Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Office Vacancy Rate Dropping — “The commercial vacancy rate in the County continues to improve. The vacancy rate as of the second quarter of 2019 stands at 16.6%, down nearly 5% from its historic high of 21% in 2015. Arlington Economic Development also announced it successfully closed 26 deals in FY 2019, representing 7.2 million square feet of office space and 43,000 jobs.” [Arlington County]

County Adopts New Bathroom Policy — “The Arlington County government has adopted what amounts to an anything-goes policy for government-building restrooms and locker rooms. The policy, outlined to County Board members on July 16, will formally allow any individual to use a male or female restroom ‘that corresponds with gender identity or expression,’ county staff said.” [InsideNova]

Human Remains Found Near GW Parkway — Human remains, in a skull, have reportedly been found near the GW Parkway and Reagan National Airport, in the same area where a D.C. cadaver dog was hurt earlier this week, prompting a medevac flight. The dog is now recovering from serious injuries. U.S. Park Police are investigating the source of the remains. [Fox 5, Washington PostWTOP]

New Provost, Plans for Marymount — “Marymount is proud to welcome the university’s new Provost, Hesham El-Rewini, Ph.D., P.E., who officially begins his duties on campus this week… ‘We have bold plans for the future of Marymount as we strive to become an elite Catholic institution that is nationally recognized for innovation,’ said Dr. Irma Becerra, President of Marymount University.” [Marymount University]

GoFundMe for Westover Residents — A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to benefit residents of Westover whose homes were damaged by flash flooding last week. So far more than $8,000 has been raised. [GoFundMe]

Big Crane Assisting With DCA Project — “A 250 ft. crane is being used to lift and put steel into place for a new 14-gate concourse that will replace Gate 35X” at Reagan National Airport. [Twitter]

Pentagon City Apartment Sold for Big Bucks — “Dweck Properties Inc. has picked up another multifamily property in Pentagon City, not far from where Amazon.com Inc. is settling into its second home. A Dweck affiliate paid $117 million July 9 for the Park at Pentagon Row, a 299-unit apartment building at 801 15th St. S.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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It appears a new Chick-fil-A is coming to Pentagon City, alongside a new Wiseguy Pizza location.

Both locations are ground floor restaurants in the Witmer, a new 26-story luxury apartment at the corner of 12th Street S. and S. Hayes Street, amid the Pentagon Centre shopping center. The Chick-fil-A is located at the top of the Pentagon City Metro station on the east side of S. Hayes Street next to the CVS.

The next closest Chick-fil-A is the one in Crystal City at 2200 Crystal Drive.

There is no information on the Chick-fil-A website about the upcoming Pentagon City store opening. In fact, a Chick-fil-A spokeswoman would not even confirm to ARLnow that the building with a sign saying “Chick-fil-A Coming Soon” is, in fact, a Chick-fil-A:

We are always evaluating potential new locations in the hopes of serving existing and new customers great food with remarkable service. While we hope to be able to expand in Arlington in the future, we do not currently have a location to confirm.

H/t to @CuriousHenwin

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Arlington County is considering a proposal to expand the boundaries of the Crystal City Business Improvement District to incorporate parts of Potomac Yard and Pentagon City, including Amazon’s permanent HQ2 campus.

At its meeting on Saturday, July 13, the County Board is expected to authorize an advertisement for a public hearing on Sept. 21 to discuss expansion of the BID’s coverage area to include 75 new commercial properties.

The BID was originally established in 2006 to improve the area’s marketability and attractiveness to the community in the wake of the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) — which resulted in 4.2 million square feet of vacant office space and 17,000 lost jobs.

The BID sponsors activities and markets the area to potential tenants, and is in turn funded by a tax surcharge on commercial properties within its coverage area. The BID’s current budget is approximately $2.7 million, but the expansion is estimated to increase the budget by $1.7 million (an increase of 64 percent) to $4.4 million.

According to the staff report, expansion of the BID has been an ongoing priority as the organization works to shift the area’s image away from just government agency tenants. This culminated with the announcement in November that Amazon would be opening a new headquarters in the area.

Even prior to the arrival of Amazon, Crystal City had begun attracting more non-government tenants — including startups, nonprofits, co-working spaces and new retail. The vision and strategy to expand the boundaries of the BID has been revived not only due to new leadership at the [BID] but also upcoming infrastructure, transportation and planning projects expected to transform the nature of the business and residential community in this area.

The staff report noted that the expansion is part of a wider effort to treat Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard as one market — it was dubbed “National Landing” at the time of the Amazon announcement — rather than three separate ones.

Notably absent from the proposed new boundaries is the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall, which has “formally requested… not to be included in the proposed expansion.”

Adoption of the ordinance would require the BID to demonstrate 50 percent of greater support throughout the affected areas — evidence that the staff report noted was not currently available. The staff report notes that property owners and managers in the Potomac Yard portion of Arlington expressed concerns that BID would be unable to “fulfill various obligations of the Potomac Yard Property Owner’s Association (POA) site plan.”

Under the terms of the site plan, the POA must fund certain capital expenses and on-going maintenance of various improvements including maintenance of landscaped areas. In March 2019, County staff and the County Attorney’s Office advised [BID] that it should not take on the obligations of the Potomac Yard POA in order to receive support for the proposed BID expansion. Instead, [BID] should demonstrate to the Potomac Yard property owners the value of the other services it currently provides on behalf of the BID in the current and proposed expanded district.

If the BID cannot build the support it needs in Potomac Yard — as happened to a proposed BID in Alexandria in 2017 — the report said it could still be approved as an expansion into Pentagon City. Major property owners in Pentagon City, including Dweck Properties and JBG Smith, are supportive of the proposal.

The potential expansion, if approved, would be the first time any BID in Arlington enveloped new territory.

Map via Arlington County

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The man who was shot in the parking garage of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall has died, police say.

In a press release, Arlington County Police say the shooting happened during an attempted robbery. The man who died was wearing a mask and brandished the gun, demanding the cell phone of a man inside a car, police say; a struggle ensued and the alleged, would-be robber was shot.

The deceased robbery suspect’s name has not yet been released. Police say they have not filed charges against the victim of the robbery attempt “at this time.”

More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating a fatal shooting that took place in the Pentagon City area of Arlington on the afternoon of July 1, 2019.

At approximately 1:43 p.m. on July 1, police were dispatched to the report of shots fired in a parking garage in the 800 block of Army Navy Drive. The preliminary investigation indicates that the victim was inside of his vehicle when he was approached by a masked subject displaying a handgun. The subject brandished the firearm and threatened the victim demanding his cell phone. A physical struggle ensued between both parties outside of the vehicle, during which the firearm was discharged.

Arriving officers located the suspect suffering from an apparent gunshot wound and immediately began to render aid. He was subsequently transported to an area hospital with life threatening injuries and later succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased.

The identity of the decedent is being withheld pending proper identification and notification of next of kin.

This incident remains an active criminal investigation. No charges have been sought at this time.

Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact Detective G. Seibert of the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4199 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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Update at 1 p.m. on July 2 — The man who was shot was also the suspect in a robbery, police say. He has died from his wounds

Update at 8:45 p.m. — “ACPD continues to investigate this incident,” police said in a tweet. “Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Detective G. Seibert at 703-228-4199 or [email protected]

Earlier: Arlington County Police are on scene of a shooting outside of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.

One person was shot in the mall’s parking garage, near the entrance to Macy’s.

Police were dispatched to the scene just before 1:45 p.m. for a report of four gunshots heard and a man seen with a gun on the fourth level of the parking garage, following a possible robbery attempt.

Officers located one person suffering a gunshot wound to the abdomen, according to scanner traffic. The victim has life-threatening injuries, according to ACPD.

The shooting occurred during a struggle between two people, but police are still investigating what led up to the struggle and how the shooter and the victim know each other, according to ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark.

“The are no outstanding suspects,” the police department said. “Police are on scene investigating. Avoid the area.”

A gun believed to be the weapon used in the shooting was found by police and roped off by crime scene tape near the Macy’s entrance.

Portions of the mall and the parking garage have been blocked off by police.

 

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Morning Notes

Another Water Main Break in Courthouse — “Emergency Water Main Repairs: Crews working on a 6-inch valve leak at 1315 N Barton St. Traffic is detoured around the work site. At least one high-rise building is affected.” [Twitter]

Business Owners Planning for HQ2 — “Dawson and Bayne said Highline is ‘a happy-hour machine’ during the week, thanks to the office buildings that surround it. But business late at night and on weekends isn’t as steady. The impending arrival of Amazon, however, is causing the business partners to rethink Highline’s concept.” [WTOP]

Break-in at Overlee Pool — “At least seven community pools were the targets of theft or vandalism late Sunday into Monday, according to police and pool managers. The crime spree spanned Fairfax and Arlington counties, yet police have not been able to connect all seven cases to the same set of suspects.” [Fox 5]

Workers Striking at DCAUpdated at 9:25 a.m. — “Several union workers for two major airlines are on strike outside of Reagan National Airport on Thursday. The workers are employed by the Delta contractor Eulen Airport. Roughly six employees protesting tell ABC7 they are not being treated fairly by their contractors and are calling for better working conditions with some claiming they don’t receive lunch breaks.” [WJLA]

Levine Challenger Fails to Qualify for Ballot — “He had an opponent, then he didn’t. And as a result, Del. Mark Levine (D-45th) is home free in the Nov. 5 general election.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Falls Church Mayor on Tax Deduction Changes — “Mayor P. David Tarter testified yesterday before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures about the impact of the cap on the deductibility of state and local tax (SALT) on federal returns… ‘[The SALT deduction cap] means that tax dollars that could have gone to the city are now going to the federal government, and there is less money available for essential local services like schools, police, and fire protection.'” [City of Falls Church]

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Proposed changes could help transform a major street in the Pentagon City and Crystal City area into a more pedestrian and bicycle friendly corridor, though it might make traffic a little more congested.

The Army Navy Drive Complete Street project would provide a physically-separated, two-way protected bicycle lane along the south side of Army Navy Drive from S. Joyce Street to 12th Street S. Changes would also make pedestrian crossings shorter and safer, with options to build dedicated transit lanes in the future.

According to the project website:

The project will rebuild Army Navy Drive within the existing right-of-way as a multimodal complete street featuring enhanced bicycle, transit, environmental and pedestrian facilities. The goal of the project is to improve the local connections between the Pentagon and the commercial, residential and retail services in Pentagon City and Crystal City.

The tradeoff for keeping all of this within the right of way is reduced motor vehicle lanes, with slowing traffic through the area billed as a feature rather than a detriment. For most of the route, traffic in each direction is at least two lanes wide, though east of S. Eads Street the plans call for it to narrow from two lanes to one in each direction.

At an open house yesterday (Tuesday) at the Aurora Hills Branch Library (735 18th Street S.), most of those in attendance were local cyclists expressing enthusiasm for the project.

“This is an unspeakably huge improvement for cycling,” said Chris Slatt, chair of the Transportation Commission. “This is a critical piece for connecting bicycle infrastructure.”

Cyclists at the meeting also took the opportunity to note that the improvements planned here were still a stark contrast to plans to realign Columbia Pike near the Air Force Memorial. Cycling advocates at the open house said the Pike plans would turn the nearby intersection of S. Joyce Street and Columbia Pike, which feeds into Army Navy Drive and is already not ideal for bicycling, into a “death trap.”

Photo (3) via Google Maps, project map via Arlington County Department of Environmental Services

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Next month, the county will hold a public meeting about Amazon’s first phase of new development for HQ2.

The meeting will “kick off the review process” for Amazon’s first construction project on S. Eads Street, according to a public event notice. The following week, the county’s planning commission will hold a formal review of the development plans.

Amazon’s S. Eads Street development aims to build two, 22-story towers along with retail space, public park space, and parking facilities for bikes and cars. Plans for the 6.2 acre site indicate the buildings will provide 2.1 million square feet of space for the tech and retail giant.

The meeting will be held Wednesday, July 10 from 7-8:30 p.m. As of 4:30 p.m. So far, the meeting location has not been announced.

The county is asking people interested in attending to RSVP but notes seating will not be limited.

Amazon would need the Arlington County Board to approve amendments to plans the Board approved in 2016 for what’s now the tech giant’s lot. The original plans called for 22-story residential towers.

“Learn about the proposed development, planning background and how the review process will work,” the notice for next week’s event reads. “County staff and the applicant will be available to answer questions.”

Amazon tapped Portland-based architecture firm ZGF to design the buildings, reported Curbed.

“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,” Amazon wrote in a blog post announcing the development.

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Morning Notes

Amazon Driving Commercial Property Sales — “An office building and an apartment building near the future Amazon HQ2 campus in Northern Virginia have recently hit the market, the latest in a wave of property owners looking to cash in on rising values from the tech giant’s arrival.” [Bisnow]

Continued Amazon Boost for Residential Real Estate — “The Amazon HQ2 effect continues to drive the Arlington County market. The median price of the 289 sales in Arlington in May was $615,000, up 9.8 percent from a year ago.” [WTOP]

Activists to Continue Resistance to Amazon — “Amazon is apparently here to stay. But so are the local activists who fought incentives for the tech giant in the first place. Monday evening, organizers from the coalition For Us Not Amazon held a forum at Clarendon Presbyterian Church in which they laid out next steps in their resistance efforts against Amazon.” [WAMU]

Community to Celebrate Resident’s 100th Birthday — “Four generations of family and a host of admirers descended on Calloway United Methodist Church the afternoon oj June 8 for a 100th-birthday salute to Birdie Alston, an icon of the Halls Hill-High View Park community.” [InsideNova]

Closures for 5K Race in Pentagon City — “The Zero Prostate Cancer 5K Race will take place on Saturday, June 15th, 2019. The Arlington County Police Department will conduct the following road closures from approximately 7:00 A.M. until 11:00 A.M. to accommodate the event: South Joyce Street, between South 15th Street and Army Navy Drive [and] Army Navy Drive, between South Joyce Street and South 25th Street.” [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Mashalette/Instagram

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It’s probably not something on most local tourism agendas, but if you wanted to check out the Drug Enforcement Administration Museum and Visitors Center, you’d better do it soon.

The museum, at 700 Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City, will be closing for over a year as part of a headquarters-wide renovation.

Clarion Partners, the landlord for the DEA headquarters, received an $11.5 million incentive grant from the Arlington County Board in April to keep the DEA in Pentagon City. Clarion Partners agreed to invest $82 million into a full renovation of the headquarters and to secure temporary space in Crystal City.

The final day for the museum is scheduled for Saturday, July 20. The museum is planning to reopen in fall 2020.

Admission to the DEA Museum is free. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. All guests older than 18 must present I.D.

If you haven’t visited the museum, virtual exhibits are available online or you can check out Roll Call’s gonzo-style tour.

Photo via DEA/Facebook

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A new location of Wiseguy Pizza appears to be coming to Pentagon City.

The local New York-style pizza chain opened a shop in Rosslyn in 2015 and also has three locations in D.C. The new Wiseguy Pizza is located on the ground floor of the Witmer, the new 26-story luxury apartment building at the corner of 12th Street S. and S. Hayes Street, according to signs covering a storefront on the ground floor.

The restaurant is “coming soon,” according to the signs, but so far no opening date has been announced.

The apartment building, at 710 12th Street S. near the Metro station, is now leasing with rents for one-bedroom apartments listed as ranging from $2,025-$3,100.

Photo courtesy @AlexWestEndRes/Twitter

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