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(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) With 800 workers completing one floor every 10 days, the first two buildings of Amazon’s HQ2 are set to reach their full height in April.

Construction began on the 2.1 million-square foot Met Park campus — the first phase of the massive Pentagon City project — in January 2020 and is still on-track to be completed in 2023, Amazon officials said during a hard hat tour today.

Separately, shortly after the tour ended, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Day 1 Families Fund announced a $2.5 million grant to longtime Arlington nonprofit Doorways, intended to “end homelessness for families in the Arlington area.”

Donations to local nonprofits was also a theme of the remarks from Amazon officials to the gathered crowd of media members and elected officials, including outgoing Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti. They spoke of the company’s community involvement, its pace of hiring workers for HQ2, and construction progress.

“Three years ago, we made a commitment to create 25,000 and an investment of more than $2.5 billion,” said Brian Huseman, Amazon’s Vice President of Public Policy. “I’m excited to announce to you today that we are on track for that. As of today, we have more than 3,500 Amazon employees working at HQ2 and more than 2,500 open roles, which is double where we were a year ago today. HQ2 is on track and it’s here.”

Amazon now intends to fulfill its goal of 25,000 jobs by 2028.

Once an abandoned warehouse, the site of Met Park will eventually feature two solar-powered, 22-story office buildings and more than 50,000 square feet of retail space, including a childcare, as well as a 2-acre public park and a 700-person meeting center free for the community to use.

“Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, I’m truly proud to share that we’ve hit all our critical milestones and we’ve kept the project on schedule while keeping the workers safe as well as our community,” said Jeff King, the vice president of construction for Clark Construction. “Just last month, we surpassed the halfway mark with our concrete operations. We set the timber roof over the event center… Our exterior façade commenced in September. And in the last couple weeks, we started revitalizing Metropolitan Park.”

So far, workers have reached level 15 on the pair of office buildings and are getting ready to frame level 16, he said. Once completed, the buildings’ rooftops will feature a café terrace, a dog run terrace and an urban farm terrace.

A timber roof was recently installed over the event center, which mostly be available for events such as conferences, Amazon’s Senior Manager of External Affairs Patrick Phillippi said. The terms of shared use have yet to be ironed out.

Officials highlighted the sustainability of the construction project as well, from using concrete that sequesters recycled carbon to diverting 84% of all construction materials from landfills.

Over the last three years, Amazon has donated $34 million to local nonprofits such as La Cocina VA, Arlington Food Assistance Center and Bridges to Independence, and schools, such as the “Think Big Space” innovation lab under construction at Wakefield High School.

Huseman said Amazon has donated more than $500 million in low-rate loans and grants to preserve 2,300 affordable homes in the HQ2 region, with more coming. As part of the Met Park development, Amazon is donating more than $20 million to Arlington County to fund the creation and preservation of committed affordable housing units, primarily through the development of additional units at the nearby Crystal House apartment complex.

Separate from these donations, local nonprofit Doorways — which works to lift locals out of homelessness and support victims of domestic violence — announced today that it also received an Amazon-related windfall: $2.5 million from Bezos’ families fund grant, which is doling out $96.2 million to 32 nonprofits across the country.

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Construction is coming along on the J Sol Apartments in Ballston, but the project is still a long way from completion.

According to an employee at the Jefferson Apartment Group, the company developing the project, the project’s expected completion date is 18 months away.

The project at 4000 Fairfax Drive is planned to be a 22-story luxury complex with 330 units. Plans include a swimming pool and sundeck on the roof of the project.

Street retail — totaling 8,260 square feet — is also planned for the project along an outdoor plaza, but no tenants have been announced.

The apartment building broke ground in December 2017, replacing CarPool, a popular local bar that closed in April 2017.

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Update on 2/6/18: The Clarendon Alliance has issued an update to their plans. Citing “a large Mardi Gras ball with major sponsors” in Union Market and a Mardi Gras parade planned for the same time at Washington’s District Wharf development, the Mardi Gras Ball and the Jester Jaunt have been cancelled. The parade will still go on as scheduled.

“They’ve got marketing dollars and fireworks,” said Matt Hussman, The Clarendon Alliance’s executive director. “It’s a different market than it used to be. But I wish the Wharf and Union Market the best of luck [with their own Mardi Gras activities].”

According to Hussman, approximately 60% of previous years’ Mardi Gras Ball tickets were sold either the day before or day of the event. He cited the difficulty in prepaying for beer and food expenses without knowing the exact number of participants as a major consideration in the decision. Another factor was the quantity of ball attendees: Hussman noted that the vast majority of ball ticket holders were Batalá Washington performers or Louisiana State University alumni. Both groups, he said, would be parading at the Wharf instead of in Clarendon.

Currently there are approximately 20 registered parade floats or groups, and registration is still open for additional marchers. 

Earlier: Clarendon’s annual Mardi Gras procession of dressed-up dogs, cyclists, floats, and revelers is quickly approaching, and registration for several events has opened.

The festivities will kick off on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. on Wilson Boulevard at N. Barton Street, following along Wilson Boulevard before ending at by The Liberty Tavern at N. Irving Street.

Parade registration fees range from $50 for a nonprofit or community organization to $250 for a business outside of the Clarendon-Courthouse corridor. Revelers can also preorder a box of 720 beaded necklaces for $75.

Though few want it to rain on their parade, last year’s Mardi Gras procession went on despite the downpour.

The following street closures have been reported for the parade and fun run:

  • Wilson Boulevard, from Veitch Street to Barton Street, will be closed from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • Adams Street and Wayne Street, between Clarendon Boulevard and Wilson Boulevard, will be closed from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • Wilson Boulevard, from Barton Street to Irving Street, will be closed from 6:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Photos (as marked) courtesy of Jason Dixson Photography

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