Arlington, VA

A third of Amazon’s $3 million June donation for affordable housing in and around Arlington will go to the redevelopment of the American Legion post in Virginia Square.

“The funds will dramatically drive down the rental rates” for ten units at the 160-unit development, located at 3445 Washington Blvd, according to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH).

“We are so honored that the Foundation and Amazon chose APAH for the initial gift. This contribution will go a long way in making this special project even more impactful,” said APAH President and CEO Nina Janopaul in a press release. The grant is being made via the Arlington Community Foundation, which is managing Amazon’s $3 million gift.

The site has been formally dubbed Terwilliger Place, after a couple who also made a hefty donation towards the project earlier this year.

“Thanks to today’s gifts we can increase the number of Terwilliger Place homes that will be affordable for those living in the lowest income bracket — families living on minimum wage,” Janopaul said.

In 2016, APAH bought the 1.3-acre property, and the County Board in February approved a plan to tear it down in 2020. In its place will go 160 units of housing with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, all at different levels of affordability. Half of the units will go towards housing low-income veterans, and plans to open to residents on a first-come basis are set for summer 2022.

“We are adding much-needed affordable units to our inventory, and many of them are large enough for families,” County Board Chair Christian Dorsey wrote in a statement earlier this year.

APAH also plans to build a brand-new, modern 6,000 square foot facility in Terwilliger Place for Legion Post 139, with amenities such as private counseling spaces, community activity rooms, and a computer lab.

In addition to Amazon’s June donation, the company has announced it will match employee donations to select housing- and homelessness-related nonprofits in and around Arlington, including AHC Inc., APAH, Carpenter’s Shelter, and more.

The County Board will vote on a zoning amendment next week for Amazon’s upcoming HQ2, which includes a $20 million donation towards Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund.

The grant announcement from APAH is below, after the jump.

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The expansion of George Mason University’s campus in Virginia Square is envisioned as a gleaming glass-and-steel tower with the school’s distinctive “M” emblazoned on top.

That’s according to a new concept design for GMU’s planned Institute for Digital Innovation, released as the university announced $235 million in new funding from the state to expand the campus and develop more tech talent. The new building will be built atop the long-shuttered Kann’s Department Store, on the west side of the Fairfax Drive campus.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced the funding for GMU and ten other Virginia universities on Thursday, citing Amazon’s HQ2 in Arlington as a key reason why the Commonwealth needs more tech workers.

“Virginia will invest in the Commonwealth’s tech talent pipeline to create 31,000 new computer science graduates over 20 years, under agreements he signed with 11 universities,” the governor’s office said in a press release. “The Tech Talent Investment Program will benefit students and tech employers in every corner of the Commonwealth. It grew out of Virginia’s proposal to Amazon, which will locate its second headquarters in Northern Virginia.”

In its own press release, below, GMU said the state funding — along with an expanded Arlington campus — will help it produce 16,000 more undergrad and master’s graduates in tech fields over the next 20 years.

The press release says additional information about the new Institute for Digital Innovation facility will be revealed at an event on Wednesday, Nov. 20, which will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Arlington campus, which currently includes includes the Antonin Scalia Law School, the Schar School of Policy and Government and other departments, mostly focusing on graduate and professional programs.

The full GMU press release is below, after the jump.

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Updated 10:50 p.m. — The fire alarm has stopped and residents are returning to the building.

First responders are on the scene at 3601 Fairfax Drive where dozens of residents have been evacuated from Latitude Apartments after reports of a fire.

Residents on multiple floors of the building reported seeing and smelling smoke coming out of the building.

Nate and Kelli, two residents of the building, said the alarm went off around 10 p.m. They were on the roof when the alarm went off and they could smell smoke.

As of 10:30 p.m. firefighters were still working through the building.

Airey and Vernon Miles contributed to this story

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A parking lot in the Virginia Square has a new owner, and potentially, a new future.

Swedish developer and construction company Skanska announced today (Tuesday) that it had bought the site at 3901 N. Fairfax Drive from an affiliate of of the Bernstein Management Corporation and intends to make long-stalled development plans a reality.

The site, near Quincy Park, once housed the Arlington Funeral Home before it closed in 2011 after 55 years in business. The property later became a parking lot for the nearby Mercedes-Benz of Arlington dealership. Today, the parking lot is enclosed with chainlink fences and hosts a billboard advertising the “trophy office” to come.

Skanska said today it will build the nine-story office building with 184,036 square feet of office space and will aim for LEED Gold certification planned for the site. The company also noted that the building will come equipped with 10,280 square feet of ground floor retail — a feature some other buildings have struggled to fill in Arlington.

The original site plan included a $3.7 million, 12,985 square-foot black box theatre, however it was removed in later revisions and replaced by ground floor retail space, per Skanska’s Mark Carroll, who works as the executive vice president for the company’s D.C. area commercial developments.

“We plan to keep the general building design but may make minor modifications,” he told ARLnow in an email.

He added that the amenities Skanska is currently eyeing in the new building include:

  • A 4,000-square-foot outdoor rooftop terrace with a 1,600-square-foot indoor amenity space
  • A 1,700-square-foot second floor terrace
  • A state-of-the-art fitness facility
  • 10,280 square-feet of ground-floor retail
  • The property targeting LEED® Gold certification
  • Floor-to-ceiling windows on all four sides, which will welcome ample natural light and unobstructed views into the office spaces.

“The Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor has long been the epicenter of mixed-use development in Northern Virginia, and the 3901 North Fairfax site will be a welcome addition to this vibrant, pedestrian-friendly community with easy access to public transit and a plethora of retail options,” he said earlier today in a statement.

“This acquisition is significant as the site represents one of the last ground-up, Metro-accessible development opportunities along the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor,” said the company in a press release, noting the property proximity to the Virginia Square and Ballston Metro stations.

Across the street from the site construction is still underway for the 22-story, 330-unit J Sol Apartments complex.

Nearby, Virginia Square and Ballston is also host to several other new developments, including an affordable housing developments at the American Legion Post and a church, as well as a new YMCA and a historical cemetery with an uncertain future.

Skanska previously developed the 1776 Wilson Blvd office building in Rosslyn before selling it in 2014. It also owned an 11-story office building near Nationals Park in D.C., and another 11-story “trophy office” building on Pennsylvania Avenue, among other projects.

Image 2 via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

It’s Columbus Day — Despite the federal holiday, all Arlington County government offices, courts, libraries and facilities will be open today. Barring breaking news, ARLnow will be publishing on a limited schedule today. [Arlington County]

Theft from Casual Adventure — From an Arlington County Police crime report: “At approximately 11:35 a.m. on October 10, police were dispatched to the late report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect entered a business at approximately 5:30 p.m. on October 9, selected numerous fleece jackets before fleeing the scene without paying.” [Arlington County]

ACPD Warns of Phone Scam — “Residents have reported receiving unsolicited phone calls from individuals fraudulently claiming to be technicians with Dominion Energy. These individuals accuse the victims of having overdue bills which must immediately be paid, or their power will be disconnected. The caller then provides a fraudulent claim number and phone number where the funds may be paid and often requests payment using a prepaid debit or gift card.” [Arlington County]

Governor Issues Drought Watch — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced a statewide drought watch advisory for the Commonwealth of Virginia. A drought watch is intended to increase awareness of current conditions that are likely to precede a significant drought event.” [Press Release, Capital Weather Gang]

Circus Returns to Rosslyn — Updated at 3:45 p.m. — Conservative provocateurs Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl are holding yet another press conference this week outside Burkman’s Rosslyn townhouse. The duo say they will be joined by a “longtime drug dealer” for prominent Democratic members of Congress. [Twitter]

Nearby: Four Mile Run Trail in Alexandria to Reopen Soon — “A bridge spanning the last gap on the Alexandria side of the Four Mile Run Trail has been put into place, but the trail remains impassable for pedestrians.” [ALXnow]

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(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) Firefighters are on scene of an apartment fire at the Quincy Plaza apartments in Virginia Square.

The fire was first reported just after 2 p.m., on the 12th floor of the apartment tower at 3900 Fairfax Drive. The fire is reported to now be out, controlled at least in part via a sprinkler system.

Firefighters are now checking for additional fire, smoke and water damage in adjacent apartments. Water can be seen streaming down the side of the building near where the fire was reported, and “extensive” water damage is being reported in parts of the building, according to scanner traffic.

No word yet on what caused the fire.

Police are also on the scene, helping to provide traffic control with the eastbound lanes of Fairfax Drive closed by the emergency response.

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(Updated at 8:40 p.m.) An “electrical emergency” — reportedly a utility pole being burned by a malfunctioning power line — has prompted an extended road closure in Virginia Square.

Police have closed 14th Street between N. Lincoln Street and N. Kirkwood Road, near Arlington Science Focus Elementary School, to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

“It was just called in and it is a very dangerous situation,” a firefighter could be heard telling a resident along N. Kirkwood Road around 4:30 p.m. “We don’t know how long it will be closed. It could take one hour or six, we don’t know.”

Dominion Energy crews are on scene to work on the line and the pole.

As of 8:30 p.m., 26 Dominion customers in the neighborhood were reported to still be without power.

Map via Google Maps

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Arlington is a hard-charging town, home to the headquarters of the world’s most powerful military and the second headquarters of one of the world’s most valuable companies.

Sometimes, however, the Type A-ness that helps make Arlington Arlington produces negative side effects. A prime example one might cite? More-impatient-than-average drivers.

That was on display this morning (Thursday) as Arlington County Police conducted another high-visibility pedestrian enforcement campaign near the FDIC offices in Virginia Square.

Video posted by ACPD shows an undercover police officer, wearing a brightly-colored t-shirt, walking across Fairfax Drive at N. Kansas Street in a crosswalk as two vehicles approach. Neither stop nor appear to slow down, narrowly missing the officer, who then signals for each to be pulled over and cited.

The law, however, requires drivers to yield to pedestrians in such cases.

In all, 25 summonses for Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian in the Crosswalk were issued this morning during the enforcement action, police said.

“Remember that the streets don’t belong to any one of us, they belong to all of us,” police said in a tweet shortly after the campaign concluded. “Share our roadways with all travelers by being a PAL: Predictable | Alert | Lawful.”

Screenshot via ACPD

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Morning Notes

GMU to Expand Va. Square Campus — “George Mason University wants to transform its Arlington campus into an ‘innovation district’ as it kicks off an Amazon-inspired overhaul… Mason expects to use the expansion to add 3,000 to 4,000 graduate students to the campus by 2024.” [Washington Business Journal]

Man Arrested For Assaulting Police in Ballston — “At approximately 8:32 p.m. on September 11, police were dispatched the report of a disorderly subject inside a restaurant who had allegedly been throwing items and threatening staff. Upon police arrival, the business staff requested the subject be banned from the property. While speaking with the subject, he threatened an officer and took a defensive stance. While placing him under arrest, the subject became combative, kicked and spit at the officers.” [Arlington County]

Home Inventory Tight in Arlington — “New listings in Arlington declined 16.5% in August compared with last year, said Chris Finnegan, vice president at Bright MLS. The median sale price for all home types in the 22202 ZIP code, where Amazon is building and staffing up HQ2, was $749,000 in August. It’s a 23% jump since the company made its HQ2 announcement in November 2018.” [Washington Business Journal, InsideNova]

Coffee Beanery Open in Va. Square — Coffee Beanery, a coffee chain with locations across the northeast, has opened a new location at 3444 Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square. [Facebook]

Tech Company Picks Arlington for U.S. HQ — ” Varjo, the technology leader in industrial-grade VR/XR headsets, today announced the opening of its U.S. headquarters… in Arlington, Virginia, located just outside of Washington D.C.” [Varjo via Potomac Tech Wire]

Potomac Kempo Now Open — Martial arts studio Potomac Kempo yesterday held a grand opening ceremony for its fifth location, at 3650 S. Glebe Road, in the Potomac Yard area. The studio started holding classes on Aug. 31, we’re told. [Facebook]

Video: USS Arlington Crew Welcomed at Fire Station — “Crew members from the USS Arlington were welcomed at Arlington’s Fire Station 5 before running in the The Arlington Police, Fire & Sheriff 9/11 Memorial Race. The USS Arlington honors the 184 victims and the thousands of emergency, fire and rescue personnel of Arlington County and localities in the National Capital Region who provided critical emergency assistance after the attack on 9/11.” [YouTube]

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A small plot on Wilson Blvd bisected by a gravel trail will be reopening as a park with paved central walkway.

The Oakland Park project is centered around plans to bring the park in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and adding overall enhancements to the green space at 3705 Wilson Blvd.

“Design elements include all-new site furnishings, decorative paving, wood decking, native plantings and new park signage,” the county said on the project website. “A highlight in the park will be a public art piece created by Foon Sham.”

Earlier this week, workers were laying some of the final bricks in the walkway, though other work remains to be done across the park.

Construction at the park is on schedule, and Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said the project should be open by the end of the year.

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An office building in Virginia Square has been evacuated after a reported chemical spill in the building.

Firefighters — including hazmat teams and medics — responded to the Ballston Gateway building at 3865 Wilson Blvd around 1:45 p.m., for a report of up to 20 people suffering medical symptoms after a coolant tower leaked chemicals into the building’s penthouse.

The building was evacuated amid a large fire department response, which is currently blocking at least one westbound lane of Wilson Blvd.

Some office workers on lower floors of the building have since been let back in. First responders on the scene radioed fire dispatch to report only a couple of people with minor symptoms, including eye irritation and nausea. There’s no word yet on which chemical might have leaked.

Thus far there has been no report of anyone being taken to the hospital.

The office building is home to a number of companies, including high-profile Arlington startup ThreatConnect.

Vernon Miles contributed to this report

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