Arlington County wants residents to help it design the new Columbia Pike Village Center public square.
The new public square is part of a development that is replacing the current Food Star grocery store at the intersection of S. George Mason Drive and Columbia Pike. A developer is planning to build a five story building with market-rate apartments, retail and a major grocer.
The county-owned public square would go next to the development, where part of the Food Star parking lot is currently located. Arlington residents can take an online survey and answer questions about the type of benches, location of a water feature and how the new square should look overall.
The square is meant to be a “green oasis,” according to the county, and will have several “opportunities to sit, relax and enjoy the new square and garden.” It is also meant to work with the new retail area that is part of the development. The county’s current plans for the square show wide sidewalks that could be used for outdoor seating at restaurants.
“Success of the public square goes hand-in-hand with the success of retail,” the survey says.
The county is currently deciding between a central garden and a central open lawn. Residents are asked to choose which one they would prefer, with the option to choose a combination of both.
Preliminary sketches show seating around a central garden or lawn area, with open green spaces and paths throughout it. Residents who take the survey are asked to choose the type of benches they would like to see in the garden, as well as the kind of open spaces and paths.
The county also asks residents to rank water features, like fountains or small stone waterfalls, and weigh in on where one should be located in the square.
The new square will be somewhat similar to the public squares at Penrose Square and Pentagon Row, where there’s a combination of retail and open spaces, or the public space outside the Arlington Mill Community Center. However, the county said it is hoping that the Village Center public square offers more greenery.
“Penrose Square and Arlington Mill offer outdoor event spaces that are largely paved,” the county said. “Perhaps Village Center square could offer something different… ‘green oasis.'”