Neighborhoods Plan Envisions Greater Density for Columbia Pike

by ARLnow.com June 25, 2012 at 11:55 am 9,209 175 Comments


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.”


  • Douglas Park

    Looks nice!!

    • NPGMBR

      I agree.

      • charles

        Nonsense. “greater density” is a code phrase meaning more profits for developers, more taxes for the County, and more congestion for people who already live there – sucks to be a citizen in go-go Arlington.

    • Clarendon

      I agree. The illustrative drawings really convey a wonderful vision, IMO. The tricky part is now how to get it to come out like that.

    • Jim

      Yes, this is all good, the right direction!

    • Elmer

      If you like living like rabbits stacked up in little cages this plan is for you. The “planners” have worked in their little cubicles so long that’s the way they view the world. Little cubicles for all of us.

      • TMP

        No kidding. Just keep cramming ’em in here and everyone will have to take their trolley because you won’t be able to find a place to park. God forbid we have green space, single family homes, and the means to get around without public transportation.

  • Roover

    Loving the new vision for the Pike. The best part of Arlington baby!!!

    • HayDiosMio

      I don’t know man. All nice but if we look at it from the investment side, i’m starting to wonder if City of Hyattsville is the hot spot to put your money on right now. Arts district has been redeveloped, crime is dropping, property is insanely cheap, both metro and marc train w/ bike trails.

      .. maybe we should skip this and go put the bet on that redevelopment instead.

      • Benedict

        Go for it.

      • FrenchyB

        I’m not sure it’s an either/or issue between Hyattsville and South Arlington. The big losers going forward are the outer suburbs.

  • YTK

    NOooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!! Columbia Pike is crowded and polluted enough already!!!!

    • Roover

      What is Columbia Pike polluted from YTK. What r u referring to sir??

  • Lee-n-Glebe

    This is solid long-term thinking. Who gives it two thumbs up?

    This guy!

    • Roover

      Lee-n-Glebe if thats your name than it would indicate that your in North Arlington which mean you probably dont care about this anyways because its South Arlington. Wake up man envision the County being beautiful all over!!

      • Larchmont

        I give it two thumbs up too, and take offense to your comment.

  • CW

    I like more green space. I like the streetcar. I like density.

    I don’t quite get the affordable housing part. Elimination of market rate 60% AMI housing? How do you intentionally eliminate something that is market driven? And replace with committed? I am no expert on affordable housing but what does this mean – why would you eliminate housing that is already there due to the market? Isn’t that a good thing – i.e. doing the county’s job for it?

    • Chris Slatt

      Poor summation on the part of Arlnow – the plan recognizes that existing market forces are likely to eliminate market-rate affordable housing. That’s why part of the plan is to use various tools to try to create committed afforable units to help avoid the complete gentrification of the Pike.

      • FrenchyB

        Good explanation, Chris.

      • CW

        Ok, thanks – the way it read made it sound intentional, rather than an effect.

    • Id

      Affordable housing is not market driven. Affordable housing is the County’s way of making developers pay to subsidize the cost of the housing in consideration for the permitting and approval of the plan. If the market had it’s way, there would be no consideration for those making less than what it costs it live in Arlington, Virginia. Any shortage for what the developers don’t cover comes out of everyone else’s (Arlington County taxpayers) pocket.

  • John

    So much for contemporary architecture on the Pike. We’ll just get more cheap imitations of past styles.

    • Vinh An Nguyen

      Where in the plan does it state what architectural styles have to be used?

      • Clarendon

        It doesn’t but the illustrative examples show a classical style because if they depicted typical modernist buildings then nobody would like it.

      • John

        From what I understand, a form-based code governs acceptable architectural styles for the Pike. It leans traditional.

        • Clarendon



          What style of architecture does the Form Based Code require?

          When it comes to architectural style the Form Based Code has none. This is in keeping with the community’s wish to “keep the Pike funky.” Rather than focusing on Colonial revival, English Tudor, Mediterranean or such, the code concentrates on good materials, putting doors and windows on buildings and putting those buildings in the right place.

    • JohnB

      I support the plan on balance, but will be at the public hearing to encourage adoption of policy tools to encourage better architecture.

  • streetcars are cool

  • Ren

    Apart from the streetcar, what is it going to take to get 16Ys that aren’t jam packed? There is so much demand for it. More people would ride it. And yet, year after year, people are still packed into there like sardines. I’ve seen people pass out on that bus. How about asking developers for some support of public transportation that is needed right now?

    • Roover

      Hey Ren thats a good statement. I board the 16Y a lot as well. They need to include more buses along the route. Maybe run every 7 to 10 mins especially between 7- 9am

      • South Arlington

        Doesn’t it already run every 10 minutes during those hours?

        • Roover

          I think youre right. I was just saying during the major rush period that they should increase the buses. Or they can include the larger fleet buses( the new ones) that have more seats and more space for people to stand up

      • Tabs

        It should run later than 9 am. Plenty of people don’t go to work that early. I’m usually racing for the last one–and see plenty of my fellow 16Y riders taking the lesser, later option of Pentagon City buses.

    • NPGMBR

      I’ll second that and I’ll go a step furthern and ask why the 16Y is so often late when there is no considerable traffic on the Pike.

      • Postfontaine

        Almost all Metro buses are late. It’s how they roll.

        • Roover

          Noo…Postfontaine not all buses are late. Its different reasons that include traffic lights and also you have some riders who need extra time to board(wheel chair riders, Blind riders). So with that being said some reason of the bus being late is for good reasons

          • Postfontaine

            Sorry, those aren’t “good” reasons. But they are situations that Metro should anticipate and run more frequent buses in those situation. However, Metro never seems to think ahead, they always act like they are blindsided by everything.

      • DB

        No considerable traffic on the Pike?

        • NPGMBR

          There is no considerable amount of traffic on the Pike at 7am when I’m standing there waiting for the 16Y. What I mean is there is no bumper-to-bumper traffic. Traffic flow on the Pike at that time of morning is flowing smoothly.

      • John K.

        As someone who gets on at the origination point… assuming it starts out on time, there are so many reasons that add a minute here, a minute there. Whether or not the bus should stop for the runners who just can’t wait, it does. Somebody needs to put their bike on? Did someone need to add fare? How many lights did the bus “just miss”. Even if (and that can be a big if) the bus starts out on time the little things really can get in the way.

        • NPGMBR

          I fully expect the bus to be a little late for the things you mentioned but what im talking about is a persistant problem of the bus I was expecing to arrive a say 7:25 arriving instead at 7:40 just as the bus that follows is also arriving. That that is a problem related to either the bus coming from another route or the driver arriving late to take control of the bus.

          • John K.

            Yeah. I stopped waiting for the bus at that time – plum forgot now that I take later runs. That’s the bus driver draggin’ out the gate from my experience. That IS usually pure Metro crap service.

          • NPGMBR

            What also compounds the problem is that Metro does not consider a bus late until it is seven minutes off its arrival time.

    • Tabs

      Were you on the bus with me (last year maybe?) when a woman passed out near the driver and hit her head?

    • Joan Fountain

      And the articulated buses will fix these issues how?

    • YTK

      Need more buses on that route AND WHY doesn’t the 16Y to DC turn UP on the Wash Blvd ramp right after it passes Fort Myer– to get on Route 50 AND SAVE TIME AND FUEL??!! Right now the 16Y goes DOWN Wash Blvd to Pershing Drive — and then makes a right turn on Pershing — and… then makes a LEFT turn onto Route 50 when ALL the driver had to do was to take that RAMP and get on Route 50!!

      • YTK

        PS– right now the 16Y is usually so crowded that if someone faints they will be held upright by the crush of the people standing around them.

      • Roover

        Exactly!! It makes me mad when they dont turn on 50. We have to drive thru the construction zone of the new apt complex where we can advoid it all my just getting on 50 via the ramp

      • Ren

        That also drives me crazy. I close my eyes when the decision point arrives and hope the driver goes right.

    • streetcar proponents get what they deserve

      The Board might cram the streetcar down our throat eventually, but I’ll take smug satisfaction that it will take over a decade, during which time bus service will continue to suck for you Pike dwellers.

      In contrast, articulated buses would have yielded a substantial public transit improvement (basically identical to the streetcar) MUCH faster with less disruption during construction, greater flexibility and lower cost.

      • SoArl

        “you Pike dwellers”… So, you’re advocating for bus and you don’t even live in the area.

      • drax

        Somewhere out in Loudoun County there’s a douche stuck in traffic wailing about how Metrorail proponents get what they deserve.

  • Kim W

    The biggest problem is that if you go to page 124 and look at the map 4.4 you will see that they have cross hatched space for long term green space. Those are current houses! Mine is one of them. I wouldn’t even consider where I live part of the Pike. I am much closer to Arlington Boulevard.

    Who’s neighborhood is next?

    • drax


      The same thing happened in my neighborhood – someone presented a plan with houses to be bulldozed, and the first those homeowners knew about it was at the presentation of the plan. The plan went nowhere.

      • YTK

        I was at one of those types of presentations. The people who drew up the plans and gave their speeches sounded like they were totally out of touch with the neighborhood(s).

    • JohnB

      Except that on the same page it says:

      Note: This diagram is conceptual and is non-regulatory. Possible Long-Range Opportunities for Open Space to be determined once future County-wide parks and recreation planning efforts are completed.

      • drax

        Yes, but she went straight for the map, as most people would.

        A lesson in how not to plan. Don’t show houses being torn down in a draft plan released to the public with no context. Dumb.

  • DK

    Great idea, but as usual, this plan relies too much on developers to follow through with their plans in a timely fashion. Given the economy now and in the near future, what’s to guarantee that any developer will finish what they start, or even be around to finish it?

    • Eeeevil Developer

      Nothing! Nothing AT ALL!!!

      MuuuHaHaHaHa . . . MUUUUUHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    • Cha-see

      This is a long term plan. We as a community need to think about the next 30-50+ years. This will help us develope as a community and will benefit our kids. Things will change and development will occur. We want to be a strong community and this helps, IMHO.

  • Interesting, picture #3 is not along Columbia Pike. That’s Dominion Plaza, which is actually at the intersection of 12th and Courthouse.

    • ballsteve

      I believe that is the “corridor” part of the Columbia Pike corridor.

    • SamW

      It’s a block off Columbia Pike. The redevelopment doesn’t cover just those buildings that front the Pike, but the surrounding area.

  • Becoming indifferent

    Bikes+streetcars+buses+cars=traffic nightmare

    • Give Me Vibrancy or …….

      “Bikes+streetcars+buses+cars=traffic nightmare”

      You left out “ladies of the night”……it might be a nightmare but it will be a “vibrant” nightmare !!!

      • KalashniKEV

        Drugs too.

        • NRAcanlikmydik

          Guns too!

          • Jimbo

            Why not just say what you mean: “minorities too!”

          • whoa whoa whoa slow down a bit cowboy

          • Roover


    • Jimbo

      I have little sympathy for those who use Columbia Pike simply as a thoroughfare. At any rate, a pedestrian friendly neighborhood with robust public transportation will invariably lighten the traffic load, so your equation is moot.

      • Becoming indifferent

        Unless they really widen Columbia Pike, which can only be done by demolishing a lot of property, this plan cannot work.

    • drax

      No, a mix of modes improves traffic.

  • Whoa

    The commitment to keeping Foxcroft Heights as a tiny dot of SFHs and a couple of small apartment buildings, with the Sheraton looming overhead, rather than making this a high-density gateway to Columbia Pike, is unfortunate.

    • John Fontain

      Don’t the owners of those properties have the right to keep them if they want? Isn’t all of this potential development along the Pike corridor at the option of owners?

      • Kim W

        Not my house… if the plan goes through as stated… then my house goes to green space within 30 years! The report lists tools to use to achieve and it actually says “eminent-domain” And let’s be clear I am almost a mile from the pike!

      • Id

        Depends. If the County uses Eminent Domain, they can seize the property, but pay the owners fair market value. The County would have to file suit to get the Property. If the owners fight, the cost of litigation may be discouraging to the seizure and the plan to develop.

        • John Fontain

          I don’t think you can ED just to resell to a developer for a “higher and better” use.

          • nom de guerre

            ED = Erectile Disfunction?

  • disappointed

    More development and density = more money for the county board to play with.
    More development and density = more traffic and no parking for those that actually live there.
    Arlington is quickly becoming a place I don’t want to live.

    • Smellmer

      Good. Move.

      • disappointed

        Wow, people in Arlington are so kind and friendly. I lived in Arlington for 14 years and don’t like it now nearly as much as I did then. Am I not allowed to have an opinion?

        • drax

          Sure, you can have an opinion. But just saying “I don’t like change” isn’t very interesting.

        • Jimbo

          Smellmer just agreed with your implication to move out of Arlington and you think it means you’re being denied a right to an opinion? Strange logic.

          The urban lifestyle is coming whether you like it or not. If you didn’t see this coming in the late 1990s, you obviously ignored the trend. Move to the exurbs or learn to enjoy the advantages of “more development and density.”

          • Kim W

            So I guess your house isn’t slated for demolition to add to the existing green space? I’m okay with changing the pike… but taking my house? I’m no where near the pike!

          • Cakes

            Chill. No one is taking your house. Jeez.

          • John K.

            Well, according to the plan… that’s the plan. A little bit o’pique is understandable, I think.

          • drax

            Kim, I looked – the map says “potential future green space.” Not quite the same as “immediate demolition.” Don’t overstate it.

          • Benedict

            You’ll be in the nursing home by the time this happens, so don’t sweat it.

          • John K.

            That’s right, shell out for a SFH well off the Pike (perhaps in North Arlington or Aurora Highlands) or get out!

          • disappointed

            I’ve seen it change, but like old character and charm which Arlington is loosing with all the new development. Like the cute little house across the street from me that was town down along with all the trees, the lot split, and two towering houses built to replace it. I also like to drive to do my errands and the parking is disappearing. I’ve heard the Crystal City redevelopment includes tearing down all the quaint restaurants on 23rd st and building high rises there. So sad. Most people I know in Arlington that I talk to about this completely agree with me that the redevelopment is out of control, so I’m not alone in my opinion. And my neighbors who have attended hearings on proposed changes in our area, say their concerns about traffic, etc. are being completely discounted by the county. I would like to live in Arlington in the future, I enjoy having quick access to DC, but most likely will not in large part due to the current and proposed changes.

          • Roover

            Hey “disappointed” sorry but our land in in an urban enviroment so its prone to be redeveloped. This is the area in the nation where people are moving to. So all of the old stuff(trees, buildings, houses) are about to be redeveloped. Sorry

          • Id

            This is what happens when you have one party ruling the County Board. But too many folks drink the Kool-Aid.

          • WeiQiang

            So, you how do you think the pace and quality of developement would change in Arlington with greater participation by politicians of another party?

          • WeiQiang

            [delete the first “you”]

          • WeiQiang

            BTW, the plan to redevelop 23rd street between Eads & Fern was derailed a few years ago [at least for a few years] because an owner of one of the properties decided to massively improve his property rather than sell out. The other owners went along.

            Hard to say whether/when another attempt will be made to re-deveop it. I believe the previous plan was (more) upscale residential over retail. In any case, it was nice to see the owners have a say in the process.

    • Id

      Arlington will go the way of Georgetown in DC if it does not fiscally wreck itself. Georgetown was a black neighborhood in the 1950s. Eventually it was “gentrified” to a white neighborhood before property values and taxes make it exclusively for wealthy folks and high end boutiques and jacked up prices.

      Look at all of the mom and pop shops driven out of Clarendon when the chains came in. i.e. Lazy Sundae. One could get a shake for 3 bucks. You cannot even get a small cup of ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s for that. But, its progress.

      • Historian

        It was working class white before it was black.

    • Elmer

      I agree with “disappointed” and those who and tell us to move evidence the arrogant “my way or the highway or should it be streetcar?)” mentality that is all too common now in the county.

    • boothinator

      As long as they build the street car, I won’t need a car to get to work. I live on S Scott St, work in Skyline City, and my fiancee works at Farrugut Square.

      Besides, I didn’t move to eastern Columbia Pike to have 2 cars and a quarter acre. When I need those things, well, I will be happy that there is enough housing for people who don’t need those things yet. I will gladly benefit from a free market.

  • NrNy2ArlVa

    Where’s Remy when we need him???

  • meh..


  • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

    Glad to see some changes were made to this draft. Especially the elimination of extending a new 12th Street through Arlington Village.


    I guess, most of those people living in those apartments will be tossed out. I remember when white people used to get nervous with the world “Urban”. Now, look at you, eating out of food trucks and throwing around the word “urban”. Harris Teeter gangstas!


  • JimPB

    Will the property taxes on the residential units and businesses in the area generate sufficient revenue to pay for the new schools and their operation and other government investments and services that the area will require?

  • Me ke

    There is one flaw that needs to be addressed as is not impossible. The county wants to be more pedestrian and less car friendly. It’s a great concept…however many of us have to commute outside the county..if the county does not address parking in these new developments many of us will not be able to live in Arlington and work West of the county. Mass transit is not keeping pace with job growth west and north of Arlingon

    • drax

      Mass transit DOES take care of parking.

      • Roover


      • John K.

        Not completely. Otherwise, parking would be free and easy in much of the District. (Or NY, most of the first world’s large and medium-sized cities, etc).

    • Mary-Austin

      The County tends to assume people will take mass transit (if you can call a streetcar that) and then they don’t which causes parking headaches.
      Even if people do the “car-lite” thing they still have to park it somewhere.
      One thing I’ve never understood is how fewer parking spaces with higher density is considered good planning. I get the idea but it is just not practical.

      • Id

        It’s not. It’s an unchallenged One-Party County Board which just spends money, and when it needs more, jacks up our property taxes.

        • marie antoinette

          Amen! +1,000. Of course, we only have ourselves to blame. We vote time and time again for one party with sometimes good/sometimes crackpot ideas. Eitherway, we’re stuck with the bill.

          • Id

            Hell, I’ve voted for a Green Party member (without any other choice) just to get a different perspective on the Board. This Administration has empowered them. If Obama loses the election, I am sure that Federal funds won’t be flowing (as last week’s Sun Gazette attested to) and all of these pet projects will get the brakes. I am not against bettering a community; I love the convenience, but I can tell you that I am not using enough of everything to keep raising my property taxes like this Board has done. Arlington is headed for tax rates comparatively to that of New York, if this spending without impunity does not stop.

      • Jane-Dallas

        If a streetcar isn’t mass transit, what is it?

      • Justin

        Totally agree with Mary. The idea of public transit in this area is warped. Even the people who do use Metro/streetcars etc. are still going to have cars because there’s no broader infrastructure to support a carless lifestyle here as there is in better cities like New York. You can’t get out anywhere beyond the narrow NE corridor here without a car. What do you do if you want to take a weekend trip? Visit relatives even a few miles away in NOVA. A 3 hour metro bus ride one way? No, everyone has a car, everyone needs parking, and there will be more traffic with these plans, not less.

        • Shrunk

          Ever here of renting a car to take that weekend trip?

          • Arlingtonian


    • Id

      Americans love their automobile. Unless you are staying local, the congestion is going to be miserable. Look at all of the work DOT did on 95 South, and even on a Saturday, if your not past Dale City by 9am you are stuck in a backup. 66 is the same thing. Look at the backup at rush hour on Washington Blvd. Now, you are proposing to add street cars to the congestion on Columbia Pike now, with autos and a “high density” number of people. Crazy.

      • Justin Russo

        Two two big findings about young people and driving:

        1) The average annual number of vehicle miles traveled by young people (16 to 34-year-olds) in the U.S. decreased by 23 percent between 2001 and 2009, falling from 10,300 miles per capita to just 7,900 miles per capita in 2009.

        2) The share of 14 to 34-year-olds without a driver’s license increased by 5 percentage points, rising from 21 percent in 2000 to 26 percent in 2010, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

        Young people are also making more use of transit, bikes, and foot power to get around. In 2009, 16 to 34-year-olds took 24 percent more bike trips than they took in 2001. They walked to their destinations 16 percent more often, while their passenger miles on transit jumped by 40 percent.


        • Roover

          i was saying this last week and someone wanted to blast me for that. Put this is all true. Im in the 26-34 bracket and I use mass transit and I dont need a car

          • SomeGuy

            Nope. No one “blasted” you for that. They congratulated you on finding the solution that works for you, but pointed out that your solution won’t work for everybody. And I also congratulate you on finding a solution that works for you. I use mass transit a lot too, and I like it, but it doesn’t serve all of my needs.

        • Boom! Roasted

          A couple counter-points:

          1. Economic forces (unemployment, wage decline, reduction in supply of parking in urban areas) have pushed car ownership out of the reach of many people in that demographic.

          2. As people get older, they get married and have kids. The need for a car will be much greater. They’ll either pay for parking in these urban areas or they’ll end up moving out and commuting through. Either way, congestion remains.

        • Id

          And how many 14-34 year olds make up the total number of drivers? Since the driving age in Virginia is 16 (a learner’s permit) with a curfew until 18, anyone under 18 driving probably with parent is irrelevant. How many of those 18-34 work outside of Arlington without public transportation, or public transportation so inconvenient its not used? These folks are irrelevant because they will have to commute to work. Now what is the number with those who actually work in Arlington and use it? Some things your quoted stats do not factor.

      • Roover

        Its crazy how people here complain about street cars causing traffic when people in San Francisco dont complain about it and San Fran is more dense in terms of population than our region

        • John K.

          Muni Metro is largely in dedicated lanes or underground, especially in higher traffic areas. They also get high a lot more out there. Takes the edge off… 😛

  • Parking

    All the photos depict is getting rid of the residential parking and replacing it with more buildings. How will that work? are you going to make people get rid of their cars or make them park on the street? This plan makes no sense.

    • disappointed

      Exactly! I’ve been saying for 10 years that I think the ultimate goal is to make it impossible to drive in Arlington.

      • JohnB

        And for 10 years you will have been wrong.

        • Parking

          So are these buildings condo or apartment buildings? I’m assuming the land is owned by whoever occupies these properties. Is the county going to use eminent domain to strip the land from the owner and repurpose the parking lots into buildings? I still don’t see how his will happen. I looks to me like some guy went Photoshop happy without any real thought.

      • John K.

        Not impossible. Just annoying.

      • drax

        As if it won’t become impossible to drive in Arlington anyway.

    • esmith69

      I am pretty sure that at least for all new high rise residential buildings, they will require underground parking garages to sufficiently accomodate all residents and also any people who want to park for the ground-floor retail spaces.

    • boothinator

      Yeah! They want to turn my apartment’s parking lot into townhouses.

      Since my apartment’s owners would still own the property, I’m sure they’d have to choose to build a parking garage. Most of my neighbors would have to move out otherwise, which would cost the owners a lot of money.

      On the other hand, I think the planners are just being ambitious.

  • Kim W

    Benedict… I don’t know why you think I’ll be in a nursing home by then, but regardless, my home will lose great value after this plan is voted in. Our homes today… who’s homes are next?

    • SoArl

      How will your home lose value? Won’t this make the neighborhood more desirable, hence raising your property values?

      • Kim W

        SoARl. I realize there are many comments here. My issue is that as the plan is written, my house along with 20+ others are slated to be demolished to add to the green space in the long term. So no one would buy a house that is going to be seized in 20-30 years. Therefore the value would go down.

        • bemused bystander

          Do remember that the county will have to pay fair market value for every piece of property, whether it’s a negotiated sale or eminent domain. Also, the county hasn’t gone around seizing residential property — park acquisitions are usually made when something goes on the market or the owner makes a deal.

          • SoArl

            Yeah, I wouldn’t panic yet. I can understand why you’d be upset but this whole “plan” seems like sort of a best case scenario i.e. a big dog and pony show. I’m not totally sold on the idea that massive re-development will actually happen. Especially since the Pike seems to be expected to take on the county’s affordable housing quota, which would mean less land available to develop (unless you want to build an affordable housing complex).The pictures look nice but it doesn’t mean that developers will actually come build it.

          • Kim W

            Bemused and Soarl… I do believe you are calm about it because it isn’t your house to be slated to be turned into green space. It doesn’t matter if it is 30 years away… once it is in the plan it will be near impossible to sell my property. (Even though I have no intention to go anywhere and I do plan to be a vibrant senior citizen at that point so I will still need my home.)

            We have green space. If they want to keep the ratio, then don’t increase it along the pike! Simple math.

          • drax

            It says “potential future” green space. It’s a draft plan. It says NOTHING about forcibly taking your home either.

            Don’t panic.

          • Kim W

            I haven’t panicked. I’m furious. Along with my neighbors we are addressing this and have started a dialogue. Keep in mind, you could be next.

          • SoArl

            Please post updates if appropriate. It doesn’t surprise me that they would just spring this on your neighborhood.

          • MarceyRd

            That has to be kind of freaky to see a government document published that shows property you own being converted for public use.

            We all know, once the county deems something is “desirable”, it pretty much ends up happening.

            Good luck to you, I would not want to be in your shoes.

  • Roycroft

    The photo of the apartment complex is Magnolia Gardens an affordable housing complex. It certainly would be a major upgrade if they were to have it looking like it does in the second doctored photo.

  • JnA

    The built-out reality would look nothing like the artist’s depiction. Most of the time during the day the streets would be crowded with vehicles. Trees and lawns would be drought damaged. Flower beds, medians, etc. would be neglected, just like today. Much of the Pike would be a canyon

    • ghj

      The brick-and-masonry buildings will look dirty and run down. The post modern style does not hold up well. 5500 will look shabby in 10 years. Check out Ballston. That is the ‘vision’ for the Pike by the people making the planning decisions, who don’t live in Arlington. Streetscape typically receives maintenance for a few years after a building is completed, then allowed to run down.

      • DebbieDowner


    • Boom! Roasted

      I’m torn between laughing in mockery of the artist depictions and feeling bad because everyone should have dreams.

  • Skeptical

    You know, I can negotiate with just about anything except for the incessant use of the word “vibrant” by County Board, staff, and developers.

    It’s been used so often that it means nothing. I think it’s a euphemism for “lots of annoying commotion.”

    • drax

      Offer a better word.

      • AshtonHeights

        active. rousing. vitalizing. vivifying. stimulating. interesting. enlivened. energizing, exhilarating. invigorating. engaging

      • nom de guerre


        • Id

          wet, wild, West Virginia

      • Elmer

        It seems the ever expanding lexicon of “Arlington Speak” has momentarily stalled.

      • Rector

        What we need is more strategic dynamism ! Get it ?

    • Mary-Austin

      Agreed. The overkill of the term began in the late 1990’s when they started referring to the Columbia Pike corridor as “vibrant”.
      Then when they realized they could get some developer dollars they realized it actually was not and they needed to make it vibrant.
      I think they should start using “frattastic” to describe their vision of the Pike.

  • Cha-see

    I like the plan. I think it offers a better vision for the area than what is there now. Long term planning seems like a good idea.

    • Socialist Kenyan

      What are you, a communist?

  • Elmer

    I’m not buying it.
    The goal is to push single family detached homeowners out of Arlington and replace us with ever denser multi-family rental and condo and townhouse complexes, always higher and wider. The planners have decreed that we are an inefficent use of the “public space” and a drain on “community and environmental resources”.
    They’ll accomplish this by ever increasing taxes and a worsening quality of life (including crowding us out) for the single family homeowner in the detached home.

    • Smellmer

      And you’ll be crying all the way to the bank.

      • Elmer

        Sorry, Some things in life are not for sale and there’s more to life than money.
        That’s a discovery one makes with maturity.

        • Mittster

          ^ Commie.

          • Elmer

            So how many years did you spend as a missionary? How much do much you give annually to charity?

          • Mittster

            J’adore Paris. Mes dépenses sont pas votre préoccupation.

    • Economist

      You realize of course that if the county government was able to freeze development that those SFHs that you fetishize would soon be so expensive that only the very wealthy could afford them.

      • Elmer

        So the fact that I worked and saved for years to be able to purchase and live in a home in Arlington that I can call my own is a “fetish”?
        Pursuit of the “American Dream” has just died.

    • WeiQiang
  • MC

    People will have nearly 30 years to get used to more density.

  • MM

    What fantasy world are these artists living in? The plan calls for 10,000 more units, and yet the depictions show almost no automobile traffic at all. Just a friendly street tram, and a few bicycles – apparently all we will need in the brave new world of Columbia Pike 2040.

    Believe whatever fantasy you choose, but the Pike is a commuter corridor, not a destination. That means cars, and lots of them. The new mega development plan at the corner of Pike/Glebe means cars, and lots more of them. There is no accounting for parking, traffic or volume control in any of this.

    The big question is: just how many people can the zoning board cram into existing development space? More units = more tax revenue, everyone understand this. Don’t believe the hype about mass transit – just about everyone who lives along the Pike owns a car. 10,000 units = 10,000 more cars. Where will they park? I suspect on Columbia Pike, stuck right behind a No. 16 bus, which will still be very much in demand, with or without the tram.

    • I feel like this is a flaw in the understanding of what creating a clean corridor is.

      This is an iterative process, you dont just congest and develop along a main corridor, you incorporate proper land use and infrastructure within this transportation corridor, but most of the time the developments that create the “walkability” are one street back from these main transit/commuter corridors.

      Columbia Pike the road might not look like Eastern Market or Old Town Alexandria or Courthouse, but the neighborhoods adjacent to it can begin to be transformed. Eventually, the goal would be recapture, as Arlington has accomplished elsewhere, where it is determined that those roads are actually over sized, as traffic is reduce by better land use, and allows for actual design modifications to the corridor street itself.

      Same comments come up in discussion of the Tysons projects. If you look though you see that, frontage might be on 123 and route 7, but the neighborhoods are shielded from this. You concede the commuter portion as ugly and transportation oriented in order to reclaim the portions just off of it, in the hope that one day both will be fixed.

  • Tabby_TwoTone
  • Arlingtonian

    What does this mean for Dorchester Towers? Mainly the part “coinciding with infill development on the site” is confusing because I don’t see where infill development at DT is mentioned anywhere else in the plan.

    “The existing open space in front of
    Dorchester Towers could become a formal public green in the future (coinciding with infill development on the site)
    through the addition of new streets on the
    east and north sides and the creation of a
    civic structure or kiosk at the eastern end “


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