out next fall, per agency spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.

“The new building will be located at 6595 Springfield Center Drive, Springfield,” said Farbstein.

The TSA had been planning to stay at the property, which is next to the Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters and across the street from the Pentagon City mall, until mid-2020.

TSA announced in 2015 that it would move to Alexandria in a bid to save $95 million over the next 15 years, but the move was later overturned by a federal judge.

Brookfield Properties describes the two, 12-story buildings currently occupied by the TSA as, “aging, obsolete” and “unattractive.”

The county posted the address of the project on its website under “Preliminary Development Proposals” last week. However, the process of obtaining the plans revealed the county’s permitting and zoning offices were adapting the way they process records requests.

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Arlington County wants to demolish part of a multi-million dollar Pentagon City project after officials say it caused a leak in a Metro tunnel.

The County Board will vote on the demolition of a storm run-off basin near the Pentagon City mall next week because the structure caused water to leak into the Metro tunnel below.

The basin was installed in 2014 as part of upgrades made along S. Hayes Street from 15th Street S. to Army Navy Drive. The basin was part of the landscaping between the road lanes.

“Shortly thereafter, WMATA notified the County about leakage issues in the tunnel,” said county spokeswoman Jessica Baxter today.

“Working closely with WMATA, the County conducted dye testing which demonstrated that when the bioretention facility filled during storm events, it contributed to leakage issues in the Metro tunnel,” Baxter told ARLnow. “The leak was corrected in 2017 after filling in the bioretention facility.”

A Metro spokesman did not immediately return requests for more information about the leak.

The $9 million project along S. Hayes Street also added rain gardens and new crosswalks, bike lanes, ADA ramps, traffic lights, and Metro canopies. VDOT was to reimburse most of the project’s expense, per an agreement with the county.

This week’s staff report referred to the basin demolition proposal as “Phase B” of the “Pentagon City Multimodal Improvements project.” The item was included in the Board’s consent agenda which is reserved for measures expected to pass without debate.

If the Board passes the proposal, the county will allocate $645,342 to remove the basin, and to modify a nearby U-turn.

The board document notes that while the U-turn was designed using “industry standard modeling software to ensure that buses would be able to complete the turn without problems” nonetheless “several buses have hit the wall while making the turning movement, creating a maintenance issue.”

During a 2014 ribbon cutting ceremony, then-County Board Chair Jay Fisette said the Pentagon City project was “key to Arlington’s efforts to make it easier to travel to, around or through Pentagon City, whether you are traveling by car, bus, bike or Metro.”

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Morning Notes

Protest in Front of Nestle Office in Rosslyn — “On Tuesday, Greenpeace activists hauled a 15-foot-tall heap of garbage, artfully crafted to resemble one of those deep sea fish that’s about 90 percent jowl, out in front of the Nestlé’s U.S. headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.” [Gizmodo, Twitter]

‘No Stopping’ Arlington’s Growth — “Historically a commuter bedroom city for Washington, D.C., Arlington, VA continues its development renaissance with a variety of mixed-use projects that will shuttle in new residents, create open spaces and make new room for more restaurants and companies.” [GlobeSt]

Arlington Ponies Up Incentives for DEA — “The Arlington County Board is set to vote later this month to grant up to $11.5 million in financial incentives to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Pentagon City landlord to keep the agency from relocating to neighboring Alexandria, just shy of half of what it has promised Amazon.com Inc. for its second headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]

Possible Meteor Lights Up the Sky — There were numerous reports of a meteor seen over Arlington, the D.C. region and much of the East Coast around 11 p.m. last night. [Twitter, BNO News, NBC Washington]

County Touts Green Initiatives Ahead of Earth Day — “Few communities can boast Arlington’s ceaseless commitment to sustainability — which is why one day in April can barely hint at the work that happens in the months before and after.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Discover Arlington’s ultimate brunch experience in fyve Restaurant Lounge, located on the lobby level of The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City.

Indulge in seafood & sushi stations, artisan meats & cheeses, signature favorites such as crab cake sliders, pain perdu, shrimp & grits, a build your own Bloody Mary bar and much more.

April Special: 15% military discount offered (with valid I.D) & a complimentary glass of bubbles for anyone over 21 years.

Every Sunday, excluding holidays, from 12-2 p.m.

Starting at $55 per adult, $29 per child (ages 5-12).

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(Updated at 9:30 a.m.) JBG Smith has made it official with Amazon, announcing this morning the signing of lease and development agreements with the tech and retail giant.

The announcement should put to rest any speculation that Amazon could pull out of its HQ2 plans in Arlington, as it did in New York City.

Construction has already started on Amazon’s three temporary leased office buildings in Crystal City, with the company expecting to move into two of the buildings — 241 18th Street S. and 1800 S. Bell Street — later this year.

Amazon is also buying a pair of large development sites in Pentagon City from JBG Smith — sites that JBG will help develop into a permanent second headquarters campus for the company. The sale price of the vacant Metropolitan Park and PenPlace properties, each two blocks from the Pentagon City Metro station: just under $300 million.

“We are pleased to report that our partnership with Amazon at National Landing is moving full steam ahead,” JBG SMITH CEO Matt Kelly said in a press release, below. “With the execution of these agreements and recently legislated state and local government commitments to invest approximately $2 billion in the region’s transportation, education and housing infrastructure, we are ready to welcome Amazon’s first National Landing employees in the coming months.”

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 executed three leases and two Purchase and Sale Agreements with affiliates of Amazon.com, Inc. in conjunction with the creation of Amazon’s HQ2 at National Landing in Northern Virginia.

These agreements are the result of Amazon’s announcement in November 2018 that it had selected JBG SMITH as its partner to house and develop its HQ2 locations after a comprehensive, year-long search that included proposals from 238 cities across North America.

Amazon has executed three initial leases totaling 537,000 square feet at three existing JBG SMITH office buildings in National Landing. The leases encompass 88,000 square feet at 241 18th Street South, 191,000 square feet at 1800 South Bell Street, and 258,000 square feet at 1770 Crystal Drive. JBG SMITH expects Amazon to begin moving into 241 18th Street South and 1800 South Bell in 2019, and 1770 Crystal Drive by the end of 2020.

JBG SMITH and Amazon have also executed Purchase and Sale Agreements for two of JBG SMITH’s National Landing development sites, Pen Place and Met 6, 7, and 8, which will serve as the initial phase of new construction associated with Amazon’s HQ2. Subject to customary closing conditions, Amazon will pay $294 million for the sites, or $72 per square foot based on their combined development potential of 4.1 million square feet. JBG SMITH, which has flexibility on the timing of closing to facilitate 1031 exchange opportunities, expects to close on the Mets land sales as early as 2019 and on Pen Place as early as 2020. JBG SMITH will also serve as Amazon’s developer, property manager, and retail leasing agent for these assets.

“We are pleased to report that our partnership with Amazon at National Landing is moving full steam ahead,” said JBG SMITH CEO, Matt Kelly. “With the execution of these agreements and recently legislated state and local government commitments to invest approximately $2 billion in the region’s transportation, education and housing infrastructure, we are ready to welcome Amazon’s first National Landing employees in the coming months.”

In January 2019, the Virginia General Assembly overwhelmingly approved incentive legislation associated with HQ2 to fund $195 million toward critical infrastructure improvements, including second entrances to the Crystal City and to-be-constructed Potomac Yard Metro stations, a pedestrian connection linking National Landing to Reagan National Airport, an expanded VRE station and substantial improvements to Route 1. These investments are in addition to $570 million of regional government commitments for transportation infrastructure and transit improvements, and they follow the regional compact from mid-2018 to invest $500 million annually in Metro system improvements.

In March 2019, the Arlington County Board also unanimously approved a $23 million performance agreement with Amazon. Both packages provide post-performance incentives for Amazon to create up to 37,850 jobs with an average annual salary of $150,000 and occupy at least six million square feet of office space in Arlington County.

The General Assembly also recently approved a major education investment package that includes funding of $250 million toward Virginia Tech’s planned $1 billion Innovation Campus to be located in National Landing and $125 million planned for new Master’s degree programs in computer science and related fields at George Mason’s Arlington campus.

In addition, the County of Arlington, the City of Alexandria and the Commonwealth of Virginia have collectively dedicated $225 million to fund a range of low-income and workforce housing initiatives over the next decade.

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