Arlington, VA

Developer JBG Smith may be planning to let people sip alcohol as they browse shops and sit outdoors in shopping areas near Amazon’s future headquarters in Pentagon City and Crystal City.

State records with the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Authority Control Authority indicate that the developer applied for a “Commercial Lifestyle Center” license this week. The special license is part of a 2018 law allowing shoppers to bring alcoholic beverages into shops or outdoor plazas to encourage consumers to stay longer and attend outdoor events.

Under the new law, shopping centers can apply for a license provided they have at least 100,000 square feet of retail space and demonstrate they can police the area, as reported by the Washington Business Journal. The law also requires the application come from an association of businesses in a shopping area, not a single business on its own.

JBG Smith applied for the license via a newly-created organization called National Landing Business Owners Association Inc., which listed a phone number in the application matching JBG Smith’s Chevy Chase office.

A spokeswoman for the developer declined to comment when reached yesterday (Tuesday.)

The Association was formed in June by an attorney from the Arlington-based law firm Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh, which represents JBG Smith on several projects, including the two towers they’re building at Amazon’s Metropolitan Park headquarters.

One place in the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard area — dubbed “National Landing” — at which the developer could use the license would be its Crystal Square project. The project aims to redevelop the block of Crystal Drive into a “retail hub” between 15th Street S. and 18th Street S.

JBG Smith has called for adding new retailers like an Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, a grocery store, and an outdoor dining area to the block near the Crystal City Metro station.

Image via Gensler

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(Updated 12:45 p.m.) The landscape of Crystal City is being reshaped as office buildings are built or renovated ahead of Amazon’s arrival.

Over the stretch of a few blocks in Crystal City, several buildings either currently built or to-be-constructed have been highlighted by real estate company JBG Smith as temporary Amazon workspaces. For the past few months, the area has been ringing with the sounds of demolition and construction, which picked up since Amazon announced it had selected “National Landing” — the combined area of Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard — for its HQ2.

Where new offices will be built, demolition work is wrapping up on the existing buildings. Most of them are currently dirt plots shielded behind screened fences.

According to a JBG Smith spokeswoman:

  • 1800 S. Bell Street – No demolition as Amazon will be occupying short-term space
  • 1770 Crystal Drive — Demolition is underway and project is on schedule
  • 241 18th Street S. — No demolition as Amazon will be occupying short-term space
  • Central District Retail – Demolition is nearly complete and project is on schedule

The building at 1900 Crystal Drive has since been removed. Demolition is completed and the new building will be a mixed-use residential and retail structure, according to County plans.

Amazon previously told ARLnow the company is on target to reach its goal of bringing aboard 400 new hires by the end of the year. The company is also simultaneously working through the approval process for its permanent HQ2 in Pentagon City.

Airey contributed to this story

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Morning Notes

JBG Focusing on Arlington — “As JBG Smith continues to focus its portfolio on the area around Amazon HQ2, the REIT is unloading an asset in the heart of D.C.’s Central Business District… The developer is currently constructing its Central District Retail project and is renovating the 1770 Crystal Drive office building, which Amazon has leased. It is also moving through the planning process to add nearly 1,000 units to its RiverHouse Apartments property and build two new residential towers totaling 750 units at 1900 Crystal Drive.” [Bisnow]

Man Battles Abandoned Scooters — Washingtonian editor Andrew Beaujon is on a mission this summer to get e-scooter companies to pick up abandoned scooters along the Mt. Vernon Trail, near Gravelly Point. [Twitter]

Church Holding Vigil Following Mass Shootings — “Given the terrible events of last week our service this Sunday will be a prayer vigil w/ prayers & ritual to help us find some kind of sense of peace as well as determination to change the culture of our country.” [Twitter]

Vaccine Change for Va. Students — “Ordinarily around this time of year, Arlington school officials are bombarding parents of rising sixth-graders to remember the need for ‘Tdap’ vaccines. Any student turning up the first day of school without one would be sent home. This year, however… as the General Assembly has changed the requirements – now, it is rising seventh-graders who need the vaccines.” [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy @mashalette/Instagram

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Morning Notes

Developer May Build Second Metro Entrance — “A plan submitted by developer JBG Smith to Arlington County could see the company put in charge of building the second Crystal City Metro station entrance, a long-sought-after project that would increase access to the station. If approved, the new entrance would be built along Crystal Drive near 18th Street.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Glebe Road Crash Yesterday Morning — “Police say the crash was caused by a driver attempting to merge onto southbound Glebe from 16th Street S. striking another vehicle heading southbound. No significant injuries were reported.” [Twitter]

Company Opens New HQ in Ballston — “Armor Express, a leading manufacturer and distributor of high-performance protective solutions for the Domestic and Federal Law Enforcement markets, Department of Defense and First Responders, today announced the grand opening of its new corporate headquarters in Arlington, VA.” [Globe Newswire]

Video: Olli on Fort Myer — New videos show the Olli autonomous shuttle driving around Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. [Twitter]

New Funding for 9/11 Victim Fund — “U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today applauded the passage of a bill to continue providing financial support to those who suffered physical harm or families of those who were killed as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks or ensuing debris removal efforts.” [Press Release, NBC News]

Nearby: Boy Dies at McLean Construction Site — A boy died after a ditch collapsed at a large excavation site in McLean, near the Arlington border and Jamestown Elementary. The boy was reportedly working to build a sewage line at a new residential development. [Tysons Reporter, NBC 4]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Developer JBG Smith says it has submitted new plans for a major redevelopment of its RiverHouse apartment property in Pentagon City, four blocks from Amazon’s new HQ2.

The developer announced today (Monday) that it submitted a site plan application to Arlington County to build about 1,000 new housing units along S. Joyce Street. The units will be in two, six-story apartment buildings, as well as traditional townhouses and maisonettes, per the press release, and about 260 of the units will be available for purchase.

The six-story buildings will have mix of units, including studios and three-bedroom units, for a combined total of 750 units. These two buildings will be constructed on the parkings lots in the northern end of the site and will feature central courtyards, and 30,000 square feet of “community-oriented street-level retail, including a potential daycare center and medical office, at the base of the two new buildings.”

The townhouses will be built on “underutilized” surface parking lots in the southern end of the site, facing the Aurora Highlands neighborhood and its single-family homes, JBG said

The extensive, 36-acre RiverHouse property is on a long lot bordered by Army Navy Drive, S. Joyce Street, 16th Street S., S. Arlington Ridge Road, and S. Lynn Street, at the edge of what’s being called “National Landing” — the recently-created term for the Pentagon City, Crystal City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods.

Currently, RiverHouse has three apartment towers built in the 1950s and 1960s, with a combined 1,670 apartment units. JBG Smith intends to keep the three towers, per the press release, and will instead construct the new buildings around the existing towers.

JBG Smith Executive Vice President Andy Van Horn said in a statement that the developer aimed to design a plan that “respects and complements the scale and character of the surrounding neighborhoods while creating a more cohesive sense of community.”

“We also focused on providing a wide range of rental and for-sale housing opportunities that meet the differing needs of Arlington’s diverse and growing residential population,” he said. “It is our goal to deliver additional housing units concurrent with Amazon’s occupancy of its new headquarters to help meet anticipated new housing demand and mitigate upward pressure on rents in National Landing.”

Vornado — which was later acquired by JBG Smith — had planned to redevelop RiverHouse with more than 1,000 rental apartments in three, mid-rise towers. The new submission, which JBG Smith says is “consistent with the Crystal City/Pentagon City Sector Plan which calls for 7,500 additional housing units by 2040,” supersedes the previous, pre-HQ2 plan.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Gets Best View of Fireworks — On a hazy night, Arlington — particularly Rosslyn — had the best view of the expanded D.C. fireworks. Smoke obscured the viewing for many parts of the District. [Twitter, Twitter, Raw Story]

JBG Trying to Lure Big Tech to Arlington — “JBG Smith Properties CEO Matt Kelly recently met with “a handful” of big West Coast tech firms in a bid to entice them to come to National Landing now that Amazon.com Inc. has chosen the area for its second headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]

Police Chase Ends in Arlington — A high-speed police chase along I-66 ended in Arlington, near the N. Glebe Road exit. Virginia State Police say a woman fled from police at speeds of up to 120 mph while her three children were in the car. [WJLA, Twitter]

A Modest Proposal for Arlington — In a letter to the editor published by the Arlington Sun Gazette, a man apparently upset by the renaming of Washington-Lee High School to Washington-Liberty suggests also renaming Arlington “Amazon’s bitch.” [InsideNova]

Ebbin Cast as NRA’s ‘Boogeyman’ — “[State Sen. Adam] Ebbin, when told of [state Sen. Bryce] Reeves’s remarks at the town hall, said he never made any of the comments attributed to him. ‘Apparently I’m a radical homosexual who’s misquoted,’ Ebbin said sarcastically.” [Washington Post]

Checking Car Seats in Arlington — Writing about the new Virginia law requiring rear-facing car seats for children under two and below a certain weight, the Arlington County Fire Department noted on social media: “ACFD no longer does child seat safety inspections. Arlington County Police Department offers regular inspections to ensure the child seat is safely installed and secured in your vehicle.” [Twitter]

Warner Highlights Sept. 11th Memorial Trail — “U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) are working together to further honor the heroes of September 11th, 2001. In a bipartisan resolution, Senators Toomey and Warner highlight the significance of the September 11th National Memorial Trail,” which runs through Arlington. [Press Release]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Rescuers Searching for Vehicle in the Water — “A vehicle apparently went into the water Sunday night near Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River, and a search was still under way Monday morning, authorities said. The search was being conducted near the island’s parking lot, according to the D.C. Fire and EMS Department. A witness reported that the vehicle went into the water.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Amazon Less Worried About HQ2 Housing Impact — “Amazon said its second headquarters in Arlington will not aggravate housing problems as much as the company has in Seattle because it will be able to plan for growth here in a way that it couldn’t in earlier years in its home base. Jay Carney, a senior vice president with the online retail giant, also said the company chose the Washington region for HQ2 and its 25,000 jobs partly because it is ‘a much more racially diverse area than the Pacific Northwest.'” [Washington Post]

Amazon’s Transformative Effect on Crystal City — “All of this points toward a vision of the future that was far-fetched even a few years ago: Crystal City as a place people would want to remain in after 5 p.m.” [Washingtonian]

County Had Cozy Emails with JBG Smith — “In a Dec. 6 email to Andy VanHorn, the executive vice president at JBG Smith Properties overseeing the development of Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters, Schwartz pledged open and unfettered access to a roster of key county officials charged with overseeing the various pieces of the approval process.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Unemployment Rate: 2.1% — “Arlington will have to share the title of lowest jobless rate in Virginia for at least a month. With 150,932 county residents in the civilian workforce and 3,216 looking for jobs, Arlington’s unemployment rate for March stood at 2.1 percent, unchanged for a month before and tied with the adjacent city of Falls Church as lowest among the commonwealth’s 133 cities and counties.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Man Arrested After Police Chase — “An Arlington resident was arrested Thursday for allegedly stealing a Porsche and leading Fairfax County police on a chase through Tysons.” [Tysons Reporter]

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A virtual tour is now online of the room developer JBG Smith used to pitch Crystal City and Pentagon City properties to Amazon.

Shirlington-based real estate marketing firm Lyons & Sucher designed the space, calling  it “the room where it happened” and posted a virtual 360-degree tour on their website earlier this week.

“Typically people in a brokerage situation might hand you a powerpoint or a book or something. But this was super life size,” Jane Lyons of Lyons & Sucher told ARLnow. “And it created a very quick impression of how much we wanted the Amazon account and what we could do in a very short time and also how it could be kept up.”

The 20,000-square-foot space was located in the 12th floor of 1770 Crystal Drive — a building Amazon agreed to lease from JBG Smith earlier this month (and which is currently under construction).

Lyons said Amazon executives visited the room three times over the course of 2018, and before each visit  JBG Smith directed her marketing firm to update the room to reflect the latest negotiations.

The third and final version of the room is the one shown on the firm’s website. It starts with a “Welcome to National Landing” mat and leads viewers around a series of freestanding, 10-foot-high walls with information about:

  • The history of Crystal City
  • Profiles of Northern Virginia and D.C. neighborhoods
  • Information on the D.C. area’s millennial workforce and comparisons to other cities
  • Connections to public transit and airports
  • Renderings of properties Amazon was considering leasing or buying

The space also features a 120-foot-long floor map of Crystal City that designers marked up to show different features depending on what JBG Smith wanted to highlight.

“It was fabricated to allow it to be updated,” said Lyons. “It was a huge print job.”

One of the other changes to the room was that the marketing firm was asked to switch out the individual building renderings along the main 64-foot wall with a 64-foot aerial image of Crystal City and its connections to Alexandria, the Potomac, and D.C.

“That one stayed up for the third visit,” she noted.

Lyons said she was not able to share the all details of the changes her firm made to the room or any still pictures, due to a non-disclosure agreement.

However, the space shown on the website offers some clues as to what Amazon found important. The floor map, for instance, notes the location of Metro stations, walking distances between certain buildings, a place for outdoor dining, and the site of a potential school.

A spokesman for JBG Smith declined to comment for the story.

Earlier this month, the developer inked its deal with Amazon to lease three office buildings in Crystal City — 241 18th Street S., 1800 S. Bell Street, and 1770 Crystal Drive — and to sell a pair of large Pentagon City development sites to the company.

In March, the County Board cleared the way for Amazon to begin developing its second headquarters in earnest by unanimously approving a controversial package granting $23 million in incentives to the company if it meets certain hiring and occupancy benchmarks.

The Virginia General Assembly approved a $750 million state incentive package for the company this winter.

Arlington also pledged to fund $28 million in transportation upgrades near the planned headquarters, and to forward public records requests concerning Amazon to the company.

An Amazon spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

Lyons’ firm was asked to replace an aerial image showing connections to transit networks with a video showing building renderings along Crystal Drive; otherwise, the presentation to one of the world’s biggest technology companies was an analog one.

“When you are working to impress somebody who has the best tech ever they’re not going to be impressed by tech,” Lyons said, adding that that being able to physically interact with the space was “part of the magic.”

As for the room itself?

It’s gone now,” said Lyons, explaining that the building is now being renovated. “It doesn’t exist anymore.” 

Screenshots via Lyons & Sucher’s website

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Morning Notes

Riding Amazon’s Coattails — “As Amazon.com Inc. builds and staffs up HQ2, other tech companies who orbit the online retailer could follow, according to a JBG Smith Properties investor presentation released Tuesday. ‘Amazon isn’t just 38,000 jobs,’ the JBG Smith documents say. ‘It’s a catalyst for significant growth.'” [Washington Business Journal]

Amazon Effect on Real Estate — “While the average sales price in Northern Virginia stayed steady at $565,000 in January, according to the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, the number of homes under contract rose by 70 percent compared with January 2018, and the number of homes for sale fell by 20 percent year-over-year. Limited availability of homes drives prices higher.” [Washington Post]

More Details on Rosslyn Holiday Inn Plan — “New renderings also show that the [Rosslyn Holiday Inn redevelopment] is set to include a ‘public gallery,’ providing an east-west connection through the property between Fort Myer Drive and N. Nash Street. The space would be bookended by public plazas and provide access to the development’s retail offerings.” [Washington Business Journal]

ACFD Safety Initiative Kicks Off — “Beginning Sat., April 6, 2019, and continuing through Sat., Oct. 5, 2019, Arlington County firefighters will be going door to door offering home safety checks to include inspecting smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms and giving relevant fire safety tips.” [Arlington County]

Va. AG Sues Over Trump Wall — “‘President Trump is flagrantly disregarding the law in his quest to justify his fake national emergency and build a needless border wall,’ said Attorney General Herring. ‘He is trying to unlawfully divert resources that law enforcement agencies in Virginia and around the country need for their actual work, and his larger plan could threaten half a billion dollars in military construction projects around Virginia.'” [Blue Virginia]

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(Updated at 9:30 a.m.) JBG Smith has made it official with Amazon, announcing this morning the signing of lease and development agreements with the tech and retail giant.

The announcement should put to rest any speculation that Amazon could pull out of its HQ2 plans in Arlington, as it did in New York City.

Construction has already started on Amazon’s three temporary leased office buildings in Crystal City, with the company expecting to move into two of the buildings — 241 18th Street S. and 1800 S. Bell Street — later this year.

Amazon is also buying a pair of large development sites in Pentagon City from JBG Smith — sites that JBG will help develop into a permanent second headquarters campus for the company. The sale price of the vacant Metropolitan Park and PenPlace properties, each two blocks from the Pentagon City Metro station: just under $300 million.

“We are pleased to report that our partnership with Amazon at National Landing is moving full steam ahead,” JBG SMITH CEO Matt Kelly said in a press release, below. “With the execution of these agreements and recently legislated state and local government commitments to invest approximately $2 billion in the region’s transportation, education and housing infrastructure, we are ready to welcome Amazon’s first National Landing employees in the coming months.”

More from the press release:

JBG SMITH (NYSE: JBGS), a leading owner and developer of high-quality, mixed-use properties in the Washington, DC market, today announced that it has executed three leases and two Purchase and Sale Agreements with affiliates of Amazon.com, Inc. in conjunction with the creation of Amazon’s HQ2 at National Landing in Northern Virginia.

These agreements are the result of Amazon’s announcement in November 2018 that it had selected JBG SMITH as its partner to house and develop its HQ2 locations after a comprehensive, year-long search that included proposals from 238 cities across North America.

Amazon has executed three initial leases totaling 537,000 square feet at three existing JBG SMITH office buildings in National Landing. The leases encompass 88,000 square feet at 241 18th Street South, 191,000 square feet at 1800 South Bell Street, and 258,000 square feet at 1770 Crystal Drive. JBG SMITH expects Amazon to begin moving into 241 18th Street South and 1800 South Bell in 2019, and 1770 Crystal Drive by the end of 2020.

JBG SMITH and Amazon have also executed Purchase and Sale Agreements for two of JBG SMITH’s National Landing development sites, Pen Place and Met 6, 7, and 8, which will serve as the initial phase of new construction associated with Amazon’s HQ2. Subject to customary closing conditions, Amazon will pay $294 million for the sites, or $72 per square foot based on their combined development potential of 4.1 million square feet. JBG SMITH, which has flexibility on the timing of closing to facilitate 1031 exchange opportunities, expects to close on the Mets land sales as early as 2019 and on Pen Place as early as 2020. JBG SMITH will also serve as Amazon’s developer, property manager, and retail leasing agent for these assets.

“We are pleased to report that our partnership with Amazon at National Landing is moving full steam ahead,” said JBG SMITH CEO, Matt Kelly. “With the execution of these agreements and recently legislated state and local government commitments to invest approximately $2 billion in the region’s transportation, education and housing infrastructure, we are ready to welcome Amazon’s first National Landing employees in the coming months.”

In January 2019, the Virginia General Assembly overwhelmingly approved incentive legislation associated with HQ2 to fund $195 million toward critical infrastructure improvements, including second entrances to the Crystal City and to-be-constructed Potomac Yard Metro stations, a pedestrian connection linking National Landing to Reagan National Airport, an expanded VRE station and substantial improvements to Route 1. These investments are in addition to $570 million of regional government commitments for transportation infrastructure and transit improvements, and they follow the regional compact from mid-2018 to invest $500 million annually in Metro system improvements.

In March 2019, the Arlington County Board also unanimously approved a $23 million performance agreement with Amazon. Both packages provide post-performance incentives for Amazon to create up to 37,850 jobs with an average annual salary of $150,000 and occupy at least six million square feet of office space in Arlington County.

The General Assembly also recently approved a major education investment package that includes funding of $250 million toward Virginia Tech’s planned $1 billion Innovation Campus to be located in National Landing and $125 million planned for new Master’s degree programs in computer science and related fields at George Mason’s Arlington campus.

In addition, the County of Arlington, the City of Alexandria and the Commonwealth of Virginia have collectively dedicated $225 million to fund a range of low-income and workforce housing initiatives over the next decade.

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Morning Notes

Baby Boy for Cristol — Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol gave birth to her first child, a baby boy, this past weekend. She plans to call in to Saturday’s County Board meeting and participate in the crucial Amazon incentive package vote. [Twitter]

Building Plans for Temporary Amazon Office — JBG Smith “submitted plans March 7 to make common area improvements throughout the 12-story, 221,000-square-foot [office building at] 1800 S. Bell St., to be leased in full by Amazon.” [Washington Business Journal]

County May Change Building Plan Practices — “Arlington officials are considering ending same-day viewing at the Department of Community Planning, Housing & Development after a Washington Business Journal reporter asked to view a permit for a building Amazon.com Inc. is expected to lease, said Ben Aiken, director of constituent services in the county manager’s office.” [Washington Business Journal]

VRE Plans Moving Forward — “Virginia Railway Express is moving forward with plans to build an expanded Crystal City Station, a key step needed to expand and improve service. The VRE Operations Board is due to vote Friday to allow contracting to move forward for engineering work based on the already approved concept design.” [WTOP]

New Leases in Rosslyn — Earlier this week Monday Properties announced the signing of three lease deals at 1100 Wilson Boulevard, one half of its Rosslyn twin towers. The firms leasing new space are The Health Management Academy and Trilogy Federal LLC, while WJLA owner Sinclair Broadcasting is expanding its existing space. [Monday Properties]

Extensive Road Closures Saturday — Expect a number of road closures in Courthouse, Rosslyn and near the Pentagon Saturday morning for the annual Four Courts Four Miler. [Arlington County]

Nearby: Gentrification Fears in Arlandria — “Concern of rising rents and gentrification have always been present in the Arlandria neighborhood, which sits between South Glebe and West Glebe roads and ends at Potomac Yard. Amazon.com Inc.’s plan to move to nearby Arlington has only intensified those worries.” [Washington Business Journal]

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