Tysons, VA

Tysons company Urgent.ly has sparked national attention after its recent partnerships with Uber, Volvo and Amazon.

Its partnerships with Uber, Volvo and Amazon were all formed within the last year, but the company is still focused on outward expansion Chris Spanos, the co-founder and CEO, told Tysons Reporter.

“I think it’s important for people to know we have the largest digitally connected network in the U.S.,” Spanos said.

Urgent.ly is a roadside assistance app that works on-demand with standardized pricing — no subscription needed.

Uber’s and Volvo’s partnerships allow their companies to receive rewards for roadside assistance including discounts, while growing Urgent.ly’s userbase and aligning them with well-known brands, according to the company’s website.

With Amazon, users can order Urgent.ly roadside assistance through Alexa.

The company was co-founded in 2013 by Spanos and five other colleagues. They used to gather at the McLean coffee shop Star Nut Gourmet for brainstorming sessions until they moved onto a permanent office, Spanos said.

Since Urgent.ly’s founding, the company has hired 250 employees, opened several offices throughout the U.S. and also began offering roadside service internationally. The company’s recent growth nabbed it the #12 spot on the 2019 Inc. 5000 national rankings as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.

“Our international strategy so far is to license our technology to players in those markets who operate a service directly,” Spanos said.

Though no subscription is needed to use the app, the company is offering a discounted $50 yearly membership that gives users access to discounts and free services like jumpstarts or lockout services.

Looking to the future, Spanos said he will watch for upcoming technology and may eventually offer roadside service for technology beyond traditional vehicles. “It’s fascinating to have a look into the future and how we may be receiving our packages.”

He said that he thinks drones and robots delivering packages may be a reality in the near future and that a company — like Urgent.ly — will need to fix them when they break on the job.

Though he couldn’t give specifics about future partnerships, he said that the company is looking to build alliances with early-stage companies exploring new technologies, like drone and robot deliveries.

“That’s where we see the next five years,” said Spanos.

Image courtesy Urgent.ly 

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The Falls Church City Council aims to revamp its approach to affordable housing as its population continues to grow — and the stock of affordable units quickly dwindles.

The City Council is considering refreshing its Comprehensive Plan’s housing guidelines with a focus on tackling what some councilmembers recently referred to as an “affordable housing crisis.”

Emphasis on Affordable Housing

At a joint work session on Monday (July 15), the council and the city’s Planning Commission reviewed a proposal that would revise the housing guidelines to adjust for demographic changes and the future impact of Amazon HQ2 on the region.

City documents at the meeting confirmed that the increasing demand for apartments cannot keep up with the influx of the population, which is growing at a rate of 2.6% each year.

Councilmember Letty Hardi fronted the discussion at the meeting when she brought up the expiration of affordable housing and the dilemmas facing recent graduates who can no longer afford to live in the area.

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

In case you don’t know, today and tomorrow are the big Amazon Prime sale days with daily deals on various items.

If you don’t have a Prime account, you can sign up today for a free 30-day trial and use the deals without commitment. If you download the app or spend $10 at Whole Foods, they’ll give you a free $10 account credit.

But we all know Amazon is sort of like Target, how can you spend just $10 when the sales are crazy good?

If you feel the need for some retail therapy, why not do it for a cause?

First, you can help donate money without doing a thing. Amazon Smile is a program that’ll donate a percentage of your regular purchase to a charity of your choosing on eligible purchases. All you have to do is pick one. You can search for the organizations (think your local school PTA, BRAWS, Cho Inc, SHARE of McLean, etc.)

Second, you can call and find out what your favorite organization might be in need of for supplies and search the Prime Day Deals and ship it right to the organization. You can search for Bras and Tampons and send them to BRAWS (114 Courthouse Road SW, Vienna, Virginia 22180).

SHARE of McLean is in need of baby wipes, diapers, snacks, toilet paper and more. You can fill up on some of those items and ship them right to Share at 1367 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, Virginia 22101.

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(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Earlier this week, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority announced that it had poached Arlington’s top economic development official, Victor Hoskins.

Currently the head of Arlington Economic Development, Hoskins recently wooed Amazon and its HQ2 to Arlington County. Come August, he will become FCEDA’s new president and CEO — one year after its now-retired and longtime leader, Gerry Gordon, announced his plans to leave.

Tysons Reporter talked to Hoskins about how he plans to head up one of the largest economic development agencies in the country.

“I’m done in Arlington.”

Hoskins said he entered the process for the FCEDA role back in May during the agency’s second hiring search for the position.

Back in December, he told ARLnow that he planned to work for Arlington County until the office vacancy rate dropped from its then-18 percent rate to 10 or 12 percent.

With a current rate of 16.7 percent, Hoskins said that Arlington County has “nothing to worry about” with Amazon coming in. Hoskins said that the career move is coming at the right time — “Yes, I’m done in Arlington.”

“If you look at my history, I pretty much do what I need to do and move on,” he said. In the case of both his former economic development role in D.C. and his Arlington County job, Hoskins, who describes himself as a person who likes to finish projects, said that he leaves once he’s accomplished the specific challenges of a job.

New Challenges Ahead 

“What I look for in a career change is a challenge,” he said. “This is a different kind of challenge. Just the size of the market is pretty amazing.”

Hoskins said he is looking forward to encouraging companies in Fairfax County to recruit and train more top workers with a talent-focused strategy.

“We already have a lot of talent residing [in Fairfax County],” he said. “We need to keep the people we have.” A part of that will include offering more opportunities to retrain employees with skills like cybersecurity coding, he added.

He also said he would like to see FCEDA get more closely involved with the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development, in addition to continuing work with the Planning Commission, Virginia Department of Transportation and other county agencies to set priorities.

Additionally, Hoskins said that the county could use more work on placemaking.

“The size of Fairfax County makes it difficult to create places — concentrated nodes of activity,” he said, which could include creating more urban villages around the Silver Line stations and making “a nexus between residential and commercial nodes.”

Another area Hoskins wants to work on is making Fairfax County more attractive to millennials.

Some ideas he has: creating places where people want to work and eat outside, offering more housing choices, making “interesting environments” and strengthening mass transportation.

Hoskins was quick to note that many of the challenges he mentioned are not unique to the county, which he praised for its global reputation and competition with places like London and Paris.

“Fairfax is amazing right now,” he said, lauding the county’s quality of life, including its public schools and parks. “Fairfax has it all. What we’re trying to do it to move it to the next level.”

Amazon’s Impact on Fairfax County

While Fairfax County lost its bid for Amazon, Hoskins said that the tech giant will impact Northern Virginia, from adding a plethora of new job opportunities to a “back and forth between employees and employers” with Amazon and local companies.

Hoskins also mentioned a recent report by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, which estimated that roughly 33 percent of Amazon’s workforce would live in Fairfax County, while 16.4 percent would live in Arlington.

“It’s a higher percentage than [Amazon employees who] will live and work in Arlington,” Hoskins said.

On a larger scale, Hoskins said Amazon will transform Northern Virginia into a more innovative environment that will increase the private sector.

“[Amazon will bring an] innovation focus to the region where companies begin thinking differently about how they work,” he said.

Hoskins starts his new role on Aug. 5. Until then, he said he will help with the leadership transition at his current job before having two to three days off.

“Building an economy is more like solving a very complex puzzle,” he said.

Photo courtesy Fairfax County Economic Development Authority

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A resident called Vienna police after she found unwanted bags of dog poop and trash in her yard last week.

The incidents took place in the 100 block of Dogwood Street, SW between 7 a.m. on Monday, April 8, and 6:07 p.m. on Friday, April 12, according to police.

“A resident reported that there have been a couple of occasions when someone as left bags of dog excrement and trash in her yard,” according to today’s Vienna crime report.

Elsewhere in Vienna, this week’s crime report includes a case of a Windover Avenue, NW resident who “reported she has received packages from Amazon that she never ordered” between last Wednesday, April 10, and Wednesday, April 17. “The person placing the order is using some of the resident’s personal information,” the report says.

Photo via Facebook

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Monday Morning Notes

HQ2 Worries for Fairfax Companies — “Amazon.com Inc.’s move to open a second headquarters in Arlington may prove to be a mixed-bag for Fairfax County. While many HQ2 employees are expected to live in the county, there’s a real chance that Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) will take tech talent from companies based in Fairfax.” [Washington Business Journal]

Does Tysons Need New North-South Transit? — “The Silver Line is good for east-west, but Tysons needs something north-south too. [Twitter]

Silver Line Station Progress — “Work crews in yellow vests and hard hats continue to dot the stations, track, pavilions, pedestrian bridges and tracks along the Phase 2 alignment, but over the next few months, more and more of those workers will be heading to interior work stations to run utility lines, install equipment and test all of the facilities.” [VivaTysons]

Apartment Fire in Falls Church — A fire broke out in the kitchen of an apartment at 450 N. Washington Street in Falls Church on Friday afternoon. [Twitter]

Falls Church PD Seek Info in Dog Bite Case — “City of Falls Church Police and Animal Control are looking for a dog that bit a man on the leg on Wednesday, March 27, around 2:15 p.m. near the Cherry Hill Park tennis courts.” [City of Falls Church]

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The following article excerpt is from our content sharing partner, FairfaxNews.com.

Amazon’s pick of Crystal City for part of its HQ2 expansion put a jolt of caffeine in November real estate activity, the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors reports.

“The pleasant surprise from November’s housing market data was a significant pop in new contracts,” said Derrick Swaak, managing broker of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in McLean. “New under-contract sales jumped nearly 90 percent in the NVAR footprint, which means that a buyer’s offer has been accepted by the seller. Some of that increase was a reaction to an unexpected, but welcome, retreat of mortgage rates in the second half of the month, plus a frenzy of condo buying activity in the areas surrounding Amazon’s new HQ2 location in Crystal City.” […]

“While there is speculation about the real estate market showing signs of softening nationwide, our Northern Virginia data still reflects a promising direction,” said NVAR CEO Ryan Conrad.

Read more at FairfaxNews.com

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The following article excerpt is from our content sharing partner, FairfaxNews.com.

Virginia voters are in a positive mood and are feeling good about Amazon HQ2, the Equal Rights Amendment, sports betting and casinos, according to the latest poll by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. They also want their share of the state’s windfall from tax reform.

By more than two to one, Virginia voters approve of the deal that will bring part of Amazon’s east coast headquarters to Virginia. Overall, 68% approve and 30% disapprove.

Voters support legalizing sports betting (63%) and casinos (58%) and want any related tax revenue to support education and the general fund. But 43% worry that legalization will promote gambling addiction.

Read more at FairfaxNews.com

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Hot on the heels of Amazon announcing its new office campus in Arlington, eyes are turning towards Apple’s rumored interest in a new location in Northern Virginia — specifically, Tysons.

The Washington Post reported in May that Apple was considering the Scotts Run development in Tysons. Now, Tysons Reporter hears that the iPhone maker is “seriously” eying a Fairfax County office campus, potentially bringing up to 20,000 jobs to the area.

So what is Scotts Run and what is planned there, exactly?

Scotts Run is a proposed 8 million-square-foot mixed-use development near the McLean Metro station. The development, broken into Scotts Run North and South, straddles Dolley Madison Boulevard (Route 123).

Scotts Run had been mentioned as a potential location for Amazon but passed over by Fairfax County and the Commonwealth of Virginia as an official applicant in favor of the 26-acre CIT site in Loudoun, also Tysons’ competitor for Apple.

Scotts Run South is part of a rapidly growing network of new developments at the eastern end of Tysons spurred by the development of the Capital One headquarters. Approved in 2013, plans call for seven apartments, nine office buildings, an Archer Hotel and retail space. The 425-unit apartment complex The Haden and the 14-story office building Mitre 4 have already been completed.

Two new residential towers were approved in May 2018. The towers will have a maximum of 475 units combined, of which 20 percent will be dedicated to affordable housing.

The proposed Scotts Run North development north of Dolley Madison Boulevard would convert a surface parking lot, which currently serves as parking for the Metro station, into a high-density mix of residential and office buildings.

Whether Apple chooses to go the Amazon route and help inspire a new name for the neighborhood remains to be seen.

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There may be even more upside for Fairfax County from Arlington and Alexandria’s Amazon HQ2 win.

With Amazon set to bring tens of thousands of jobs to the Crystal City area, Apple is now looking elsewhere for a large East Coast outpost.

The Washington Post reported in May that Apple was looking at sites in Crystal City, Loudoun County and the planned Scotts Run development in Tysons. The would-be Apple campus would house 20,000 employees, according to the Post.

But Arlington and Crystal City are now out of the running, according to Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins.

Though the Loudoun option remains, we’re told that Apple is looking “seriously” at Fairfax County.

Gerry Gordon, Fairfax’s top economic development official, declined to comment on the Apple news. Via a spokesman, Gordon told Tysons Reporter that it is his policy not to talk about company moves until it’s made official.

Photo via Cityline Partners

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