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Arlington Public Schools to Open on Two Hour Delay

As of Thursday night, Arlington Public Schools is planning to open Friday on a two hour delay.

Snow tonight and overnight is expected to make roads and sidewalks slick Friday morning. The two hour delay will allow temperatures to rise and road conditions to improve.

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County Leaders Don’t Expect to See Seattle’s Problems with Amazon Spring Up in Arlington

(Updated at 8:25 p.m.) When many Arlingtonians take a look at the sort of impact Amazon has had on Seattle since setting up shop in the city, they can’t help but feel nervous about how the tech giant might transform the county when it arrives.

The city has seen everything from skyrocketing housing prices to nightmarish traffic congestion stemming from Amazon’s rapid growth into one of the largest companies in the world, and leaders there have felt compelled to take new steps to bridge the growing inequality between the city’s tech workers and the rest of its residents.

It all provides plenty of reason to be wary of what lies ahead for Arlington once the company starts bringing its new headquarters to Crystal City and Pentagon City. But local leaders and regional planners are trying to deliver a clear message to quell those concerns — Seattle and D.C. could not possibly be more different.

“A lot of people are influenced by the Seattle example… and they think, ‘We don’t want to end up like that, our problems are already bad,'” County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said during an Amazon discussion yesterday (Wednesday) live-streamed on the county’s Facebook page. “But some of these fundamental economics are very different. I’m not saying we’ll have no problems, but I’m pretty confident we won’t have Seattle’s problems.”

For one thing, it helps that the D.C. region is quite a bit larger than Seattle and its suburbs. Chuck Bean, the executive director of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, estimates that the D.C. metro area is “about 40 percent bigger” than Seattle’s, so there’s “a lot more absorptive capacity” for the workers Amazon will bring here.

It doesn’t hurt either that Bean believes has the region has “an advanced, mature transit system that Seattle didn’t have,” giving people the ability to live a bit further away from the headquarters without necessarily relying on a car.

“Perhaps it’s a bit too mature, but we’re working on that,” Bean said, in a reference to the lengthy efforts by local leaders to get Metro working properly again.

Amazon has pledged to deliver 25,000 new jobs at its new headquarters, but officials have consistently reiterated that only a small portion will likely live in Arlington itself, and many already live elsewhere in the region. The way Dorsey sees it, the county is only likely to see about 20 percent of Amazon’s workers live in Arlington, equivalent to about 5,000 people in all.

In a county of 230,000 people or so and a broader region of millions more, he hopes that such an addition won’t be nearly as disruptive as it was in Seattle. Bean also points out that Amazon’s 25,000 jobs is just a drop in the bucket compared to the 1.1 million jobs his group believes the region will add over the next 20 years.

“Their population grew by 40 percent from when Amazon was founded to about two years ago,” Dorsey said. “That’s a tremendous amount of growth in a short period of time for any community to sustain. They’re not going to have anywhere near that impact, based on that path of growth here.”

Dorsey also notes that Amazon’s employees “earned significantly more than other Seattle workers,” especially when the company was first growing in size. Based on the tech firm’s projections, Dorsey expects that Amazon’s workers will earn “about what the typical higher wage employees in this area already earn” — as a condition of the state’s deal with Amazon, the average salary of the company’s workers needs to be at least $150,000 per year, with that amount increasing each year.

Dorsey acknowledges that there is the chance that adding more wealthy workers will drive up prices around the region, particularly for rent. But Eric Brescia, a member of Arlington’s Citizens Advisory Commission on Housing, says it’s not that simple.

“Intuitively, when you bring more high-income people in, it creates more demand to drive up prices,” Brescia said. “But the price of housing is not only just a function of what the demand is, it’s how does the supply compare to the demand.”

To demonstrate the difference, Brescia drew a comparison between how San Jose managed the explosive growth of Silicon Valley and Charlotte shepherded growth in its financial services sector.

Brescia, an economist for his day job, pointed out that Charlotte has since a 40 percent boost in jobs over the last two decades, while San Jose saw just a 17 percent bump. Nevertheless, home prices in Charlotte only rose by 18 percent in that same period, while they rose by 160 percent in San Jose — adjusted for inflation.

In his mind, the difference comes down to housing production — Charlotte and its suburbs added 400,000 new homes over the last 20 years, while San Jose managed just 100,000.

“This is an illustration that the presence of high-paying jobs does not inherently make housing unaffordable if we’re nimble enough to build housing to accommodate that,” Brescia said. “And I think this region as a whole is really going to have to be thinking of land use policy, transportation policy to determine where these homes are going to go.”

For Dorsey, who once drew headlines for proclaiming that the county should not “protect” certain neighborhoods from density, that illustrates the County Board’s challenge in the coming years.

He points out that Arlington is currently dominated by large swaths of neighborhoods with only single-family homes, particularly in the areas outside of Arlington’s Metro corridors. As county Housing Director David Cristeal noted, the majority of the homes in Arlington are apartments, but the majority of the square footage is occupied by single-family homes.

As more Amazon workers move in, Dorsey expects that officials will need to do something to confront that trend and avoid “inefficient sprawl.”

“Our community has to embrace a conversation about what it really means to grow the supply,” Dorsey said. “Our community in Arlington, and our region in general, devotes a lot of its housing to one house per lot. And if we think about equitable growth, growth that’s diverse and inclusive, that can’t be the sole way we do it.”

That could mean everything from expanding the county’s previous efforts to allow more “accessory dwelling units” on single-family lots, or encouraging the redevelopment of some single-family homes into duplexes.

But Dorsey also admitted that some more drastic changes could be necessary in terms of increasing density throughout the county. If officials don’t embrace that mindset, Brescia fears Arlington could wind up facing some of those Seattle-sized problems it hopes to avoid.

“If some more flexibility isn’t gradually allowed in more regions of the county, we’re increasingly going to be single-family neighborhoods with $2 million dollar homes versus people in very small apartments near the transit corridors, and really nothing in between,” Brescia said. “Some people get scared when you talk about those things, but the question is how to gradually grow so you don’t have that divide.”

Photo via Facebook

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NoVa Congressional Delegation Pushes for Funding for Major GW Parkway Rehab Work

Federal officials think they have a good shot at winning $126 million in grant funds to make a series of badly needed repairs on a long section of the GW Parkway, and Northern Virginia’s congressional delegation is throwing its weight behind the effort.

The National Park Service, which maintains the road, is currently applying for a hefty U.S. Department of Transportation grant to fund rehabilitation work on a roughly eight-mile-long stretch of the parkway, as it runs between the Spout Run Parkway in Rosslyn and I-495. Now, both of Virginia’s senators and three local members of Congress are lending their support to the funding push, in a bid to finally afford some changes on the aging roadway.

“The proposed project will address serious deterioration of the GWMP and implement significant safety improvements,” the lawmakers wrote in a Jan. 8 letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. “This project will improve a critical link in the National Capital Region’s transportation network while preserving the historical and cultural characteristics that make the parkway one of the most scenic roadways in the country. These proposed improvements will increase the safety of visitors while significantly extending the life of the parkway.”

Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (both D-Va.) both signed the letter, as did Virginia Reps. Don Beyer (D-8th District) and Jennifer Wexton (D-10th District). Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s lone, non-voting representative in Congress also added her support.

The NPS says the construction work, set to cost about $150 million in all, will start at the parkway’s Spout Run Parkway exit and include:

  • Making drives smoother by replacing the asphalt pavement
  • Replacing guardrails and repairing walls
  • Repairing stormwater management systems to keep excess water from damaging the road
  • Constructing new concrete curbs
  • Rehabilitating parts of two historic, scenic overlooks
  • Lengthening entrance and exit lanes at some interchanges

Officials also hope to use the cash to replace the stormwater drainage grates that line the parkway, which have long made for a bumpy ride for drivers. They’re also envisioning adding four “emergency turnarounds,” in order to allow police to more easily redirect drivers who stop on the road due to a crash or inclement weather.

The construction would also include improvements at the parkway’s interchange with Chain Bridge Road in McLean, like adding a new traffic signal to the area.

The lawmakers note in the letter that this northern stretch of the parkway was first built in 1962, and with more than 33 million vehicles using the road each year, it’s badly deteriorated in the decades since.

The NPS is hoping to win the funding through the Department of Transportation’s “Nationally Significant Federal Land and Tribal Projects” program. In a release, park service officials said they believe the project “will compete well” for cash through that program, given the parkway’s “significance” and the fact that the NPS has already wrapped up schematic design work for the construction.

If all goes well, officials hope to kick off construction sometime next year.

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“Sophisticated Rarities” Concert by the Arlington Philharmonic

This Community Post was written by the Arlington Philharmonic and underwritten by Washington Workplace.

On Sunday, February 10 at 4 p.m., the Arlington Philharmonic, under the direction of Maestro A. Scott Wood, will present its second concert of the season, Sophisticated Rarities, a concert of music with French themes. This is a free concert at the Wakefield High School auditorium, 1325 S Dinwiddie St. Open seating; no tickets necessary. Donations are appreciated.

The concert program will open with the lively Overture to La Belle Hélène by Jacques Offenbach, followed by the Symphony No. 1 in D Major by Charles Gounod. Next, the Philharmonic will perform Le Camp du Drap d’Or (The Field of the Cloth of Gold), a work by DC area composer Joseph Santo. To close the concert, featured soloist Ava Oaxaca will perform Paule Maurice’s colorful Tableaux de Provence for saxophone and orchestra.

Crescendo, the Arlington Philharmonic’s youth chamber music program, will present the music of Schubert, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Dvorak their second concert of the season on Wednesday, February 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Kenmore Middle School, 202 S Carlin Springs Rd.

The Arlington Philharmonic’s mission as a non-profit symphony orchestra is to make classical music accessible to every Arlington resident, to promote the value of classical music in our civic life, and to build strong, creative partnerships with schools, local government, businesses, and other organizations.

For more information about the Arlington Philharmonic and upcoming events, visit arlingtonphilharmonic.org or call 703-910-5161.

The Right Note: Best Conspiracy Theory of the Week?

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Why were Arlington schools closed on Tuesday when every surrounding jurisdiction operated on a two hour delay?

According to the Sun Gazette, it could have something to do with Arlington’s desire to get a waiver from the so-called “Kings Dominion rule” which stops many school districts from returning to school until after Labor Day. Fairfax County was granted the waiver primarily on the basis of too many snow days a couple years back, so maybe it would work for Arlington?

It has been tough sledding for Arlington officials when it comes to getting help from the General Assembly. However, Arlington officials could be betting on Democrats taking control of both the House and Senate in the 2019 elections, which presumably would clear the way for more favorable treatment.

Last fall, Katie Cristol openly backed the opponent of the last remaining General Assembly Republican inside the beltway — Tim Hugo. This was primarily based on the treatment the county received in the golf course property tax battle. Having made this early political play, it would be a good bet that nothing Arlington wants is moving through the House of Delegates if Republicans hold on to the majority.

Back to the school calendar. Arlington could already get out of school earlier in June if that was truly a priority. There are plenty of cushion days built into the calendar now to make it happen.

If we did have a particularly snowy winter, days could simply be added back in June if necessary to meet state requirements. If this is about preparing for SOL testing or other academic measures, it would be good to see real data on whether a school district that made the switch saw any statistically significant improvement.

Speaking of APS, the School Board this week made it official: Washington-Lee will soon be known as Washington-Liberty high school. Long ago it seemed a done deal that the compromise position was to keep the “W-L” moniker rather than further alienating already disgruntled alumni.

The bottom line for many parents is the amount of time spent on name changes, building designs and boundary line disputes should never take away from the need to ensure what happens inside the classroom is best preparing our kids for the future.

How our students will be prepared to find a job and thrive in the next generation economy. And, how our students will be prepared to contribute to our society as good, well-rounded, critically thinking citizens.

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Annual Giant Used Book Fair!

Join us for Saint Ann Church & School’s annual used book sale! Books for every taste and interest–tons of politics, history, biographies, self-help, language, mysteries, romance, travel, sci-fi, fantasy and lots for kids and teens too! Great prices in a relaxed atmosphere — come early and enjoy a Valentine’s Day bake sale! Free admission and parking and coffee/tea all day.

Progressive Voice: Arlington Democrats, Businesses and Government Show Solidarity with Federal Workforce During Shutdown

Progressive Voice is a weekly column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.

By Laura Saul Edwards

President Trump’s current, partial government shutdown has achieved the dubious distinction of being the longest in our history. Before Trump began the shutdown on Dec. 22, he announced “I am proud to shut down the government,” and he promised Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Speaker of the House Pelosi (D-Calif.) “I’m not going to blame you for it.” One month later Trump changed his tune and tweeted “The Democrats own the shutdown!”

Arlington is enduring a heavy share of the emotional stress and financial turmoil caused by this deplorable situation.

We are part of the 8th Congressional District, which has the most federal workers or any district in the nation. Our congressman, U.S. Representative Don Beyer (D-8th District), pointed out “federal employees should never be used as political pawns, especially for a senseless and ineffective wall. I’ve received hundreds of calls and letters from my constituents who overwhelmingly oppose the shutdown and just want to get back to work. I’ve heard from people living in anguish and fear, not knowing where the money is going to come from to pay for their tuition, their rent, their groceries, or their health care. This cannot continue. Every day this shutdown drags on, it does lasting damage to the federal workforce and the country.”

The president’s aims that are driving the shutdown are the antithesis of progressive values. He is not relying on facts to justify his demand for $5.7 billion to augment the existing physical barriers along our southern border to address a bogus “national security crisis.”

The shutdown is not based on sound economic policy. The president’s own Council of Economic Advisors doubled its estimate of how much economic growth is being lost each day the shutdown continues. As it is, by the end of January, the shutdown will exceed the $5.7 billion the president requested for the disputed wall.

The shutdown is not about equality or fairness, as demonstrated in the president’s own Dec. 27 tweet in which he glibly noted that “most of the people not getting paid are Democrats.”

Congress and the administration are in a standoff on re-opening the government. Democrats in the House have passed bills that would put 800,000 federal employees back to work while allowing negotiations on border security and the disputed wall to continue on a separate track. Only a handful of House Republicans have joined them. And in the Senate, Majority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) insists he will not take up any bill that President Trump will not sign.

And as the shutdown drags on, some senior Administration officials say it is about permanently downsizing the federal workforce. They make long-debunked claims of widespread “waste, fraud and abuse” that have the effect of dehumanizing the federal workforce. Demonizing federal employees is nothing new — after all, it was President Ronald Reagan who said “The nine most feared words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” Sadly, this shutdown is the ugly nadir of 40 years of incessant anti-government rhetoric from conservatives.

In response, local progressives and businesses are working hard to show solidarity with the federal employees and contractors in our community — and to affirm the importance of their service to our country.

The Arlington Democrats’ Blue Families group held a “Missing Paychecks Protest & Potluck” with Beyer on Jan. 15. Beyer has been listening to and fighting for his affected constituents since the shutdown began, and in response introduced a bill to guarantee back pay for furloughed government workers (H.R. 67). He also is supporting a bill to ensure back pay for federal contractors, such as janitors (H.R. 4875).

Several Arlington restaurants, bars, cafes and gyms are offering freebies and discounts to affected federal workers. Many vendors at the Westover Farmers Market are offering discounts to furloughed workers and free local apples from the “Shutdown Apple Cart™”. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington has opened its food bank for the pets of furloughed owners for the duration of the shutdown.

In addition, this Friday (January 18), Arlington Public Schools will be holding a job fair to hire qualified federal workers as substitute teachers.

Arlington County also announced several actions to ease financial pressure on affected county residents and businesses.

When asked about the shutdown, long-time Arlington resident, civic leader and retired federal employee John F. Seymour proclaimed, “I am glad our elected officials — Beyer, Kaine, and Warner –are refusing to let Trump use the shutdown as a bargaining chip. Let’s get our government employees back to work… and an honest, factual debate on the need for a wall can take place.”

While all of these responses to the shutdown confirm Arlington’s progressive values, the most welcome action of all would be to immediately re-open the entire federal government and return all furloughed workers and contract workers to their jobs.

In this way, government could be an effective tool for the public good, and not a force for harming our security, economy and morale, as is now the case.

Laura Saul Edwards has lived in Arlington County since 1994. She serves on the School Board’s Advisory Council on School Facilities and Capital Projects (FAC) and is an APS 2012 Honored Citizen.

If you are a furloughed worker and don’t know where to start with sorting out your life during this time, dial 2-1-1 or go to www.211.org for confidential assistance.

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Peter’s Take: DPR Misled County Board, Public on Parks Plan

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

At its Jan. 8 meeting, the Arlington County Civic Federation (Civ Fed) passed a resolution 66-17-3 regarding the Level of Service (LOS) recommendations for athletic fields contained in the latest draft of the Public Open Spaces Master Plan (“PSMP” or “POPS” plan). (LOS is an acronym for Level of Service.)

Among many other provisions, the Civ Fed’s two-page resolution calls upon the Arlington County government to “withdraw the specific LOS athletic field recommendations” from the POPS plan.

Civ Fed’s January 8 program was designed to stimulate dialogue and improve understanding of this complicated topic. Civ Fed invited the county staff to have an open conversation with its delegates specifically about the lack of supply/demand data and the transparency of the public POPS process. While staff from Arlington’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) were the most knowledgeable people to answer specific methodology questions, the County Manager declined to have DPR staff attend.

Instead, two volunteer resident members of the POPS Advisory Committee spoke on the county’s behalf. They tried to defend DPR’s lack of transparency, while two other residents and proponents of the resolution explained DPR’s own data, which were accessed through a residents’ FOIA request and a six-month resident analysis reviewing diamond fields only. DPR should have defended and explained their process and data, not residents.

Standard industry LOS methodology was not followed; analyses and documents left out

DPR told the County Board, county commissions, stakeholders, and the general public that DPR was following a standard industry methodology called “Population Based LOS” to provide quantitative estimates of levels of service. But, DPR didn’t follow it.

DPR excluded from its calculations and from the public POPS process the abundance of supply/demand field data and analyses which DPR had in its files. But according to DPR’s own consultants’ standard industry methodology statement, these data are necessary to determine Population Based LOS correctly: “Each community determine its own LOS standard based on current supply and demand and future supply/demand projections” POPS_LOS Methodology_171220.  This LOS methodology statement was discovered among the documents produced via the FOIA.

DPR’s exclusion is significant. Among the other documents residents obtained under FOIA were DPR’s own analysis showing adequate diamond field facilities through 2035 in contrast to the deficits indicated by the improperly calculated LOS currently in the POPS plan.

Further details explaining how DPR did not follow standard industry methodology are available here.

The importance of the PSMP plan and LOS facility recommendations to long-term planning

The accuracy of LOS for specific categories of facilities — or lack thereof — can be hugely important to subsequent planning decisions.

These specific quantitative LOS recommendations will be used over the next 20 years to decide:

  • how acres of public parkland will be used (i.e., more or different sports fields, casual use space, or other features)
  • whether to install multi-million-dollar capital improvements (i.e., synthetic turf and/or lights)

These decisions must be considered in a holistic plan developed according to proper standard industry methodology and based on how Arlington residents actually use and need these facilities. Without such a plan, it will not be possible for residents to:

  • prioritize which facilities are needed in individual parks
  • introduce comprehensive, supply/demand data in any subsequent individual park planning proceeding because such data can only be developed reliably on a county-wide basis, in a county-wide proceeding

Conclusion

Approving the POPS plan while it still contains the erroneous and incomplete quantitative facility (LOS) recommendations will cause the misallocation of tens of millions of tax dollars and substantially harm efforts to meet residents’ needs and priorities in our public spaces.

As the Civ Fed has recognized and supported, the best solution to the present situation is to:

  • remove the erroneous LOS recommendations for sports fields before approving the final POPS plan
  • commence a new, independent and transparent process to:
  1. develop new quantitative estimates of county-wide supply/demand for sports fields
  2. develop new priority systems to maximize the efficient use of our existing fields
  3. implement an online reservation system to ensure that facility usage is transparent to the public and sports users
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New Bill Could Expand Arlington’s Powers to Ticket Parked Cars, But Backers See Other Purpose

New legislation working its way through the General Assembly could soon let Arlington, and other large Northern Virginia localities, start ticketing parked cars for minor violations like expired license plates — but the lawmakers backing the bill say it has a very different purpose.

Currently, county police can only hand out such violations when drivers are on the move. But identical bills just introduced down in Richmond by state Sen. Dick Black (R-13th District) and Del. Karrie Delaney (D-67th District) could allow parking enforcement staffers in large counties like Arlington to hand out those tickets too — if the localities opt in for the change.

At least, that’s how Arlington County Attorney Steve MacIsaac reads the bill, according to a county spokeswoman. Specifically, he believes that the legislation “would allow Arlington to enforce expired plates and other such violations on parked vehicles, and to hire non-law-enforcement uniformed personnel to carry out such enforcement.”

“It would be up to the County Board, should this bill become state law, to decide whether it wants to take advantage of this broadening of the county’s authority,” Board spokeswoman Mary Curtius told ARLnow.

But the bill’s backers say they introduced the legislation for an entirely different purpose. Black and Delaney both represent portions of Loudoun County, and they say officials there are looking for a much more narrow change than the one Arlington leaders see in the bill.

The legislation specifies that any locality with more than 40,000 residents has the power to hire contracted workers to enforce parking violations, rather than relying on police officers for that purpose. Current law only gives cities with more than 40,000 people that authority, leaving Loudoun and other large counties a bit stuck.

“This bars counties from contracting out enforcement services, forcing members of their already overworked police offices and other uniformed personnel to use their working hours checking parking hours and enforcing parking meters,” Delaney said during a House of Delegates subcommittee meeting last Thursday (Jan. 10).

As Loudoun prepares to welcome its first Metro stations in the coming years, with the Silver Line gradually expanding out to Dulles International Airport, county officials want to hire some extra help to enforce parking around the new stations. Jeffrey Gore, a lobbyist hired to represent Loudoun in the legislature this year, assured the Senate’s transportation committee yesterday (Wednesday) that plenty of other cities have made such a change, without incident.

“It’s not traffic violations, it’s just parking ordinances,” Gore told lawmakers. “Richmond does this, Virginia Beach does this. But Loudoun can’t do this, Fairfax can’t do this.”

That all means MacIsaac could be interpreting the law differently than its backers, or it could have consequences they weren’t intending (or are willing to share publicly).

But one outspoken political observer in Northern Virginia, political strategist Ben Tribbett, is blasting the bills as a “huge revenue grab” and compares them to another program in Fairfax County meant to step up the enforcement of car registration fee evasion.

An aide for Delaney did not respond to a request for an interview to discuss her bill, or Tribbett’s criticisms.

Regardless of those claims, or MacIsaac’s reading of the legislation, both bills are steadily advancing.

Black’s bill passed the Senate’s transportation committee on an 8-3 vote, and could soon head for a floor vote. Meanwhile, a House transportation subcommittee unanimously voted to advance Delaney’s bill, sending it to the full committee for review.

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Market Common Clarendon Redevelopment Kicks Off, With New ‘Luxury Fitness Club’ On the Way

Work is now set to kick off on a major redevelopment project in Clarendon, with a “luxury fitness club” set to become the first tenant to move into the new, Whole Foods-adjacent building.

The developers controlling the Market Common Clarendon properties, located along the 2700 and 2800 blocks of Clarendon Blvd, announced yesterday (Wednesday) that they’re ready to start construction on an at-times controversial project transforming the old Clarendon Education Center into new office and retail space.

Eventually, Regency Centers plans to add a fourth floor and outdoor terrace to the current building at 2801 Clarendon Blvd, expanding it over an adjacent structure and adding more space in the process. The company is dubbing the building the “Loft Office at Market Common,” with plans to lease out about 145,000 square feet of space in the coming years.

The new development, located across Clarendon Blvd from Market Common’s other property known as “The Loop,” has attracted plenty of criticism over the years.

The building set to be revamped was once home to the popular live music venue the IOTA Club, and many people around the county’s arts scene have lamented the club’s closure as a result of this redevelopment effort, which was approved by the County Board last January.

But the project’s backers are marketing the work as a potentially transformative effort for the entire neighborhood.

“Our team is transforming an obsolete office building into a cutting-edge, mixed use destination by combining best-in-class retail and dining options on the street level, the nation’s premier luxury fitness club on the second level, and two levels of loft-style office space across from the only Whole Foods in the corridor,” Jason Yanushonis, Regency Center’s manager of investments, said in a statement. “Repositioning this building is a critical component to our overall investment strategy at Market Common. We feel like we are hitting the market at the right time with this truly unique space offering.”

The company said in a release that the aforementioned “luxury fitness” company will lease 5,000 square feet of space on the building’s first floor, and the entire, 26,000-square-foot second floor. However, Regency Centers is staying mum on which fitness studio, exactly, is on the way.

“We can’t say specifically just yet, but we are very much looking forward to being able to share that in the future,” spokesman Eric Davidson told ARLnow.

Permit applications from late last year appear to show cycling studio SoulCycle targeting the development for its first Virginia expansion, though those seemed to indicate it would be located in the Market Common retail space across the street from the new building —  Davidson would not address whether SoulCycle is the tenant in question for the new space.

As for the rest of the building, the company says there’s another 23,000 square feet of retail space available on its first floor and “86,000 square feet of creative office space available on the lower level, third and fourth floors.”

The company “primarily” hopes to attract “tech firms, IT firms and government contractors” for that space, the release said.

Regency Centers hasn’t settled on a firm opening date just yet, but is currently targeting the second quarter of 2020 to finish work on the project.

Just last month, the Baja Fresh restaurant adjacent to the soon-to-be redeveloped building abruptly shut down. However, it’s unclear if that was connected to this project or not.

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AFAC Urges Furloughed Federal Workers to Swing By For Free Groceries As Shutdown Drags On

Arlington’s local food bank is urging furloughed federal workers to swing by for free groceries, should times be getting tough as the government shutdown drags on.

The Arlington Food Assistance Center is reminding all Arlingtonians that anyone having trouble making ends meet is eligible to pick up a bag of groceries from the food bank on a one-time basis.

All you have to do is provide a government-issued photo ID and proof of your address (either on an ID or a bill mailed to your home). AFAC stresses that it has “does not impose income limits — ever,” making one-time assistance available to any furloughed fed missing out on paychecks these days.

“If your bills are high, your paychecks are withheld, or you just need something to get you through the week, AFAC is available to you,” the food bank wrote on its website.

Anyone looking for some more extensive help can also apply for three months of food, with a referral from the county’s Department of Human Services or an Arlington Public Schools social worker.

The food bank works to provide families, at a minimum, with staples like milk, fruit, vegetables, cereal, canned goods and other dry goods. AFAC operates three food distribution centers around the county, at the following places and times:

AFAC Nelson: 2708 S. Nelson Street, Arlington 22206
Monday to Friday:  10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Tuesday and Thursday evenings:  7:00 – 8:00 PM
Saturday morning: 9:00 – 11:00 AM

Gunston Community Center: 2700 S. Lang Street, Arlington 22206
Thursday evening: 7:00 – 8:00 PM

Clarendon United Methodist Church: 606 N. Irving Street, lower level, Arlington 22201
Saturday morning: 9:30 – 10:30 AM

As the shutdown smashes records for the longest of any kind in the nation’s history, county officials have also been offering payment plans and fee forgiveness for some services.

Arlington’s also planned a variety of hiring events and financial management workshops for federal workers.

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