Arlington, VA

Arlington is considering removing a planned section of road in the Metropolitan Park site in Pentagon City, the future home of Amazon’s permanent HQ2.

The Arlington County Board will vote during its meeting this Saturday, November 16 on the first step to nixing a stretch of 14th Road S. that was supposed to one day extend eastward on the lot that now slated for the first phase of Amazon’s headquarters plan.

Officials say the road no longer necessary now that Amazon is moving in.

The 14th Street segment was originally planned to “connect South Elm Street to a private court at the rear of two planned residential buildings” once envisioned on the site almost two decades ago, per a staff report to the Board.

Now that Amazon is finalizing designs for two sky-high office towers on the lot, “there will no longer be the need for the planned 14th Road segment,” the staff report noted. “The proposed new buildings have been designed to utilize S. Elm Street and 14th Street S. for their vehicular access.”

If members vote to advance the removal, the county will hold a public hearing on Monday, December 2 during the county’s Planning Commission meeting at 7 p.m. in the Bozman Government Center (2100 Clarendon Blvd.) The discussion would then return to the County Board for a final vote on December 14.

Approving a public hearing is currently listed on the Board’s consent agenda for tomorrow’s meeting — a position usually reserved for items staff expect members to pass without debate.

The Transportation Commission unanimously approved removing the road in a vote last month, per a letter of support sent to the Board.

Nearby, the Board also recently considered doing away with a pedestrian path in the way of the Verizon site project on 1400 11th Street S.

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Morning Notes

Residents Want Second Pentagon City Metro Entrance — “Some longtime residents have spent years agitating for just such a study of their roads and public transit options, seeing a need long before HQ2 was a twinkle in Jeff Bezos’ eye. They’re eager to see an evaluation of how much new density the area can bear, and what solutions could make it easier for Pentagon City residents to get around — perhaps most notably, they’re pressing to see a second entrance for the neighborhood’s Metro station.” [Washington Business Journal]

Pentagon City Mall Seeking Sidewalk Cafe Upgrades — Simon, owner of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall, is seeking to make some additions to the sidewalk cafes in front of the mall on S. Hayes Street. Proposed upgrades, to be considered by the Arlington County Board this weekend, include: “light poles, light strings and fencing with tray tops.” [Arlington County]

No, Crystal City Is Not Named for a Chandelier — “According to Robert P. Kogod, the former co-CEO of the Charles E. Smith Companies — which developed Crystal City — the name for the neighborhood’s first building, Crystal House, came first, and the chandelier came afterward.” [Washingtonian]

County Board to Consider Incentives to Keep PBS HQ — “Arlington County Board is considering offering up to $500,000 to retain the Public Broadcasting Service, nearly a year after PBS already committed to doing just that. The Arlington County Board is expected to consider the Economic Development Incentive grant at its meeting Saturday, along with a $450,000 grant to the Incentive Technology Group, which is also staying in Crystal City under a new lease.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Pike Affordable Housing Building Opens — “A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the opening of Gilliam Place, a former church, and its 173 affordable housing units in Arlington Thursday morning. The complex is aimed at helping lower income and special needs families, and… it’s already home for a nonverbal woman living with autism.” [NBC 4, WJLA]

New Scooter Corral in Rosslyn — “Yee-haw!! New ‘Shared Mobility Device’ corral for Rosslyn’s North Moore Street.” [Twitter/@ArlingtonDES]

Live Action ‘Clue’ Planned in Arlington — “Time to solve a murder mystery while taking part in an incredible game and Scavenger Hunt as we bring the game of CLUE® – without a board – to our own backyard!” [Facebook]

Reminder: I-395 HOV Becoming Express Lanes — “The time has come for big change for local commuters: after two years of work, the I-395 HOV lanes inside the Beltway are becoming express toll lanes… The switch over is slated to take place on Sunday, Nov. 17.” [ARLnow]

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Arlington County Police are looking for a man who allegedly stole money from a tip jar and then bit a would-be Good Samaritan who tried to stop him.

The incident happened this past Thursday at Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters in Pentagon City, according to scanner traffic at the time.

“At approximately 1:47 p.m. on November 7, police were dispatched to the report of a fight,” an ACPD crime report says. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business in the 500 block of 12th Street S. and stole money from a tip jar before fleeing the scene on foot.”

The suspect was “tackled” by a bystander after running out of the business, according to police radio traffic, but after a brief struggle was able to get free and flee the scene.

More from the crime report: “Two employees of the business began following the suspect and called for help. Two bystanders caught up to the suspect and became engaged in a struggle with him. The suspect bit one of the bystanders, broke free and fled on foot prior to police arrival. The bystander sustained minor injuries.”

Because the bite reportedly drew blood, the suspect is now wanted on a charge of malicious wounding.

“The suspect is described as a black male, 25-29 years old, with facial hair and dreadlocks, wearing a gray sweatshirt with a black hood, gray sweatpants and red headphones,” the crime report said. “The investigation is ongoing.”

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A man suspected of tampering with and damaging eight cars was arrested Tuesday afternoon in Pentagon City.

Police were first called to a parking garage on the 600 block of 15th Street N., near the Costco, around 1:15 p.m. for a report of a series of vehicle break-ins. While investigating the break-ins, officers identified a suspect, who then allegedly tried to flee the scene.

“Following a foot pursuit, the suspect was taken into custody by responding officers,” said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “The suspect was transported to an area hospital for evaluation. The investigation is ongoing and charges are pending.”

The man was combative with arresting officers, according to scanner traffic and a tipster.

“It took at least 6 officers to subdue the man and strap him down to a gurney,” the tipster told ARLnow. “He yelling and fighting… Police did a great job and stayed very professional.”

More from an ACPD crime report:

GRAND LARCENY (Significant), 2019-10290147, 600 block of 15th Street S. At approximately 1:18 p.m. on October 29, police were dispatched to the report of a suspect tampering with vehicles. Upon arrival, it was determined that security guards contacted police after locating several vehicles with damaged windows inside a parking garage and observing the suspect flee the scene on foot. Responding officers located the suspect with assistance from the security guards and following a brief foot pursuit, the combative suspect was placed under arrest. A subsequent search of the area located eight vehicles with damaged windows and items of value stolen from two of the vehicles. Duane Woolfolk, 20, of Washington D.C. was arrested and charged with Grand Larceny, Petit Larceny, Possession of Burglarious Tools, Possession of a Schedule II Drug, Destruction of Property, Failure to ID and Obstruction of Justice. He was held without bond.

Map via Google Maps

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(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) A community group is pushing the county to develop a new dog park in Pentagon City.

Pentagon City Dogs recently submitted a proposal to Arlington County officials calling for a new, 25,000 square foot dog park within Virginia Highlands Park, an 18-acre collection of athletic fields, tennis courts, and some wooded areas at 1600 S. Hayes Street, across from the mall.

Currently, there are no established, public dog parks in the 22202 zip code and dogs are not permitted off-leash in Virginia Highlands Park. Supporters say a little-used portion of the park between a softball field and 15th Street S. could be an ideal location.

“The location provides easy access from high-rise and single family homes without any disruption of the quality of life of the neighbors,” the group wrote in their proposal. “In fact, the closest single-family homes are the equivalent to nearly two blocks at the end of the proposed dog park.”

The Instrata Pentagon City apartment building, however, is across the street from the proposed location.

The group also argues the location would be ideal for a dog park because of its established amenities including water, trash services, parking, and accessible entrances.

At least 20 volunteers from Pentagon City Dogs have signed up to maintain the space. The group has gathered over a hundred signatures from local residents in support, plus an endorsement from the Aurora Highlands Civic Association.

“The 22202 communities have been expressing a need for dog parks for decades, and the population of both residents and pets continues to increase,” the association wrote in its endorsement.

The proposal suggests that an initial version of the dog park could be established at minimal cost with heavy-duty temporary fencing.

“Arlington Parks & Recreation is aware of the interest to explore the opportunity for a temporary dog park in Virginia Highlands Park,” parks department spokeswoman Susan Kalish tells ARLnow. “Our recently adopted Public Spaces Master Plan includes new options for dog parks as we too see a growing interest in off-leash areas for our four-legged friends.”

Pentagon City Dogs says its members are willing to back up the park plan with money to help fund it. The group is in the early stages of fundraising efforts for the park, including seeking business donations, sponsors, and individual donors.

“While there is a possibility of County funding, we think our best chance of success will be if we can bring funding along with our proposal to the County,” said Lowell Nelson, spokesman for Pentagon City Dogs.

To accommodate the expected crowds, the group says it may be necessary to take away from of one of the current softball fields.

“There will be easily 50+ dogs (small & large) at peak times,” the proposal says. “The size would need to be at least 22,500 ft to avoid conflicts, which can be achieved by expanding into space currently occupied by one softball field. “

There are eight established county-run dog parks in Arlington, open from sunrise until half an hour after sunset.  The nearest to Virginia Highlands Park is Towers Park, nearly two miles away at 801 S. Scott Street.

A similar initiative has begun for Eads Park, which is a mile away and similarly endorsed by the Aurora Highland Civic Association. In addition, a community group has been pressuring the county to build a temporary, gated space for dogs in Rosslyn’s Gateway Park.

Nearby, Amazon has proposed 1.1 acres of open public space — for “a dog park, recreation areas, farmers markets, and more” — at its forthcoming headquarters in Pentagon City.

Photo via Google Maps 

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A group of large local employers and small local businesses has formed a new group intended “to support National Landing’s transformation.”

The Arlington Community Coalition says the arrival of Amazon’s HQ2 is a golden opportunity to bolster housing and transportation options in the National Landing area, which includes Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard. The group also wants to build a sense of community and support local businesses as the area grows.

“After seeing years of decline from BRAC, National Landing will significantly help small businesses attract a steady stream of new and regular customers,” said Freddie’s Beach Bar owner Freddie Lutz, one of the coalition’s members. “National Landing will become an economic engine driving new growth and opportunities for small business retail and restaurants.”

Members of coalition include the Consumer Technology Association — outspoken supporters of Amazon’s arrival — along with Amazon’s National Landing landlord, JBG Smith, and Virginia Tech, which is developing an Innovation Campus in Potomac Yard. Other members include Lyft, Freddie’s, Commonwealth Joe and Mothersauce Partners.

The group believes that Amazon-fueled growth will foster a “collaborative ecosystem for education, innovation, and entrepreneurship” that will help “further establish Northern Virginia as the next great technology hub.”

Countering the anti-Amazon sentiment that made headlines prior to Arlington’s approval of millions in local incentives for the retail and tech giant, the new coalition says the community will benefit from the area’s growth, and not just because of Amazon.

“From housing to transportation, education to entertainment, National Landing will be not only a global technology hub but a vibrant community for all of us who live, work, and visit here,” said Glenda MacMullin, Chief Operating Officer and CFO, Consumer Technology Association.

The full press release from the Arlington Community Coalition is below, after the jump.

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(Update at 12:20 p.m.) Dockless e-scooter company Spin is adding more designated parking spaces and discounts around Arlington.

The San Francisco-based company said it has nearly a dozen “Spin Hub” charging stands for parking — mostly around Crystal City and Pentago City, near Amazon’s new headquarters — and is now testing out financial incentives for users to stow scooters there.

Parking at one of the charging stations (or one of Arlington’s eight scooter parking corrals) will now net riders 50% off their next unlock fee, bring the fee from $1 down to 50 cents. It’s a move the company says will make charging and parking more efficient, and it comes as the county is about to review regulations for its scooter pilot program.

The company began installing the charging hubs in Arlington last month to address the safety and parking complaints long-levied at the county’s scooter program.

Spin’s D.C. area General Manager Josh Bear said in an email to ARLnow:

We realize that in order to be a good partner to cities, we need to play a role in helping them manage the consumer demand for sustainable transportation that we’ve unlocked. With the proper financial incentives and rider guidelines, we can potentially influence the behavior of people who use dockless electric vehicles and create more orderly scooter-share programs. We’re excited to test this parking incentivization pilot in Arlington County and Alexandria, with the goal of keeping the public ROW [Right of Way] clear and helping city governments better manage micromobility operators.

Spin issued a statement last week that the new docks and incentives could help curb the traffic some worry Amazon could bring to the region by enhancing the “transit connectivity between the three neighborhoods — Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard — that comprise National Landing.”

The Ford-owned company noted that it partnered on the project with the Crystal City Business Improvement District.

The new hubs are located at the following locations, among others:

  • 1102 S. Eads Street
  • 2611 Richmond Hwy
  • 251 18th Street S.
  • 220 20th Street S.
  • 520 12th Street S.
  • 1901 S. Bell Street
  • 2231 Crystal Drive
  • 2600 Crystal Drive
  • 2711 Richmond highway

A Spin spokeswoman told ARLnow that the parking incentives will also apply to the 13 scooter parking corrals in Alexandria — another jurisdiction weighing updates to its scooter regulations while also grappling with parking complaints.

Spin currently has 200 scooters deployed in Arlington after first rolling out the orange-banded devices back in February.

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The Arlington County Board is set to consider a developer request to get rid of a little pathway in Crystal City to make room for a new construction site.

Developer LCOR Inc. is offering the county $125,436 to nix a small pedestrian pathway near S. Eads Street near the Crystal City-Pentagon City border. The county’s vacation of the pathway will allow LCOR’s Verizon site project on 1400 11th Street S. to move forward.

County Board members are scheduled to vote on the request during their meeting this Saturday, October 19.

The land itself is a 469 square-foot, skinny strip next to S. Eads Street on the north side of the property, where LCOR is planning to build the service and loading entrances to the apartment building, per a site map the developer shared earlier this year.

Google Maps images from 2018 show pedestrians walking the paved strip, which bisects a grassy curb between S. Eads Street and the parking lot by a Verizon telecommunications facility.

“As of the date of this Board Report, staff has not received any negative feedback related to the Street Vacation from the surrounding property owners,” a county staff report to the Board notes.

Verizon is slated to keep its facility onsite as LCOR constructs a 19-story, 306-unit apartment building with 10,908 square feet of ground floor retail on the property.

The developer increased the number of planned apartments this spring from 280 to 306 after Amazon announced that its second headquarters will be built nearby.

If the county agrees to sell the strip of land to LCOR, the developer would need to develop a plan for any utilities that cross the parcel. The firm bought the land from Verizon for $9.5 million last summer, and said it hoped to begin construction by 2020.

Images via Arlington County and Google Maps

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Arlington officials are asking Amazon to go back to the drawing board for its proposed headquarters in Pentagon City to put a greater emphasis on sustainability.

The 2.1 million-square-foot proposed office complex at the corner of 15th Street S. and S. Eads Street, is currently pending review by Arlington’s Planning Commission and County Board. If plans are finalized on schedule by the end of 2019, demolition is due to start early next year, according to JBG Smith’s Vice President of Development Matt Ginivan, with excavation then lasting through the end of the year.

In early 2021, the developer expects to start constructing the 22-story-tall building, with the goal of being ready to house Amazon’s growing workforce by early 2023.

It’s not easy being green 

As part of the construction, Amazon Vice President of Global Real Estate John Schoettler announced during a Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) meeting last night (Monday) that HQ2 would seek a LEED Platinum energy certification instead of its lower, original Gold goal.

“We are working to secure renewable energy for the campus which means our Arlington buildings will operate on 100% renewable energy by 2030,” said Schoettler.

SPRC members commended Amazon for the new goal but pressed the company for more details on how it would meet the carbon emissions reduction targets. Previously, the company’s designs were scored on the lower end of LEED’s Gold efficiency ranking.

SPRC members also asked how Amazon would avoid use of fossil fuels, particularly in its restaurant spaces.

Brian Earle, a principal at ZGF Architects, said Amazon was committed to forgoing natural gas in its kitchens and cafeterias, but admitted they didn’t “see a path towards having a life safety [electric] generator that meets the county’s requirements that does not use fossil fuels.”

Schoettler added that Amazon was planning to build off-site renewable energy facilities like solar or wind farms elsewhere in Virginia to power the buildings with renewable energy and off-set the impact of fossil fuels.

One SPRC member, however, cited the case of how Georgetown University’s off-site solar energy production plan was blocked after concerns that it required clear-cutting 240 acres of trees in Maryland.

“That might make us feel very virtuous, but we have to be very cautious about how we produce that off-site energy,” she said of off-site renewables.

Another part of the HQ2 plan involves the landscaping of the site itself, which is slated to include gardens, a dog park, and terraces on the multi-step grooves.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently pledged his company would achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and that Amazon was “going to work very hard with the community [in Arlington] to make sure our presence there ends up being a net positive, rather than a net negative.”

Arlington officials also recently passed a new energy policy committing the county to carbon neutrality by 2050.

Another protected bike lane, what about electric vehicle parking?

SPRC member and Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt urged Amazon to nix some of its parking spaces, saying: “I think your parking is a far greater blemish on your sustainability than whether there’s a wood-burning fireplace in the staff lounge.”

Other members of the SPRC focused on the nexus of sustainability and transit asked Amazon to expand the percentage of parking spaces reserved for electric vehicles. The recommendation follows the county’s new energy plan predicting more people will drive electric cars in the next thirty years — a trend backed by Gov. Ralph Northam’s recent investment to expand the number of charging stations available statewide.

Amazon’s current designs set aside about 2% — or about 40 spaces — of its 1,968 total parking spaces for electric vehicles.

“Why not push for 10%?” asked one SPRC member.

There was at least one big win for non-car transportation last night. Following repeated calls from activists, Amazon announced it would build a protected bike lane on 15th Street S. along the length of the Metropolitan Park development, of which its headquarters is the final phase. That follow’s Amazon’s previous pledge to build a protected lane along S. Eads Street.

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A man who allegedly robbed a store in Pentagon City and assaulted an employee in the process was arrested nearby after a struggle with police.

Arlington County Police say they responded to the 1200 block of S. Hayes Street — near the Metro station and the mall — around 3:30 p.m. Monday for an “assault in progress.”

“Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect allegedly attempted to exit a business without paying for merchandise and, once confronted, struck an employee in the arm before leaving the scene,” according to an Arlington County Police Department crime report.

“A responding officer located an individual matching the suspect description and attempted to take him into custody,” the crime report continues. “The suspect refused to comply with the lawful commands of the officer and resisted arrest.”

The officer called for backup and, together with another arriving officer, was able to take the suspect into custody. Stephen Russell, a 27-year-old D.C. resident, was held on no bond on charges of robbery and obstruction of justice, ACPD said.

File photo

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Halloween is still three weeks away, but it’s never too early to plan your costume — or one for your pet.

Local pet service company Puppy Luv has partnered with the Crystal City Business Improvement District for its first “Howl-O-Ween” pet costume party on Saturday, October 26.

Dubbed “National Landing’s First Pet Costume Party,” the event will be held on The Grounds in Pentagon City (1102 S. Eads Street).

Pet registration begins at 1 p.m., and the contest will run from 2-3 p.m. with prizes awarded to the best costumes. In addition, there will be food trucks, an agility course, and a live DJ.

The event builds off of Puppy Luv’s recent partnership with property owner JBG Smith, which is developing the new Amazon headquarters nearby. Puppy Luv offers offer exclusive services, lobby treats, and “pet of the month slideshows” in nine JGB Smith buildings in Arlington, with plans to expand into all of its county properties by the end of 2020, according to a Puppy Luv spokesperson.

Another Halloween-themed pet event is happening tomorrow — Thursday, Oct. 10 — in Arlington.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is hosting “Pups, Purrs, and Pumpkins” at its Shirlington offices (2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive) from noon to 7 p.m. During that time, all animals six months or older have a “pick your own” adoption fee. Pumpkin treats will also be available, provided by Trader Joe’s.

Photos courtesy Puppy Luv

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