Arlington, VA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Map via Arlington County

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On Sunday, June 30 at 4 p.m., the Starbucks at Pentagon Row (1101 S. Joyce Street) will close permanently.

“We would like to thank you for being part of our store community, you are the heart of who we are at Starbucks,” a letter posted on the door said, the wording identical to a letter posted at Pentagon Centre Starbucks in March.

The cafe did not meet its sales requirements for months and was therefore one of 150 Starbucks slated for permanent closure in 2019, individuals familiar with the situation but not authorized to talk to the media told ARLnow.

The letter directed Starbucks customers to the Pentagon City mall location in the food court and the Starbucks in The Arcadia at 1201 S. Fern Street, a block east of the mall.

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(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) A new pizza place, Pizzetta, is set to open on Pentagon Row sometime within the next month.

The restaurant is planned to open at 1201 S. Joyce Street next to the Smallcakes Cupcakery and a man who identified himself as a co-owner said he hoped to have the location open by the end of the month.

“After 12 years of providing its signature pizza dough to Washington-D.C. based pizza shops, the owners of Casamia Catering will soon open Pizzetta, its first storefront location offering fresh rustic pizza,” said a PR rep for the shopping center.

No menu was readily available or could be found online, but the co-owner said the restaurant will be focused almost exclusively on pizza. He added the owners had hoped to do “other stuff” but restrictions in the lease have kept the scope narrow for now.

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Morning Notes

More Arlington Real Estate Optimism — “According to a report released Wednesday by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, the median home price in Arlington County is on track to spike 17.2 percent by the end of 2019.” [Washingtonian]

‘Rock the Row’ Starts Tonight — The United States Navy Band Country Current will perform tonight at Pentagon Row for the shopping center’s annual Rock the Row outdoor concert series. Concerts will be held every Thursday from 7-9 p.m. at the Pentagon Row plaza, through Aug. 1. [Pentagon Row]

Yorktown Girls Cap Off Stellar Soccer Season — “The Yorktown Patriots completed an unbeaten girls soccer season on June 8 at Hermitage High School near Richmond by winning the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 state-tournament championship.” [InsideNova, InsideNova]

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Nationwide gym franchise Planet Fitness says it will be opening a new location at 1301 S. Joyce Street in the Pentagon Row shopping center.

“We’re eager to expand our ‘Judgment Free Zone’ to the Northern Virginia community,” Mike Campagnolo, CEO of Planet Fitness, said in a press release. “Planet Fitness will provide local residents a convenient, high quality, judgment-free fitness experience at an extremely affordable cost of $10 per month.”

The Pentagon Row location is one of five newly announced locations in Northern Virginia. Gyms are also planned for Manassas, Springfield, Fairfax and Alexandria.

Planet Fitness isn’t the only gym in Pentagon City. Australia-based F45 has a location at 1101 S. Joyce Street, also at Pentagon Row.

So far there’s now word yet on when Planet Fitness plans to open.

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Morning Notes

Crystal City to Grow With Amazon — “‘Amazon, and its 25,000 employees, coming to Crystal City will change everything,’ [Vornado Realty Trust Chairman and CEO Steven] Roth wrote in the letter. ‘Crystal City will become a teeming metropolis of apartments, shops and offices.'” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Couple Talks About Deadly Accident — “An Arlington couple is making a personal plea for a recall of the Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play sleeper after their son died while laying in the product. Arlington parents Evan and Keenan Overton’s baby son Ezra died in the Rock ‘N Play sleeper right before Christmas in 2017.” [WJLA]

FLIR Moves to Pentagon Row — Infrared camera manufacturer FLIR Systems is moving its D.C. area headquarters to Pentagon Row, in the former LA Fitness space. The company recently announced an investment in a drone company and a large new DoD contract. [FLIR, BusinessWire, BusinessWire]

Confusing Signs Corrected on the Pike — A pair of seemingly contradictory direction signs on Columbia Pike, at the Washington Blvd interchange, have been corrected, county officials say. [Twitter]

Arlington Holds #MeToo Event — “On Wednesday, several Arlington County groups and Arlington’s ‘Project PEACE,’ held an event named ‘#MeToo: Being Men – Raising Men’ at the Arlington County Central Library. Lisa Tingle, the senior assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Fairfax County and Falls Church, said it is important to teach men about sexual harassment at an early age.” [WUSA 9]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

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(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) Arlington County firefighters have extinguished a blaze near the TJ Maxx Store at Pentagon Row.

Firefighters first heard reports of smoke coming from vents and heat in the ceiling of a utility room near the shop and the apartments above it around 5 p.m.

About half an hour later, firefighters were able to get the fire under control, according to the department’s Twitter account.

They remain on the scene checking for “hot spots” from the blaze.

The fire prompted the building’s sprinkler system to activate, per scanner traffic.

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A Pentagon City parking lot is jacking up some of its monthly rates, and some residents fear that Amazon’s impending arrival in the neighborhood is to blame.

Residents of the RiverHouse Apartments (1400 S. Joyce Street) were recently informed by their landlord that their monthly parking rates were about to jump substantially if they park their cars in the nearby Pentagon Row garage and surface lot. Starting Jan. 1, anyone from the apartment complex parking there will pay $100 month per space, up from $65.

The parking managed by Colonial Parking, not JBG Smith (RiverHouse’s owner, the area’s dominant real estate developer and a key player in bringing Amazon to the area). Accordingly, RiverHouse management lamented in a letter to residents, provided to ARLnow, that it isn’t able to control such a change.

“Please rest assured that this increase was just as much a surprise to us as this is to you,” General Manager Joe Mettee wrote.

Colonial Parking did not respond to a request for comment on what prompted the sudden increase. But Megan Niewold, a RiverHouse resident set to see her parking rates skyrocket, told ARLnow that she has her suspicions about their motivations.

“When I spoke to my garage attendant, he said they were notified because they want to prepare ‘National Landing’ for an influx of parking needs in the future,” Niewold wrote in an email. “It sure seems like they’re raising prices for Amazon’s arrival super early, which sucks because it’s making this place unaffordable for nonprofit workers/teachers/etc.”

Concerns over how the tech giant’s new headquarters, and its promised 25,000 workers, will transform the area are certainly nothing new.

The company’s selection of Arlington for half a new headquarters has already spurred development activity in both Pentagon City and Crystal City, and other such changes are surely on the way in the coming months. Though county officials are hoping a slew of new transportation options will encourage Amazon employees to opt for public transit instead, neighbors fear that the area is already facing a parking crunch, which will only be exacerbated by similar price increases.

“The belief is that because so many people take public transportation that it won’t be a problem; but for people who already live here, there’s already a problem,” Crystal City Civic Association President Carol Fuller said during a town hall focused on Amazon this week.”Most of the spaces we have are only available at cost, and some street parking will disappear due to the Metroway expansion.”

The good news for people like Niewold, at least, is there are some other options. RiverHouse added in its letter that it’s knocking down some of its own parking prices for anyone frustrated with the Pentagon Row increases.

Photo via Google Maps

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Now that Thanksgiving is over, Hanukkah celebrations are right around the corner.

This year, the Jewish holiday begins at sunset on Sunday (Dec. 2) and ends the following Monday, Dec. 10.

Arlington is ready for the festivities to begin, with seven events planned in the area for locals to attend during Hanukkah.

  • Dec. 2: Chanukah at Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia affiliate of the Jewish Reconstructionist Movement is set to sing and play dreidel at its potluck. Attendees are asked bring their menorahs, candles and pre-cooked food.
  • Dec. 2: Light Up Your Shabbanukkah Table — OneTable will be at the Crate & Barrel on Clarendon Blvd to learn how to get your table ready for the Festival of Lights.
  • Dec. 4: Chanukah in Clarendon — Spider Kelly’s will have a menorah lighting and dreidel tournament. The $18 admission includes a drink ticket, latkes and unlimited darts, pool and shuffleboard.
  • Dec. 5: Clarendon Chanukah Menorah Lighting — The free event at Clarendon Central Park will include the lighting of a six-foot menorah and hot potato latkes, chocolate gelt and dreidels.
  • Dec. 6: Chanukah on Ice — Head to the Pentagon Row Ice Rink for the lighting of a six-foot menorah, a free raffle, ice skating and kosher hot dogs. Tickets, which include the skate rental, bought before Monday (Dec. 3) are $10 and $13 after.
  • Dec. 6: Festival of Lasers — Compete in laser tag to celebrate Hanukkah at the Ultrazone Laser Tag in Falls Church. Tickets are $25.
  • Dec. 7: Shabbat-Hanukkah Party — The Congregation Etz Hayim’s monthly potluck will turn into a Hanukkah party after Shabbat services at 6:15 p.m. After kiddush and motzi, the group will serve latkes alongside the potluck, sing songs and play Hanukkah games.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Rare, Tropical Dragonfly Spotted in Arlington — “There was quite the discovery at this year’s Bioblitz in Glencarlyn Park. After a photo posted on the crowd-sourcing tracker, iNaturalist, started to spark a lot of interest… the consensus was that what had been photographed was a Great Pondhawk Dragonfly (Erythemis vesiculosa).” [Arlington County]

Frost Fest Rescheduled — Frost Fest at Pentagon Row, originally planned for Saturday, has been rescheduled due to expected rainy weather. It will now take place this Sunday from 4-7 p.m. [Twitter]

County to Open Garages During Snowstorms — “If a big winter storm – or two, or three – hits the region in coming months, Arlington residents will be able to leave their cars safe and sound in county-owned garages for the duration. It’s all part of an effort to keep residential streets as free of vehicles as possible so snow-plow operators can do their job.” [InsideNova]

Crafthouse Going Big — Beer-centric local restaurant chain Crafthouse, which has a location in Ballston, has inked a $250 million deal to franchise nationally. [Reston Now]

Portion of W&OD Trail to Get Separate Lanes — “A major 1.2-mile stretch of the W&OD Trail bike path that traverses the City of Falls Church… will soon be enhanced with the benefit of $3.2 million from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and turned into a dual path — one for bikes and the other for pedestrians.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Amazon News Roundup — Virginia economic development officials say they have “accounted for a host of risks that might arise related to Amazon, from a shift in direction for the company to antitrust litigation.” The Arlington Civic Federation “will host a discussion of the proposed Amazon economic-incentive package at its monthly meeting, to be held on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at Virginia Hospital Center.” Arlington County’s building and permitting staff “won’t be doing anything out of the ordinary to accommodate Amazon, such as fast-tracking, a common incentive offered to big economic development prizes.” And, in a new report on the oft-reported subject, “Amazon’s Northern Virginia headquarters could exacerbate existing economic disparities.”

Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi

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A new restaurant has opened at the Pentagon Row shopping center in Pentagon City.

Aabee Express is now serving Mediterranean cuisine in the former Nkd Pizza storefront. The diminutive restaurant, next to the F45 gym, opened on Nov. 1.

More from a press release:

Federal Realty Investment Trust (NYSE: FRT), recognized leader in the ownership, operation and redevelopment of high-quality retail based properties, announces today the opening of Aabee Express at Pentagon Row, a 300,000-square foot open-air shopping destination with a unique combination of specialty retailers, modern fitness concepts, best-in class spas and exciting restaurants. The new Mediterranean fusion style dining (Grab n’ Go) option will be open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. starting on November 1, 2018 and is located on 1101 S. Joyce Street.

Aabee Express is a chef driven restaurant with over 27 years’ experiences in gourmet food. The menu is produced homemade to order or pre-packaged prepared from whole food and unprocessed ingredients. Aabee Express accommodates vegetarian, vegan and gluten free customers with zero added preservatives, additives or MSG. The menu includes fresh soups, salads, kabobs, fresh baked flatbread, family portion platters, desserts and more. The restaurant will accommodate pick up (carry out), curbside pickup, catering, and delivery.

“Pentagon Row is truly a gathering place for locals and tourists alike. We largely credit that to our amazing dining and shopping tenants that provide an array of services to the community. We are thrilled to continue to build upon those options with the opening of Aabee Express,” said Kari Glinski, Director of Asset Management for Federal Realty Investment Trust.

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