Disparities in New Middle School Boundaries — “Under a staff plan slated to go to the School Board Dec. 14, middle schools will have economically-disadvantaged populations ranging from 1 percent of the student body at Williamsburg Middle School to 52 percent of the student body at Kenmore Middle School, with the other schools falling in between.” [InsideNova]
Winner of Marine Corps Marathon Works at 7-Eleven — The winner of this year’s Marine Corps Marathon lives in Nauck and works at an Arlington 7-Eleven store. Desta Beriso Morkama, a 32-year-old Ethiopian immigrant, arrived in the U.S. in September 2016. He has been receiving training and assistance settling into his new Arlington life from a number of local people and groups, including local running coach Jay Jacob Wind. [Falls Church News-Press]
JBG Installing Giant Screens at Central Place — JBG Smith plans to exceed the county-imposed public art requirement at its new Central Place development, thanks to a project that will install giant screens in various places around the apartment and office building. The screens will display moving images, including artwork and nature scenes. [Washington Business Journal]
Hybla Valley = The Next Shirlington? — Fairfax County has big plans for a car-oriented neighborhood south of Alexandria: “The plans also include a 3.1-mile extension of the Yellow Line that would connect the Huntington station to the Hybla Valley section of Richmond Highway, in hopes of creating a pedestrian-friendly urban neighborhood akin to nearby Shirlington.” [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Joe Green
Eastern Foundry Expanding Again — Government contracting startup accelerator Eastern Foundry is expanding once again. The accelerator is taking a 6,175-square-foot space directly below its Crystal City offices and dividing it into four suites “to attract larger companies that want a foothold in the co-working world.” [Washington Business Journal]
JBG’s Big Plans for Crystal City, Potomac Yard — The newly-merged JBG Smith sees an opportunity to transform its holdings in Pentagon City, Crystal City, Potomac Yard and North Old Town Alexandria into “24/7 environments” that “feel more like the [Rosslyn-Ballston] Corridor.” In Crystal City, the company wants to add new amenities. “What we want to do there is add retail amenities and residential to convince people who work there to live and play there,” said an executive. [Bisnow]
Real Estate Market Continues Upward Trajectory — “Year-over-year home sales and average sales prices across Northern Virginia were up slightly in July, leading to a 6.6-percent increase in total sales volume, according to new figures.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
County Opts to Acquire Hospital Site — Arlington County Board members on Tuesday voted to formally seek a large tract of land along S. Carlin Springs Road in a land swap with Virginia Hospital Center. In exchange, the county is offering to VHC county-owned land next to the hospital, which would allow it to expand. [Arlington County, InsideNova]
Bike Thefts Up in Arlington — Bike thefts were up for the first 6 months of 2017, compared to a year prior. No one seems to be safe from the prolific bike thieves, who often target high-end bikes parked in garages and bike lockers; among those reporting recent thefts were Henry Dunbar, the director of BikeArlington and Capital Bikeshare in Arlington, and an ABC 7 employee. [WJLA]
Gondola Project Not Dead — Though Arlington County has moved on from it, D.C. is still budgeting money to advance the proposed Rosslyn-to-Georgetown gondola project, including $250,000 for an environmental review of a potential gondola site near the C&O canal. One other intriguing factor: should the gondola run north of the Key Bridge, as shown in renderings, it may reach Arlington at the Key Bridge Marriott property, which is in the early stages of a potentially large-scale, mixed-use redevelopment. [Bisnow]
County Buys Office Building — As expected, the Arlington County Board has voted to purchase a low-slung office building at 2920 S. Glebe Road, to house Arlington’s head start program. The program is currently housed in the Edison Center next to Virginia Hospital Center, which is slated to be transferred to VHC in a land swap (see above). Arlington is paying $3.885 million for the Glebe Road property, nearly $1.5 million above its assessed value. [Arlington County]
JBG Has Big Plans for Crystal City — JBG Smith, the newly-formed combination of JBG and the Washington properties of Vornado, says repositioning and enhancing its 7 million square foot portfolio in Crystal City is a “top priority.” Among the changes in the works for the Bethesda-based firm: expanding the vacant office building at 1750 Crystal Drive, converting it to residential, and adding an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and a grocery store. [Washington Business Journal]
DOE Highlights Discovery Elementary — The U.S. Department of Energy has profiled Arlington’s Discovery Elementary in a new video. DOE lauds the school for its net zero energy design, which “saves $100,000 per year in utility costs, enough to cover the salaries of two teachers” and was implemented under-budget. [YouTube, Blue Virginia]
Hackathon in Clarendon — Capital One is holding a Women in Tech hackathon at its Clarendon “lab” office next week. “Attendees will have the opportunity to ‘create a technical solution for Women Who Code that empowers girls and women to stay in the tech field.'” [Technical.ly DC, Women in Tech Demo Day]
Arlington Native Pens New Bodice Ripper — On the heels of the success of her debut novel, Seven Days, Arlington’s Ariel Atwell (the pen name of Leslie Aun) has written a follow-up, Twenty-One Nights. The Regency romance is No. 28 on Amazon’s chart for that category. [Amazon]
Nearby: JBG Announces New HQ in Bethesda — In a bit of a blow to Arlington, JBG has announced that it will be opening a new headquarters in downtown Bethesda. JBG has numerous properties in Arlington and will soon be merging with Vornado’s D.C. division, which includes extensive holdings in Arlington. [Bethesda Beat]
Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards
The concession stand at the Crystal City Water Park has closed.
The concession’s last day was Friday, after landlord Vornado declined to renew vendor Adel Ishak’s lease, we’re told. Ishak, who was a prominent attorney in Egypt before he fled to the United States with his family due to safety concerns, had run the kiosk for at least six years.
ARLnow.com has learned that landlord Vornado — soon to be JBG Smith — is planning an expanded retail presence in the park, perhaps a more full-featured restaurant or a beer garden. A major residential redevelopment anchored by an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is planned across the street.
Some local residents who heard that the concession stand would be closing started a petition calling for it to remain open, but to no avail.
“Rain, sleet, snow and shine, Adel was there,” one customer lamented to ARLnow.com. “He has built this business from the ground up – he started with nothing and now has run the stand year-round because of his customers. My hope is… that perhaps Vornado can move his concession to another part of Crystal City or Arlington.”
A building adjacent the Crystal City Metro station is getting a bold new red paint job.
Property owner Vornado will be adding color to its currently beige office building at 251 18th Street S. The painting is expected to begin soon.
The new color “will create an iconic new landmark at [the Metro station] and at the gateway to Crystal City at 18th Street,” according to the Crystal City Business Improvement District, which has been “adding color, vibrancy and art to Crystal City” via projects like Artomatic, Art Underground and various murals around the neighborhood.
While efforts to add to the vibrancy of the neighborhood and improve its aesthetics have been well-received — they were a main topic of an extensive Washingtonian feature last week — the reality is that many of the buildings around Crystal City date back to the 60s and 70s; 251 18th Street was built in 1975 according to Loopnet.
With a wholesale redevelopment of older buildings financially infeasible at a time of high office vacancy rates, Crystal City and its property owners have instead been finding ways to refurbish, creatively re-purpose — and now repaint — existing buildings.
Vornado Scraps Development Proposals — Ahead of the closing of its merger with JBG, Vornado has indefinitely put on hold a number of development proposals, including: all but one building of its proposed RiverHouse development in Pentagon City; a revamp of the shops at 1750 Crystal Drive that was to include a new 12-screen multiplex; and a pair of retail pavilions at 2101 and 2201 Crystal Drive. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington a ‘Best City’ to Go Car-Free — According to a new list in Forbes, Arlington County is one of the top 25 U.S. cities for one to live without a car. Arlington was also one of nine places whose walkable neighborhoods were profiled in the magazine. [Forbes]
Video of Apartment Fire — The weekend fire at the Serrano apartments on Columbia Pike was caught on video. The dramatic video shows firefighters arriving and starting to douse the flames with water. [Statter 911]
‘Taming of the Shrew’ Review — A review of Synetic Theater’s new production of Taming of the Shrew says the physical theater performance “speaks colorful volumes” despite the lack of dialogue. [Broadway World]
Leadership Change at Community Foundation — Arlington Community Foundation Executive Director Wanda Pierce is stepping down next month after eight years of leading the local nonprofit.
Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak
Struggling Skyline Sold — Vornado has taken its properties in Skyline off of its balance sheet after the 2.6 million-square-foot, half-vacant complex sold at a foreclosure auction last week. The cancelled Columbia Pike streetcar project would have run to Skyline, with Fairfax County set to pay 20 percent of the project’s cost. [Washington Business Journal]
More on ‘Pop-Up’ Hotel — The inauguration will be the big test for WhyHotel, the “pop-up” hotel in the new Bartlett apartment building in Pentagon City. Developer Vornado sees this as an experiment that could yield temporary revenue while a building is leased up. Arlington County planning commissioner Erik Gutshall says the county could benefit from additional tax revenue and a more lively streetscape. [Washington Post]
Arlington = NYE Destination? — Travelers coming to the D.C. area for New Year’s Eve should consider staying in Arlington due to its proximity to the District and lower hotel rates, says an article on “last minute deals for New Year’s Eve hotels.” [Travel + Leisure]
Transracial Adoption in Arlington — Arlington is “a fantastic community in which to raise a transracially blended family,” says the father of (now grown) adopted children from Vietnam, Sri Lanka and India. [Arlington Magazine]
Clarendon Post Office Murals — A local man has written a 44-page book on the artist who painted seven New Deal-era murals in the Clarendon post office. [Washington Post]
Reporting Issues to the County — Arlington County is reminding residents that they can report out-of-sync traffic signals, crosswalks with broken buttons and other non-emergency service requests via an online form. [Twitter]
‘Pop-Up Hotel’ Opening in January — “WhyHotel” is the new name of a “pop-up hotel” in the Bartlett apartment building in Pentagon City. Starting in January, the hotel will offer 50 unleased, furnished apartments as hotel rooms. Although most of the building is leased, owner Vornado is experimenting with “WhyHotel” as a way to monetize new apartment buildings during the lease-up period. [Washington Business Journal]
School Board Responds to Student’s Letter — Arlington School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren has responded to an open letter published in the Washington-Lee Crossed Sabres student newspaper. The letter, which was widely shared across social media, took the school board to task for approving high school boundary refinements that were seemingly antithetical to APS’ diversity goals. Without addressing the diversity issue, Van Doren defended the process and encouraged students to participate in future high school boundary decisions. [PDF]
County Board Approves Polling Place Changes — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday approved a number of precinct and polling place changes, to take effect in time for next year’s elections. [Arlington County]
Memorial Bridge Worries — The deteriorating Memorial Bridge can’t handle heavy support traffic for the presidential inauguration next month, officials said in a briefing yesterday, according to reported Tom Sherwood. Such traffic will use the 14th Street Bridge instead. [Twitter]
Wreaths for Every Grave at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — “Wreaths Across America announced Wednesday it has reached its goal to place about 245,000 wreaths in the cemetery ‘thanks to an outpouring of support.’ Earlier this week, the organization had said it was about 10,000 wreaths short of its goal.” [WTOP]
Vornado, Arlington County’s biggest private landowner — with major collections of properties in Crystal City and Rosslyn — announced today that it is spinning off and merging its D.C. area operations with Chevy Chase, Md.-based JBG Companies.
The combined company would have both office and residential properties throughout Crystal City, Pentagon City and the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Among JBG’s properties in Arlington are the under-construction Central Place project in Rosslyn and the iconic “Bob Peck” office building at 800 N. Glebe Road in Ballston.
In 2014, Vornado’s properties in Arlington were assessed at $3.8 billion, or 5.7 percent of the total assessed value of all property in the county, according to the Washington Business Journal. JBG’s properties in Arlington were assessed at $1.31 billion.
From a press release, issued late this afternoon:
VORNADO REALTY TRUST (NYSE:VNO) (“Vornado”) announced today that its Board of Trustees has approved a tax-free spin-off of its Washington, DC business, currently known as Vornado/Charles E. Smith, and that it has entered into a definitive agreement to merge SpinCo with the operating company and certain select assets of The JBG Companies (“JBG”), a leading Washington, DC real estate company.
The combined company will be named JBG SMITH Properties. It will be the largest, market-leading, best-in-class, pure-play Washington, DC real estate company. This transaction represents a key milestone in Vornado’s value creation strategy which will have produced three world-class, highly focused REITs – Vornado itself (RemainCo), Urban Edge Properties, and now, JBG SMITH. Each of these companies has a highly focused
management team, unique assets, and a clearly defined mission.
About JBG SMITH
- Vornado shareholders are expected to own approximately 74% of the combined company, JBG limited partners are expected to own approximately 20%, and JBG management is expected to own approximately 6% (all percentages subject to closing adjustments).
- JBG SMITH will be led by JBG’s senior management team which has a proven track record of superior execution in the Washington, DC market over the long term and through numerous cycles.
- The combined company’s portfolio will consist of 50 office properties totaling approximately 11.8 million square feet, 18 multifamily properties with 4,451 residential units, and 11 other properties totaling approximately 0.7 million square feet. These assets are located in premier submarkets within the Washington, DC metropolitan area, concentrated in Downtown District of Columbia, Crystal City and Pentagon City, the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, Reston, and Bethesda.
- Importantly, JBG SMITH will have a pipeline of projects under construction and land for future development that could add over 20 million square feet to the portfolio, positioning the company for strong growth and attractive shareholder returns.
- JBG SMITH will be the largest landlord to the U.S. Government in the nation’s capital.
- The Company will be well capitalized, have substantial liquidity and a strong balance sheet.
- The combination is expected to result in approximately $35 million of synergies producing an overhead structure in line with best-in-class peers.
- The new company will continue to manage the JBG funds’ assets that are not being contributed for customary fees. The company will not raise new investment funds. JBG SMITH Board and Management
- JBG SMITH’s Board of Trustees will consist of twelve members, a majority of whom will be independent. Vornado and JBG will each designate six trustees.
- Steven Roth, Vornado’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, will be Chairman of the Board.
- W. Matt Kelly, a Managing Partner of JBG, will be Chief Executive Officer of JBG SMITH and a member of the Board.
- Rob Stewart, a Managing Partner of JBG, will be Executive Vice Chairman of the Board.
- The Board will also include seven independent trustees including Alan Forman of the Yale University Investments Office, JBG’s largest investor.
- Michael Glosserman, a Managing Partner of JBG, will also join the Board, as will Mitchell Schear, current President of Vornado/Charles E. Smith.
- From JBG, David Paul will be President and Chief Operating Officer, James Iker will be Chief Investment Officer, and Brian Coulter and Kai Reynolds will be Co-Chief Development Officers.
- From Vornado/Charles E. Smith, Mitchell Schear will be a member of the Executive Committee, Patrick Tyrrell will be Chief Administrative Officer, Jim Creedon will be Executive Vice President responsible for Office Leasing, and Laurie Kramer will be Executive Vice President focused on integration of the teams.
- The new company will look outside for a Chief Financial Officer and intends to have that individual in place before the close of the transaction.
- The new company will integrate the best talent from each of Vornado/Charles E. Smith and JBG.
- Vornado will provide transition services to JBG SMITH, in areas such as IT, tax and SEC reporting for an interim period.
Kasich, McAuliffe at GMU Today — Govs. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.) and John Kasich (R-Ohio) will help dedicate the newly-named Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University in Arlington this afternoon. The school is being named after Dwight C. Schar, founder of homebuilder NVR, Inc., who has pledged $10 million to GMU.
Vornado Considering Short-Term Stays — Remarkably, the 699-unit Bartlett apartment tower in Pentagon City is more than 60 percent leased only a few months after opening. To temporarily fill vacant apartments, however, owner Vornado is asking for permission to open 50 units to short-term visitors, turning those units into a kind of extended stay hotel. [Washington Business Journal]
Police Raid Near DJO — Residents in the Williamsburg neighborhood near Bishop O’Connell High School say there was a police raid at a house on the 2800 block of N. Tacoma Street on Friday. An Arlington County Police spokeswoman would only tell us that “officers were executing a search warrant pursuant to an ongoing and active criminal investigation.”
Clement Accuses Dems of Stealing Signs — Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement says he signs are being stolen and she’s pointing the finger at Democrats. The chair of the local Democrats says some of their signs have disappeared as well and called on whoever is removing any candidate’s signs to stop. County Board John Vihstadt believes the sign stealer is someone opposed to roadside signs in general. [InsideNova]
Ann Broder Dies — Former Arlington School Board member and longtime local activist Ann Broder has died at her Arlington home. She was 87. Broder was married to the late, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter David Broder, who died in 2011. [Washington Post]
Sign Regulations Updated — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved changes to its comprehensive sign plan that loosens signage regulations on buildings with older sign plans. The Board voted to make its sign regulations a bit more flexible in 2012, but the changes did not apply to existing sign plans. [Arlington County]
Marriage Jubilee Mass in Arlington — Arlington’s outgoing Catholic bishop, The Most Rev. Paul Loverde, celebrated the church’s annual Marriage Jubilee Mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington on Sunday. Among those in attendance were “150 couples celebrating their 25th anniversary and 109 couples celebrating their 50th anniversary.” [Associated Press]
Va. Voter Registration Deadline — Today is the last day to register to vote in Virginia before November’s election. [NBC Washington]
Vornado Reveals Big Plans for Crystal City — Vornado, the preeminent property owner in Crystal City, has filed preliminary plans to overhaul a number of its properties in the community. The plans include big changes to the Shops at 1750 retail space, near the entrance to the Crystal City Metro station, and a new multiplex cinema. [Washington Business Journal]
Lyft to Open Regional HQ in Crystal City — Ride hailing app company Lyft is planning to invest $350,000 to open a new regional headquarters in Crystal City, creating 32 jobs locally. “Lyft is thrilled to open our new office in the emerging innovation center of Crystal City,” said Steve Taylor, the company’s general manager for the D.C. area. “We’re extremely pleased by the warm welcome we have received from Governor McAuliffe, and state and county officials.” [Washington Post]
Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Attack on Law Firm Partner — Alecia Schmuhl has pleaded guilty in the vicious 2014 attack on Leo Fisher and his wife Susan Duncan. Prosecutors say Schmuhl and her husband took the couple hostage, slit Fisher’s throat and stabbed Duncan as part of a revenge plot after she was fired by Fisher from the Arlington-based firm of Bean Kinney & Korman. Fisher and Duncan survived the attack. [Washington Post]
Nominations Open for James B. Hunter Award — Arlington County is accepting nominees for the 2016 James B. Hunter Award. The award, named after a former Arlington County Board member, “goes to individuals, community groups, non-profit organizations and business establishments that promote cultural diversity and equal rights for all residents.” [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Billy Buck
County Board Contenders Debate — The two Democratic contenders for Arlington County Board, incumbent Libby Garvey and challenger Erik Gutshall, debated who would be the most transparent and the best agent of change last night. Gutshall criticized Garvey for the lack of action on new transit options for Columbia Pike and for supporting the creation of a “blue ribbon panel” to study county priorities. [InsideNova, Washington Post]
Residents Concerned About Sex Offender — Some residents in the Bluemont neighborhood and the area around Bon Air Park are concerned about a registered sex offender who recently moved to the area. There have been reports of the man watching children’s soccer games and leaving balloons in the backyard of a family home. Police say they’re investigating. [Fox 5]
Vornado Attracting Millennials With Cool Restaurants — “Vornado has carefully curated its retail in Crystal City and Pentagon City to appeal to creative Millennials, bringing in tenants like DIY design and fabrication space TechShop and hip restaurants like We The Pizza, Sweetgreen and Taylor Gourmet, which just opened Monday. That’s not to mention the Whole Foods anchoring the retail section of Vornado’s The Bartlett, a trendy ‘city within a city’ with nearly 700 residential units.” [Bisnow]
Chinese News Agency Profiles Arlington’s Tech Scene — Xinhua, the state-run news agency that’s said to be the largest and most influential media organization in China, has published a feature story that discusses how Arlington has become a “hot spot for tech startups.” The story notes that in addition to a robust talent pool and the availability of investment capital, “government has also played a vital role in the development of startups in Arlington.” [Xinhua]
Outdoor Lab to Celebrate 50th Anniversary — The Arlington Outdoor Lab, a nonprofit facility that hosts more than 9,000 students annually for outdoor and environmental education, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an event in Ballston next month. [Arlington Outdoor Lab]
Flickr pool photo by James L.
The Arlington County Board this weekend is scheduled to consider a massive 7.65 acre redevelopment project that would reshape the Rosslyn skyline.
Developers Vornado and Gould Property Company are proposing a five-phase project that would eventually replace seven existing buildings — the Rosslyn Spectrum Theater, the London Apartments, the Normandy Apartments and four office buildings.
In its place would be 2.5 million square feet of space across five buildings, including 1.8 million square feet of office, 550 residential units, 200 hotel rooms and 45,000 square feet of retail space. Also planned area new, nearly one acre Rosslyn Plaza Park, an Esplanade and two new east-west streets breaking up the super block between N. Kent Street and N. Arlington Ridge Road.
County staff is recommending approval of a Phased Development Site Plan and a rezoning for the project. Each of the five phases will still need its own final site plan approved by the Board.
“The applicant’s proposed redevelopment of the Rosslyn Plaza property will permit the redevelopment of a critical site in
Rosslyn and introduce new elements of public infrastructure identified in the Rosslyn Sector Plan,” wrote county staff, “including the construction of improvements to Wilson Boulevard and N. Kent Street along with two new streets to break up the superblock, creation of the Rosslyn Plaza Park and other public open space improvements, a reconfigured N. Arlington Ridge Road, and bicycle trail improvements including portions of the Esplanade.”
The developers are also proposing a public pedestrian and bicycle bridge over I-66 and the GW Parkway, connecting one of the new roads with the Mt. Vernon Trail.
“The Mount Vernon Trail is used by over 3,000 cyclists on an average day, and provides a trail exit and connection to Rosslyn at Lee Highway near North Lynn Street,” county staff wrote. “The PDSP envisions a pedestrian and bicycle connection to the Mount Vernon Trail, via a bridge at the end of 18th or 19th Street over Interstate 66 and the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Its feasibility has not been determined and will be discussed during future final site plan applications.”
Currently, the apartments in the Rosslyn Plaza site supply fewer than 10 students to Arlington Public Schools. County staff estimate that once completed, the new development will generate a total of 42 APS students — attending Key Elementary School or Arlington Science Focus Elementary School, Williamsburg Middle School and Yorktown High School.
The first phase of the project would demolish the London Apartments, the Spectrum Theater and one of the office buildings. County commissions and the Rosslyn Business Improvement District have been supportive of the project, although some local neighborhood groups have expressed concerns about the height of the proposed buildings and the impact on traffic.
The Board is set to consider the development plan at its meeting on Saturday.
The seemingly endless construction at Courthouse Plaza — the privately-owned, open-air shopping center near the Courthouse Metro station — is finally nearing an end.
The final phase of construction at Courthouse Plaza is underway, we’re told, completing a series of improvement projects to the property that has extended over the course of the last several years.
The project currently under construction will make streetscape improvements along Clarendon Boulevard to “create a new pedestrian experience.” These improvements include installing new pavers — the stone along pedestrian walkways — and updating the entry into the plaza itself.
Once complete, the plaza will have a new, outdoor gathering space with seating. The area will also have contemporary landscaping features.
These outdoor improvements mark the end of the last phase of capital improvement projects for the building, according to Mara Olguin, spokeswoman for the property’s owner, Vornado. She said plans to make these improvements began more than three years ago and have involved multiple projects.
Some of these include the lease renewal and renovations to the AMC movie theater and improvements to the parking garages at 2200 and 2300 Clarendon Blvd. Before that, Vornado also oversaw the installation of new brickwork in the plaza.
Olguin added all the projects mentioned are consistent with the new Courthouse Sector Plan and Retail Action Plan, which the County Board approved last summer.
Construction work on the plaza’s outdoor area will continue through the winter and early spring. All work is expected to be completed by this April.
Photo via Vornado