Arlington, VA

(Updated at 4:1o p.m.) Arlington County is launching a new planning study to determine how best to shape the new density coming to Pentagon City.

As nearby Crystal City and Potomac Yard undergo new development spurred by Amazon’s second headquarters, the new study is intended to shape development around Pentagon City, where the permanent HQ2 campus will be located.

“For over four decades, the Pentagon City Phased Development Site Plan (PDSP) has successfully guided growth in the area, resulting in a diverse mix of residential uses, hotels, offices, and retail,” the County’s website said. “Building upon this commitment to planned development around a Metro station, recent events have placed a greater focus on ensuring this approach continues into the future.”

The 12-month planning process is broken into four phases, which will examine the existing conditions and look at varying scenarios for how to shape density could shape the area, “including urban design and streetscape elements, building heights, transportation infrastructure, and public realm recommendations.”

“Arlington County is initiating a new study to help guide future development for Pentagon City, with coordinated planning and transportation components,” the county’s website says. “The study will help define Pentagon City’s capacity for future growth by evaluating alternative redevelopment scenarios and their resulting impacts on the capacity of the existing, committed, and planned transportation system, infrastructure, public spaces and community facilities.”

An ongoing traffic analysis of the area started last year, examining bicycle and pedestrian traffic patterns in addition to car traffic. A preview of the plan in January put the total estimated cost of the study at $1.5 million, including the transportation analysis, staffing hours and consulting for the planning study.

A couple of major redevelopment proposals, including some 1,000 new housing units on the RiverHouse property and a new mixed-use development at the current TSA headquarters, are effectively on hold pending the outcome of the study.

The second phase of Amazon’s permanent HQ2 project — currently an vacant plot of land after a series of abandoned development proposals — is within the study boundaries. A major redevelopment of the Pentagon Centre shopping center — where Costco is located — is also planned but remains years away and outside the scope of the study.

The eventual goal, according to the study preview, will be the establishment of new urban design guidelines, implementation strategies, and guiding documents for Pentagon City.

“The study will last approximately 12 months, starting with a mid-2020 kick-off to mid-2021 completion,” the County said. “County Board briefings or a work session are anticipated to happen at the midway point.”

Photo via Arlington County

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A North Carolina man wound up in jail after allegedly declaring independence from his trousers Saturday night.

Just before midnight on July 4, police were called to the 1200 block of S. Eads Street in Pentagon City for a report of a man exposing himself.

“Arriving officers located the suspect, who attempted to walk away from them. He then turned back and allegedly exposed himself to officers, who then took him into custody without incident,” according to a new Arlington County Police Department crime report.

A 36-year-old man from Fayetteville, North Carolina “was arrested and charged with Indecent Exposure and Drunk in Public,” the report continued. “He was held on no bond.”

On the morning of the Fourth of July, a 29-year-old D.C. man was arrested on the 100 block of S. Fenwick Street, in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, after another alleged indecent exposure incident.

“At approximately 7:04 a.m. on July 4, police were dispatched to the report of an indecent exposure,” said the crime report. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim observed the male suspect allegedly touching himself inappropriately. Arriving officers located the suspect and took him into custody without incident.”

The suspect was charged with Public Masturbation and held on no bond, the crime report said.

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A thousand down, 24,000 still to go.

Amazon announced today that it has hired its 1,000th HQ2 employee, though its physical offices in Arlington remain closed due to the pandemic. The tech and retail giant also announced that it still plans to ultimately fill 25,000 positions at its second headquarters, potentially putting to rest speculation that HQ2 could be downsized amid a work-from-home trend.

In a post on its Day One blog, Amazon said that it was working to hire a diverse workforce in Arlington:

Amazon remains committed to filling the 25,000 roles projected for HQ2 with diverse talent from across the region. Although offices have been quiet for the past several weeks due to COVID-19, our hiring has continued as planned. We have virtually onboarded scores of talented people and recently welcomed our 1,000th employee in Arlington. Among our new hires are lifelong Northern Virginia resident Lakshmi Kopparam, one of the first software development engineers to join the Amazon Fire TV team in Arlington, and McCoy Jamison, who formerly served in the U.S. Navy and just began his role as a solutions architect with Amazon Web Services. Kopparam and Jamison are working alongside a group of senior engineers who are building a best-in-class technology culture at Amazon and contributing to the region’s growing tech ecosystem. Within the first wave of hires is a program lead who has been tasked with ensuring our HQ2 workforce is inclusive and diverse. This person will implement recruiting and HR best practices and initiatives designed to ensure inclusiveness in our products and offerings.

The blog post also detailed the millions in donations Amazon has been funneling to education, food, and relief initiatives in Arlington, D.C. and other parts of Virginia.

Construction is currently underway on the first phase of Amazon’s permanent HQ2 along S. Eads Street in Pentagon City. The 2.1 million square foot complex is expected to open in 2023 and house about half of HQ2’s 25,000 employees. Until it opens, Amazon is working out of temporary, leased space in Crystal City.

A planned second phase will build another 2.1 million square feet of office space across 12th Street S., in the vacant PenPlace lot. In the meantime, the new Amazon-funded design for nearby Metropolitan Park is being finalized, ahead of expected County Board approval this fall.

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For the second time in as many days, a carjacking has been reported in Arlington.

The latest incident happened in a parking garage on the 1400 block of Crystal Drive in Crystal City, around 3:30 a.m. this morning.

Police say a pair of gun-toting suspects stole a rental car and cell phone from a man who had been sleeping in the vehicle — described as a white BMW compact SUV.

More from today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

CARJACKING, 2020-06240033, 1400 block of Crystal Drive. At approximately 3:33 a.m. on June 24, police were dispatched to the report of a carjacking just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was asleep in his rental vehicle in a garage when he was awoken by two unknown suspects brandishing firearms. Suspect One allegedly grabbed the victim’s shirt and demanded money, while Suspect Two rummaged through the contents of the vehicle. The suspects stole the victim’s wallet and items of value from his person, before fleeing the scene in the victim’s vehicle. Suspect One is described as a Black male, 20-30 years old, heavily tattooed, approximately 5’10” and 180 lbs., with black dreads, wearing a white tank top, black jeans and a white medical mask. Suspect Two is described as a Black male, approximately 5’10” and 180 lbs., wearing a black hoodie, black pants, black balaclava and a black t-shirt tied around his head. The vehicle is described as a white 2020 BMW X1 with an unknown license plate. The investigation is ongoing.

Also in today’s crime report, ACPD says another pair of suspects tried to steal a car that was left running near the Pentagon City Costco.

ATTEMPTED GRAND LARCENY AUTO, 2020-06220148, 900 block of 15th Street S. At approximately 6:40 p.m. on June 22, police were dispatched to the report of an attempted grand larceny auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that two unknown male suspects allegedly entered an unoccupied, running vehicle. The victim observed this, opened the vehicle’s door and a brief struggle ensued. The suspects stole the victim’s cell phone before fleeing the scene in a silver Mercedes SUV driven by a third suspect. Suspect One is described as a Black male in his 20’s wearing a red hat, white tank top and red sweatpants. Suspect Two is described as a Black male in his 20’s, shirtless and wearing camouflage pants. The investigation is ongoing

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Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard are still separate neighborhoods — but the business improvement district that serves them has a new name today.

The Crystal City Business Improvement District has been officially renamed the National Landing Business Improvement District. The BID has a new website, a new video and a new logo, which gives a visual nod to the area’s “Metrorail lines… abundant natural green spaces and parks, and the water of the Potomac River nearby.”

The name change coincides with two separate events that happened in parallel: the expansion of the BID’s boundaries to include portions of Pentagon City and Potomac Yard, and the arrival of Amazon’s HQ2. The initial HQ2 announcement caught people off guard as it referred to “National Landing,” a term coined by economic development officials in the pitch to Amazon but to that point never revealed to residents.

At the BID’s annual meeting this morning, during which the name change was approved, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey spoke on the broader topics of racial equity and recovery from the pandemic.

“As we come through this we are going to be a stronger Arlington, more equitable, more innovative and more resilient,” Garvey said in prepared remarks. “There is no place I’d rather be in the world than here in Arlington, and a lot of that right now is simply because of this community. We are strong, we are smart, and we are caring.”

More on the name change from a press release:

The Crystal City Business Improvement District is officially renamed the National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) following an action by its voting membership at its annual meeting today. The virtual event included remarks from National Landing BID President and Executive Director Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey and American Diabetes Association President & CEO Tracey Brown.

The organization’s adoption of the National Landing name is the culmination of a robust, years-long community engagement process in which the BID sought and received positive feedback from residents, civic associations and stakeholders, and attained approval from the Arlington County Board.

The name and coinciding brand assets, which were unveiled for the first time at the meeting, aim to better reflect the BID’s enlarged boundaries and to foster a more cohesive identity for National Landing, which is comprised of Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard-Arlington. The National Landing area encompasses nearly 12 million square feet of office space in a mixed-use, walkable urban center that includes more than 26,000 residents, nearly 5,900 hotel rooms and over 450 restaurants and shops.

The new visual identity for the organization and unified district includes a new logo and corresponding digital assets including a video, website (Nationallanding.org), and social handles (@NationalLanding on Twitter & Instagram, @NationalLandingBID on Facebook). The branding features an iconic “N” comprised of bright yellow, blue and green, which reference the Metrorail lines, the area’s abundant natural green spaces and parks, and the water of the Potomac River nearby. In a nod to National Landing’s unparalleled connectivity, the logo’s clean, rounded edges reflect transit systems, the airport and motion. To reinforce the unified spirit of the area, all three neighborhood names are included in the logo.

In her remarks, Ms. Gabriel reflected on the BID’s accomplishments over the past year, which include achieving its longstanding goal of expansion.  “At nearly one square mile or 60 blocks, an expanded BID geography enables us to promote the area’s unified identity as a vibrant, nationally-recognized urban center and to shape and manage growth and investment in ways that enhance the quality of life for those who live, work and visit here,” said Ms. Gabriel.  The BID also worked with local organizations and businesses to produce its signature lineup of programs and events and introduced new art installations and beautification projects this year.

Ms. Gabriel addressed the BID’s ongoing work to support the community during the COVID-19 crisis, which included a $100,000 contribution to Arlington’s Small Business Emergency GRANT Program to help National Landing establishments whose operations were impacted by the pandemic. The BID also shifted to a lineup of virtual programming; launched its “Hometown Heroes” program to recognize inspiring community members; and created the #LoveNationalLanding campaign, an ongoing partnership with local artists to enliven the streets, highlight small businesses and foster neighborhood spirit.

Ms. Gabriel stated that the BID is more committed than ever to guiding the area’s growth in ways that promote equity and inclusion. In addition to providing its core set of services to the entire National Landing area, the BID is prepared to assist through the various stages of reopening and recovery and continues to explore civic partnerships to serve the humanitarian needs of the community. To accomplish its goals, the BID will grow its staff as it continues to settle into its new offices at 2011 Crystal Drive.

Despite the year’s challenges, the BID underscored optimism for National Landing’s future, highlighted by the construction of Amazon’s second headquarters and the company’s hiring efforts, planned park improvements and the area’s robust residential development pipeline.  In addition, continued funding for transformative infrastructure projects like the CC2DCA intermodal connector and Route 1’s conversion to an urban boulevard will deliver next generation mobility.

Through these projects and other strategic efforts, Ms. Gabriel remarked that, “The National Landing area is poised to serve existing and future residents, employees and visitors who appreciate a community that offers convenience, urban amenities and a vibrant and transforming public realm.”

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Update on 6/19/20 — Based on new data from the Virginia Dept. of Health, the actual number of deaths at Regency Care is 30.

Earlier: Local nursing homes have reported dozens of coronavirus cases and deaths, federal data shows.

As the number of new COVID-19 cases in Arlington continues to rise at a relative trickle — nine new cases and no new hospitalizations reported overnight — a look back at data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) shows the outsized role some nursing homes played during the peak of Arlington’s outbreak.

As of May 31, four nursing homes alone contributed 178 cases and 98 deaths to Arlington’s total, according to the CMS data, though there are some questions about the numbers, as noted below. The county’s cumulative total currently stands at 2,372 cases, 407 hospitalizations and 124 deaths.

The four Arlington nursing homes for which CMS data was available:

  • Cherrydale Health and Rehabilitation Center (3710 Lee Highway): 82 confirmed cases, 8 related deaths
  • The Jefferson (900 N. Taylor Street): 10 confirmed cases, 6 related deaths
  • Manorcare (550 S. Carlin Springs Road): 13 confirmed cases, 1 related death
  • Regency Care (1785 S. Hayes Street): 73 confirmed cases, 83 related deaths

The numbers for Regency Care seemingly do not add up, with more COVID-related deaths (83) than confirmed cases (73). Multiple attempts by ARLnow to reach an administrator at the Pentagon City facility prior to the publication of this article were unsuccessful and Arlington’s health department declined multiple requests for clarification, citing “patient privacy laws.” Other news reports suggest that the CMS data is “riddled with errors.”

However, ARLnow has received numerous tips about the facility since the start of the pandemic.

“Thought the public should know… the nursing home Regency Care of Arlington had a huge COVID outbreak on the 5th floor,” said one tipster in early April. “This is something terrible.”

“Regency Care of Arlington nursing home has the highest amount of COVID cases in Arlington with well over 100 cases,” another tipster said, in May. The assertion of over 100 cases could not be confirmed and is not shown in the CMS data, which was last updated on May 31.

On Wednesday afternoon, a woman identifying herself as the administrator of Regency Care called ARLnow and asserted that the number of deaths reported by CMS was inaccurate. She chastised ARLnow for publishing this article and for taking photos of the outside of the facility without the company’s permission. She declined numerous requests to provide the accurate number of deaths at the facility and abruptly hung up the phone.

Local and state authorities in Virginia have repeatedly declined to provide data on specific facilities.

“As a health district under [the Virginia Dept. of Health], we are unable to provide or confirm patient data at individual long term care facilities due to patient privacy laws,” said Arlington County spokeswoman Cara O’Donnell. She noted that the county has been working with nursing homes, assisted living centers and other such facilities to mitigate outbreaks.

“Working with long-term care facilities is an ongoing priority for Arlington Public Health, and our team works with skilled nursing and assisted living facilities throughout the year to control and prevent outbreaks, such as norovirus and the seasonal flu, even prior to COVID,” O’Donnell said. “Arlington Public Health has been working with these facilities to implement CDC and VDH guidance for COVID-19 infection control and prevention measures, including things like monitoring residents and staff for signs and symptoms of COVID, providing guidance on proper PPE and cleaning/disinfecting protocols.”

A county webpage on the topic says that the majority of COVID-19 deaths in Arlington have occurred at long-term care facilities.

Read More

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The design process for the revamped Metropolitan Park near Amazon’s future Pentagon City offices is nearing the finish line.

A final draft design for the park was presented last week, revealing a hybrid of the “Forest Walk” and “Social Gardens” concepts previously detailed by James Corner Field Operations, which designed New York City’s famous High Line. Amazon is funding the design work for the park, which is adjacent to its future HQ2.

The updated design is a “more social version” of the Forest Walk concept that was generally favored in the latest round of public feedback, designers said. It includes:

  • Meandering paths
  • A “hammock clearing” on the forest walk
  • The possibility of public art along the paths
  • An overlook
  • A central green for gatherings and events
  • A day care garden near HQ2
  • A “meadow lounge”
  • A play garden with playground equipment
  • A “community table” for dining amid nature
  • A cafe terrace
  • A 4,000 square foot dog park with separate areas for large and small dogs
  • An Amazon banana stand

The county and the designers are now gathering feedback on the synthesized design, before making some tweaks and creating a final design for consideration by the County Board in September.

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The new Wiseguy Pizza location in Pentagon City is set to begin its soft opening today.

The latest outpost for the acclaimed local New York-style pizza chain is on the ground floor of the Witmer, a new 26-story luxury apartment building at the corner of 12th Street S. and S. Hayes Street. It’s the second Wiseguy Pizza in Arlington; the first is in Rosslyn.

Owner Nuri Erol says the eatery “did a test opening last week for a few days” but would begin its soft opening week today (Tuesday). It will be open from noon-8:30 p.m., he said.

Wiseguy recently started offering online ordering and curbside pickup. While opening during a pandemic might not be ideal, the pizzeria’s long-term prospects look promising, given the 25,000 Amazon employees that will eventually be working two blocks away.

Hat tip to @CartChaos22202. Photo courtesy Nuri Erol.

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Police swarmed the Pentagon City area Saturday night after a Virginia State Police pursuit ended in the neighborhood.

“At 10:06 p.m., Virginia State Police attempted a traffic stop on a BMW traveling north on I-95 near Exit 158 in Prince William County. The traffic stop was for excessive speeding,” VSP spokeswoman Corinne Geller tells ARLnow. “The vehicle refused to stop and a pursuit was initiated. The pursuit ended at South Hayes and South Fern Street in Arlington. The adult male driver and adult male passenger were taken into custody.”

Geller said two state police vehicles were struck during the chase but no troopers were injured.

“The suspect vehicle struck two state police vehicles during the course of the pursuit,” she said. “The patrol cars sustained minor damage. No state police personnel were injured. No other vehicles were struck.”

Those in the Pentagon City area described a large police response, including a helicopter overhead.

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Arlington County Police are investigating an armed carjacking that occurred in Pentagon City over the weekend.

Officers were dispatched to a parking garage on the 1300 block of S. Eads Street, across the street from Amazon’s under-construction HQ2, around 10 p.m. Friday. A man told police that three suspects, one of whom was armed with a gun, approached him when he was in his car. The victim exited the car and the suspects drove off with it, according to ACPD.

A tipster tells ARLnow that the carjacking happened in an apartment building’s parking garage and that the garage door was broken at the time, allowing the suspects to enter the garage freely.

So far, no arrests have been announced.

More from an ACPD crime report:

CARJACKING, 2020-05150162, 1300 block of S. Eads Street. At approximately 10:00 p.m. on May 15, police were dispatched to the report of an armed carjacking. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was inside his parked vehicle in a garage when he was approached by two suspects, one of whom displayed a firearm and tapped on the window. A third suspect approached the scene in a vehicle, while the other two suspects rummaged through the victim’s vehicle and demanded the keys. The suspects entered the victim’s vehicle and fled prior to police arrival. Suspect One is described as a black male, age 15-20, 5’9″-5’11”, 140-160 lbs. Suspect Two is described as a black male, 15-20 years old. Suspect Three is described as a black male, 15-20 years old, driving a hatchback vehicle. The victim’s vehicle is a gray 2007 Toyota Avalon with Virginia license plate XFY3363. The investigation is ongoing.

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As promised last week, Clark Construction is wrapping up pile driving at the Amazon HQ2 site in Pentagon City today, two weeks ahead of schedule.

That’s good news for Amazon’s new neighbors. The noisy work drew protests from those sheltering at home in the apartment buildings around the S. Eads Street construction site, and TV news crews reporting on the complaints.

A spokesman for Clark, the general contractor building the first phase of Amazon’s permanent second headquarters, tells ARLnow that work is proceeding quickly.

“Clark is on track to complete pile driving operations later today, two weeks ahead of our initial projection,” said Marcel Goldstein. “Pile driving is by far the noisiest of all construction operations. Going forward, neighbors should expect to hear the typical noise of dump trucks and other construction equipment/activities occurring on site. We will continue to abide by Arlington County’s noise ordinance.”

The next round of work includes the excavation of nearly a half-million cubic yards of dirt, to make way for the 2.1 million square foot office-and-retail development.

“Crews will continue to advance mass excavation activities on site, which are anticipated to continue for the next 5 months,” the spokesman said. “Mass excavation entails removing 440,000 cubic yards of soil from the jobsite. The team has removed 75,000 cubic yards of soil to date, representing 17% of the total scope of work.”

“Clark remains focused on building a positive relationship and ongoing dialogue with project neighbors,” Goldstein continued. “Community members can contact us and get the latest construction information by visiting our website: metpark678.com.”

The project website says that construction crews are taking measures to stay safe and mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. It also notes that while crews abide by a work schedule set by the county, there’s another noise source that nearby residents may hear at all hours: generators working to drain water from the deepening construction pit.

“The project team is working in compliance with Arlington County’s noise ordinance and operates within the County’s permitted work hours of 7 AM to 9 PM (Mon-Fri) and 9 AM to 9 PM (Sat, Sun, and Holidays),” the website says. “Construction crews continue to utilize generators on site to support dewatering operations, which are running 24 hours a day,” the website says.

Phase 1 of HQ2 is expected to be completed in 2023. A second phase of nearly the same size is planned for the nearby Pen Place site, on the other side of 12th Street S.

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