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The Old vs. New Crystal City

by ARLnow.com August 3, 2010 at 10:30 am 2,520 24 Comments

Crystal City is in the early stages of a transformation that is turning it from a gloomy strip of monolithic office and apartment buildings into a vibrant, modern urban village. Among the changes in the works are a new entrance to the Metro station, a dedicated transit way along Crystal Drive, the removal of older buildings and the realignment of several streets.

In the third of a series of videos, Arlington County Board Vice Chairman Chris Zimmerman and Crystal City Business Improvement District President Angela Fox discuss some of the differences between the “old” Crystal City and the “new” Crystal City, as seen from the perspective of 23rd Street.

  • charlie

    Does Zimmie take the bus to these video interviews or drive? What about Ms. Fox — does she live and breathe the urban village or does she live in Maryland?

    • Mr. Zimmerman did, in fact, take Metrorail to the interview. And Ms. Fox lives in nearby Aurora Highlands.

      • charlie


        • SC

          darn – your chance to be snarky, gone.

          • charlie

            @SC, not so much snarky, but just to make sure they’ve drunk the juice. As someone who walks everywhere and shops local as much as I can, it is frustrating to see people who talk the talk not making the walk.
            Zimmie has a history, btw, of driving places, like METRO Board Meetings.
            Someone has to keep people honest, might as well be me!! 🙂

  • Alison

    Why be so judgemental? Chis Zimmerman is one of the few board members who regulalry commutes by bus and rail. It’s possible that he has at one point traveled to a board meeting by car, but that is a rarity.

    Even if he did take a car so what? Many people in Arlington mix bus/rail/car/feet. If he didn’t take a car ever the criticism would be that he doesn’t understand drivers. Sheesh. Chill out.

    • charlie

      @Alison. I don’t think judgemental is the right word. Zimmie got in trouble a few years back because it was documented and proven that he wasn’t riding Metro to WMATA Board meetings. And he publicly stated, and I paraphrase here, that it was “too difficult” to get to the meetings and home using public transit (at the time his family was younger and his demand at home greater). Zimmie also refused to turn over the records of his county-issued and taxpayer-funded SMART CARD (or its predecessor, I can’t remember) to validate how he was using this free perk.
      I’m glad he has drunk the juice and practices what he preaches. It just wasn’t always the case.

      • Anthony


      • Orange Line

        Regarding the criticisms of Metro Board members not taking transit, that WP article called out all the Board members, and rightly so. But as I recall Zimmerman was not among the top offenders for driving vs. taking transit (wasn’t DC Councilmember Jim Graham on the hook with the worst record, even though he lived and worked closest to their HQ?) And I think Dick White, the former GM, had an atrocious record.

        I looked for the article online to post (it’s been several years) but must not have used the best search criteria.

        I was pleased to see that Zimmerman was also one of the most outspoken critics of proposed service cuts during Metro’s budget deliberations, both last year and this year. I don’t mind if Board members drive once in a while (they must take transit too) but I do care if they cut my ability to take transit as a “solution” to their problems.

  • Oh give it up.

    Why do some people waste so much energy picking on Chris Zimmerman? I recently moved to Arlington, and I think he’s passionate, very smart, and a terrific board member. Stop crying about imaginary hypocrisy and demand an explanation for some real hypocrisy: Arlington Police Department’s refusal to probe Committee for a Better Arlington’s (i.e. the police and fire unions’) misconduct and what looks to be documented illegal behavior in the petition scandal.

    • Greg

      I don’t think he’s a terrific board member at all.

      For example, I watched a County Board meeting recently in which he opposed setting up incentives to bring new day care facilities to the County because there would be no guarantee the facilities wouldn’t just be used by rich people. It was insane.

      And I do think he deserves some portion of the blame for the state of Metro as a member of that board.

      I find little substance in what he says or does and would just as soon see him replaced this year.

      • Thes

        Greg, I would be interested to know which County Board member and Metro Board member you most admire. The Washington Examiner recently reported that some Metro Board members don’t even show up at most meetings (by car or train). Are they therefore less to blame than Mr. Zimmerman for Metro’s state of affairs? Also, how much of the blame would you assign to Metro’s lack of funding?

        • Greg

          Results talk. I don’t care if someone isn’t showing up or just isn’t getting the job done. If you’re a decision maker in an organization that’s going down the tubes as bad as Metro the last decade, you shoulder part of the blame for it.

          And I’m sure funding is part of the problem. But overall management is a nightmare. Metro couldn’t even implement its fare increase properly. I’ll leave it to you to explain how that’s a funding problem.

          Unfortunately, the type of cultural change Metro needs comes from the top down.

          As for the CB, I can’t recall anything that gives me serious pause about the other Board members. And for the record, I think the County is generally very well run although there is always room for improvement.

          • Oh give it up.

            So if the County is generally well-run, why pile on Zimmerman? What exactly did he say at the County Board meeting you refer to that incensed you so? Link and/or verifiable quotation, please.

    • charlie

      Most of the Arlington County Board members are pretty much lightweights when it comes to good policy and sound decisions. Zimmie is the 2nd lightest. People such as THES idolize the board members and cocoon them from the reality of the Arlington voters. Fortunately, or unfortunately, most people in Arlington have better things to do with their time and are happy in general and thus don’t get involved, hence the dismal election turn out in non-Presidential years.
      I think Zimmie gets extra attention because he seeks the limelight and with it comes extra scrutiny (sort of like Marion Barry seeks publicity).
      Plus if you go to a County Board meeting you are bound to hear Zimmie snip at a staff person and on occasion even lightly berate a public speaker and yet the “chosen ones” of his self-appointed commissions usually make their reports with little comment from him. Ask any of my friends who are involved in the so-called Arlington Way and EVERYONE has a Zimmie story — some more embarrassing than others.
      He chooses to be in the limelight and be argumentative, so he gets his just rewards from people who know better.

      • Thes

        I think here finally we have Charlie’s admission that his frequent rumor-mongering, personal attacks and baseless assertions are basically just vindictive spite and payback for perceived slights against him and his friends. They are the “just rewards” for offending Charlie, perhaps because Charlie feels he was not “chosen” by Zimmerman. Today’s topic was Crystal City, but you can see many other places such as the other thread with the satellite truck.

        On that thread you see Charlie try to justify his bad behavior by saying that public figures should expect unjustified abuse — well, maybe they should expect it, but that doesn’t turn the abuser into a moral person. The saddest part about Charlie’s venom is how it poisons the well for real discussion of the issues that do matter to Arlington.

        Look at the very first comment on this story. Did it inform and enrich Arlington? Did it inform and enrich this blog? Or did it merely give picador Charlie a sense of satisfaction that he stuck another pin into his ancient enemy? For Charlie, government has been reduced to a sport in which the more blood he can produce, the more entertaining he feels he has made it. That is a shame, but it definitely says more about Charlie than it does about Chris Zimmerman, or Crystal City.

        And just in case anyone reading this far IS trying to learn more about Crystal City, here is a link that shows things to do in Crystal City:


        • charlie

          oh dear.

        • charlie

          I think THES does an excellent job of proving the point that people unabashedly idolize County Board members and will go to great lengths to twist words and statements around to prove people wrong and throw it in their face all the time while pretending to be better and making sure that any dissent is quickly marginalized and squashed.

          The Crystal City Plan calls for people to take METRO and to work AND live in the community. My initial question was if Zimmie took the Metro and if Ms. Fox lives there. That’s all. And to make sure that they practice what they preach.

          My comments stand and I hope that THES can move on and quit criticizing me for expressing my opinion.

  • TGEoA

    Zimmerman is a joke. Hes been on the board if Metro for over a decade and he STILL has no clue how mass transit is supposed to be developed. And this guy has the nerve to bring a streetcar line to Arlington?

    • Lucy’s Mom

      Really? Friends of mine are opening a restaurant on the Pike precisely because of the streetcar. I think it will be great.

      • charlie

        @lucy’s mom: hold on tight. construction of the streetcar line may ultimately make Columbia Pike a more upscale economic success (it really is already an economic success) but the problem is that the construction will KILL Columbia Pike first. Construction of Metro (which is a bit more substantial) killed Clarendon, H Street in DC and U Street. Short term is huge loss for long term gain. Good luck.

  • Skeptical

    Can I just say how much I hate phrases like “vibrant, modern urban village”?

    Not only does it sound like copy from a brochure, but when I hear it I just always know it means “High prices, bustle and commotion, no one need apply to live or trade here except the young and fashionable.” How much more of that can we take?

    If you want vibrant, buy a vibrator…

    • James C

      Yes, your phrase is much classier.

  • Pingback: Find out if your road is getting a fix, Metro to shut down five stations Labor Day weekend, A look at the new face of Crystal City, and Realtors justify current home prices | Northern Virginia Magazine()


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