Amazon received the final stamp of approval Saturday for the first phase of its second headquarters in Northern Virginia.
The Arlington County Board unanimously voted in favor of the e-commerce giant’s plan to transform 6.2 acres of Pentagon City’s Metropolitan Park into a 2.1 million square foot mixed-use campus.
Two 22-story towers will include office, residential and retail and the project also calls for “new and improved” public open spaces at South Eads Street and 15th Street South.
"This project is extraordinary in many respects," Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said in a news release. “It will bring us significantly closer to fulfilling the community’s vision of Pentagon City as an urban neighborhood with a better balance of office, residential and retail development, more and better public spaces, and more and better access for pedestrians and cyclists."
Two additional roads, an underground parking garage with nearly 2,000 spaces, more than 600 bicycle spaces, protected bike lanes and reconstructed bus stops are some of the transit improvements.
Dorsey said Amazon committed to plan, build and "perpetually maintain" the public park and open spaces.
The expanded vision for park space exceeds standards by the county, and Parks & Recreation Commission Chair Bill Ross praised Amazon at the Saturday meeting for the extra investment the company is making into green spaces.
"It reminds us of the cost of developing successful public spaces in Arlington," Ross said. "It's a good example and a signal of what we might want to expect in future projects."
Courting the community
Amazon pledged to contribute $20 million toward affordable housing in Arlington as part of its agreement with the county.
Opponents of HQ2 criticized county leaders for approving a $23 million incentives package for Amazon and pressured them to find ways to support residents who would be affected by rising housing costs.
The median list price for homes noticeably jumped in Arlington after National Landing was selected as a site for HQ2 last year, according to data from Zillow.
Many residents in the Chirilagua community, a mile away from HQ2, fear Amazon’s arrival could force them out.
"People don't understand that everything will get more expensive. Everything's going to go up. We're talking about rent, household goods, food, everything. Not just the rent," resident Teofila Gomez previously told News4.
The county board will decide how to use the affordable housing funds.
Amazon is also contributing $225,000 to the county’s public art fund, and must make free event space available for county-sponsored events throughout the year.
In his presentation to the board on Saturday, John Schoettler, vice president of global real estate and facilities at Amazon, cited 11 meetings Amazon representatives had attended since July as part of their community engagement process.
"It's been a remarkable year," Schoettler said. "We've appreciated the opportunity to engage with a wide range of community stakeholders and value the time citizen volunteers have committed to the review and betterment of our project."
In addition to the final vote, board accepted a $200,000 federal grant on Saturday to provide job-training services to 50 Arlington and Alexandria residents who will be “negatively impacted” by HQ2 development.
The program, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, will include English instruction, skills training, and access to GED and occupational certification programs.