We visited Crystal City, Virginia, and saw how the community is evolving to welcome Amazon HQ2

crystal city 2AP Photo/Cliff Owen

  • Ardine Williams, vice president of workforce development at Amazon, told Business Insider that the company's new HQ2 complex in Arlington, Virginia, is slated to open at the end of September.
  • The city outside of Washington, DC, has been evolving since it was first announced as the location for Amazon's second headquarters in November 2018.
  • We visited the neighborhood while attending Amazon Career Day on Tuesday. Here's what we saw.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In the year since Amazon announced plans to open its second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, the city just outside of Washington, DC, has transformed to welcome the e-commerce giant.

Ardine Williams, vice president of workforce development at Amazon, told Business Insider that while there are currently 70 employees working in a temporary building in Arlington's Crystal City neighborhood, a permanent office is slated to open at the end of September.

Read more: I spent a day in Crystal City, Virginia - and it's easy to see why Amazon picked it for its new HQ2 headquarters

Crystal City is located in the southeastern corner of Arlington and is best known for its proximity to the Pentagon. The area - which is filled with office buildings and sleek, modern high-rise apartments - is significantly quieter and more corporate than its capital city neighbor.

"It's a sleepy, mostly office-and-hotel neighborhood, separated from the more residential and livable parts of the area by a giant, eight-lane highway," former Business Insider reporter Kif Leswing wrote while visiting Crystal City in December.

When Amazon announced it had selected Arlington for HQ2, it said it had essentially created a new area called National Landing - encompassing Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard - for the project. When we visited the area for Amazon Career Day on Tuesday, however, the focus was all on Crystal City and how it has continued to pave the way for Amazon's arrival.

Here's what we saw.

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As you drive in to Crystal City, you can see the National Monument in the near distance. The neighborhood is just a short drive away from Washington, DC.

As you drive in to Crystal City, you can see the National Monument in the near distance. The neighborhood is just a short drive away from Washington, DC.

For those without a car or commuting from other neighborhoods, there is also a Metro station located in the heart of Crystal City.

For those without a car or commuting from other neighborhoods, there is also a Metro station located in the heart of Crystal City.

The first thing we noticed was that there were tons of brand-new high-rise buildings.

The first thing we noticed was that there were tons of brand-new high-rise buildings.

Amazon Career Day took place at "The Grounds," a recently opened "art and public space activation where Crystal City and Pentagon City meet."

Amazon Career Day took place at "The Grounds," a recently opened "art and public space activation where Crystal City and Pentagon City meet."

"This newly repurposed parking lot will provide residents, workers and visitors a fun and beautiful space to play and enjoy along a rapidly developing corridor that connects Crystal City and Pentagon City," the official Crystal City website states.

At the event, we found a booth dedicated to spotlighting upcoming events in Crystal City.

At the event, we found a booth dedicated to spotlighting upcoming events in Crystal City.

Attendees could sign up to receive updates about local happenings and win tickets to the upcoming Crystal City Oktoberfest.

Attendees could sign up to receive updates about local happenings and win tickets to the upcoming Crystal City Oktoberfest.

The Crystal City Business Improvement District — a non-profit, public-private partnership that "promotes and enhances" the neighborhood's business, retail, restaurant, and residential community — has been at the forefront of community vitality efforts. The organization hosts 200 events during the year, including "Food Truck Thursdays," the Marine Corps Marathon, and an annual holiday market.

An Amazon employee gave us this pamphlet about things to do and sights to see in Crystal City.

An Amazon employee gave us this pamphlet about things to do and sights to see in Crystal City.

The booklet highlights various "points of interest" including an aquatics center, hiking trails, and proximity to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Jessica Bolger, a job seeker waiting in line at Amazon Career Day, said Crystal City immediately began erecting murals and other artwork in the area after Amazon made the official announcement in November 2018 that it was coming to Arlington.

Jessica Bolger, a job seeker waiting in line at Amazon Career Day, said Crystal City immediately began erecting murals and other artwork in the area after Amazon made the official announcement in November 2018 that it was coming to Arlington.

Near The Grounds, we saw this floral mural juxtaposed with brightly painted bicycles.

Near The Grounds, we saw this floral mural juxtaposed with brightly painted bicycles.

As we walked around, we saw several of the painted bicycles hanging along a fence ...

As we walked around, we saw several of the painted bicycles hanging along a fence ...

... and then we saw even more bicycles.

... and then we saw even more bicycles.

Here was another mural.

Here was another mural.

There were also flowers painted on the ground of the walkways and sidewalks.

There were also flowers painted on the ground of the walkways and sidewalks.

Across the street there is a conveniently located Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon.

Across the street there is a conveniently located Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon.

Ultimately, it felt like Crystal City was well on its way to becoming a bona fide corporate campus, taking a cue from Amazon's original Seattle headquarters.

Ultimately, it felt like Crystal City was well on its way to becoming a bona fide corporate campus, taking a cue from Amazon's original Seattle headquarters.
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