Join Club

Neighbors ask county to reconsider dense residential development planned for Pentagon City

RiverHouse in Pentagon City at sunset (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A group of neighbors is calling on the county to take a moderate approach to residential redevelopment in the shadow of Amazon’s HQ2.

Next month, on Tuesday, Feb. 22, the Arlington County Board is poised to consider adopting a new planning document that lays out a vision for the next 30-plus years of growth in the Pentagon City neighborhood. The plan calls for a significant amount of redevelopment and infill development, mostly residential, more green spaces and new “biophilic” walking and biking paths.

The Pentagon City Planning Study draft was created because Amazon’s arrival exhausted nearly all the development envisioned in the 45-year-old plan currently guiding the neighborhood’s growth.

One significant source of near-term infill development would be at RiverHouse apartment complex on S. Joyce Street. Its owner, once Vornado and now JBG Smith, has long eyed redeveloping its surface parking lots and open spaces. The document recommends no more than 150 units per acre on the 36-acre site, which currently has a ratio of 49 units per acre.

That’s excessive for a complex with 1,670 units already, according to members of “RiverHouse Neighbors for Sensible Density.” The group and an associated movement, “Dense That Makes Sense,” are made of nearby residents who say a lack of community engagement has allowed the draft to move forward that recommends adding too many units to RiverHouse, among other concerns.

Pentagon City Planning Study Area (via Arlington County)

“RNSD is especially concerned about the Plan’s proposal for developer JBG Smith’s property, RiverHouse — already the fourth largest apartment complex in the Greater Washington, D.C. area,” the group said in a statement. “Because the Plan was developed without wide and diverse community representation, the Plan 1) does not represent a balanced community perspective, and 2) fails to articulate how it will deliver the community benefits it promises.”

Since August 2020, the county’s outreach has included interviewing stakeholders and property owners, asking the public to submit slides showing their vision of Pentagon City, and holding focus groups, five virtual public workshops, and a walking tour, said Erika Moore, a spokeswoman for the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.

They received 60 slides from community members on their vision, and 146 responses on an online engagement after a virtual open house, she told ARLnow. County staff also met with several county commissions, committees and civic associations as the plan was being drafted. In addition to emails and newsletters, she said there have been signs sharing information on the plan in public spaces.

“The population growth scenarios in the draft plan are not requirements for development,” Moore said. “The scenarios were developed to analyze implications for population growth, transportation, urban design, economic development, and other factors.”

This is not a new concern. Neighbors pushed back against JBG Smith’s 2019 proposal to add 1,000 units to the site (for a density of 72 units per acre) and at the time, some Arlington County officials and planners were also skeptical of the plan. Now, the new plan’s upward limit of 150 units per acre has some Dense That Makes Sense members longing for JBG Smith’s initial plans.

With seven weeks until the County Board is set to vote, the group is urging the Board to pause the plan.

“The RiverHouse site presents an opportunity for the Arlington County Board to lead the world in showing how a community can come together to diversify its housing stock and integrate affordable opportunities for renting and homeownership — while improving, not reducing, the quality of life,” the group’s statement says.

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition opposing plans for the RiverHouse site — aerial renderings of which include 18 new buildings — and the decrease in tree canopy and increase in air and noise pollution they say will follow.

The vision for redeveloping Pentagon City (via Arlington County)

Petitioners request more “wide and representative community engagement” that “fully incorporate[s] community feedback.” They also request the preservation of current tree canopy levels, which they estimate is around 40%, and a study of potential environmental pollution.

According to the new study, 55% of the redeveloped RiverHouse site should have buildings no taller than five stories, at least 30% should be planted and 20% covered by tree canopy. The plan envisions about four acres of added green space across the site, including an expansion of Grace Hopper Park at the southern end of the site.

Dense That Makes Sense, meanwhile, is planning additional outreach over the next few weeks. It passed out flyers this past week and will be distributing yard signs and conducting “peaceful demonstrations in high traffic areas throughout” the 22202 zip code, which includes Pentagon City and Crystal City.

Green space planned in the Pentagon City planning area (via Arlington County)

Recent Stories

Good Monday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 10824 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…

The Sun Gazette newspaper has not published new articles on its website since Friday and may have printed its last edition. Several sources tell ARLnow that the free weekly paper,…

Carjackings appear to be rising again in Arlington and across the D.C. area. An uptick between 2019 and 2020 spurred Arlington County Police Department to focus prevention efforts on robbery,…

Police and medics have been dispatched to Wakefield High School at least twice for students experiencing suspected substance abuse-related issues since Tuesday’s fatal overdose. The dispatches seem to point to…

Have you noticed a striking sculpture at Monroe Street and Wilson Boulevard? It’s the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington’s newest installation, _Make Your Mark_ , by Arlington artist, Adam Henry. This sculpture celebrates MoCA Arlington’s rebranding and brings the museum’s energy outdoors.

On February 11, come inside when the museum’s galleries reopen with two new exhibitions: Rebecca Rivas Rogers: Grey View and Crisis of Image.

Grey View, in the Wyatt Resident Artist Gallery, is an homage to “gray” and a snapshot of the artist’s process. Consisting of photographs, collage, and a site-specific installation, this show is an outgrowth of Rivas-Rogers’ visual investigations into places you see on your way to somewhere else.

On the main level, Crisis of Image features artists who seek equity in today’s saturated visual world by developing new methods related to the production of images.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Its February and you said you would start your journey to a healthier you, last month! If you are struggling and do not know how or what to do to get started, we are here to keep you accountable. At Aspire Higher Training, we offer 1-1 Personal Training for ALL fitness levels, Semi-Private Group Training, Sport Specific Training and Injury Prevention/Post-Physical Therapy Training. Monica and her team of trainers are available across Arlington, Va.

If you don’t have access to a gym, no problem, we are located in South Arlington, but if you want to workout from your home gym, we also offer that flexibility. We make it as convenient as possible to ensure your success. Before getting started, we offer a free 15-30 minute consultation call to see how we can best help you towards your health and fitness goals. Let’s get started on your health and fitness goals today by setting up a call at your earliest convenience:

https://www.aspirehigherfitness.com/contact

Submit your own Announcement here.

Valentine Pop-Up at George Mason University

Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village

Standup Comedy Showcase Starring Matt Ruby (Comedy Central)

Dead Horse Comedy Productions brings together top comedians from the DMV and beyond for a live standup comedy show!

Matt Ruby, Headliner

Matt Ruby is a comedian, writer, and filmmaker from New York City. His comedy has been filmed by

×

Subscribe to our mailing list