Arlington County’s vision for Columbia Pike would result in 10,000 new housing units being added to the corridor by 2040.
County planners are currently putting the finishing touches on the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan, a sweeping vision for the Pike that seeks to transform the area into a more urban, walkable, transit-oriented community. The plan calls for taller buildings along the Pike — up to 10 stories — and for the replacement of some existing surface parking lots with new infill development (and underground parking). It also calls for streetcar service and stops along the Pike and enhanced local bus service in the neighborhoods around the Pike.
In total, the plan projects that more than 10,000 new market rate and committed affordable housing units will be added to the Pike by 2040. By design, the plan calls for “a wider mix of incomes” in the various areas along the Pike.
“The Plan seeks to balance a range of housing affordability, improved forms of buildings and open spaces, and the preservation of historically significant buildings,” according to a draft of the neighborhoods plan. “The result is a comprehensive vision that targets redevelopment along the Columbia Pike frontages and areas further off the Pike in the eastern and western sections.”
While the plan calls for the preservation of affordable housing, it would result in the elimination of market rate affordable housing for those making 60 percent of less than Area Median Income (AMI). Under the plan, 60 percent AMI market rate housing would drop from 2,917 units today to zero units by 2040. Market rate housing for 80 percent AMI (those making 60 to 80 percent of AMI) would increase from 3,213 to 4,100. Meanwhile, committed affordable housing would increase from 1,120 to 4,300 for 60 percent AMI, and from 84 to 600 for 80 percent AMI.
Much of the added committed affordable housing would be funded by developers; Arlington County would provide added housing density allowances in exchange for either committed affordable housing within new developments or a contribution to the county’s affordable housing investment fund.
The plan specifically calls for more residential development and retail space along Columbia Pike and S. Orme Street in the tiny Foxcroft Heights neighborhood near the eastern end of the Pike. Single-family homes and rowhouses would be maintained along Ode and Oak streets, according to the plan.
The plan also includes a vision for a greener, more aesthetically-pleasing look for the Columbia Pike corridor, along with wider sidewalks and better route options for cyclists.
“New streets and bicycle connections, particularly running east and west, offer more circulation options for neighborhoods and make traveling along the Pike safer and more pleasant,” according to the plan. “Wider sidewalks, residential buildings set back from the sidewalk, and more trees will provide a boulevard experience that will be a contrast to the commercial areas.”
Arlington County is hoping to accomplish its Neighborhoods Plan vision through the use of zoning tools like Form Based Code and density awards for property owners who develop according to the plan.
The Neighborhoods Plan was developed with resident input via numerous public planning sessions, workshops and discussions. A public hearing on the plan will be held next month.
“Change is underway along the Pike,” Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said, in a statement. “Through the hard work and careful planning of a lot of neighborhood leaders, community members and county staff, we’re beginning to see a more pedestrian-friendly Pike emerge — a Pike served by great transit, that offers a vibrant mix of retail, residential and commercial development and public spaces that will bring people together.”
Hynes continued: “The Neighborhoods Plan helps ensure that, even as the Pike changes, the things that we all love about it — the mix of housing affordable to people of various incomes and all walks of life, the sense of community and of history, the strong neighborhoods — continue to thrive.”