2018 Arlington County Board

Members of the 2018 Arlington County Board include Erik Gutshall, Vice Chairman Christian Dorsey, Chairman Katie Cristol, John Vihstadt and Libby Garvey.

Arlington taxpayers will be on the hook for nearly $8 million over 10 years to subsidize a lease that will retain the Office of Naval Research in the county.

The incentive package, approved by the County Board July 14, will keep the federal agency in its current 314,000 square feet of office space in Ballston.

Keeping the agency in Arlington “is a vital component of the science-and-technology research cluster in Ballston,” Arlington Economic Development officials said in a pitch to County Board members.

The funding, to be paid out at just over $780,000 per year, will allow the property owner to lower the rental rate by $2.50 per square foot. The funding will flow directly to the property owner (an investment group).

Arlington officials have come under criticism in recent years for offering incentives to attract and retain office tenants. Officials counter that the incentives are needed to keep Arlington competitive at a time when office-vacancy rates in the county remain historically, and stubbornly, high.

The lease extension will keep the Office of Naval Research in Arlington through at least Sept. 1, 2027.

(4) comments


This was a secret deal with no public notice until it was put on the Arlington Board of Supervisor's Consent Agenda for July 14th (Item 39). The building the Office of Naval Research occupies was custom designed and constructed about 10 years ago specifically for ONR. Current rent ONR pays is comparable to rents paid by other for-profits, non-profits, and federal agencies in the area. Construction of Ballston Quarter nearby is nearing completion so there will be many new amenities in the area. Real reason or reasons the County Board paid $7.8 million to the wealthy group that owns the building are known only to the County Board. How much more will the Arlington Board of Supervisors have to pay to bribe occupants of modern Class A buildings to stay in Arlington is a matter of concern to Arlington residents who feel the County's spending is already out-of-control.


If "investigative journalism" weren't an oxymoron in the Region Inside Nova would know that the Feds (reportedly NCIS) are conducting an investigation about the bribe to keep the Office of Naval Research from vacating the 10 year old Class A building which has received numerous expensive security and technology upgrades and where ONR's rent is comparable with other Class A buildings in Ballston. The Arlington County Board of Supervisors refused to allow this secret deal to be discussed by local better government activists at its recessed meeting on July 17th, leading the activists to speculate how many millions more in bribes will be paid to other wealthy building owners using one pretext or another..


Surprise. Surprise. Building ONR leases is owned by a bunch of fat cat Democrats who contribute generously to Democratic campaigns. Talk about buying votes with tax dollars.

Allen Muchnick

@ "Abbey"/"jna"/"CJE":

It's hypocritical to accuse the County Board of deception when you're already posted three separate comments here under three different aliases.

The County Board's secrecy is authorized by Virginia law to protect the interests of Arlington taxpayers by not disclosing its negotiating tactics to retain and attract Arlington employers. Furthermore, John Vihstadt is not a Democrat, yet he supported the four other County Board members.

What's your excuse for trying to deceive the readers here that your comments were not posted by just one civic gadfly?

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