After Amazon, Developer Adds Units to Planned Apartment Building Near HQ2

What was first proposed as a 280-unit apartment and retail development in the Crystal City/Pentagon City area has grown to more than 300 units.

Last fall, developer LCOR Inc. filed a preliminary site plan application for a 285-unit multi-family and retail development at the intersection of 12th Street S. and S. Eads Street, on the site of a low-slung Verizon building and parking lot.

In February, three months after Amazon announced that it would be building its massive “HQ2” across the street, the developer upped the requested number of units in the 19-story building to 306 units, according to county records. LCOR has said that it will provide additional community benefits in exchange for the added density.

The revised February application also reduced the planned retail space on the ground floor from 12,194 square feet down to 10,908 square feet.

The proposed building will be located at 400 11th Street S. and will feature a mix of one and two bedroom apartments, along with a rooftop recreation space. LCOR Inc. is calling the multi-family and retail development the “12th Street Apartments” and plans also includes a three-level parking garage with 114 spaces, with parking for both cars and bikes.

LCOR purchased the land from Verizon this past summer for $9.5 million, the Washington Business Journal reported, and has said it hopes to break ground in 2020. LCOR Executive Vice President and Principal Harmar Thompson told the Journal he hopes to lease the retail space to a “two-story bar-and-restaurant.”

The developer has been active in the area, previously acquiring the nearby former Department of Defense Inspector General “Paperclip” building, where it built a high-end, 451-unit apartment building called the Altaire.

In December, LCOR teamed up with Crystal City BID to set up an interactive art display on the site of the new development.

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BREAKING: County Board Approves Amazon Incentive Package

(Updated on 3/18/19) Arlington officials have unanimously approved an incentive package offered to lure Amazon to the county, after hearing impassioned public testimony both for and against the tech giant’s “HQ2” plans.

The vote clears the way for the company to officially begin developing the site as early as this year.

The Arlington County Board voted 5-0 to approve the incentive plan after Board’s regularly-scheduled Saturday meeting stretched on for nearly twelve hours and disruptions from angry protestors continued until Chair Christian Dorsey called multiple recesses to quell the shouting.

Board member Libby Garvey acknowledged over booing that the incentive plan was “not perfect” but said it was “overwhelmingly” good for Arlington.

Board Member Erik Gutshall said “would not vote for anything that was not a clear and overwhelming win for Arlington.”

After Amazon representatives were ushered into a back room during an earlier outburst, Board members sat back on the dais and spoke for a few minutes about the tensions in the room, which was quiet for the first time that day.

“What I’m sensing is a real concern about loss and vulnerability,” said Dorsey, who noted that “the history” of Arlington neighborhoods was that of gentrification. “We never really had a way to stop it. I know it’s maybe attractive to thinking saying no to Amazon stops it. It doesn’t.”

Protests continued after the back-and-forth, with shouts of “shame!” peppering the Board members’ final remarks on the dais. Longtime D.C. protestor Chris Otten was escorted out and arrested after an expletive-ridden tirade aimed at the Board.

The incentive package grants an estimated $23 million in incentives to Amazon over the next 15 years if the company fills 6 million square feet of office space by 2035. It also includes a plan to fund $28 million in transportation upgrades near Amazon’s headquarters over the next decade via use of Crystal City’s Tax Increment Financing district.

The Board’s vote came after nearly five hours of public comment from more than 100 people. County staff said it was first time they’ve allowed speakers to sign-up ahead of time in a bid to control crowding.

The Board also questioned Amazon’s head of economic development Holly Sullivan.

Board members Katie Cristol and Dorsey both asked how Amazon planned to enforce labor laws in light of the subcontractor electrical Power Design, which is likely to help build the headquarters and is currently being sued by the D.C. Attorney General for “cheating” wages from 535 employees.

Sullivan responded that the company has had one meeting with a “building trade” and is working to “develop a workforce agreement.”

One of Arlington’s state legislators, Del. Mark Levine, told ARLnow he wanted the Board to delay their vote because he’s “become concerned” that Amazon still hasn’t agreed to that labor commitment.

“The fact that they’re not willing to sign even a memorandum… makes me concerned that they’re not going to be fair to their workers,” said Levine, echoing concerns from electrician and construction unions that testified earlier today.

Amazon also drew criticism for potentially shrinking affordable housing in the region which is already squeezed. Several landlords and real estate firms expressed support of the company locating to Pentagon City and Crystal City, but other speakers shared worries that rent prices are already rising.

“When we have community that isn’t transient, that has staying power, we have a stronger community.” said Page Cooper, who said her 13-month lease shrunk to 8 months when it came time to renew last year.

Supporters said the economic growth from Amazon’s promise of 25,000 is sorely needed. It’s also a number Dorsey has said could increase in light of Amazon cancelling its plans for a second headquarters in New York City.

The county “needs these jobs” and that is “well positioned to integrate Amazon,” due to the area’s public transit system, said Chuck, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

Steve Cooper, a board member at the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, compared Arlington — long a community with government as its top employers — to his hometown in Detroit.

“Detroit has suffered from being a one-industry town now for six decades,” he said, adding, “Arlington will never be Detroit because we have a chance to diversity.”

The crowd was roughly equally split between those for and against the incentive package — and Board Chair Christian Dorsey repeatedly tried to quell laughter and applause, with emotions running high as the day wore on.

Douglas Park resident Kinsey Fabrizio was praising the board for its “public outreach” when loud laughter from activists, who criticized what they described as lack of community input, drowned out the rest of her testimony.

“This is not WWE,” Dorsey said as he quieted the crowd.

The Crystal City Civic Association and the Crystal City Citizen Review Council voiced support for the tech giant building its second home in their neighborhood. The Aurora Highlands Civic Association and the local chapter of the NAACP, however, said more community engagement is needed before they can support the deal.

The raucous meeting began with a protest outside the steps of the government building with pro- and anti-incentive groups giving simultaneous press conferences holding picket signs.

Local activist coalition For Us, Not Amazon discussed concerns that Amazon had provided ICE with facial recognition software for deportations.

Crystal City BID President Tracey Gabriel was firmly in the pro-Amazon camp, telling ARLnow, “we view Amazon’s selection as a big local win” that will provide “sustainable development” for the area.

The president of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, Kate Bates, also testified in support of the plan, echoing her recent op-ed that the incentives were “a good deal” for the county.

Today’s meeting comes almost two months after the Virginia General Assembly overwhelmingly approved their own incentive package for Amazon. The state-level incentives include up to $750 million in tax cuts in exchange for Amazon creating as many as 37,850 Virginian jobs between now and 2030.

State legislators have also pledged millions in state funding for Arlington and Alexandria’s local infrastructure projects around Amazon’s proposed headquarters — such as adding new entrances to Crystal City and Potomac Yard Metro stations and improving the stretch of Route 1 that runs through Crystal City.

Amazon’s Holly Sullivan noted during Saturday’s meeting that the company picked the area partially because it could be served by three Metro stations.

Courthouse resident June O’Connell praised the opportunity for state investment in local infrastructure, telling the board, “I’ve been waiting from that money from the state. We deserve that money from the state. Take the money from the state.”

Christina Winn, of Arlington Economic Development, said Amazon could bring a $162 million net tax benefit for Arlington. Winn added that the county’s haul could rise to $319 million if the company creates more than 25,000 jobs.

Prior to public testimony, County Manager Mark Schwartz defended the package.

“I would never have recommend this agreement to you if I thought for one minute that this would harm the community I call home,” Schwartz said.

Just don’t expect Amazon’s tens of thousands of employees to arrive all at once. Winn noted that Amazon’s arrival would be “slow ramp-up” with around 400 employees expected in 2019.

“Even though this hearing has a sense of finality this is far from our last Amazon conversation,” said Dorsey.

Additional hearings are expected down the road as Amazon moves to build out its office campus in Pentagon City. For the time being, the company is expected to occupy temporary office space in Crystal City.

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County Considers Lowering Speed Limit Along Busy Pentagon City Street

Drivers along a busy stretch of road in Pentagon City could soon need to slow down a bit.

County officials are proposing changing the speed limit along S. Hayes Street as the road runs between Army Navy Drive and 15th Street S. It currently has posted speed limits of 35 and 30 miles per hour along different stretches of the road, but the county could bump that down to 25 miles per hour.

The Crystal City Business Improvement District requested a study of the speed limit along that section of the street, which runs past major developments, including the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and Pentagon Centre, as well as the neighborhood’s Metro station.

Staff wrote in a report for the County Board that the “high volumes of pedestrian crossings and higher density land development” in the area justify bumping down the speed a bit.

Similarly, staff noted that an examination of the last four years worth of crash data for the area suggest that a lower speed might be beneficial for the area.

If the Board approves the change, the county will spend $1,500 to install signs advertising the newly revised speed limit along the road.

The Board is set to consider the issue for the first time at its meeting Saturday (March 16), where members are scheduled to set a public hearing on the matter for April 23. The Board could then approve the change immediately afterward.

Photo via Google Maps

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Pentagon Centre Starbucks Closing Later This Month

Starbucks is closing one of its Pentagon City locations later this month, according to a sign posted on the door.

The Starbucks, located on 1201 S. Hayes Street, will shut up shop on March 29. The coffee shop is located at the Pentagon Centre development, also home to the area’s Nordstrom Rack, Best Buy and Costco.

“We are very thankful to have played a role in your daily routine and that you have shared these moments of your life with us,” wrote managers Nick Tobias and Mel Huth on the goodbye note taped to front door.

Mall rats and Metro users will not have to travel far to get their caffeine fix, however: the chain’s other stores located inside the Pentagon City mall, on 1201 S. Fern St, and S. Joyce St. remain open.

The billion-dollar company announced it would be closing several of its 50 D.C. stores earlier this year, citing slowing sales in a company memo, reported WTOP. By mid-February, Starbucks stores on 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, 21st and P Street NW, 9th and G Street NW closed and a fourth on 2300 Wisconsin Ave is expected to close by the end of the month.

The chain typically closes 50 stores per year, but announced last June it would be shutting down 150 this time.

CEO Kevin Johnson cited expenses from the incident at a Philadelphia store last year when two African American men were arrested while waiting for a friend to show up at their Starbucks.

Former-chariman-turned-presidential-candidate Howard Schultz said the anti-bias training offered to store employees nationwide after the incident went viral cost Starbucks “tens of millions” of dollars.

H/t to Ben C. Photo 1 via Google Maps.

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Amazon Could Avoid Paying Any Business License Taxes in Arlington, Even Without Incentive Program

Arlington officials have pitched Amazon on a program to help the company slash its business license tax burden when it sets up shop in Pentagon City and Crystal City — but the county is also admitting that Amazon could avoid that particular tax altogether.

Should an incentive package designed to bring the tech giant’s new headquarters to Arlington win county approval this weekend, Amazon will still be subject to all manner of local levies. In particular, officials are counting on real estate tax revenues from the company to generate an extra $342 million for county coffers over the next 16 years.

But it’s an open question how much in business license taxes — a levy known as the “Business, Professional and Occupational License” tax or “BPOL” — Amazon will actually need to pay. It’s an issue that’s fueled outrage from local Amazon critics, who argue that the county shouldn’t be offering tax breaks to an extremely valuable company owned by the world’s richest man, which has already successfully avoided paying federal taxes for the last few years.

Documents show that county officials have already marketed Arlington’s “Technology Zone” program to the company, an incentive program that could help Amazon slash its BPOL burden by as much as 72 percent for the next 10 years. It’s unclear whether Amazon might qualify for the tax break, but county staff say it’s also a possibility that the BPOL tax might not apply to the company at all.

In a report prepared for the County Board ahead of this weekend’s vote, staff wrote that Amazon “may be classified as a type of company that is not subject to BPOL at all, such as a retailer or wholesaler.” State law does indeed allow for a variety of exemptions to the tax, with organizations from banks to newspapers eligible to avoid the BPOL levy.

Or perhaps Amazon could avoid the BPOL tax because it’s levied on each company’s “gross receipts.” Staff write that “as a corporate headquarters and global company, Amazon may not have gross receipts attributable to the Arlington location,” largely due to where the sales in question might originate.

Christina Winn, director of business investment for Arlington Economic Development, says the county will examine “the point of sale” in making that determination. If the sales happen somewhere other than Arlington, the BPOL tax may not apply to Amazon.

“Taxes are very complicated, especially with these large companies where all their consultants are based in other places,” Winn said. “They’re based here, but they may be on site in some other state.”

Victor Hoskins, the head of Arlington Economic Development, previously told the Washington Post that other companies with large corporate headquarters in the county (like Nestle and Lidl) have avoided the tax for just that sort of reason. He said it “just hasn’t been the case for large global companies” that they’ve been subject to the BPOL rate.

Staff stressed in the report that they haven’t included any BPOL revenues in their projections of the company’s fiscal impact on Arlington, given the uncertainty over Amazon’s eligibility for the tax. Instead, the county has based its revenue assumptions on real and personal property taxes, hotel stay and meals taxes and sales taxes — Arlington is also counting on BPOL taxes from the company’s landlord in Crystal City, developer JBG Smith.

“Because it’s such a big company with many different lines of business, and they don’t know what businesses are coming into the Arlington facility, we just assumed zero for gross receipts,” Winn said. “We just felt like that was the most conservative and responsible way to model this project.”

Amazon will need to sort out these tax questions with county staff, likely involving the commissioner of revenue’s office.

If the company does qualify for the BPOL tax after all, it could still apply for the “Technology Zone” incentive, though that only applies for 10 years, and would slash (but not eliminate) Amazon’s BPOL tax payments.

If the county judges that the business units located at Amazon’s Arlington headquarters have “a primary function in the creation, design and/or research and development of technology hardware or software,” the company would qualify for the tax break. The program has gone relatively unused since it was last updated in 2014 — for full disclosure, ARLnow’s parent company applied for the tax break in 2015, but was rejected, despite approximately 20 percent of the company’s budget being devoted to web design, development and hosting.

“That incentive zone is there for any business, and Amazon can take advantage of it, if they want to,” County Board Vice Chair Libby Garvey said during an interview on WAMU 88.5’s Kojo Nnamdi Show Friday. “So, we’re really treating Amazon — as hard as it is to believe — basically, like any other business. So, we’re not telling them that every other business can make use of this tech zone incentive that we have and you can’t.”

The Board is set to vote on the incentive package at its meeting Saturday (March 16), including the heart of the proposed offer to Amazon: an estimated $23 million over the next 15 years, drawn from a projected increase in hotel tax revenues driven by the company’s arrival.

However, the county has recently conceded that number could go higher (or lower) depending on what sort of impact local hotels actually see in the coming years. Amazon will only be permitted to use that cash on building and furnishing its new headquarters.

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Crystal City Civic Association Urges Swift Approval of Amazon Incentive Deal

Some of Amazon’s future neighbors in Crystal City now say that they’re eager to see the County Board approve an incentive package to bring the company to Arlington.

The Crystal City Civic Association penned a letter of support Monday (March 4) for the company’s arrival in the neighborhood, encouraging the Board to give the green light to a plan to hand over $23 million in grant money to the tech giant over the next 15 years. The Board is set to consider the deal, publicly revealed for the first time this week, later this month.

Civic Association President Carol Fuller wrote that the citizens group still has “some concerns, obviously ‐‐ e.g., housing costs, traffic, schools.” But she says its members “look to the county to prepare adequately,” and trust that the neighborhood can handle the arrival of Amazon and its promised 25,000 workers.

“As the civic association to be most affected initially, we welcome the planned gradual arrival of Amazon to Crystal City,” Fuller wrote to the Board. “The $23 million in incentives from the county makes sense — they are paid only if/when Amazon creates the jobs it promised. Moreover, we expect the Amazon arrival to help increase hotel and restaurant business in Crystal City, which will increase county tax income and help pay for those incentives.”

In all, the county expects Amazon to generate $342 million in tax revenue over the 16 years the tech giant plans to spend setting up shop in the county — and that’s without the hefty tax break the company could soon earn from the county.

Fuller also cited the transportation improvements bound for the neighborhood as a major factor in her group’s support for the project, including the planned second entrance for the neighborhood’s Metro station and a pedestrian bridge connecting Crystal City to National Airport.

Some county officials and activists critical of the project have urged Amazon to better engage with its soon-to-be neighbors, and Fuller said the company has so far done a good job on that front. She pointed out that Holly Sullivan, the company’s worldwide economic development head who has begun appearing at some Arlington gatherings, stopped by the civic association’s Feb. 23 meeting and has been invited to return.

“We look to Amazon to fulfill its promise to be a ‘good neighbor,'” Fuller said. “We want them, both as a corporation and as individual residents, to be active participants in our community.”

Fuller’s support for the project echoes the broad sentiment of most county, and state, residents, who have said that they support the company’s arrival in both Crystal City and Pentagon City. The Arlington Chamber of Commerce, Crystal City Business Improvement District and the Crystal City Citizen Review Council have all issued recent statements similarly urging the Board to approve its incentive package for Amazon.

But some residents and activists remain fiercely opposed to the company, fearing its potential impacts on everything from housing prices to the region’s transportation networks.

The Board is currently planning a vote on the matter on March 16. In the likely event the incentives are approved, Amazon expects to begin submitting plans for new office buildings shortly afterward.

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Women’s Fashion Store Windsor Coming to Pentagon City Mall

A new women’s fashion boutique is on the way for the Pentagon City mall.

Signs posted in a space on the third level of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City advertise that Windsor will soon open in the mall. The shop will be located next to a Lids location and the Life in D.C. store.

Windsor is set to open by April 1, according to the mall’s website.

The store is “a family-owned business dedicated to fostering a shopping environment that celebrates a woman’s unique personality,” the site says. It offers dresses, tops and bottoms, jackets, accessories and more.

This will be Windsor’s first location in Arlington, but third in the Northern Virginia area. It also operates stores at the Tysons Corner Center mall and the Fair Oaks mall.

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Amazon Could Take Advantage of a Tech Incentive Program to Generate Hefty Tax Savings

(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Once Amazon starts to move into Arlington, the company could take advantage of a little-used county incentive program for tech firms to substantially slash its local tax burden.

Documents released in late January show that Arlington officials explicitly pitched the tech giant on the prospect of scoring major tax savings through the county’s “Technology Zone” program, back when they were still wooing Amazon last year. Created in 2001 and last updated in 2014, the program was designed to provide incentives for high-tech businesses to move to Arlington by offering significantly reduced rates for the county’s “Business, Professional and Occupational License” tax in certain neighborhoods.

Amazon wouldn’t be eligible to apply for the tax break until it actually sets up shop at its planned destinations in Crystal City and Pentagon City. One of the county’s “Technology Zones” runs along the “Jefferson Davis Corridor,” including the neighborhoods near Route 1 that the tech firm hopes to someday call home.

Once it arrives, however, the company could use the program to shrink its BPOL rate by as much as 72 percent for the next decade.

The potential tax break was not described in the memorandum of understanding laying out the county’s promised incentives to the company signed by both parties on Nov. 9, 2018, nor was it mentioned in any subsequent announcement of Arlington’s plans for Amazon.

Yet the county did advertise the program in documents dated Oct. 11, 2018, recently posted on the county’s website, outlining Arlington’s pitch to Amazon.

“Based on the jobs Amazon creates, if the company is eligible for tech zone benefits, it would apply each year for that BPOL credit,” said Cara O’Donnell, a spokeswoman for Arlington Economic Development, which helped broker the Amazon deal. “It’s a standard part of our proposals to technology-related companies and each one is handled individually.”

Critics of the deal see this potential tax saving as part of a pattern for Amazon, however.

Amazon is already set to receive $750 million in state incentives designed to defray its state tax burden, and Arlington officials have insisted that the company’s massive expansion plans could have a transformative impact on the county’s flagging tax revenues. Yet this BPOL tax break could result in Arlington losing out on a hefty chunk of cash from Amazon — the county collected $65.6 million in BPOL revenue in the last fiscal year, its third largest source of tax dollars behind the real estate and personal property levies.

“Their track record is clear — they try to do everything they can not to pay taxes,” said Danny Cendejas, an organizer with the “For Us, Not Amazon” coalition opposing the company’s Arlington plans. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they were looking for every possible loophole.”

The company has drawn criticism before for successfully avoiding paying any federal taxes for the last two years, largely by leveraging a mix of tax breaks and credits.

But O’Donnell stressed that county officials “have not factored BPOL into any of our revenue projections” associated with the company’s arrival. The county has long expected to see about $342 million in tax revenues from Amazon as it develops the new headquarters over the next 16 years.

O’Donnell added that the company would have to apply for the program like any other business.

Without the “Technology Zone” tax break, Amazon would also be responsible for paying $0.36 for every $100 of its gross receipts as part of the BPOL tax. Should it earn eligibility for that program, the company could see the rate cut in half if it can prove it employs up to 499 people in “business units with a primary function in the creation, design and/or research and development of technology hardware or software,” according to county documents.

If Amazon can show it employs up to 999 people for those purposes, it could pay a rate of $0.14 per $100 of receipts. If the company exceeds 1,000 employees, it would pay $0.10 for every $100.

The company hasn’t settled on the exact mix of job functions for the 25,000 to 38,000 employees who could someday call the Arlington headquarters home — Holly Sullivan, the company’s worldwide head of economic development, said at an event in Arlington last week that she anticipates a “50-50” split between tech workers and other staff on the campus, making it a pretty safe bet that Amazon could meet the program’s standards.

The potential size of the company’s tax savings also remains a bit murky. County documents estimated that the “Technology Zone” savings “are equivalent to approximately $2 to $3 per square foot in building occupancy costs annually.”

Kasia Tarczynska, a research analyst with Good Jobs First, an advocacy group studying the Amazon deal, says that the savings are difficult to estimate, but she suspects it would work out to “a lot of money because of the size of the project.”

And Tarczynska adds that this is the first she’s heard of Amazon being eligible for the tax break. The head of Good Jobs First, vocal Amazon critic Greg LeRoy, agreed with her assessment.

Many of Amazon’s local opponents were similarly surprised to hear the news that the company could reap the tax savings, particularly given the frequent assurances from county leaders that Amazon would help relieve the recent strain on Arlington’s finances.

“In all of the numerous meetings I’ve been to with the [County Board], they have never once mentioned the tech zone incentive,” said Roshan Abraham, an anti-Amazon organizer with Our Revolution Arlington.

Tarczynska says that such a tax break “is a common subsidy in the region” — neighboring Fairfax County has a similar program — yet Arlington has regularly seen anemic participation in the program.

When ARLnow last investigated the program in 2015, just eight businesses were currently taking advantage of it. These days, O’Donnell says the county has recorded approximately 70 businesses participating in the program since it began.

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Invicta Set to Open New Watch Store in Pentagon City Mall

(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) Invicta will soon start selling its high-end watches — well, high end to a working journalist anyway — at the Pentagon City mall.

Signs posted at a space in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City indicate that the timepiece retailer will open on the mall’s second level soon. The new shop will be in between the Pandora Jewelry location and the Papyrus stationary store.

The mall’s website says that Invicta is currently set to open by May 1.

The shop will be the chain’s second in Northern Virginia, with another location at the Tysons Corner Center mall.

Invicta offers a variety of different of watch styles for men and women, with prices ranging from around a hundred dollars to well over a thousand. That, of course, is lower end than the nearby Tourneau watch store, which carries watches worth tens of thousands of dollars and was once robbed of more than a half-million dollars worth of merchandise.

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County Unveils Amazon Incentive Deal, Sketching Out How Company Can Earn $23 Million in Grants

Arlington officials have, at last, unveiled a detailed version of the county’s proposed incentive package designed to bring Amazon to the county.

A draft copy of the county’s “Economic Development Incentive Grant Agreement” posted online for the first time today (Tuesday) sketches out the exact amount of office space Amazon will need to occupy in Arlington in order to win $23 million in incentive cash over the next 15 years.

The agreement also reveals additional details about how the county plans to work with the company to add infrastructure improvements in the Crystal City and Pentagon City neighborhoods, which Amazon hopes to soon call home, and lays out the procedure for either side canceling the incentive arrangement.

County staff are unveiling the incentives agreement 11 days before the County Board is set to vote on the deal, the last hurdle for the company to clear before it can start to officially set up shop in Arlington. Gov. Ralph Northam signed off on $750 million in state incentives for the company last month, amid persistent complaints from critics on both sides of the political aisle that government officials shouldn’t dole out grants to a company run by the world’s richest man — proponents of the deal argue that the incentives are well worth it, given Amazon’s potential to send hundreds of millions to county coffers in tax revenues.

Notably, Amazon has agreed to only use the incentive money to build its new Arlington facilities, including any expenses associated with “construction,” and “furniture, fixtures and equipment.”

Under the terms of the proposed deal, Amazon will need to lease 60,000 square feet of space in the county by June 30, 2020 to start qualifying for the cash. Arlington plans to draw the money from an expected increase in revenue from a tax on hotel stays, with Amazon’s arrival projected to juice hotel tax revenues in the area.

That office space occupancy target jumps to more than 567,000 square feet by 2021, and regularly creeps upward from there. By 2026, when the company expects to have new buildings built near Metropolitan Park in Pentagon City, Amazon will need to occupy about 1.8 million square feet of space. By 2028, when its new buildings at the former “PenPlace” site are set to be ready, it will need to hit a 2.69 million-square-foot target.

The timeline included in the incentive agreement tops out with a 6 million-square-foot target in 2035. The company has said it intends to build and lease a minimum of 4 million square feet in the county, and could reach 8 million square feet by the time it reaches its peak of roughly 38,000 employees stationed at the new headquarters.

The proposed deal stipulates that Amazon will earn 15 percent of any increase in hotel tax revenues generated over the next 15 years or so, as long as it meets all those occupancy goals. If it can meet anywhere between 50 percent and 90 percent of those office space goals, the company is eligible to get some portion of the incentive cash; if it falls below 50 percent, it could lose out on all of the grant money.

The draft agreement also provides more details on how the county plans to spend cash collected through a special tax levy on Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard properties. The County Board created the “Tax Increment Financing Area” to finance infrastructure improvements across those neighborhoods, and county officials expect to devote a quarter of all the tax money collected through that levy on projects “in and around the Amazon Arlington facility.”

State officials have already agreed to millions in spending on transportation projects designed to make the Crystal City and Pentagon City areas more desirable to Amazon, like a second entrance for the Crystal City Metro station and the realignment of Route 1. But the county is also committing to its own spending through this program, on projects specifically identified as desirable by Amazon.

The agreement states that county staff members from a variety of departments will meet annually starting in October 2022 to provide “a forum for Amazon to offer insights on the company’s transportation, open space and other public infrastructure needs and for the county to discuss development within and around the Amazon Arlington facility and to provide information on county infrastructure projects, priorities and processes.”

Amazon executive Holly Sullivan revealed last week that the company was planning such regular meetings with the county, dubbing such a group a “steering committee.”

The company will also “periodically engage with the County Board and county manager to advise on Arlington’s economic development strategies, such as highlighting important industry trends and/or business development opportunities, (e.g. target companies or projects) that Amazon may wish to pursue,” according to the agreement.

Much like the hotel tax revenue, Amazon will be responsible for hitting office space goals to guarantee the county’s spending on infrastructure projects. Should it miss those targets, it can still earn proportional amounts of local improvements.

The proposed deal requires Amazon to regularly release tax data to the county, but Arlington will be barred from releasing that information publicly, except as part of “composite” statistics. Arlington will be able to release other information that company submits to county officials in response to Freedom of Information Act requests — however, the company will receive a two-day heads up about any information before its released “to allow Amazon to take such steps as it deems appropriate.” The company extracted a similar concession from state officials, and such a procedure is not unusual for major employers in states across the country.

If either side wants to walk away from this deal, as Amazon just did in New York City, the agreement can only be terminated with 30 days notice, and the cancellation process has to start before the end of each given fiscal year.

Arlington has yet to release additional details beyond the draft agreement, such as a staff report offering a recommendation on the proposal, but plans to do so as March 16 approaches.

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UPDATED: Haagen-Dazs in Pentagon City Mall Shuts Down for Renovations, Set to Re-Open Soon

(Updated at 4 p.m.) The Haagen-Dazs ice cream shop in the Pentagon City mall has shut down for renovations.

All evidence of the small store on the first floor of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is now gone, but an employee says they’re hoping to reopen by the end of the week.

The shop is located near the mall’s Sunglass Hut and the new dumpling eatery Yong Kang Street.

An ARLnow reader first reported that the store was closed last Wednesday (Feb. 27). An employee subsequently told ARLnow that the store “is being updated to the newest Haagen-Dazs finishes,” including “counters, wall tile, floor tile and equipment.”

Anyone hoping to get their ice cream fix from Haagen-Dazs  in the meantime will now have to venture to the store at the Pentagon, or to one of the company’s two D.C. locations — or to a local grocery store.

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County Board Sets Plans for Bevy of Amazon-Focused Community Meetings Ahead of Vote This Month

Arlington leaders will soon convene more than a dozen town halls to discuss Amazon’s plans for the county in the run-up to a planned vote on the matter later this month.

County Board members plan to spend the next few weeks holding meetings with a variety of civic associations and advocacy groups to discuss the tech giant’s arrival in Crystal City and Pentagon City, and have now released a schedule of the impending gatherings.

Up to two Board members will attend each one, planning them as open forums for community members to discuss all the implications of Amazon’s new headquarters for county residents.

The Board had originally expected to vote on an incentive package designed to lure the company to Arlington in February, but delayed those plans slightly to allow for more time for community engagement. Since the company announced its expansion plans for the county, concerns have bubbled up over the company’s potential impact on everything from housing affordability to traffic congestion.

New Board member Matt de Ferranti was especially insistent on pushing for the extra time, inviting civic groups of all stripes to request meetings with the Board.

The sessions will not, however, include representatives from Amazon itself. County officials and activists critical of the company have been insistent on seeing some engagement from Amazon executives with the broader community — for its part, the company argues that it’s conversations with local business leaders have adequately helped set the stage for its arrival in the county.

The Board already held some meetings last month, holding gatherings with 10 civic associations and the environmental group EcoAction Arlington. Board members now plan to meet with the following:

  • League of Women Voters: Saturday (March 2)
  • Etz Hayim: Sunday (March 3)
  • Civic Federation: March 5
  • Donaldson Run Civic Association: March 6
  • Freedom Is Not Free: March 7
  • Barcroft School & Civic League: March 7
  • Lyon Village Civic Association: March 11
  • Shirlington Civic Association: March 11
  • Columbia Heights Civic Association: March 11
  • Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights Civic Association: March 12
  • Waycroft Woodlawn Civic Association: March 12
  • Leeway Overlee Civic Association: March 13
  • Aurora Highlands Civic Association: March 13
  • Columbia Forest Civic Association: March 13
  • Arlington Mill Civic Association: March 13
  • Northern Virginia Conservation Trust: March 21
  • Arlington Ridge Civic Association: March 21

Anyone interested in attending can check with each group individually for exact times and locations as they’re finalized.

The Board currently plans to vote on the incentive package at its March 16 meeting. Arlington is proposing to send $23 million in grant money to the company over the next 15 years, with the cash drawn from a projected increase in hotel tax revenues driven by Amazon’s arrival.

The Board’s decision is the final domino that has yet to fall in finalizing the company’s plans for the area. Gov. Ralph Northam and state lawmakers have already approved up to $750 million in tax rebates for the company.

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Amazon ‘Felt Welcome’ in Arlington Before Moving In, But Still Plans More Extensive Outreach

When Amazon first started seriously considering Arlington for a new headquarters, the company went so far as to send employees out to local coffee shops and bars to gauge how people around here felt about the tech giant moving in.

The company’s head of worldwide economic development, Holly Sullivan, says Amazon employees were regularly surveying Crystal City locals about the prospect of becoming the neighborhood’s newest, and largest, occupant. And by the time the tech firm was ready to select Arlington for the project, she had full confidence that Amazon would be greeted with open arms.

“We have a lot of that local knowledge now,” Sullivan assured a crowd of hundreds of business executives and government officials at Bisnow’s HQ2-Apalooza event today (Thursday) in Potomac Yard. “Even before we announced our Arlington plans we felt welcome here.”

That sort of confidence in the community’s response was critical to Sullivan and the rest of the company’s executives — after all, when Amazon officials feared that New York City leaders were insufficiently welcoming for the other half of the company’s headquarters, Jeff Bezos’ firm simply pulled the plug.

“We think we could’ve gotten New York done, but at a certain point you have to ask, at what cost?” Sullivan said. “We want to locate in a community that also supports us.”

The company certainly received a warm welcome at Thursday’s event. Billed as a chance for business leaders to learn “how you can benefit” from Amazon’s arrival in Arlington, the high-priced gathering of executives offered a largely rosy picture of how the company might change the D.C. region.

Of course, not everyone around the county is quite so eager to see Amazon move in, and some of the company’s critics made their presence felt at the otherwise chummy event. A handful of protesters with the “For Us, Not Amazon” coalition temporarily disrupted the proceedings, holding signs and chanting “Pay to play is not okay, we want a public hearing today.”

Sullivan joked that she was glad the event “welcomed some of our friends that like to follow me around the country,” but the demonstration was organized by local activists, who have grown frustrated with Amazon’s approach to engaging with the community.

This is now Sullivan’s second appearance in as many weeks at a ticketed event for local business leaders, and some critics (and even county officials) would rather see the company engage directly with the communities that might be most affected by Amazon’s impact on the region’s housing market.

Sullivan argues, however, that the company has indeed already done some of that outreach work and is committed to doing more. For starters, she says the company plans to create a “steering committee,” pulling together Amazon executives, local government officials and education leaders to discuss the future of the new headquarters and its impact on the region.

Considering that the company has yet to outline any plans for aiding affordable housing efforts in the area, or even what its exact plans for construction in Arlington might look like — the company is still waiting on the County Board to approve an incentive package for the the new headquarters to formalize many of its plans — advocates in the region are enthusiastic to hear that the company is ready to come to the table with local leaders.

“Amazon has an opportunity to create a model of a tech community that is inclusive, that’s different than what we’ve seen in Silicon Valley and Seattle,” said Nina Janopaul, the CEO of the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.

For officials who have long struggled with working across jurisdictional lines, that sort of collaboration could also be quite meaningful, said Stephen Fuller, one of the region’s preeminent economic forecasters.

He argued during the event that Amazon’s promised 25,000 jobs may not put a strain on the region’s housing all on their own, but that the tens of thousands of additional jobs that flood into the area to support Amazon may well challenge the area.

For instance, Fuller’s researchers project that new companies moving into the region to support Amazon could induce demand for as much as 41 million square feet of new office space in the area — for context, Amazon plans to build anywhere from 4 million to 8 million on its own.

“The growth is really coming and we need to take a moment to think about this beyond Amazon,” Fuller said.

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Here’s Where You Can Pick Up Girl Scout Cookies Around Arlington

If you’ve got a hankering for samoas, thin mints and tagalongs these days, you’re in luck — it’s officially Girl Scout cookie season around Arlington.

Local troops have begun setting up booths around the county, with proceeds of the annual sale set to benefit the local Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital and fund a variety of trips and programs for kids around Arlington.

Booths are generally set up at Metro stations, grocery stores and other popular spots in the county.

Here’s a look at some of the main spots to get your cookie fix over the next few weeks:

  • Ace Hardware (2001 Clarendon Blvd): Saturday (March 2): 12-4 p.m. Sunday (March 3): 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Ballston Metro station (901 N. Stuart Street): Weekdays, 3:30-7 p.m., weekends 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street): Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays, 12:45-5 p.m.
  • Central Place Plaza Rosslyn (1800 N. Lynn Street): Thursdays and Fridays: 4-7:30 p.m.
  • Crystal City Metro station (1750 S. Clark Street): Weekdays, 3-7 p.m., weekends 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Courthouse Metro station (2100 Wilson Blvd): Weekdays, 3:30-7 p.m., weekends 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Deloitte Rosslyn (1919 North Lynn Street): Thursday (Feb. 28): 11:30-1 p.m.
  • East Falls Church Metro station (2000 Sycamore Street): Weekdays, 3:30-7 p.m.
  • Giant Food (2501 9th Road S.): Fridays: 4-8 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Giant Food (2901 S. Glebe Road): Fridays: 4-8 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Giant Food (3115 Lee Highway): Fridays: 4-8 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Giant Food (3450 Washington Blvd): Fridays: 4-8 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Market Common Clarendon (2800 Clarendon Blvd): Saturday (March 2): 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday (March 3): 1-5 p.m. March 9: 12-3 p.m.
  • Marymount University (2816 N. Dinwiddie Street): Wednesday (Feb. 27), 4:30-7:30 p.m.
  • MedStar Capitals Iceplex (627 N. Glebe Road): Saturday (March 2): 9:30-2 p.m. Sunday (March 3): 1-6 p.m.
  • Mt. Olive Baptist Church (1601 13th Road S.): Sundays: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Pentagon City Metro station (1200 S. Hayes Street): Weekdays, 3:30-7 p.m., weekends 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Safeway (2500 Harrison Street): Fridays: 4-8 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Safeway (3717 Lee Highway): Fridays: 4-8 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Safeway (1525 Wilson Boulevard): Sundays: 1-6 p.m.
  • Safeway (5101 Wilson Boulevard): Fridays: 4-8 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Westover Market (5863 Washington Blvd.): Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Photo via Girl Scouts of the United States of America

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Letter to the Editor: Amazon is a Perfect Fit for Crystal City

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by Gary Shapiro, the president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), who writes in support of Amazon’s plans to open up a new headquarters in Crystal City and Pentagon City.

The Crystal City-based group lobbies on behalf of more than 2,200 consumer technology companies, Amazon included, and it has recently come out in strong support of the company’s vision for Arlington. Shapiro appeared at a recent forum of Amazon executives and regional leaders, and the CTA even organized a pro-Amazon demonstration at the event.

The County Board is set to consider an incentive package to formalize the company’s plans to move into Arlington next month.

When I first heard Amazon was considering coming to Arlington, I was thrilled – but not surprised. As head of the Arlington-based Consumer Technology Association (CTA), I can say with confidence there’s no better place for a major tech innovator such as Amazon than northern Virginia – and, for northern Virginians, there’s no better addition to the neighborhood than Amazon.

Working just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. positions us to share our insights and input with federal leaders and other key influencers. Reagan National Airport is just minutes down the road, making travel a breeze. And top talent flows in and out of the region’s high-caliber universities, so we’re able to hire from the best of the best.

And those whom we do hire enjoy the benefits of living in this vibrant, connected area. Many commute via public transit, bicycle or even on foot. Arlington offers young employees exciting nightlife and cultural experiences, with some of the world’s top museums nearby. And parents can come to work with a free mind, confident their children are learning and growing in some of the nation’s premier public schools.

The choice was an obvious one for our company, and I’m glad it made sense to Amazon, too. But while I’m excited for Amazon, I’m keen to see the benefits the company’s arrival will bring to the area at large.

Amazon plans to invest $2.5 billion in Arlington for the new headquarters and create 25,000 jobs over the next 11 years. This will not only push the region to new heights of economic prosperity, but counterbalance the impact that 24,000 eliminated federal jobs has had on nearby Crystal City, Potomac Yard and Pentagon City since the early 2000s. And Amazon’s planned investment in the area spurred Virginia Tech’s announcement of an Innovation Campus in Potomac Yard, which will guarantee a top talent pipeline of STEM graduates for employers for years to come.

And Arlington County is proactively taking steps to minimize disruption to our streets, buses and Metro system. The county and the commonwealth have plans in place to expand transportation capabilities in the Arlington area. Five critical initiatives – updates to Route 1 in Crystal City, new entrances at the Crystal City and Alexandria Potomac Yard metros, additions to the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway and a new multimodal transportation system to National Airport – will be funded by the commonwealth.

Additionally, Arlington County has teamed up with Alexandria to propose $570 million in funding to make walking, biking, driving and traveling via public transit far smoother. Because of all the advance work to streamline traffic into Crystal City, locals should experience minimal disruption in their daily commutes.

This area is one of the most innovative and dynamic in the country. CTA’s Innovation Scorecard ranks states on the strength of their innovation economies, and Virginia has been named an “Innovation Champion” – the highest possible ranking – four consecutive times.

Virginia’s success stems from its embrace of new technologies and services, an emphasis on education, and high levels of entrepreneurial activity and tech jobs. The strengths that make Virginia great are the same strengths that make a game-changing global tech company like Amazon great.

And if those strengths are true of Virginia as a whole, they’re particularly true of northern Virginia. Each year at CES® – the world’s largest and most influential technology event –  northern Virginia tech companies make their mark, sharing their exciting new ideas on an international stage. The people who live here are forward-thinking, bold and creative – the kind of people who want to change the way the world thinks, works and lives, just as Amazon does.

Normally, the tech industry is an advocate for disruption. But when it comes to HQ2 and the innovation-rich neighborhood, I’m confident Amazon will fit right in.

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity. 

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