Over the weekend, the Arlington County Board voted unanimously to approve an incentive package that will help bring Amazon and its expected 25,000 or so jobs to the Pentagon City and Crystal City areas.
The approval followed impassioned public testimony from about 100 speakers.
Those in favor of the incentives, which include an estimated $23 million over 15 years from an expected rise in hotel tax revenues attributable to Amazon’s presence, says it’s a small price to pay for one of the biggest economic development prizes in a generation. Amazon, proponents say, will bring thousands of good jobs to the area and act as a magnet for other employers considering their next destination.
Those against the incentives say sending any tax revenue to one of the world’s largest companies, led by the world’s richest man, is a particularly egregious form of “corporate welfare.” That’s doubly so given Amazon’s oft-criticized treatment of its warehouse workers and the effect the company is having on brick-and-mortar retailers, critics say. Also, Amazon’s arrival may bring with it higher housing prices that could push out lower-income residents.
In the end, the Board decided that the benefits outweighed any potential negatives. Do you think they made the right decision?
Hope: No Impeachment Filing Yet — Updated at 9:50 a.m. — Del. Patrick Hope (D) says he’s delaying filing articles of impeachment against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), who is facing two accusations of past sexual assaults. “An enormous amount of sincere and thoughtful feedback… has led to additional conversations that need to take place,” Hope said. [Twitter, Twitter, Twitter]
More Trailers for Arlington Tech — “Students coming into the Arlington Tech program at the Arlington Career Center for the next two years may find themselves spending more time in trailers than they had thought, and more time than School Board members are happy about.” [InsideNova]
State Split on Northam’s Fate — “Virginians are deadlocked over whether Gov. Ralph Northam (D) should step down after the emergence of a photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page depicting people in blackface and Ku Klux Klan garb, with African Americans saying by a wide margin that he should remain in office despite the offensive image, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll.” [Washington Post]
Beyer on Face the Nation — “Democratic Virginia Reps. Don Beyer and Jennifer Wexton renewed their calls for Gov. Ralph Northam and Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax to step down over their respective controversies” on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday morning. [CBS News]
Local Chef on CBS This Morning — Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery in Courthouse made an extended appearance on CBS This Morning Saturday, talking about his food, his restaurants and how his aunt inspired his love of cooking. [CBS News]
Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk
Update at 11:45 a.m. — The Washington Post is now reporting that Amazon is “reconsidering” its New York City plans.
EXCLUSIVE: Amazon is thinking of pulling out of New York HQ2 deal, because of strong opposition from local politicians. Northern Virginia could get some or all of the jobs slated for NYC. https://t.co/hn6ImP5toF
— Robert McCartney (@McCartneyWP) February 8, 2019
Earlier: There is some local opposition to Amazon’s forthcoming Arlington presence and incentive package, but it’s nothing compared to the public protests and opposition from elected officials in New York.
“Amazon doesn’t care about locals who live in Long Island City,” said a key New York state senator who’s among the leading critics of the incentive package offered to the tech giant. “All they care about is how much they can squeeze out of the public till in New York.”
That lawmaker, state Sen. Michael Gianaris, has been appointed to an oversight board that has the power to torpedo the deal. Meanwhile, Virginia’s incentive package for Amazon was signed into law this week.
Should Gianaris or other NYC Amazon critics manage to turn up the heat on the company to a boiling point, it’s possible that Amazon’s plans for a huge new office and 25,000-40,000 additional jobs in New York could fall apart.
Should that happen, hypothetically, might Arlington be the beneficiary? Amazon could opt to make Arlington its full “HQ2,” as originally proposed during the HQ2 search.
If that were to happen, would you support Amazon doubling its presence in Arlington? Or should they look elsewhere?
The Newseum is selling its Pennsylvania Avenue home of the last 11 years to Johns Hopkins University and is now looking for a new location.
A museum of the journalism profession and the First Amendment, the Newseum first opened in Rosslyn in 1997 before moving to the District in 2008. Its Rosslyn location was featured in the TV show The West Wing and later, after the Newseum decamped for D.C., became the short-lived Artisphere.
The former Newseum space is now a co-working space and Rosslyn now has a new marquee tourist attraction, but given that the Newseum is looking for a new home we thought we’d ask: do you think it should return to Rosslyn?
Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk
Nearly three quarters of all IT workers across the D.C. region would consider leaving their current job to work for Amazon, a new survey shows, revealing just how impactful the company’s arrival in Arlington could be on the local labor market.
A poll released today (Wednesday) by Eagle Hill Consulting, and conducted by the survey firm Ipsos, found that 51 percent of employees across all occupations would jump ship for Jeff Bezos’ company. The group found that younger people and tech workers were especially enthusiastic about the company, with 60 percent of millennials expressing interest in Amazon and 71 percent of IT workers showing a willingness to leave.
The research underscores the fears harbored among many smaller, tech-focused startups in the D.C. area that Amazon’s arrival in Crystal City and Pentagon City (set to begin in earnest this year) will result in a brain drain of sorts. Eagle Hill also expects that federal workers could find themselves lured into the private sector by Amazon’s hefty paychecks, particularly as the company ramps up hiring for the 25,000 jobs it expects to eventually bring to its new headquarters.
“Area employers should be worried, especially those that need to retain their tech talent,” Melissa Jezior, Eagle Hill’s president and CEO, wrote in a statement. “Private sector and government employers will have to do all they can now to hang on to their employees before Amazon arrives – especially in such a tight labor market.”
As Jezior points out, unemployment rates are low around the country at the moment, especially in Arlington, which regularly posts the lowest jobless rate in the whole state. To Eagle Hill researchers, that means employers will need to “dig deep to understand their employees’ satisfaction and deliver what their workforce needs are positioned to hold onto their star employees when Amazon moves in,” Jezior said.
The poll results show that 71 percent of all workers see a move to Amazon as a chance to earn more pay, while 45 percent say they’d make the move to do “more interesting work.” An identical number said they’d move to Amazon in order to work “for a progressive company” — Bezos’ firm has been a leader in bumping up wages for its warehouse workers, but has also taken plenty of criticism for its labor practices and support for the Trump administration’s immigration tactics.
Among IT workers, those numbers are even stronger: 71 percent see a chance for higher salary, 55 percent are enthusiastic about more interesting work, and 51 percent want to work for a progressive company.
Victor Hoskins, director of Arlington Economic Development, acknowledged that Amazon will put pressure on the labor market, as will the tech companies who flock to the area to take advantage of Amazon’s arrival. But he was also quick to point out that companies concerned about losing employees will have to time to prepare and do the sort of introspection that Jezior recommends.
“Only a few hundred jobs are coming here in the first year, so if that’s the concern, they can get a jump on them,” Hoskins said. “The big numbers really don’t start until 2020, 2021.”
Much like other surveys of attitudes about the company, Eagle Hill found that opinions on Amazon were largely positive: 83 percent of workers surveyed believe the company will have a positive impact on the local economy. Additionally, 88 percent believe Amazon will improve prospects for job seekers and 73 percent think the company will have a positive impact on “overall compensation” in the region.
But Amazon’s impact on Northern Virginia’s already crowded roads emerged as a clear concern among those survey — 77 percent believe Amazon will have a negative impact on traffic, a common view among Arlington residents but one generally not shared by local officials.
Eagle Hill says Ipsos conducted the survey by collecting responses online from about 1,000 “working age” people across the D.C. region.
Photo via Amazon
(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) Since its founding in 2010, ARLnow has kept its focus solely on Arlington.
We often explain that should the Washington Monument topple over one night, our story about it — were we to cover it — would likely come with the headline “Arlington’s View of D.C. Changes.” The basic thinking is that we should cover what we do best and link to the rest — on the internet, there’s no need to spend time doing duplicative coverage of other places.
As a result, we almost exclusively cover Arlington news, while very rarely covering stories outside of the county’s borders that may be of special relevance to people in Arlington.
We’re considering changing that a bit, however, as we prepare for our ninth year in business.
We now regularly hear about younger Arlington residents trading in their rentals to buy homes in that slightly more affordable Little City on our western border: Falls Church. We would love to continue serving them. And that’s on top of other parallels between Arlington and Falls Church: the two jurisdictions share courts, a fire department, a public safety radio station, and have discussed other ways to work together.
Many aspects of civic life in Falls Church are already well covered by our friends at the Falls Church News-Press. Our approach to coverage of the two-square-mile city would be a bit different: focusing on breaking news, businesses openings and closings, events, development, roads and trails, and other subjects that could be of interest to both residents of Falls Church and Arlington.
But first, we wanted to put the question to you: do you think ARLnow should cover the City of Falls Church? (We would, in turn, also open up our event calendar to events in Falls Church.)
Map via Google Maps
This schedule means that readers can check out over the weekend and not have to worry about falling behind on the latest Arlington local news. And it means that our staff can take a couple of well-deserved days off at the end of the week.
That said, we’ve had more local news than ever to report over the past few months, and it has us considering expanding our publishing schedule — specifically, by publishing on Saturday.
Staffing up for news coverage on Saturday would allow us to better cover breaking news over the weekend and report on Saturday Arlington County Board meetings in real time. It would also mean that we won’t have to skip some smaller stories that don’t make the weekly cut, while providing more flexibility for publishing feature articles funded by our Patreon community.
The downside is that some readers clearly prefer to tune out over the weekend. Even when we’ve tried to publish a full slate of articles on a Saturday, readership is roughly half of a typical weekday. And… well, even those of us most passionate about local news reporting are a little less enthusiastic about spending most of their Saturday at a County Board meeting.
All things considered, what do you think about ARLnow publishing on Saturdays?
The first TV commercials started around Halloween. Mall storefronts began to change over around the same time.
Yes, Christmas starts early these days. But not everyone likes the mid-autumn kickoff to the holiday season.
One sure sign of having the holiday spirit is when one starts listening to holiday music. Locally, WASH-FM switched to all Christmas music on Nov. 16, while SiriusXM turned on its Holiday Traditions channel on Nov. 1.
In the days leading up to Metro’s latest round of major track construction work, officials rolled out a series of grim warnings about what the work would mean for commuters on the Silver, Orange and Blue lines.
With the Blue Line completely shut down between Arlington Cemetery and D.C., and huge delays on the other two lines, Metro warned commuters to only choose the service if they didn’t have any other option. County Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey even predicted “extreme crowding” and “incredible chaos” at station platforms along D.C.’s urban core.
Now, with the major track work set to last several more days yet before wrapping up Sunday, the question becomes: how accurate were those gloomy predictions?
Whether you’re a Metro rider braving those conditions, or looking to avoid them on a bus or in a car, we want to know: has the track work meaningfully impacted your commute since last Saturday (Aug. 11)?
The School Board is hoping to have a new name ready for the school in time for the opening of the 2019-2020 school year next September, ARLnow has previously reported.
But it will be an uphill battle for school officials, judging by emails we continue to receive from upset alums and other anecdotal reports; Sun Gazette Editor Scott McCaffrey wrote today that he and other staffers at the paper frequently run into W-L alumni, all of whom thus far have expressed opposition to the change.
Last time we did a poll on the subject was five years ago this month, when a name change was still just an idea batted about by letter to the editor writers. At that time, 87.5 percent of respondents said they were against changing the name, agreeing that Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy are “part of our history and… not worth changing the name over.”
Since then, the emergence of an emboldened white nationalist movement and last summer’s deadly rally in Charlottesville have changed the conversation. But is it enough to change opinions on removing Lee’s name from W-L? Let’s find out.
“Why is the door open, are we trying to air condition the whole neighborhood?”
That must be what some retail employees in Clarendon are be thinking this week. Amid a scorching heat wave, many stores are still keeping their doors propped open.
— Isabel Harrison (@isabelvharrison) July 1, 2018
What is otherwise a solid strategy for getting passersby to come inside becomes absurd when the temperature reaches well above the 90s.
This is nothing new — it’s been happening for years. But even the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services is now making fun of it via social media.
— Arlington DES (@ArlingtonDES) June 19, 2018
— Arlington DES (@ArlingtonDES) July 2, 2018
Not everybody hates the open doors, however. A certain employee of this publication, who will go unnamed, acknowledged that the open doors are probably a bit wasteful, but argued that the cool breeze feels nice when walking by.
What do you think?
One thing we’ve never asked readers is whether you are Arlington residents or otherwise.
Obviously if you’re reading this site you have a strong interest in what happens in Arlington. But you might only work here, or maybe you used to live here and you’re checking back on the old neighborhood, or you’re Arlington born-and-raised and away at college.
Which is it? Let’s find out.
Last Friday, as we eagerly awaited the arrival of the Washington Capitals and the Stanley Cup in Clarendon, a few ARLnow staffers had some time to kill.
As the minutes ticked by and Lord Stanley’s cup was still somewhere between Dulles and Don Tito’s, we looked up at the CVS Pharmacy across the street and realized something: there was a second floor. It might seem obvious to others, but we hadn’t noticed the windows there before.
What exactly was up there, we wondered?
Before Slacking the intern to request a full investigation the following week, we saw two people peering out the window at the growing crowd below.
The clothes they were wearing were a pretty good clue as to what’s up there — but that’s not going to stop us from making the most of this mystery and posting it in the form of a morning poll.
So we put it to you, our readers: what do you imagine is above the Clarendon CVS?
Crystal City Tops HQ2 Poll — The combined Crystal City-Potomac Yard site is the most likely D.C. area landing spot for Amazon’s second headquarters, according to an online poll conducted by the Washington Business Journal. Meanwhile, D.C., Virginia and Maryland officials are teaming up to promote the region as the HQ2 search continues. Amazon fever has even entered the world of local business conferences: an event dubbed “HQmania” is scheduled to be held in Rosslyn next month. [Washington Business Journal, WAMU, DCA Live]
Rosslyn Lands Nonprofit HQ — “It’s been a good week for Rosslyn. First came the news that Gerber, a Nestle subsidiary, would relocate its headquarters and 150 jobs from New Jersey to 1812 N. Moore St. And Friday, we learn that a D.C.-based global nonprofit has decided to cross the Potomac into Arlington.” [Washington Business Journal]
ART Bus Stop Vandalized — Someone smashed two of the windows on an ART bus stop in the Long Branch Creek neighborhood late last week. [Twitter]
Arlington Man Charged With Statutory Rape — A 47-year-old Arlington man was arrested at his home last month and charged with the statutory rape of a minor in North Carolina. The man arranged meeting the minor in North Carolina via the messaging app Kik, which is popular with teens. [Fox 8]
Local Columbine Survivor Addresses Student Protesters — “Salli Garrigan was in music class when the sound of gunshots reverberated through the halls of her high school… Garrigan, now 35 and an Arlington resident, stood Friday before a crowd of D.C.-area students gathered on the U.S. Capitol lawn and told them when she was their age, she didn’t know how to make her voice heard.” [Washington Post]
Long Bridge Park Field Renovations Starting — Work is set to begin today on new turf for Long Bridge Park’s heavily-used Field No. 3. The field is expected to be closed for 45 days. [Arlington County]
Past and Present School Board Members Gather — On Thursday, the Arlington School Board held its last meeting at the Arlington Education Center building next to Washington-Lee High School. The board room and administrative offices are moving to the Syphax Education Center along Washington Blvd. To mark the last meeting, past and current School Board members members gathered for a photo. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Duluoz Me
If you’re superstitious, you might be a bit extra cautious today, walking around ladders, avoiding certain felines and whatnot. Or, if you think that all this superstition stuff is silly, you’re probably not doing a single thing differently.
Let’s find out where Arlington residents stand when it comes to superstition and Friday the 13th.
Photo via Wikipedia