Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Metro 29 Diner Back Open — After temporarily closing in late December due to “COVID-19 concerns,” Metro 29 Diner on Lee Highway reopened earlier this week. [Facebook]

Arlington Rents Going Back Up — “In what might be another sign of a return to a semblance of normalcy, average rents for Arlington apartments increased in February for the first time since the start of the COVID pandemic. The 0.7-percent month-over-month increase also mirrored the national index, which reported its biggest monthly increase since June 2019.” [InsideNova]

Alamo Drafthouse Declares Bankruptcy — A centerpiece of some of the changes in Crystal City is the planned Alamo Drafthouse movie theater. But the company just declared bankruptcy, potentially putting new theater projects in jeopardy. [CNBC, @abeaujon/Twitter]

More Edging Work Along Trail — “The morning volunteer session this Saturday has sold out but we still have 8 spots open for the afternoon session. Come help us continue to uncover the [Mt. Vernon] trail and make it a little bit wider.” [@MtVernonFriends/Twitter, Eventbrite]

Don’t Worry About Flipped Car at Fire Station — “Have you driven by one of our fire stations and noticed an overturned car? Don’t be alarmed, it’s likely a vehicle extrication training prop like the one pictured below at Fire Station 5! These vehicles provide us high fidelity training to respond to serious auto crashes.” [@ArlingtonVaFD/Twitter]

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Gov. Ralph Northam made an Arlington apartment building his venue to announce a half-billion dollars in rent relief for Virginia families.

Northam announced the new federal funding for the Virginia Rent Relief Program at Gillam Place, an affordable apartment complex along Columbia Pike. He did so after touring an Arlington vaccination clinic Tuesday morning.

The rent relief “will assist households and landlords with rent payments to avoid eviction” during the pandemic. Virginia residents can apply for up to 15 months of rent relief, for payments dating back to April 1, 2020 and up to three months in the future.

More from a press release:

Governor Ralph Northam today announced $524 million in new federal funding to help keep Virginia families in their homes amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Virginia Rent Relief Program (RRP) is funded through the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program included in the recent federal stimulus package and will assist households and landlords with rent payments to avoid eviction. Governor Northam made the announcement at Gilliam Place Apartments, which is owned by the nonprofit organization Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have prioritized efforts to keep Virginians safely in their homes,” said Governor Northam. “There continues to be an overwhelming need for additional relief to help those struggling to make ends meet. This new federal funding will provide an important lifeline to individuals and families, and bolster our ongoing work to address housing affordability in the Commonwealth. I urge eligible households to act quickly and work with their landlords to seek rental assistance through this program.”

Virginia is immediately putting $160 million into the RRP to increase housing stability across the Commonwealth and will make additional funding available based upon need. The program will be administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

In June 2020, Virginia was one of the first states in the nation to create a statewide rent and mortgage relief program with federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds. To date, the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) has distributed over $83.7 million in 24,294 rent and mortgage payments for households throughout the Commonwealth. Families with children represent the majority of households assisted by the program. Governor Northam and the General Assembly allocated Virginia Housing Trust Funds to continue supporting the program prior to this new federal allocation.

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Morning Notes

Snow Removal Ordinance in Effect — “A recent weather event has concluded and deposited snow/ice accumulations of less than 6 inches. Arlington’s sidewalk snow removal ordinance requires residents and businesses to clear adjacent public sidewalks of snow and ice by 1:00 PM on Wednesday, February 3.” [Arlington County]

More Back-to-School Dates Expected Soon — “We look forward to welcoming Level 2 Career & Technical Education students to the Arlington Career Center for hybrid/in-person instruction starting [today]. We continue to assess additional student return dates… The next group to return will be Level 2, PreK through second grade and countywide elementary special education students. Return dates for this group will be communicated at the Feb. 18 School Board meeting.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Arlington Rent Declines Slowing — “Arlington’s COVID- and shutdown-caused drop in apartment rents appears to be hitting bottom for now, according to new data from Apartment List, but the county’s rental market is still significantly more affordable than before the pandemic. For the year ending in January, rents in Arlington were down 14 percent from a year before… the drop from December to January was just 0.5 percent, lower than in preceding months.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Ranks No. 14 in ‘Walk-Friendly’ List — “About 30 years ago, Arlington took the lead in suburban redevelopment in Virginia, creating walkable urban areas around the metro system. Now that momentum has pushed Arlington (and its most walkable neighborhoods of Clarendon-Courthouse, Ballston-Virginia Square, and Lyon Village) into the top walkable cities — something we can expect to continue when Amazon moves in.” [MSN]

Hope’s Prison Oversight Bill Dies — From Del. Patrick Hope (D): “This is not the end — only the beginning. Every agency in Va must be transparent and accountable to the public which they serve. We will regroup and come back next session with a bill that prioritizes [Virginia Dept. of Corrections] oversight.” [Twitter]

Case of the Stray Hockey Sticks — A shipment of hockey sticks destined for the Washington Capitals practice facility in Ballston, to be used by new Caps acquisition Zdeno Chara, was apparently mis-delivered to a random New Jersey man’s home. [ESPN, Barstool Sports]

Bezos Relinquishing CEO Role at Amazon — “Jeff Bezos said Tuesday that he will step down as chief executive of Amazon, leaving the helm of the company he founded 27 years ago. Bezos will transition to the role of executive chair in the third quarter of this year, which starts July 1, the company said. Andy Jassy, the chief executive of Amazon Web Services, will take over as CEO of Amazon.” The company yesterday revealed designs for the second phase of its Arlington HQ2. [NBC News]

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A recent national report has revealed that rents in Arlington have dropped by 14.8% since last March, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by ApartmentList.com.

Arlington has had the seventh-largest decrease compared to other (much larger) markets, like New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. D.C. had the fifth-largest decrease.

Between December and January, Arlington rents decreased by nearly 2.5%.

The median two-bedroom rent in the county is now $2,032, according to the report. However, Arlington still has the most expensive rents in the D.C. region, topping fellow close-in suburbs like Bethesda and Alexandria.

There’s one huge reason for the drop.

“It’s really tied to the economic carnage [from] the pandemic,” says Terry Clower, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. “Most of the jobs that we have lost have been in the hospitality services and retail sectors, which are typically disproportionately renters.”

Clower says parsing out data shows the pandemic has also caused behavioral changes in terms of renting. In general, high-rise units have seen a larger drop in demand than lower-rise properties, Clower notes.

If part of your calculation of where you want to live at the moment is based on how dense the development is, how [crowded] it is in the elevator,” says Clower. “Then, you are less likely to live in a high rise.”

Ballston and Rosslyn, in particular, have seen an influx of these dense-living types of properties, mostly due to construction prior to the pandemic, though there are more in the pipeline.

What’s more, there’s lower desire at the moment to live in high-density areas, according to Clower. While rent prices have declined in Arlington, they’ve risen in further D.C. area ‘burbs.

“Areas like Fredericksburg, Virginia… or Charles County, Maryland, rents have increased,” says Clower. “You’re getting… that effect of fleeing the dense inner suburbs to the less dense outer suburbs.”

The need for more space, as well, has shifted some renters to exploring buying single family homes. Between a lack of housing inventory and rising home values in Arlington, says Clower, demand for residences in the outer suburbs have also exploded.

“Most households in our region are two-income earner households, especially families with school-age children,” says Clower. “Kids need a place and both [parents] need some place to work inside the house, preferably not the kitchen table.”

Plus, lower interest rates have also encouraged first-time home buyers.

While rent decreases may be good for renters, it’s not good for property owners, developers, or even the county as a whole.

Clower says smaller landlords, those that only own a few properties, are not getting any break on mortgage payments, meaning decreasing rents impact their ability to pay their mortgage. In terms of the bigger developments, units are generating less revenue.

“They are less valuable in the market, which means that… the property taxes paid to local governments should be reduced as well,” says Clower. “Because they’re less valuable and generating less income.”

Arlington County depends on these property taxes to balance its budget and provide services to residents. But the full impact of all of this may not be seen until further into the future.

“The fiscal and economic down side of this pandemic is going to last well beyond… when we start getting the pandemic under control through the vaccinations,” says Clower.

Right now, it just may be a great moment to rent in Arlington. Clower says we can probably expect a continued slight dip in rents, but the big drop-off probably has already happened with vaccinations starting to happen.

“If you are looking for a good deal and prefer to be a renter,” says Clower, “it’s probably a good time to lock in a relatively long term lease.”

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Morning Notes

Rent Falling in Arlington — “The median rental price in Arlington for a two-bedroom apartment of $2,032 at the end of the year was down 14.8 percent from March, when the pandemic hit, according to the analysis. Arlington is among of 12 major urban communities that have seen rents fall by more than 10 percent since COVID’s arrival.” [InsideNova, WTOP]

Hotel Guest Arrested for Punching Cop — “Hotel management requested police stand by while they removed individuals from a room for violation of hotel policies. Management advised the guests they would need to leave, and while two of the occupants began to collect their belongings, an argument ensued between them. The dispute continued outside of the room and began to escalate, at which point officers separated the parties. The suspect then allegedly threw an unknown object into the elevator and rushed towards an officer, striking them with a closed fist.” [ACPD]

Compass Apologizes for Rogue Social Post — D.C.-based cafe chain Compass Coffee is apologizing for posting a screenshot of a tweet that said “Republicans are not our countrymen. They are terrorists…” on its Instagram account. “Sorry about this!” Compass said about the post. “Absolutely not what we believe or in line with our values. Currently investigating what / who posted this.” [Twitter]

Bishop Reflects on Capitol Riot — Writes Diocese of Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge: “The mutual respect we must have for law and order was disregarded. Rather than being treated with respect for the inherently noble work with which they are entrusted, police officers and federal agents in and around the Capitol buildings were, in many cases, attacked, injured and harassed in the line of duty. We should all thank them for their courage and service.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]

Local Nonprofit Has New Leader — “Diana Ortiz, who has more than two decades in the social-safety-net world, has been tapped as president of Doorways, the non-profit safety-net provider. She succeeds Caroline Jones, who departed earlier this year to take a post with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.” [InsideNova]

Beyer Staffer Tapped for White House Role — “Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) today congratulated his departing Chief of Staff, Tanya Bradsher, who was appointed by President-elect Joe Biden to serve as Senior Director for Partnerships and Global Engagement on the National Security Council… Beyer announced that his Acting Chief of Staff Zach Cafritz, who had previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director, would take over as Chief of Staff.” [Press Release]

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Morning Notes

Modification to Red Top Development — “As currently proposed, the building would have 269 residential units instead of the previously-approved 247. The unit mix will span from studios to two bedrooms, and the ground-floor units will have private entrances, including a lone three-bedroom unit. The development will also include 134 vehicular spaces and 108 bicycle spaces on a below-grade level.” [UrbanTurf]

Spotted: First Snowflakes of the Season — The first snowflakes of the season in Arlington fell yesterday. Though the few flakes that briefly fell did not amount to any degree of accumulation, it was enough to prompt a few social media posts. [Twitter, Twitter]

Rental Assistance for Day Laborers — “Arlington County Board members on Dec. 12 are expected to reallocate funds from the Shirlington Employment and Education Center (SEEC) to support rental assistance for day-laborers in the community. The plan will move $32,000 of the county government’s annual grant of $208,643 to SEEC to directly focus on rental assistance by making direct payments to landlords.” [InsideNova]

Inmates, Deputies to Be Tested — “Sheriff Beth Arthur announces all Sheriff’s Office staff and inmates housed at the Arlington County Detention Facility will be tested for COVID-19 on December 10th and 11th by the Virginia National Guard.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: MoCo May Nix Indoor Dining — “Indoor dining at restaurants in Montgomery County could soon be shut down, a new measure to combat the spread of COVID-19. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich announced his proposal on Wednesday afternoon during a media briefing held with county and medical officials across the state.” [Bethesda Magazine, Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

Garvey Stands By Streetcar Stance — “It cost her the goodwill of many in the county’s Democratic ranks, and four years ago nearly cost her her job, but Libby Garvey says she has no regrets. Garvey, now seeking a third full term on the Arlington County Board, used the Sept. 8 Arlington County Civic Federation candidate forum to remind voters of her full-throttle opposition to the Columbia Pike streetcar system – the biggest political controversy of recent years.” [InsideNova]

Local Man Facing Child Porn Charges — “An Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force investigation by state and local agencies has resulted in the arrest of an Arlington man. Detectives arrested Luis Hernandez Orozco, 25, and charged him with two counts of Possession of Child Pornography. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility.” [Arlington County]

Arlington Somewhat Affordable for Renters — Arlington has ranked No. 18 on a new list of the “Cities Where Renters Can Afford to Live Alone,” which ranks locales based on average rent for a studio or one-bedroom apartment, relative to the median income in the area. [SmartAsset]

Drive-In Movie on Saturday — “The drive-in is back, and coming to a neighborhood near you. Gather the family and cruise down to Ballston to watch an exclusive screening of Night at the Museum at Ballston’s Drive-In Movie Night. Tickets include free sweet treats, but be sure to bring your own movie snacks.” [Ballston BID]

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Morning Notes

County Allocates More Money for Rent Relief — “The Arlington County Board today approved using an additional $1.125 million from the County’s COVID-19 contingent account to fund eviction protection through December 2020 for those affected by the pandemic. The Board’s action brings the total amount allocated for eviction prevention in Fiscal Year 2021, which began July 1, 2020, to $3.5 million.” [Arlington County]

AWLA Pushes to Extend Eviction Ban — “The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is pushing for legislators to extend Governor Northam’s original eviction deadline of September 7, to prevent animals from being surrendered by people who can’t afford them. AWLA says they’re here to help tenants during these trying times and also urge landlords to cut back on animal restrictions and limitations.” [WDVM]

I-66 Lane Closures This Weekend — “Single-lane closures on westbound I-66 just before the bridge over Lee Highway (Route 29) at Exit 72 will occur (weather permitting) between 9 p.m. Friday night, Aug. 28 and 5 a.m. Monday morning, Aug. 31 for road repairs, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.” [VDOT]

Arlington-Based Lidl Expanding — “Discount grocery Lidl, whose North American headquarters is in Crystal City, Virginia, will open 50 new stores by the end of 2021, including 10 new locations in Maryland, and seven new stores in Virginia.” [WTOP]

Nearby: Rabies Warning in Falls Church — “The City of Falls Church Police and Animal Warden remind residents about the risks of rabid wildlife spreading rabies to pets. Police recently responded to a report of a sick raccoon in the 1200 block of Lincoln Ave. The raccoon was euthanized and later found to have rabies.  In this case, two dogs were exposed to the raccoon and are now in quarantine.” [City of Falls Church]

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Morning Notes

Prosecutor Files Petition Against Judges — “A northern Virginia prosecutor who says her county’s judges are infringing on her discretion to dismiss charges and enter plea bargains is asking the state Supreme Court to intervene on her behalf. Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti filed a petition Friday asking the court for a relief from a policy imposed by the county’s four Circuit Court judges.” [Associated Press]

New BBQ Pop-Up Coming to Pentagon City — “In their spare time [chefs Kevin Tien and Scott Chung] dreamed up Wild Tiger BBQ, which launches Thursday, August 20 next to Bun’d Up at Pentagon Row in Arlington. The pop-up will run Thursday through Saturday for the first few weeks.” [Washingtonian]

‘Bumper Crop of Mosquitos’ — “With the floods of summer come the pests of summer — bloodsucking mosquitoes. It takes several days to a couple of weeks for mosquitoes to hatch, molt and fly out of floodwater, but the swarms eventually arrive, in greater numbers than before the flood. After the recent flooding from thunderstorms and Tropical Storm Isaias in the Washington region, a bumper crop of mosquitoes has emerged.” [Washington Post]

Retired Colonel Helps With COVID Response — “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early March, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel David Ashley quickly found his planned spring and summer mountain climbing trips canceled. He spent about a week doing projects around his Arlington home, but after 27 years in the military, he realized he need something else, something with more purpose.” [Arlington County]

Cab Exec’s Offensive Post Makes Headlines — “An elected town council member in Strasburg, Va., who also is chairman of the 6th Congressional District’s Republican Committee admitted this week that he posted, then removed, a sexually offensive meme targeted at Sen. Kamala D. Harris… [John] Massoud, who is vice president of Arlington’s Blue Top taxi service and was an unsuccessful candidate against ex-Del. Bob Brink for a House of Delegates seat from Arlington in 1997 and 1999, moved to the Shenandoah Valley about 10 years ago.” [Washington Post]

Analysis of Rents Near Metro Stations — “The most expensive rents ($2,200 and up) are found in areas of Arlington and Washington, DC. Rent near the Ballston-MU station is in the mid-range among DC Metro stops. But while the median price increased near Court House, it decreased near Ballston-MU, according to the analysis. The median rent for a one-bedroom unit near Ballston-MU is $1,975, a 1.3 percent decrease from 2019.” [Patch]

Clement Rips Dems for Redistricting Stance — “An independent candidate for Arlington County Board has criticized the Arlington County Democratic Committee for its opposition to a nonpartisan-redistricting constitutional amendment on the state ballot in November. Audrey Clement, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Libby Garvey for County Board, said the Democrats’ vote seems disingenuous for a party that claims to be about good government.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Makes Top Travel Destination List — “For all the talk of a move to small, less densely populated destinations, Hotwire also ranked much bigger cities. Its ‘midsize must see’ picks were St. Louis; Tampa, Florida; Atlanta; Arlington, Virginia; Tucson, Arizona; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Pittsburgh; Miami; and Cincinnati.” [CNBC]

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Morning Notes

Storm Results in Minor Damage — Isaias only caused minor damage in Arlington as it roared past the D.C. area as a tropical storm. Arlington received about 2 inches of rain and some gusty winds as the storm passed. The rain did cause Four Mile Run to top its banks and cover the bike path near Carlin Springs Road. [Twitter]

Thousands of Local Renters Seeking Help — Arlington County “has been besieged with requests for help — in the eight months before the county declared an emergency because of the pandemic, her division received 821 requests for financial- and eviction-prevention assistance. Between March and May, that number was 2,378. The county hired temporary workers to supplement the county workers, who are working from home, and is trying to assist residents, some of whom don’t have Internet access and must rely on sending and receiving forms by mail.” [Washington Post]

Lots of Retail Rent Not Getting Paid — “Retail tenants have been hardest hit during the pandemic, across the board and for JBG Smith. The company collected 58% of rent due from those tenants in the second quarter, compared with nearly 99% for office and 98.5% for multifamily… JBG Smith is exploring the possibility of incorporating ghost kitchens, or food preparation facilities for delivery-only meals, to fill some of the void created by empty retail spaces as a temporary measure.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington GOP vs. WaPo Reporter — The Arlington County Republican Committee, in response to a Washington Post article about its chairman’s social media posts, posted the following on Twitter last night: “#FakeNews opinion columnist @psullivan1 was forced to change her slanderous headline… She apologizes for Communist China, but falls all over herself for a headline. lol, Peopermint Patti” [Twitter]

This One Time, Not at Band Camp — “APS has decided to cancel all August activities until further notice. The WL marching band camp for 2020 has been canceled.” [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Rent Protest Today — Starting at the shopping center parking lot at 5001 Columbia Pike, a caravan of cars adorned with signs will travel to local apartment complexes to support “rent cancellation during this pandemic plus two months following the ability for community members to work and pay rent,” among other aims. The protest is being organized by La ColectiVA and other groups. [Facebook]

Animal Control Rescues Turtle from I-395 — “A few days ago, we got a call about a turtle very close to traffic on I-395. When Sgt Ballena arrived, he found a young snapping turtle who’s beak was fractured and bleeding. He took the turtle to Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, who will care for him until he can be released.” [Twitter]

Arlington Officers Injured During D.C. Protests — Despite an earlier comment by the police chief that no officers were injured, “a spokesperson for Arlington County Police told us, ‘one Arlington officer suffered a concussion and several others suffered bruises and abrasions.'” [WUSA 9]

Home Sales Downs, Prices Up — “May is usually one of the best months for housing sales, but the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of listings sidelined many potential buyers. The D.C. area had its slowest May for sales in a decade. But more sellers stepped up from April and prices continue to rise year-over-year… The median price of what sold in Arlington County was $622,500, up 1.2% from last May.” [WTOP]

Could HQ2 Be Downsized? — Amazon prizes in-person interactions among employees, but there are still questions as to whether the company will proceed with the second phase of its 4+ million square foot permanent second headquarters in Pentagon City. [Washington Business Journal]

Orange Line Platform Work Moving Along — “Two weeks into the summer shutdown, construction activity is well underway at Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations. So far, construction crews have focused on demolition work, including the removal of all tiles from the platforms, mezzanines and pedestrian bridges.” [WMATA]

Two Recent Drownings Near Chain Bridge — While D.C. Fire and EMS warns of dangerous waters near the Chain Bridge, the department said another grim discovery was made Thursday. “There have been 2 drownings in the past 3 weeks near Chain Bridge and a body was recovered today,” DCFEMS said. [Twitter]

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