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ARLnow.com – Arlington, Va. Local News    
News, Views, Weather, Traffic and Events in Arlington, Virginia
Last updated: Wed, 19 Sep 2018 12:02:41 GMT

 Morning Notes Wed, 19 Sep 2018 12:45:29 +0000
Another Chase Branch Coming to Arlington — Following its purchase of the former Walgreens in Clarendon, JPMorgan Chase is now planning a second bank branch in Arlington. The new branch...

Another Chase Branch Coming to Arlington — Following its purchase of the former Walgreens in Clarendon, JPMorgan Chase is now planning a second bank branch in Arlington. The new branch will reportedly be located at the northwest corner of N. Randolph Street and Wilson Boulevard in Ballston. [Washington Business Journal]

Preservationists Eye Local Log Cabin — “A retired florist, Cal Marcey is worried over possible destruction of one of Arlington’s remaining log cabins, to which his ancestors have ties. A new owner has purchased the early-19th century Birchwood cabin at N. Wakefield and 26th sts., and the plans — renovation versus teardown — are unclear.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Record Round for Arlington Startup — “Arlington safety and security startup LiveSafe Inc. has raised $11.1 million in fresh funding, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. It’s the company’s largest round so far and puts its total funding at about $25 million, according to a review of previous SEC filings. LiveSafe did not respond to requests for comment.” [Washington Business Journal]

Business Group Wants Better Bus Service — “A group of chief executives from the greater Washington region says deficiencies in bus service are holding back growth in the region. The region’s bus network possesses valuable assets, including more than 3,800 buses and a growing system of limited-stop service and bus rapid transit lines, but the region hasn’t fully leveraged the potential of the network to help solve its transportation challenges.” [Washington Post, Greater Greater Washington]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

 Just Reduced Properties in Arlington Wed, 19 Sep 2018 10:00:34 +0000
Each week, “Just Reduced” spotlights properties in Arlington County whose price have been cut over the previous week. The market summary is crafted by licensed broker Aaron Seekford of Arlington...

Each week, “Just Reduced” spotlights properties in Arlington County whose price have been cut over the previous week. The market summary is crafted by licensed broker Aaron Seekford of Arlington Realty, Inc. GET MORE out of your real estate investment with Aaron and his team by visiting www.arlingtonrealtyinc.com or calling 703-836-6116 today!

Please note: While Aaron Seekford provides this information for the community, he may not be the listing agent of these homes.

Arlington is and always has been my home. And, one of the great things about calling a place home for so long is having a grasp of the local professionals you can trust to get a job done.

For instance, if you’re looking to boost your curb appeal through a wise investment, Affordable Door can hook it up. Give them a shout today by calling 888-997-3667 or visiting www.affordabledoor.com.

And, now on to this week’s numbers…

As of September 17, there are 199 detached homes, 57 townhouses and 252 condos for sale throughout Arlington County. In total, 41 homes experienced a price reduction in the past week.

Here is this week’s selection of Just Reduced properties:

Please note that this is solely a selection of Just Reduced properties available in Arlington County. For a complete list of properties within your target budget and specifications, contact Aaron Seekford.

 Developer Aims to Slash Parking Offered in Red Top Cab Overhaul Tue, 18 Sep 2018 20:45:56 +0000
The developer looking to transform the Red Top Cab properties in Clarendon into three mixed-use buildings now hopes to cut back on the parking offered on the properties, prompting some...

The developer looking to transform the Red Top Cab properties in Clarendon into three mixed-use buildings now hopes to cut back on the parking offered on the properties, prompting some worries from neighbors.

The Shooshan Company is asking the County Board for permission to remove one floor from both of the underground lots planned for the site, a reduction of about 178 parking spaces in all. Work is set to begin soon on the long-delayed development, which will replace Red Top’s headquarters (located where Washington Boulevard meets 13th Street N.) and the lot the company once used for vehicle maintenance at 1200 N. Hudson Street.

The three buildings are set to offer a total of 584 multifamily units, with 1,295 square feet of retail space thrown in as well, yet the Ballston-based developer is looking to cut back on parking as a cost-saving measure. In all, the company is proposing dividing 285 spaces between the two garages, compared to the 463 originally approved when the Board signed off on the project a few years back.

County staff seem more than ready to agree to such a change, noting in a report prepared for the Board that the development still “meets and exceeds” the county’s minimum parking requirements, even after the space reduction. The Board passed a plan last November to allow developers to build less parking along Metro corridors, in order to increase the use of public transit, car-sharing and other, greener transportation options.

Shooshan also plans to offer 20 parking spaces specifically reserved for visitors to the development, “which will mitigate overspill parking on surrounding streets from building visitors,” staff predict.

Even still, the Lyon Village Civic Association has made it clear to the county that it harbors concerns about the parking reduction’s impact on surrounding neighborhoods. While the development itself sits on the edge of Clarendon’s main strip, there are a series of single-family homes along streets like N. Kirkwood Road, N. Johnson Street and N. Jackson Street.

“The civic association representatives expressed concern about the potential for overspill parking as a result of the applicant not providing mitigation, such as additional bike parking, in exchange for the lowered parking ratio,” staff wrote in the report.

Yet transportation planners believe Shooshan has enough bike parking built into its plans already, noting just how close the development will be to the Clarendon Metro station and a variety of bus stops as part of the area’s “robust transportation network.”

Staff fully endorsed all these changes, but the Board will have the final say at its meeting Saturday (Sept. 22). Should it win these remaining approvals, the developer plans to start work on two of the three buildings sometime “in the first quarter of 2019,” staff wrote.

 Virginia Hospital Center Expansion Proponents Mobilize Ahead of Key Vote Tue, 18 Sep 2018 19:45:01 +0000
Supporters of the Virginia Hospital Center’s expansion plans are ramping up their advocacy efforts, now that the project’s fate looks murky ahead of a key County Board vote. The hospital...

Supporters of the Virginia Hospital Center’s expansion plans are ramping up their advocacy efforts, now that the project’s fate looks murky ahead of a key County Board vote.

The hospital itself has begun sending out mailers backing the expansion, according to ARLnow reader Dave Schutz, urging county residents to contact the Board about the $250 million project. Arlington’s lone comprehensive hospital has hoped for roughly a year now to add a seven-story outpatient facility and a 10-story parking garage next to its existing campus (1701 N. George Mason Drive), arguing that it desperately needs more space to keep pace with the county’s burgeoning population.

Meanwhile, the county’s business community is also redoubling its efforts to push the expansion forward. The Chamber of Commerce penned a new letter to the Board today (Tuesday), imploring officials to ignore the recommendation of the county’s Planning Commission and approve the project “without further delay” this weekend.

“Further deferral of this already-delayed project will impose additional financial and time costs that will redirect resources that VHC would otherwise use to provide health care services to the Arlington community,” Chamber President and CEO Kate Bates wrote.

County planners are indeed urging the Board to hold off on giving the project a green light, over concerns about the height and design of the proposed buildings. VHC is looking to build the facilities on a parcel of county-owned land near the intersection of 19th Street N. and N. Edison Street, and the commission argues the large new buildings would look out of place sitting across the street from small single-family homes.

Though commissioners support the project in principle, they voted unanimously last week to recommend that the Board force the hospital to revise its plans to address those concerns. They argue that the county would be better served by requiring the hospital to go through a “Phased Development Site Plan” process, a long-range exercise that would give planners more say over VHC’s intentions to redevelop its existing campus.

The hospital argued that such a process would be prohibitively difficult and expensive, and Bates alleged in her letter that VHC has already been made to wait too long to move ahead with its expansion plans. The hospital originally hoped to earn the Board’s approval this July, but neighbors successfully convinced the county to hold off on until the end of the summer to allow for more community involvement in the process.

“Each additional delay in the approval of the site plan application puts off the day when VHC will be able to care for its patient load in a full and comfortable facility,” Bates wrote. “Absent a timely expansion of VHC to accommodate its patient-centric mission, the community as a whole will bear these costs.”

The Board will have the final say on the matter at its meeting Saturday (Sept. 22), a vote made all the more consequential for the county because Arlington stands to gain an 11.5-acre site on S. Carlin Springs Road as part of a “land swap” with the hospital if the expansion moves forward.

Though Board members have been loath to tip their hands on the vote, they are pledging to thoughtfully consider the concerns of neighbors and planners about the project.

“Public or private institutions and buildings, whether hospitals or schools, office buildings or community centers, must respect our planning documents, the built environment and the residents of surrounding communities,” said Board member John Vihstadt during a Chamber forum last week. “Height, setbacks, connectivity, building orientation, traffic and parking concerns are critical factors in any development proposal, and they’re concerns I take seriously. I’m looking forward to hearing more from the hospital and community in the coming days.”

 Darna Lounge Poised to Finally Resolve Permit Problems Tue, 18 Sep 2018 18:45:54 +0000
After months of back-and-forth with county inspectors, Darna Restaurant and Lounge looks to be out of the woods. The Virginia Square bar, located at 946 N. Jackson Street, is now in...

After months of back-and-forth with county inspectors, Darna Restaurant and Lounge looks to be out of the woods.

The Virginia Square bar, located at 946 N. Jackson Street, is now in line to win a key permit renewal from the County Board this weekend. County staff say Darna successfully resolved its outstanding code violations last month, and they’re recommending that the Board allow the lounge to stay open, at least for the next year.

Arlington briefly shut down Darna earlier this year, citing a variety of health and safety code violations at the site, though it did manage to resolve enough of those to re-open in April and attract some attention from both Tristan Thompson and TMZ.

But the county found more issues at the restaurant this summer, and even charged owner Ahmad Ayyad with a misdemeanor for his failure to secure the proper building permit for doing some work on the property. By Aug. 17, however, county staff wrote in a Board report that Ayyad had “resolved all violations” at the restaurant, and earned a new “certificate of occupancy.”

Staff noted in the report that Darna still ran into a few problems over the past few months — on July 27, the fire marshal’s office cited the restaurant for being over capacity by several dozen people.

Even still, the county staff is recommending that the Board renew Darna’s use permit through September 2019. The Board will take up the matter on Saturday (Sept. 22) as part of its consent agenda, which is largely designed for non-controversial items to be approved all at once.

The county’s case against Ayyad and his Maaj Corporation remains active, however. He’s set for an adjudicatory hearing in Arlington General District Court on Sept. 27, per court records.

File photo

 Metro Adds Temporary Bus Tracking Displays to Stops Along Columbia Pike Tue, 18 Sep 2018 17:45:42 +0000
(Updated at 5 p.m.) Metrobus has added real-time bus tracking displays to a bevy of its stops along Columbia Pike, one of many changes coming to the corridor’s bus service...

(Updated at 5 p.m.) Metrobus has added real-time bus tracking displays to a bevy of its stops along Columbia Pike, one of many changes coming to the corridor’s bus service in the coming months.

The California-based company Connectpoint announced earlier this month that it’s working with WMATA to install the devices, which will display wait times for various buses, route maps and even alerts about service disruptions.

The new screens will be available at stops along the pike at the highway’s intersections with the following roads:

  • S. Barton Street
  • S. Carlin Springs Road
  • S. Courthouse Road
  • S. Four Mile Run Drive
  • S. George Mason Drive
  • S. Glebe Road
  • S. Greenbrier Street
  • S. Oakland Street
  • S. Veitch Street
  • S. Walter Reed Drive

The company says it will also install the displays at several stops around Annandale as well, for a total of 24 in all. Metro spokesman Ron Holzer told ARLnow four are already in place as part of a “pilot program” the transit agency is running, with the remaining displays to be installed “in the next two weeks.”

“If the pilot is successful, we hope to deploy signs at all Metrobus stops,” Holzer said.

Arlington transportation spokesman Eric Balliet added that WMATA first installed the technology as part of some long-awaited work to beef up bus service on the pike this summer.

For now, Balliet expects the devices will only display “next bus arrival times” for the Metrobus 16 line, the primary focus of service changes that started in late June.

However, Balliet added that the county “anticipates removing” the devices when it can finalize plans for new bus shelters on the pike. Those have been the subject of plenty of scrutiny over the years, particularly after one stop was revealed to have a price tag north of $1 million.

“The transit stations will include electronic information displays showing all bus services and multimodal options,” Balliet said.

The county put out a request for proposals for those pike bus stops in June, with the goal of starting work on five sometime this winter. Arlington hopes to eventually install 23 of the “transit stations” along the pike.

Photo courtesy of Connectpoint

 TechSpace Opens New Ballston Quarter Location Tue, 18 Sep 2018 16:45:39 +0000
TechSpace, a national shared office space and coworking operator with offices across the US, recently opened a new location in the Ballston quarter. TechSpace provides elegant, private office space environments...

TechSpace, a national shared office space and coworking operator with offices across the US, recently opened a new location in the Ballston quarter.

TechSpace provides elegant, private office space environments that allow businesses to create their own cultures and identities while leveraging communal experiences to enhance the well-being of employees.

“Our goal has always been to provide this type of office space solution to companies with multiple employees from any industry,” said Vic Memenas, CEO at TechSpace. “Our spaces are populated with companies from tech, media, finance, healthcare, fashion, government and run the gamut from start-ups to local & regional firms to national, enterprise corporate users. Businesses come to TechSpace for ease of use, flexibility and a great customer experience, which is inherent to our TechSpace DNA.”

When building out new campuses, the goal is to never design and deliver “cookie-cutter” spaces. TechSpace feels differentiation is important in order to capture the local goodness of each location and geographic region.

This started by providing great space aimed at solving the real estate leasing problem for small businesses but has evolved by adding specific design nuances, whether they be uniquely sized offices and suites along with an increased focus on certain types of amenities that augment the experience for each user.

“Having more open and collaborative designs blended with a focus on hospitality and flexible workspace configurations, combined with shorter terms, increased flexibility and the simplification of burdensome leases better align with today’s market demands,” said Memenas.

Each TechSpace location is unique unto itself with a distinct design, but every location provides companies their own branded and dedicated space, a technology platform that delivers secure user connectivity for maximum productivity all delivered by TechSpace team members focused on providing the best service to our customers.

Memenas said, “Our D.C. location is a great example of this as our spaces there are designed for companies seeking privacy and security — which are critical components for companies who do business in this market.” View a 360 degree tour of the campus.

 Ask Eli: Part 1 of 2 — Amazon HQ2, My Opinions and its Impact on Housing Tue, 18 Sep 2018 15:45:18 +0000
Did you hear Bezos owns a house in the area? You did? Well, how about some other information as to why the Northern Virginia/D.C. area is the favorite to land Amazon's HQ2 in the first of a two part Ask Eli.

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: What would the impact of Amazon HQ2 be on housing in the D.C. Metro, Northern Virginia and Arlington?

Answer: Welp, here we go… On the heels of Jeff Bezos’ trip to D.C., where he confirmed an Amazon HQ2 announcement would be made by the end of the year, I figured there’s no better time to get maximum internet clicks on an Amazon article!

In all seriousness, this is a topic I think and talk about almost daily (jealous?) so I wanted to share my thoughts with you, with a focus on ideas you may not have read in other forums or articles (e.g. Bezos buying a house in D.C. is not mentioned beyond this point).

I’m Confident Amazon HQ2 is Coming to Northern VA/D.C. Metro

Criteria: I won’t bore you with a breakdown of Amazon’s RFP criteria, but the Amazon RFP is a quick read and it’s clear this region meets and exceeds their priorities and everything on their list of “Key Preferences and Decision Drivers.” 

Tech’s Shifting Role: It seems that the long-term success of tech giants will depend on their ability to lobby and direct favorable public policy just as much as it will depend on their ability to develop innovative products. I believe that Amazon HQ2 is only the beginning of a massive tech migration to the D.C. region (see recent Facebook and Apple news).

Bezos v Trump: Don’t you think that with every Trump tweet or comment about Bezos/Amazon/WaPo, the decision becomes more and more personal for Bezos? Can you think of a more tempting power-play by Bezos than moving in next door? I have no doubt that Bezos knows where he can put an Amazon building with a direct line-of-sight from the White House.

My Network: Did I mention I talk about Amazon HQ2 almost every day?

That has led me to some interesting conversations with folks in my network including recruiters for Amazon, employees and former employees of Amazon and other tech companies, local corporate relocation insiders, home inspectors and general contractors. Each offering their own industry-specific signs of a decision in favor of our region.

Vegas: There is nobody better at predicting the future than Las Vegas bookmakers so when Bovada.lv, the largest online gambling site in the US, came out with odds heavily favoring Northern Virginia (#1) and Washington, D.C. (#2), I knew the hype wasn’t just local.

Available Office Space: Amazon is projecting a need for 8M square feet of office space to house 50,000 employees. According to John Redeker, a Senior Associate for Cushman & Wakefield, the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor alone currently has 5,375,000 sq. ft. of available (“available” sounds better than “vacant” right?) office space and Crystal/Pentagon City is sitting on over 2,177,000 sq. ft. of available office space.

Hmmm… sounds a little too perfect, doesn’t it?

Oh, and don’t forget that Tysons has over 1,564,000 sq. ft. of brand-new office space under construction.

By the way, if you’re a business-owner and planning on moving or adding office space in the next year, you may want to reach out to John now while rents are still on the downward trend.

In next week’s Part 2 column, I will detail where I think Amazon should locate its 50,000 employees across 8M square feet of office space and what that will mean for the housing market in the near-term and long-term.

P.S. — Jeff, I’d be happy to assist your employees with their relocation. My cell phone number is 703-539-2529 if you’d like to discuss privately 🙂

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column, please send an email to Eli@EliResidential.com. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

 ‘BroCon’ Coming to Arlington Next Month Tue, 18 Sep 2018 14:45:02 +0000
A gathering called BroCon is coming to Arlington in October, but it’s probably not what you think it is. The convention, which is taking place in the D.C. area for the...

A gathering called BroCon is coming to Arlington in October, but it’s probably not what you think it is.

The convention, which is taking place in the D.C. area for the first time, is being held from Oct. 10-12 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City. Registration costs as much as $500 per person.

BroCon is not, as one might guess by the name and the Arlington location, a meeting of former fraternity members and fist-pumping enthusiasts. Rather, it is a convention for network security professionals and academics.

Bro is open-source software that has been used to monitor computer networks since the early days of the internet.

The three-day conclave is billed as “the most important community event for users, developers, incident responders, threat hunters and architects who rely on the open-source Bro network security monitor as a critical element in their security stack.”

“This year join your colleagues who rely on Bro for technical talks, demonstrations and discussions about the project, its many applications, and its future,” says the convention’s website. “If you’re interested in the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape and how Bro can help your organization by providing better data about network traffic, then BroCon 2018 is a critical event for you.”

 Arlington Democrats Confident of ‘Blue Wave’ in November Tue, 18 Sep 2018 13:45:12 +0000
Arlington Democrats are promising a “blue wave” in a new round of yard signs distributed over the last few weeks. The signs promote the full slate of Democratic candidates on...

Arlington Democrats are promising a “blue wave” in a new round of yard signs distributed over the last few weeks.

The signs promote the full slate of Democratic candidates on the ticket in the county this fall — U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District), County Board nominee Matt de Ferranti and School Board member Barbara Kanninen — alongside images of a blue tidal wave Democrats are hoping sweep them back into power nationally.

County Democratic Committee Chair Jill Caiazzo told ARLnow that the party’s joint campaign committee designed the new signs, and Democrats have been distributing them for roughly a month now. She expects that they’ve given out a “few hundred” so far, and fully plans to distribute more as Nov. 6 nears.

While signs boosting the whole ticket might be a fixture of yards and medians every election season, Caiazzo hopes this specific design taps into the “broader movement” organizing around frustration with President Trump nationwide.

“We hope they convey a need for sweeping change in our politics, and that’s coming in November,” Caiazzo said.

Despite pushback and talk of a “red wave” by President Trump, a succession of polls has supported the notion that Democrats have a distinct enthusiasm advantage headed into the midterms, which figures to help out local candidates down the ballot as well. If a blue wave is on the way for Democrats looking to take back Congress, even local candidates like de Ferranti and Kanninen stand to benefit.

Kaine’s contest with Corey Stewart, the Republican chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, isn’t projected to be a close race, yet it may drive Democrats to the polls all the same. Stewart’s embrace of Confederate monuments and past associations with white supremacist figures has made him especially controversial, even if polls regularly show him facing a double-digit deficit. Caiazzo expects Kaine to be “highly present” in Arlington leading up to the election, as driving up margins in the county is “important to their statewide strategy.”

Kanninen looks to be well positioned against independent Audrey Clement, a perennial candidate for county offices, but the “wave” Caiazzo hopes for might be especially meaningful for de Ferranti. He’s facing off against independent John Vihstadt, a well-funded incumbent who managed to win a pair of elections to the Board back in 2014 by wide margins and has earned endorsements from a variety of Democratic officeholders.

“We’ll take help from all corners and we’re certainly hopeful that the situation from national candidates will help us overall in Arlington,” Caiazzo said. “But we know it’s also important to campaign on local issues and we embrace that challenge.”