Future of Arlington County Event Addresses Office Vacancy, Innovation
Arlington’s office market is facing serious challenges, and there are a host of initiatives in the works to help mitigate those challenges. That’s the message from the recent Bisnow “Future of Arlington County” event. More than 100 members of Arlington’s business community, from commercial real estate brokers and property managers to vendors and community leaders, attended the event. Arlington Economic Development served as a sponsor.
Arlington County currently faces a vacancy rate of 22%, according to CoStar, and continued market uncertainty means the problem will get worse before it gets better. What makes that figure so important is vacant office buildings translates into decreased commercial property taxes — a necessary venture in providing for the services and amenities desired by the Arlington community.
“Being nimble and being prepared for market shifts is critical for all of us,” said Jennifer Burns, Executive Vice President of Monday Properties.
However, despite the at-times somber outlook, speakers during the session also spoke of positive initiatives. Arlington County Board Chair, Christian Dorsey, highlighted County initiatives like the Arlington Innovation Fund, which will provide grant funding to early-stage startups who locate in Arlington, and the County’s Commercial Market Resiliency Initiative, which provides for zoning flexibility to allow for increased uses in commercial space.
“We want to be the kind of place that allows businesses to grow,” said Dorsey, adding that the County is committed to continuing new ideas to help mitigate challenges in the office market.
While panelists agreed that something does need to be done to address the County’s office surplus, they also suggested that Arlington’s mixed-use identity makes it well-positioned to handle the challenge, and that Arlington’s resiliency will come through again.
“With the combination of the county providing incentives and flexibility and the BIDs providing that kind of overlay and attraction to businesses and explaining why you want to be there, I think there will be a shift in where people occupy in our region, and I do think Arlington will come out a net winner over time,” Dweck Properties President and Chief Development Officer Andy Vanhorn said.