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County Board Approves Large Outdoor Screens in Ballston

The Arlington County Board amended zoning regulations last night to allow Ballston Quarter to install large electronic displays outside the entrance to the mall.

The Board’s vote approved developer Forest City’s request for two screens on the Ballston Quarter mall exterior near the outdoor seating area. The vote also amended county zoning ordinances to allow “an increase in the maximum sign height of up to 55 feet for large media screens” in areas around shopping malls.

“Large media screens are an appropriate tool for use by urban regional shopping centers to create a vibrant sense of place, to enhance outdoor community gathering spaces, and to stimulate economic competitiveness,” a staff report to the Board read.

The new rules would only allow screens to be placed as high as 55 feet if they are located within a shopping mall within a quarter-mile of a Metro or major bus station.

Forest City has been planning to install two strips of LED screens: one mid-way up the building wall facing Wilson Blvd and another strip on the wall 49.5 up feet from the ground. But the request was denied because current zoning regulations forbid screens installed higher than 40 feet.

The Board postponed its consideration of the request for months to make time for changing the zoning rule, before moving forward in March.

“The applicant intends to use the screen for family-friendly presentations, the display of public art, charitable events and entertainment, and/or educational opportunities,” one of the staff reports to the Board notes.

Forest City is still required to get a use permit for the screens, so it’s likely at least a few months before the screens will be installed and turned on.

Construction on the revamped former Ballston Common Mall has largely wrapped up and nearly a dozen new eateries have opened or are in the process of opening in the mall and its Quarter Market food hall.

Screenshot via county documents.

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