Once it was cutting edge; a few decades later, it was obsolete. Now, Crystal City has a golden opportunity to reinvent itself yet again — as National Landing — after Amazon chose the urban neighborhood in Arlington County, as one of its two new headquarters.
“It’s a decision that I think will be a benchmark and a case study for many years to come,” says Uwe Brandes, faculty director of the Georgetown University Master’s program in Urban & Regional Planning.
Here, Brandes talks with Glenn Williamson, faculty director of the Master’s in Real Estate program, about the decision’s impact on Northern Virginia and the entire Washington, D.C. region.
Crystal City developer JBG Smith “had a portfolio of buildings that were obsolete, and they were like ugly ducklings,” Williamson said. “And what they’ve managed to do now with this property is to turn it into a beautiful swan.”
Restaurant Week starts today — Four restaurants in Reston will be serving up dishes for Winter Restaurant Week, which runs from today until Sunday (Jan. 20). [Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington]
Walmart is increasing tech jobs — In a battle with Amazon’s market share, the retailer announced it will add 2,000 tech hires this year. The expansion is likely to affect the Sunnyvale, Calif. and Reston offices. [Fortune]
Snow, snow, snow — Fairfax County Public Schools are closed today. ICYMI: Reston Now had weekend coverage of the snowiest D.C. area storm since 2016. [Reston Now]
(Updated at 9 a.m. on Nov. 30) This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.
Amazon, which has made its way into just about every consumer’s home with its online goods and services, has announced that it is bringing its second headquarters — or at least half its east-coast headquarters — to Crystal City. The area — now being called “National Landing” — is actually in Arlington County. The other half of its headquarters, originally expected to be in one location, will be in Long Island City in Queens, New York.
There were few regrets in Virginia or the Washington, D.C. area at getting just half of the prize in the most competitive contest for an economic development project in recent times. Even half of the prize is expected to bring 25,000 top jobs to the region.
I attended the announcement of Amazon’s decision in an abandoned Crystal City warehouse that has in recent years fallen on hard economic times. The warehouse will be demolished to make room for the new HQ2. During Governor Ralph Northam’s remarks, I was thinking that we have truly reached a crossroads in economic development in the northern part of the Commonwealth. There will be little need for the structures like that warehouse.
Northern Virginia that includes Reston and Tysons Corner has fully moved into the arena of high technology and will be mentioned in the future as one of the centers of technological innovation in our country. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is just the latest of a long list of entrepreneurs who have seen the value of a NoVa location.
I am a skeptic of big pay-out deals that have been increasingly used by states and localities to lure companies to their locations. There seems to be almost unanimous agreement among economic development experts that Virginia may have pulled off one of the best deals they have seen in an economic development proposal in recent times.
There is cash to Amazon involved, but that cash is in the form of performance payments when Amazon reaches certain tiers of development and production of top-paying jobs. The math of the proposal shows that in the end, Virginia will be a substantial net winner from the economic activity coming from the new headquarters and supporting development and the new Virginia taxpayers it will include.
For many, the strength of the Virginia Amazon proposal goes beyond the location of a new headquarters. Governor Northam called Virginia’s efforts “a new model of economic development for the 21st century.” As he explained, most of Virginia’s partnership proposal consists of investments in education and transportation infrastructure “that will bolster the features that make Virginia so attractive: a strong and talented workforce, a stable and competitive business climate, and a world-class higher education system.”
The feature of the proposal that is getting the strongest kudos is the location of a billion-dollar extension of Virginia Tech that will offer graduate degrees in engineering, technology and innovation in the city of Alexandria. And yes, there will be transportation improvements to Metro and the highways to better accommodate the new residents who will be working at the new headquarters.
I believe Virginia was a really big winner in this announcement; even half the deal is certain to work to our region’s advantage!
This story has been updated
Amazon’s decision to bring its second headquarters to Crystal City is sure to send an immediate and impactful jolt across Arlington, but what’s less clear is how the coming of the technology giant will impact Northern Virginia as a whole.
Although Reston is couched far from Arlington, the community could see a windfall from the new headquarters, which will be split between Arlington and Long Island City, especially with the community’s onboarding to the Silver Line and a planned expansion in development and redevelopment over the next two decades.
Business leaders in the area portend the coming of Amazon will help expedite the transformation of communities like Reston from a federal government town to a technology corridor. That transition is already taking place with the coming of new headquarters like Leidos, a scientific research company, to Reston’s new developments.
Mark Ingrao, CEO and president of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, said secondary and tertiary businesses lured by Amazon’s foothold in Arlington may be enticed to set up shop in new and emerging developments in Reston around the Silver Line.
“It is going to be a prime opportunity to relocate here in an area that’s new and right on the Silver Line,” Ingrao told Reston Now.
Additionally, limitations in the amount and affordability of housing stock in Arlington could push some employees and residents to find housing in Reston’s transit station areas, which are in the process of major transformation and redevelopment. The move could also diversify Reston’s workforce, Ingrao said.
But the move is not without challenges, ushering in associated concerns about infrastructure and transportation impacts that have long plagued discussions about future development in Reston.
Ingrao is optimistic that the coming of tech giants like Amazon will help expedite county and state discussions about needed transportation infrastructure improvements and encourage officials to tackle them in a “more direct way.”
“At the end of the day, it should force local government and others to really concentrate on the infrastructure needs and get them addressed sooner rather than later,” Ingrao said.
Here’s more from what county officials and business leaders are saying about the decision.
“Having HQ2 in Northern Virginia will bring important jobs, business diversity and more innovative technology to the area,” said Gerald Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. “We look forward to continuing to work with Amazon Web Services to expand its presence here and are excited to collaborate with other innovative companies that will be putting down roots in Fairfax County soon.”
“We congratulate Arlington and Alexandria on being selected in the process for Amazon HQ2,’ said Buddy Rizer, director of Loudoun Economic Development. “We consider this a win for the entire region. Many of Loudoun’s highly educated professionals will join the Amazon workforce, and many of Loudoun’s wine country and other retail and recreation venues will become favorite destinations for Amazon employees throughout the Northern Virginia/DC Metro region. We will continue to market Loudoun County as a world-class location for global businesses like Amazon, and we look forward to making some exciting announcements about new Loudoun companies soon.”
Photo courtesy Crystal City BID
Fire displaces 30 Reston residents on Saturday — A fire on the 1600 block of Becontree Lane on Saturday displaced 30 people. Local firefighters rescued two people who were in the building and residents rescued two others who were in the vicinity. All injuries were not life-threatening. We’ll have an update for you on the incident later today. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]
No room to park at Wiehle-Reston East — Parking at the Wiehle-Reston East garage, which was once plentiful, has now become scarce. Citations by the county for illegal parking are also on the rise. [The Washington Post]
Crystal City and Amazon HQ2 — Amazon.com Inc. is moving forward with discussions about bringing HQ2 to Crystal City. Talking points include how to move employees into Arlington County neighborhoods and the bid also includes sites in the adjacent Potomac Yard neighborhood in Alexandria. [The Washington Post, Washington Business Journal]
Fall festival extended to tomorrow — The Reston Farm Market has extended its fall festival to Tuesday. The festival includes a train ride, moon bounces and other activities. [Reston Farm Market]
Photo by Marjorie Copson
Scam and fraud awareness event today — At an event at Reston Association headquarters, today from 4-7 p.m., a local detective and community partners will discuss warning signs of fraud and provide information about common scams that frequently target the older adult community. [AARP Virginia]
Not betting the farm — “Key players in the joint bid for Amazon’s second headquarters say their community’s time has come, even if the Seattle-based company picks another location.” [Washington Business Journal]
A free (but not necessarily full) ride — Loudoun County Transit is offering free bus service from the park-and-ride in Purcellville to the Wiehle-Reston Metro Station beginning Oct. 1. [The Loudoun Tribune]
Photo by Charlotte Geary
Community remembers Ellen Moyer — Moyer, a lifelong Reston resident, a prominent community member, a graduate of South Lakes High School and a local agent, passed away suddenly while celebrating Rosh Hashanah with her family. [Around Reston]
The end is near — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that the location of the company’s second headquarters would be revealed by the end of the year. [The Hill]
Family splash tonight at Reston Community Center — Take a dip in the pool and enjoy a night of family fun at the Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center. The entry fee is $13 for Reston residents and $26 for all others. Groups of six or more must pre-register by calling 703-390-6150. [Reston Community Center]
Not out of the woods yet — Although forecast models show Hurricane Florence may not bring excessive rain to the area, county officials urge residents to continue monitoring the storm, which could dump rain in the area over the weekend and early into the week. [Fairfax County Government]
Nearby: A local police officer’s suicide — In order to spread awareness about postpartum depression disorders and suicide, the local police department shared a story about late Detective Shelane Gaydos, a mom of four who killed herself in late 2015. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Flickr pool photo by vantagehill
Silver Line delays — Dreaded Red Line maintenance that will shut down two stations until September begins this weekend. The Silver Line will run every 26 minutes this weekend between Wiehle and Ballston only. [DCist]
Nearby: JBG Smith and Amazon — The company, which has several projects in Reston, has benefited from the company’s status as a “perceived frontrunner for Amazon.com Inc’s second headquarters.” So, naturally, unfounded rumors that Jeff Bezos wants to acquire the developer are abound. [The Washington Business Journal]
‘Take a Break’ concert tonight — A mix of a capella, Motown, doo-wop and soul will come to Lake Anne Plaza today from 7-9 p.m. The concert by Part Harmony is free for all ages. [Reston Community Center]
Photo by Fatimah Waseem
Getting real [estate] — The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority has published its 2017 real estate report. New building deliveries hit a three-year high while vacancy rates in the county remained unchanged. [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]
A special shoutout to — Willa Suter, Reston Association’s aquatics manager, who was recognized as an aquatic professional competitor of the month. [Association of Aquatic Professionals]
Partnering with Amazon — SAPT National Security Services, Inc, a Herndon-based company, is partnering with Amazon Web Services to bring more people onto the cloud (nine?). [Cision]
Photo by Wade Gilley Sr.
Good news for Caps fans — “On the Silver Line, the last train will leave Metro Center at 12:27 a.m. heading to Largo Town Center and at 12:21 a.m. heading to Wiehle-Reston East… Game 3 starts at 8 p.m. and Metro’s regular closing time is 11:30 p.m., but Metro’s CEO Paul Wiedefeld announced that Metrorail will remain open for an additional hour thanks to Exelon and Pepco.” [WTOP]
Police investigate double homicide near Town of Herndon — “The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a double homicide at a café in Sterling near the Loudoun County and the Town of Herndon line. Around 1:45 a.m. Monday Loudoun County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to the Pharaoh Café located in the 46000 block of Old Ox Road for a report of a shooting. Two victims lost their lives at the scene. A person of interest attempting to leave the area was detained by deputies responding to the scene.” [Loudoun County Sherriff’s Office]
Absorbing Amazon headquarters in an area with gridlock and high housing costs — “Northern Virginia, the District and Montgomery County are among the 20 finalists. Amazon may narrow the list further in coming months and is expected to decide by the end of the year… But many residents fear that winning the prize would actually exacerbate all the things they hate about living in the region: horrendous traffic, expensive housing, crowded schools and gentrification.” [The Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by vantagehill
The hunt for HQ2 — The Fairfax-Loudoun bid could become one of the hottest tickets in town if Amazon becomes its anchor tenant. [Washington Business Journal]
All aboard Reston Station — Changes proposed to Comstock’s massive Reston Station project head to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for consideration today. [Reston Now]
A job for you — A free teen job fair and resume building workshop is set forSaturday, April 21 at South Lakes High School. [The Connection]
Photo by Bako Glonti
The Reston Historic Trust & Museum will host a discussion on present-day challenges in preserving pieces of the past. The program, led by John Burns, chief appeals officer for the National Park Service, will examine several significant local structures including Lake Anne Village Center, the demolished American Press Institute building and a building in Herndon under threat.
The event will take place on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the JoAnn Rose Gallery at Reston Community Center. The presentation will include an explanation about the National Register of Historic Places, the government’s official list of sites worthy of preservation.
Burns will discuss current issues in preserving the former API building, which was demolished last year to make way for a townhouse development project in Reston. The building was designed by 20th Century architect Marcel Breuer. The demolition effort drew vocal opposition from preservation activists and residents.
The program will also include a discussion on the Center for Innovative Technology campus, a 26-acre sprawl of land in Herndon that is being pitched for Amazon’s HQ2. Loudoun and Fairfax counties are pushing to propose the site.
Burns makes decisions about appeals of projects denied certification for federal rehabilitation tax incentives. He has also worked as the assistant director of heritage preservation assistance programs for the NPS. He currently serves as chairman of the Fairfax County Architectural Review Board.
The event is free, but seating is limited. To make a reservation, call 703-709-7700 or email [email protected]
Fairfax County School Board to Discuss School Calendar — The board will review three options to change the school calendar for next year on Monday, Nov. 13. Changes include several options for the first day of school and the selection of the length of winter break and early release days. Proposed changes can be found on the school system’s website. For more information, contact the school system’s community relations and communication office at 571-423-1200. [Fairfax County Public Schools]
Federal Capital Partners To Sell Amazon Web Services Building in Herndon — The landlord has hired a firm to market the One Dulles Tower, a 400,000 square foot building for sale. The company purchased the building for $80 million in 2015. [Washington Business Journal]
Event to Highlight Crash Management Efforts in Northern Virginia — Virginia’s transportation department will show how multiple agencies and jurisdictions work together to clear incidents on the state’s roads on Nov. 11 at 10 a.m. The event, which will be held at the department’s Northern Virginia District Office (4975 Alliance Drive), is the first open house in Northern Virginia that will feature a simulated crash scene and indoor technology exposition. For more information, visit the department’s webpage. [Virginia Department of Transportation]
Herndon High School Theatre Presents ‘Twelfth Night’ — William Shakespeare’s holiday comedy will be performed on Nov. 10, 11, 16 and 17 from 7:30 – 10 p.m. Timings for Nov. 12 and Nov. 18 are between 2 and 4:30 p.m. Parental guidance is recommended, as the performance is not suitable for audience members under the age of thirteen. Tickets, which are $12 for adults and $6 for students, can be purchased on the theatre’s website. Performances will take place in Herndon High School’s auditorium (700 Bennett St.). [Herndon High School Theatre]
Sobriety Check Set for Friday — Officers from the Reston District Station will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint in the area this Friday. A first-time DUI offense can result in fines ranging from $250 to $2,500 and a one-year license suspension. Individuals arrested with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 or higher must spend at least five days in jail. [Fairfax County Police]
Chamber: Effort To Woo Amazon ‘Start of Something Great’ — Jim Corcoran, president and CEO of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, says the partnership between Loudoun and Fairfax counties to try to bring Amazon’s new headquarters to Herndon can be “a model for our economic growth,” no matter what the company decides. [Washington Business Journal]
Metro: Fare Evasion is Serious Issue — Metro says its efforts to ensure no one gets on trains without paying has helped curb serious crime on the system by 20 percent. [Metro Transit Police/Twitter]
Early Metro Hours Sunday for Marathon — Trains will begin rolling Sunday at 6 a.m. to help participants in the 42nd annual Marine Corps Marathon. Extra trains will also be running on the Blue and Yellow lines. [WMATA]
A Look at Mixed-Use Developments in Fairfax County — Earlier this week, Bisnow took a look at several large developments in the works in the county, as it says “developers are increasingly turning the county into a walkable, mixed-use environment.” Included in the profile are several Reston developments, including Reston Station and Tall Oaks. [Bisnow]
Police Warn of Criminals Targeting Garage Door Openers — Police departments in Loudoun and Prince William counties are urging residents to keep their garage door openers out of sight as criminals are stealing them from cars and using them to gain access to homes. Police in Reston have previously warned of similar crimes. [WTOP]
Herndon Center Pitched for Amazon’s Second Headquarters — As other jurisdictions make similar bids, local officials will make a combined offer for Amazon’s headquarters to be located on the 26-acre Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon. [Washington Business Journal]
Reston Man Killed in Plane Crash Remembered by Industry — Steven B. Zaboji, who died Saturday in a plane crash near Front Royal, is being remembered as “one of the most iconic manufacturer sales representatives in the consumer electronics industry.” He was the owner of Balaton Marketing, which represented the Yamaha line of electronics and other well-known brands. [Strata-Gee.com]
RA Seeks Volunteers for Halloween Event — Reston Association is looking for volunteers to help with the “Halloween House & Trick-or-Treat Trail,” the Walker Nature Center’s annual Halloween event. The program runs on Oct. 27-28 from 5-9:30 p.m. [Reston Association]
Public Art Reston to Celebrate 10th Anniversary — The nonprofit organization, which formed in 2007, will celebrate its 10th anniversary Nov. 9 with a fundraising event, which will include live music, refreshments, a live auction and a raffle. Public Art Reston’s mission is to inspire a new commitment to public art in order to support community arts and culture in Reston. [Public Art Reston/Facebook]
Registration for Free Disaster-Preparedness Training Open — The Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department is providing free Community Emergency Response Team training, a program that trains residents on disaster response skills like fire safety, light search and rescue and disaster medical operations. The program takes place on Mondays and Wednesdays from Nov. 6 through Dec. 6, from 7-11 p.m. each night. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]