A West Coast company has officially leased data center space at 12100 Sunrise Valley Drive in Reston.
According to the Washington Business Journal, which first reported the deal, Backblaze, a San Mateo-based company, is occupying part of space that owned and run by CoreSite, a information technology company that’s based in Denver.
Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, says the lease offers further “validation” that the county is a choice location for strategic data center use.
“Data centers are choosing Fairfax County for great reasons — real estate availability, power availability, technical talent pipeline, proximity to customers, and our pro-business approach,” he told FFXnow. “The diversity of our business base, which includes data centers, is one of our greatest strengths and has a direct impact on our thriving and stable economy here in Fairfax County.”
CoreSite’s Reston data center is part of a campus with more than 1.3 million square feet of colocation space at full build-out, according to the company.
The campus can reportedly provide access to “any cloud, network or managed service providers you need to support your digital transformation journey in the U.S. and abroad.” It’s being marketed as an attractive alternative to Ashburn with tax incentives and commute options.
Here’s more from WBJ on the lease:
Backblaze started storing live customer data at the Reston data center on Dec. 7, said Gleb Budman, the company’s chair, co-founder and CEO. He said in an interview that his company had been eyeing an expansion into Northern Virginia because “it’s often considered the heart of the internet.”
Neither Backblaze nor CoreSite would disclose how much space Backblaze is occupying or any other terms of their agreement. Budman said only that the lease is a “multiyear” deal.
Backblaze typically uses third-party data centers and co-location facilities to store its customers’ information. One of its key services is allowing its customers to store data at one regional site and access it at another, and the Reston facility provides a closer option for Backblaze’s East Coast customers as well as a replication option for customers elsewhere, Budman said.
“When it’s full…we’ll have over an exabyte of customer data,” Budman said. (An exabyte is equal to one billion gigabytes. To put that into perspective, the average smartphone can store 64 gigabytes of data.)
Photo via Jordan Harrison/Unsplash
Empower founder and CEO Joshua Sear is the kind of ride-share passenger who likes to talk to his drivers.
It was through those casual conversations that he came up with an idea in 2018 for an app that would offer a viable alternative to the country’s top ride-hailing services — Uber and Lyft — by letting drivers keep all the money they make in exchange for a subscription fee.
“Consistently, they were saying how they weren’t able to make a living, particularly full-time or near full-time drivers, and then, also…they felt voiceless, like they weren’t heard, that they didn’t feel like they were a customer,” Sear told FFXnow in a recent interview. “…The rider is the customer for Uber and Lyft, and the more I thought about, I started to wonder, ‘Well, what would it look like if drivers were customers?'”
Since launching service in the D.C. region two years ago, the McLean-based startup has supported over 2.5 million rides given by about 10,000 drivers, who have collectively earned more than $40 million, Sear says.
Once touted as better-paying options than taxis, both Uber and Lyft have been dogged by questions about driver pay for years, even after the former paid $20 million to settle federal claims that it was misleading drivers in 2017.
Reports indicate that drivers only receive about half of what riders pay and that the companies take a bigger chunk of fares than the 20 to 25% advertised, discrepancies that have persisted despite soaring prices and led drivers in Denver to strike last month.
Where those ride-sharing companies take a portion of each fare, which is calculated based on trip length and duration, demand and other factors, Empower charges drivers a flat subscription rate for use of its app and other services, including customer support for both driver and rider complaints, according to Sear.
Though the company provides recommended rates, drivers set their own fares and keep everything that riders pay, an approach that Sear says has proven appealing to both parties.
“We do a lot of surveys and get feedback from both riders and drivers, and our surveys as to why do you use Empower for riders, the second most prevalent answer is because drivers get 100% of the fare,” Sear said, adding that the top answer is that the rides are generally less expensive.
He says Empower also aims to provide more transparency to drivers, who can see pick-up and drop-off locations and the rate for each ride before they choose to accept it, and more options for riders, who can “favorite” drivers and limit matches to drivers of the same gender. Read More
Gold’s Gym has a new resolution for the upcoming year in Reston.
The gym, which is currently at 11674 Plaza America, will relocate early next year, a gym employee told FFXnow.
It’s expected to move to space at 11830 Sunrise Valley Drive.
The company did not immediately return a request for comment on why the business is relocating.
The 165,000-square-foot plaza includes tenants like Whole Foods Market, Michael’s, and Total Wine.
The property’s retail broker lists three available, vacant spaces. The Gold’s Gym space, located between Five Guys and CVS, isn’t among them.
Hat tip to Adam Rubenstein; photo via Gold’s Gym/Facebook
Comcast Corp. is planning to expand its network to more businesses in Reston by the end of the year.
The media and technology company says it plans to pump $3 million in an effort to boost the network in Reston, Chesterfield, Sterling, Fredericksburg, Woodbridge and Charlottesville, according to a news release from the company.
“High-speed Internet and secure networking services are a must-have to attract businesses,” Virginia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Barry DuVal said in a press release. “The latest investments and network expansions across Virginia are a testament to Comcast Business’ commitment to fostering economic development in our local communities.”
The project is expected to expand Comcast’s broadband network to more than 250 businesses in the area. The network can deliver speeds of up to 1.2 gigabit-per-second or more for small and medium-sized businesses and up to 100 gbps for larger businesses.
Businesses will also have access to Comcast’s business products and services.
“Capacity, network performance and security are critical factors in doing business today. With Comcast’s latest fiber-rich expansion in Virginia, more local businesses will now have access to additional technology service options that will help them to be more successful and outpace their competition,” said Dan Carr, regional vice president of Comcast’s Beltway region.
The planned expansion in Reston and elsewhere follows a two-year, $28 million investment that built out Comcast’s network in the mid-Atlantic, including Tysons. That project was completed this past June, according to a company spokesperson.
Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner announced yesterday that the Commonwealth will receive about $5 million for broadband expansion projects. It is Virginia’s first allocation from the $42 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program created by the bipartisan infrastructure law that Congress adopted last year.
Despite Fairfax County’s overall affluence and increasing urbanization, broadband coverage is uneven with gaps concentrated in communities of color and low-income households, a county analysis found last year. Staff reported in June 2021 that an estimated 4.2% of houses have no access to broadband internet, including 10.7% of households in north Reston.
Another big name in enterprise information technology is coming soon to Herndon.
Iron Mountain, a Boston-based company that provides records management, data backup and recovery, document management and data centers, plans to open a location at Worldgate Metro Plaza, according to Fairfax County permits.
The business is set to take up space at the plaza, which is located at 12901 Worldgate Drive.
Representatives for Iron Mountain did not return several requests for comment from FFXnow.
Worldgate Plaza was acquired in 2017 and includes a little over 325,000 square feet of space.
The business has locations across the country, but is headquartered in Massachusetts.
Photo via Moore and Associates
Local entrepreneurs now have a direct line to do business with Fairfax County.
On Aug. 1, the county launched an online portal that allows businesses to pitch a business idea, product or service to county agencies, departments and Fairfax County Public Schools. County agencies and departments can in turn take advantage of pitches that have already been vetted within the portal.
Wendy Lemieux, marketing coordinator for the Fairfax County Department of Economic Initiatives, says the program — which had a soft launch at the beginning of the month — is intended to increase supplier diversity.
“By providing a consistent, business-friendly point of entry, organizations can now share information about their products and services with county agencies that may be potential customers,” Lemieux said. “This exposure will allow staff to see opportunities and reach out directly if they are interested. Electronic submission and circulation is intended to level the playing field and increase the opportunity for supplier diversity.”
The submission process for prospective vendors includes attending a free workshop, completing a form, and undergoing a review. Pitches are routed to county staff for review, and each submission is available to purchasing staff through the portal for one year.
The portal is for vendor-submitted proposals and does not conflict with the county’s legally mandated procurement process.
County officials hope the pitch process will boost equity for prospective suppliers by creating a standard and efficient process with relevant county staff.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay noted that many local businesses and entrepreneurs may be able to take advantage of the new portal.
“This portal offers a streamlined and user-friendly way to present business ideas, products, or services for consideration to county agencies, departments, and FCPS,” McKay wrote in a statement.
The soft launch of the program began Aug. 1. So far, no projects have been selected yet.
For more than 10 years, a family-owned jewelry boutique has called Reston home.
That will change in the fall of this year when Midtown Jewelers leaves Reston Town Center for a new location in the Town of Herndon.
The business has collected several accolades, including best jewelry store by Washingtonian magazine and has frequently been given the couples’ choice award by Wedding Wire.
The business, which offers on-site jewelry and watch repair, appraisal services, and a collection of jewelry is currently located at 11990 Market Street. The new location will be at 700 Lynn Street Suite B.
A company representative did not immediately return a request for comment.
Photo via Midtown Jewelers/Facebook
Weird Brothers Coffee — a staple in the Town of Herndon’s coffee scene — is expected to relocate one of its locations in Herndon.
The coffee shop and roastery, a veteran-owned business that is managed by brothers Paul and Kenny Olsen, intends to move its Worldgate Metro Plaza location to Worldgate Centre.
According to co-owner Paul Olsen, the current Worldgate Metro Plaza location is expected to remain open until at least the end of October. It’s expected take up space that was vacated by Starbucks at 13035A Worldgate Drive in January 2021.
“We are currently still going through the permit process for the new Worldgate location,” Olsen wrote in a statement to FFXnow. “We have no idea how much longer it will be before we receive final approval to begin the buildout.”
Weird Brothers is a disabled-veteran owned small business that is dedicated to providing unique coffee and espresso. It was founded by the Olsen, who have had a life-long love affair with fresh roasted, quality coffee.
As the first coffee roaster in Herndon, Weird Brothers has locations and a roasting factory in the Sunset Park business center, Leesburg Village Center, and Worldgate Metro Plaza.
The former Bad Axe Throwing spot at the Mosaic District in Merrifield is being wiped clean.
Work to demolish Suite 190 at 2985 District Avenue has been underway for the past month, based on Fairfax County permits, as property owner EDENS prepares the space for a potential new tenant.
For those just itching to toss a hatchet or two, though, Bad Axe Throwing urges patience. The business is “actively pursuing a new location to open in the Fairfax area,” says Skylar Mills, the operations manager for the shuttered Mosaic District site.
“Fairfax is an amazing area and we are fully committed to finding a new, awesome location but it can take some time,” Mills said in an email to FFXnow. “Being an event based business, and axe throwing on top of that, narrows our options so we generally need to remain patient until the right space becomes available.”
Mills said she couldn’t comment further on a possible new location or reopening date but confirmed the company is “looking at any and all options in the broader area,” not just the Mosaic District.
Bad Axe Throwing started in 2014 amid a trend of axe-throwing bars that first took off in Canada before migrating to the U.S. in the late 2010s. After opening its first center in Ontario, it now has eight locations in Canada, dozens in the U.S., and two in the U.K.
The Mosaic District bar opened in September 2019 and reported success with over 600 visitors in its first weekend. However, it closed in the spring of 2020 when then-Gov. Ralph Northam ordered a shutdown of most businesses in Virginia in an effort to limit the coronavirus’ spread.
Bad Axe Throwing founder and CEO Mario Zelaya told FFXnow’s sister site, Tysons Reporter, that May that the company intended to reopen the Mosaic location when possible, though even then, a “long and difficult road to recovery” was expected.
The Mosaic District has added a few, mostly food-related tenants in recent months, including Shake Shack, the pizza eatery Pupatella and Pressed juice bar. The fast-casual Indian restaurant Rasa will open in the mixed-use neighborhood tomorrow (Saturday).
If it were up to a majority of local business and property owners, the Fairfax County portions of Routes 29 and 50 would simply adopt those numbers as their official names.
County staff revealed yesterday (Tuesday) the results of a survey asking business and property owners located on Lee Highway (Route 29) and Lee-Jackson Memorial highways (Route 50) what their preference for new names would be.
The survey provided five options for each road, but in each instance, the original route number won out, staff said at the Board of Supervisors transportation committee meeting.
For Lee Highway, about 55% of the 86 respondents chose Route/Highway 29 as the preferred new name. For Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway, more than 60% of the 62 respondents chose Route 50.
Several board members agreed that, in terms of efficiency and continuity, reverting back to the road number is probably the best route.
“Frankly, I’m not surprised by the responses to the name changes, if we were to move forward with those,” Board Chairman Jeff McKay said, adding later that “in terms of implications on businesses and people who live along these corridors…that would be the least intrusive and, frankly, easiest for drivers and commuters.”
Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik suggested the board consider aligning the roads’ names with neighboring jurisdictions to prevent further confusion among those driving in the region.
Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity asked whether the survey included a question about if the businesses and property owners wanted name changes at all. Staff said it didn’t due to a previous task force determination that the names should be changed.
The ongoing process of changing the names of the two major thoroughfares in the county began in 2020 when the Fairfax County History Commission unveiled a report that showed about 150 public sites in the county were named after Confederate figures or symbols.
Then, a task force was appointed specifically to review renaming Lee Highway and Lee-Jackson Memorial. That group recommended late last year to rename the two roads, and earlier this year, alternate names were recommended to the Board of Supervisors.
Outreach to businesses and property owners along these corridors was the next step.
Now, the Board of Supervisors needs to approve new names, commit to the costs associated with the changes, and submit a request to the Commonwealth Transportation Board. At this time, it’s unclear when all of that might happen.
The survey also inquired that if the name changes would result in any financial expenses for the businesses. For both highways, more than 70% of respondents answered yes, citing potential expenses related to legal documents, signage, and marketing.
In response, the committee discussed ways to help or reimburse businesses on these expenditures when the name changes do happen including a grant system and a reimbursement program.
Regardless of the final names, the county is responsible for paying the cost of updating signage and way-marking. The staff determined the overall cost could range from $1 million to $4.2 million.
The price will depend on which names are selected, with the cost increasing for longer names.