by Nate Ward
on Friday, November 30th, 2018 at 7:26am.
Image: Moment Editorial/Getty Images
The big news for Arlington, VA is that the e-commerce colossus, Amazon, has chosen this Washington DC suburb to host its east coast headquarters. More accurately, the enormous project known as Amazon HQ2 has been divided into two parts--one to be run out of Arlington, VA and the other to be run out of the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, NY. Officially, the Northern Virginia HQ2 will be part of what has now been branded National Landing: a sort of Franken-hood comprised of Crystal City as well as parts of Pentagon City and Alexandria’s Potomac Yard.
Not only is Arlington County prime for Amazon, boasting--perhaps for the first time ever--a 20% vacancy rate with regard to commercial real estate. JBG Smith, the largest land and development firm in town, has been a persuasive influence in this process and will see to the development of HQ2’s bespoke campus and provide Amazon with plenty of pre-existing office space.
If you think about it, Arlington already has a strong track record of massive undertakings that create thousands of jobs, require myriad infrastructural changes and have a massive impact on the housing market. I’m talking about the Pentagon here. Ever heard of it?
Since Amazon announced its intention to create HQ2, cities around the country have been vying for nearly a year to host it. A number of factors were considered in the decision making, including access to a metropolitan population and transit system. Being part of a bicoastal business machine, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be located within walking distance of Washington National Airport. More affordable markets were considered very seriously, but in the end the available tech-savvy talent base won out over such immediate financial considerations.
The arrival of Amazon to the western bank of the Potomac will mean many things for Arlingtonians. Some changes may certainly feel more positive than others, but the important thing to remember is: it’s all happening, so why not make the most of it?
One of the best things you can own right now is real estate in and around Crystal City. If you’ve got it already, keep it for a while. If you haven’t, but you’ve been considering it, pull the trigger now. Once Amazon, which expects to begin operations in 2019, has properly settled in, the property values of homes and condos near Amazon HQ2 will have risen dramatically along with the potential return on your wise, wise real estate investment. Way to go, you!
If you own real estate near Amazon HQ2 or in Crystal City/National Landing, you may be wondering, “What’s my home worth?” Homes and condos in Crystal City currently carry an average price tag of over $560,000 which has been increasing rapidly since Arlington and Alexandria threw their collective hat into the ring. Savvy Realtors who are well versed in Arlington real estate have been recommending the aforementioned course of action for months now. The other factor that recommends this strategy is the inevitable influx of young professionals who will likely rent for their first couple of years. Once their jobs have born sufficient fruit and they’ve had time to consider the local housing market near HQ2, they’ll decide that it’s time to buy.
Change and Growth
Once a vast stretch of forest and farmland comprising the southwest quadrant of Washington DC, Arlington began to take shape as a streetcar suburb in the beginning of the 20th century. Though it is a delightful place to live and has a bounty of offerings, its long and eclectic development period has left Arlington with its share of oddities and inconveniences. The dominance of motor vehicles from the 1950s onwards has left many neighborhoods--Crystal City notwithstanding--with over-wide roads and complicated intersections, creating extra work for mass transit patrons and other pedestrians.
As Amazon expects to employ roughly 25,000 people at the Arlington HQ2 alone, it could be the perfect catalyst for changes that locals have been seeking for years. In anticipation of a sizable upswing in Metro ridership, new entrances are slated to be built at multiple Metro stations near Amazon HQ2. Though in the short term this may mean walking under scaffolding or the odd bit of ‘wait-your-turn’ traffic near construction sites, the results will include a community about which homeowners can feel immensely proud. Whatever projects need doing in Arlington, it’s worth keeping in mind that in Seattle every dollar Amazon invested in the city generated an additional $1.40.
Some people are concerned or fretful about things that haven’t even happened, but there is no doubt that the arrival of Amazon’s second headquarters in northern Virginia is a harbinger of prosperity. It may be time to start asking, “What can Amazon do for me?”