Examiner: Resurgence of Residential and Retail in Rosslyn?

by ARLnow.com September 2, 2010 at 10:58 am 2,633 20 Comments

“Rosslyn has seen a surge in residential and retail development,” the Washington Examiner opined over the weekend. “Nearly 600 new housing units have opened in the past year and more than 500 are under construction.”

According to the Examiner, Rosslyn has experienced a “transformation” over the past decade that has made it “cleaner and greener” and a more attractive place to live.

“Rosslyn is becoming much more mixed use,” Rosslyn BID finance director John Seal told the paper. “There are so many things to do here that people tend to overlook.”

Between the DC skyline views and the proximity to downtown, Rosslyn is the “the high-end living destination in Arlington,” one local real estate broker said.

Another selling point: Artisphere, the shiny new cultural center set to open in October in the old Newseum space. (The article incorrectly lists Busboys and Poets as a tenant — in fact, Busboys dropped out and the county is trying to find another restaurant to take over.)

Yes, there’s more housing in Rosslyn as of late, and yes, Artisphere will bring more culture to the area, but retail? The article’s case for a retail resurgence seems much more thin.

Rosslyn-ites, what do you think of your neighborhood’s development?

Pool photo by Patrcye.

  • Jason DL

    Whats up with Central Place? Timeline?

  • Brad

    From N. Nash to the water, it’s still as dull and uninspiring as ever. I’m not real thrilled about the plans for the development around the Metro, either. It looks like an updated version of the exact same thing — office buildings and retail chains that close in the early evening. I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised, but I’m not expecting much.

  • arlington

    Rosslyn has the best location in Arlington and an incredible amount of potential. For whatever reason, it seems like the County doesn’t pay much attention to Rosslyn and doesn’t recognize what a disaster some of the development and public spaces are. A lot of the public spaces in Rosslyn should be photographed and documented as interesting examples of late 1960s / early 1970s brutalism, and then torn out. (As a side project, someone should put up a website containing a photographic tour of some of the obscure spots in Rosslyn; people might be fascinated to know that brutalism was carried out to such a stunning degree in a small area.) Replace whatever that is supposed to be over the I-66 tunnel with a grassy field for playing frisebee and having outdoor concerts. Talk to potential merchants about how massively under-served this high-end area is. Rip out the 1970s pavers and put in some red brick sidewalks (but no ugly brick sidewalks like Courthouse; who is it in Arlington County government that thinks that puke-colored bricks are a great idea?). (Or even concrete. The block surrounding the new Turnberry Tower is great. The faded, dirty blue-brick walls lining the block around the Gold’s Gym area? Not so much.)

    On the positive side, there is no doubt that Rosslyn is headed in the right direction. Waterview is a distinctive building. Turnberry brings up the area around it, undoubtedly. But there is so much more to be done, and so little focus on one of the most ideally located areas in all of the DC region.

    The post is correct that the restaurant/retail scene still has a long way to go. It is gone from an amazing absolute nothing (in an urban / high end setting) to a handful of fast casual chain outposts. As awesome as Chipotle is, it is unbelievable that there is just about nothing else. If you are looking to open a small business in Arlington (or DC, for that matter), Rosslyn would be an amazing, under-the-radar, choice, as the management of Chipotle figured out.

    • david

      While there certainly is some opportunity for improvement, I’m not sure if amazing is the word that I’d use to describe the restaurant potential in Rosslyn. You’d certainly do a killer lunch time business but who will you cater to in the evening? Most people in Courthouse will stay in Courthouse / Clarendon; and the Georgetown crowd isn’t going to cross the river to go to Rosslyn. You’re pretty much stuck with the locals living there and the hotel guests. I’d love to see some more nightlife but until the rest of the apartment / condo buildings come on-line I’m not sure who would take the gamble in opening a place.

      You’re completely spot on with the architecture. It’s absolutely horrific.

      • charlie

        unfortunately the architecture isn’t going to get better. the 1812 Moore Street building is absolutely awful in design. but it isn’t what the developer wanted. the project design was dictated by none other than Zimmie who wanted, for some reason, the building to have a pyramid top. it will be ugly and an eyesore when built. ahhh wanna-be architects.

    • dan

      speaking of architecture, i wish they wouldn’t have scrapped the idea of the sky walks. it would have been nice to have lots of retail and restaurants up and above the street level, but then again, i guess car traffic visibility is king.

      in similar vain i also think it sucks crystal city is going to start scrapping the underground walkways/crosswalks.

    • Clarendude

      Was Rosslyn intentional Brutalism ? I think a lot of it is just exposed garage concrete structure (the car storage was not placed under ground due to terrain/cost, I think). Anyway, with the decision in the 60’s to get pedestrians off the ground level and up in the skywalks, the street-level became an unimportant afterthought.

      Kunstler has a discussion of Brutalism on one of his podcasts (look for the one labelled “Brutalism”. They mention that D.C. church that was built in the Brutalism style that their historic preservationists want to grant landmark status.


  • dan

    Central Place and the 1501 (or whatever the other building is) can’t start building until they secure about/at least 50% occupancy. Has to do with the banks that wont lend them the building money. Basically it should be on its way to completion, if it weren’t for the recession that hit.

    Yes Rosslyn has had some new residency built, but they also tore down a large community during that same time frame.

    There is still jack for food after 5pm and on weekends (ruby tuesday and continental). Perhaps this article is referencing the stuff up the hill between Rosslyn and Courthouse that I always feel more comfortable considering as courthouse anyway, in which case you can add Rays Hell Burger/the Catch, Pioloa, and Greenberry.

    • K C

      Did The Catch ever open? Haven’t been by that block in awhile.

  • I invite your readers to visit the County’s website: http://www.arlingtonva.us and watch our documentary: “Arlington’s Smart Growth Journey.” Several former County officials talk about Rosslyn and the planning mistakes made there. The County is working hard to correct those mistakes and has made real progress in the transformation of Rosslyn — with more to come. — Mary Curtius, media relations manager.

  • fake

    Holy Hell, the Orange line is going to be a tight fit with more residential going up in Rosslyn.

  • ann

    Are you kidding? A great place? Just this last May at 10pm while I was waiting for a bus by the metro–I had to stop a homeless guy from physically assaulting another woman. After 6 years, with the tearing down of all the existing shops, I now *fear* waiting for a bus after the sun goes down.

  • MC

    I think the Rosslyn BID deserves major credit for making Rossyn feel more livable. I was by the other night an noticed solar trash compactors and fresh planting which we were since visiting previously.

    The Artisphere should help. Rosslyn needs more bars of the kind more residential Clarendon has too many of. The logic here is that since many people work in Rosslyn, need someplace they can hang around after work if you want them to stay for dinner, or catch a performance.

    As for retail, given the high density and daytime population, an interesting gift store like the Proper Topper or Chocolate Mouse could do well.

  • When I think of Rosslyn, I think of culture, sophistication, and style. Rosslyn is home to the Art Institute of America, several colleges and schools, and the church over the gas station. Its collection of skyscrappers are like a Manhattan on the Potomac, while the frequent filming at Key Bridge and the Iwo Jima make Rosslyn virtually also a Hollywood on the Potomac. Rosslyn is the bagpiping capital of the Nation’s Capitol area.

  • TGEoA

    What do Jimmy Carter and Metro have in common?

    • charlie

      i cannot believe that someone else is also willing to repeat that joke. i was in sixth grade when i first heard it. thought it was funny then, and now. phew.
      Acutally my version wasn’t Metro, but Key Bridge.

  • Booring!

    when i think of rosslyn I think- no one can drive here- its the worst on parking and its boring! Also there are lots of homeless people up in rosslyn. I can see it being a resort area for the homeless. also there is no nitelife. People metro to Rosslyn to take a bus to get over to G-town. end.

  • arlington

    The BID folks do seem to be making noticeable, if small, improvements. As a Rosslyn resident, I definitely appreciate their efforts, and only wish that they would ramp things up. We need more ripping up sidewalks/concrete walls, and less branding. We need to hold fewer open forums, and spend more time renovating the public spaces in Rosslyn. BID, if there is anything you can do to push forward renovation of parks, sidewalks, and the skywalk system (keep but renovate the western skywalk connection to Metro past the gas station church — it is actually helpful), please do it.

    Arlington County officials, come to the Rosslyn metro station, exit the station, go for a walk, and see what you notice. You’ll want to put in a cross walk on N Fort Myer Drive, just outside the Metro station and toward the gas station / church, where hundreds of commuters jaywalk daily because the road is designed as an interstate highway with no way to cross. You’ll want to make Rosslyn’s parks usable and natural, and less scary. You’ll want to find a way to work in just a little more street parking so that people can be encouraged to stop by businesses in Rosslyn (starting by giving back the parking on the west side of Lynn street across from Chopt/Chipotle, which was mysteriously taken away). You’ll want to put signs up in the skywalk system, so that people aren’t led on maze-like journeys that lead to locked doors. You’ll want to talk to some building owners about their street-level bricked-in facades and why they aren’t moving toward more street-level retail. You’ll want to renovate the sidewalks. You’ll want to get the park directly across from the Metro station immediately cleaned up, including the disgusting, caked-on layers of bird feces. It is embarrassing. Bring out a power-washer.

    Given how many people enter and exit the Rosslyn Metro Station alone each day, that area can support more business than is there now. There needs to be a real effort by the County, however, to show that they are paying attention to Rosslyn and are actually working on moving it out of 1971.

    • Greg

      There’s a lot of good suggestions in that post. Particularly regarding the western portion of the skywalk. I see quite a few people use that in the morning to get to the Metro.

    • Sarah

      I am also a Rosslyn resident and agree with a lot that “arlington” said in the previous comment. I’m up the hill a bit and when I go to restaurants I stay at the “top of the hill” where all the action is. Rosslyn is completely dead at night, so that needs to change. I’m afriad to use the skywalks late at night because they are so abandoned (even on a Saturday night). The brutalist architecture is atrocious, especially the way it is used at Gateway Park, but there are plans to change that. Rosslyn BID has been great and has done/is doing so much to make a difference. Keep it up!


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