83°Scattered Clouds

by ARLnow.com — July 22, 2016 at 9:45 am 0

Slowly but steadily, the former DoD Inspector General’s Office in Pentagon City is being demolished floor-by-floor.

Also known at the “Paperclip building,” the structure is being torn down to make way for a new 20-story condo tower known at “The Altaire.”

“Bordering Crystal City and Pentagon City, The Altaire, referencing the double star in the constellation Aquila, will offer 450 condominium homes to the growing region,” says an older website for the forthcoming development. “With expected unobstructed views of The District, The Altarie will be one community to not miss.”

The website pegs the price range of Altaire condos at $300,000 to $2.5 million. It’s unclear if those prices have since been updated.

A groundbreaking for the project is expected to be held later this year.

At its meeting on Wednesday, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a permit for use of the county-owned “teardrop parcel,” adjacent to the property, for temporary construction storage, staging and parking.

by ARLnow.com — July 21, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

The real estate investment trust that owns the Wellington Apartments on Columbia Pike has received the go-ahead to build three new apartment buildings on its parking lot.

The Arlington County Board voted unanimously last night to approve a use permit for the new apartments, to be located on a section of the property that borders Army Navy Country Club and a block of homes in the Arlington View neighborhood.

Each of the three buildings will be six stories high, with a total of 401 new market-rate apartments. The property owner also agreed to convert 105 of the existing apartments in the Wellington to committed affordable units, at no cost to the county.

Other features of the planned development include:

  • A nine-level garage (six levels will be above ground) with hundreds of new parking spaces and bike spaces
  • Streetscape improvements and new street connections (S. Rhodes Street and 12th Street S.)
  • A new public “mini park” on the new 12th Street
  • LEED Silver energy efficiency

“Our efforts to revitalize the Pike through innovative approaches to land use and zoning, while striving to preserve its stock of affordable housing, continue to show results,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement.

The county press release on the approval, after the jump.

(more…)

by Lindsay Smith — July 20, 2016 at 4:50 pm 0

After years of construction, work on Courthouse Plaza is finally coming to a conclusion.

Tomorrow, a party is planned for the plaza’s reopening. The metal fencing, barricades and orange-vested workmen that have been plaguing the open area will be gone at last — leaving behind an attractive gathering space for shoppers and pedestrians.

It has been a long time in the making. We first reported that the project was behind schedule in 2011. In January, we reported that “all work is expected to be completed by this April.” Despite the delays, the project is delivering on its other promises.

The plaza now boasts an updated entryway. Trees planted along the brick walkway are surrounded by chairs, tables and wood planters that double as benches. There are potted plants, trees and metal tables. New brick pavers keep the area looking clean and organized.

With renovations to two parking garages and to the AMC movie theater, some of the nearby amenities were also improved during the long plaza project.

To celebrate, Arlington County, Courthouse Plaza owner Vornado and the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association are sponsoring a “Party on the Plaza.” The event is taking place this Thursday, July 21, from 5-7 p.m.

The event will feature music, games, free food and giveaways.

by Tim Regan — July 18, 2016 at 4:30 pm 0

The Arlington County Board on Saturday unanimously gave its blessing to a developer’s plan to build a new 22-story apartment building in Pentagon City.

Developer Vornado is set to break ground on a new building within the Metropolitan Park development. As planned, the new building at 1400 S. Eads St. will include 577 residential units, 9,665 square feet of retail.

The development will also include a number of community benefits. As planned, the new building will bring with it either a commissioned piece of on-site public art or a $75,000 public art contribution; 23 units of affordable housing or a cash contribution to the county’s affordable housing fund; and three open space areas including the completion of a public courtyard called Metropolitan Park Central Park.

The new building represents the sixth and final phase of the Metropolitan Park development.

“We have seen previous phases of Metropolitan Park transform this area of Pentagon City from warehouses and parking lots to a vibrant, walkable place,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement. “We look forward to its completion with the construction of Phase 6 and are particularly excited to see the completion of its Central Park for all to enjoy.”

Trendy businesses such as Whole FoodsStarbucks and CorePower Yoga have already opened locations in nearby Metropolitan Park buildings. Likewise, Sweetgreen, Orangetheory Fitness and Commonwealth Joe all plan to open millennial-friendly outposts there.

Renderings via Arlington County

by ARLnow.com — July 18, 2016 at 8:30 am 0

Sunset over Four Mile Run in Shirlington

County Looking at Fire Station Alternatives — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved an agreement with Arlington Public Schools that would allow it to build a temporary fire station on the grounds of the new H-B Woodlawn school in Rosslyn. However, in response to parent concerns the Board directed county staff to look into potential alternative locations. [InsideNova, Arlington County]

Couple: Snow Melter Fumes Contaminated Our House — A couple who lives near Bluemont Park says diesel fumes from a snow melter that the county was using about 40 yards from their home this past winter has contaminated the home. The county paid for the couple to live in a hotel while the snow melter was running, in the wake of January’s blizzard. Now the couple wants the county to pay for a thorough cleaning of the home. [Washington Post]

Henry Gate to Reopen — The Henry Gate along Route 50 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will reopen to military bicyclists and pedestrians on Aug. 1. Among other expected benefits, the gate is expected to serve military users of Uber and Lyft; the ride hailing services are not available on the base. [Mobility Lab]

Police Escort Ducklings Across Road — An ACPD officers and a couple of “alert citizens” helped a mother duck and her ducklings cross N. Stafford Street on Friday. [Twitter]

More on Clarendon Drug Bust — One of the regular meetups for the alleged Clarendon drug ring was Whitlow’s on Wilson, where two of the suspects worked. “It was shocking, disappointing and frustrating to hear that any of this activity took place around our business and the neighborhood,” said Whitlow’s manager Jon Williams, noting that most other Clarendon bars were also named as areas of drug activity. [NBC Washington]

Two Park Renovations Approved — The County Board unanimously approved $1.65 million in upgrades to Bluemont Park and High View Park over the weekend. [Arlington County]

Board Approves Changes to Ballston Building — Originally proposed as an office building, the last building in the Founder’s Square project in Ballston will instead be built as a mixed use building, with a mix of retail, office and apartments. [Arlington County]

by Adrian Cruz — July 14, 2016 at 4:45 pm 0

Following last year’s demolition of Marymount University’s “Blue Goose” building in Ballston, construction is underway on the building’s replacement, which now has a new name.

The mixed-use development at 1000 N. Glebe Road is now being called “Newside.” Two buildings are under construction on the site, a nine-story office building and a 12-story, 267-unit residential building.

The nine-story building will be owned by Marymount University, with the university using six floors as office and educational space. The top three floors will be leased out as office space.

Along with the two buildings, there will also be a 10,600 square foot public plaza and pedestrian passageway in between them.

The Shooshan Company, the project’s developer, is optimistic about its potential.

“You’ve got this unique blend of all these uses in one spot,” said Kevin Shooshan, the company’s director of leasing and marketing. “There is going to be constant foot traffic every day of the week,” between Marymount students and customers of the on-site retail. “It gives kind of a new life to the site which is why we view it as the new side of Ballston, the new side of Marymount University.”

Government contractors, high profile associations, IT and technology companies are among the potential tenants that Avison Young, the company in charge of leasing office and business space, imagines for the top three floors of the Marymount building.

According to Shooshan, the development’s convenient location just off I-66, between Tysons Corner and D.C., along with its potential for rooftop signage that can be seen from the highway, gives it an advantage in the marketplace.

“It is the only new construction space available in the Ballston market,” he said. “In an era when many tenants are looking to reduce things and right-size their space, doing so in new construction — it’s the only opportunity in the Ballston market and it’s coming within the next year.”

“We’ve also been seeing some good activity from some national retailers,” he added.

At the moment, the excavation and concrete portion of the underground parking garages are complete and work is currently being done of the second floors of the buildings.

Construction is expected to be completed for both buildings around the second quarter of 2017.

by ARLnow.com — July 6, 2016 at 10:15 am 0

Wilson site plan (image via Arlington County)The H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program is gearing up to move to a brand new building in Rosslyn for the 2019-2020 school year, but a new wrinkle in that plan is worrying parents.

On Friday, Arlington County announced that it was collaborating with Arlington Public Schools on a money-saving plan: a temporary fire station will be placed on the school’s field while developer Penzance constructs two new mixed-use buildings next door, on the county-owned site of the current Fire Station No. 10.

The development will provide a new, permanent fire station and 100 underground parking spaces for the school — when it’s completed in 2022. In the meantime, the temporary fire station will be placed on the field at the corner of N. Quinn and 18th streets, and Arlington County will provide off-site fields and parking for the school.

The county says the plan will save it $20 million and will save Arlington Public Schools $5 million — thanks to Penzance paying for the parking, the new fire station and a new Rosslyn Highlands Park, adjacent to the development.

“We realize that opening the school without a field will inconvenience students and staff,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement. “We chose this site because the parking provided to APS for schools will save a considerable amount of money for the school project, and it is the best location by far for the temporary fire station. We believe that when the project is finally completed, this site will not only be a great new home for H-B and the Stratford Program, but will also provide many, many benefits to our community.”

Members of the H-B Woodlawn Parent Advisory Committee, however, were none too pleased with the idea of opening the school without a field and other factors that could have “an adverse impact on our children.”

In an email to members, the committee urges parents to reach out to County Board and School Board members before each considers approving the plan at their July meetings.

Dear Members of the H-B Woodlawn Community:

Our apologies for sending this message out on the Friday before a three-day weekend, but we thought it was important to bring this issue to your attention as soon as possible.

The School Board and County Board announced today that they are in negotiations to build a temporary fire station on the planned athletic fields at the new home of the H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs, at the Wilson site.  This plan is being rushed through with very limited public input and without serious consideration of its impact on students, staff, and visitors, in the name of saving money.  A press release regarding this proposal can be found here: Press Release

We strongly urge you to express your opposition to this proposal to members of the County Board ([email protected]) and members of the School Board ([email protected]).  Your emails should be addressed to County Board Chair Libby Garvey and School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren, and will be distributed to all members of each respective board, including H-B Woodlawn’s School Board member liaison Reid Goldstein.  The County Board plans to vote on this issue on July 16th and the School Board on July 21th.

Here are suggested points to make in your communications with Board members:

  • I strongly urge you to oppose the proposed licensing agreement that would allow a temporary fire station to be built on the planned athletic field at the Wilson site.
  • H-B Woodlawn and Stratford students’ instruction would be seriously compromised by the elimination of all outdoor physical education classes for three years or more if this proposal went forward.  The idea of bussing students to parks almost a mile away is unworkable, as the entire class period would be spent loading and unloading busses and driving back and forth.
  • The safety of HB Woodlawn and Stratford students, as well as staff and visitors, would be put at risk as the planned covered drop off and pick up entrance would be obstructed by an active fire station.  There has been no analysis of the transportation impact of this major change that will result in students being dropped off and picked up on Wilson Blvd., an idea the stakeholder representatives serving on the Wilson project design committee and APS already rejected.
  • There has been no public input to this last minute, backroom deal with a private developer.  Indeed, the APS School Board is considering this significant change to the new building without even asking the architects for revised schematics to understand the impact on the building design, without knowing what the temporary fire station would look like or how its colocation could impact instruction, and without a new traffic analysis to determine the safest and most efficient ways for bus, auto, pedestrian, bicycle, and emergency traffic to flow on and/or around the new campus.
  • The County should relocate the temporary fire station to another location that doesn’t have such an adverse impact on our children.

We will keep you informed as we gather more information about this proposal and its potential impact.

by ARLnow.com — July 6, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Deer in Four Mile Run (photo courtesy B. Heather)

Steamy Stretch Starting — It’s hot and humid outside today and through the end of the week. Afternoon storms are possible each day. During this hot stretch, authorities are warning people to stay hydrated and to make sure their air conditioners are in good working condition. [Washington Post, Twitter, Twitter]

Ultra-Nationalist Group Based in Arlington — The National Policy Institute, the “institutional center” of the nationalist movement that has come out of the woodwork in the U.S. thanks to the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, is based here in Arlington. The Southern Poverty Law Center has called the think tank a “white supremacist” group. [Forward]

New Book About Arlington — Local author HK Park has published another book about Arlington. This kid-oriented, 44-page paperback is called “How Your City Works!! Behind The Scenes In Arlington, VA.”

Discussion of Pike Development — Arlington County Board members Libby Garvey and Christian Dorsey discussed the approval of the Rappahannock Coffee site redevelopment in the county’s Board meeting wrap-up video. [YouTube]

Signature Theatre Announces New Cast — The cast for the Signature Theatre production of “Jelly’s Last Jam” includes a Tony Award winner, a Helen Hayes Award winner and a star jazz pianist. The musical begins at the Shirlington theater in August. [Playbill]

Arlington’s Got Talent Winner — Lyfe, a spoken word artist, is the 2016 winner of the Arlington’s Got Talent competition. [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy B. Heather

by ARLnow.com — June 21, 2016 at 5:00 pm 0

(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) Arlington has more to do to make the county friendlier to small businesses, particularly those with brick-and-mortar storefronts.

That was one of the messages sent by Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey during her State of the County talk this morning.

Garvey discussed the county’s efforts to compete economically during the talk, which is hosted by the Arlington County Chamber of Commerce. While Garvey lauded the county’s push to attract large employers — particularly tech-related firms — to Arlington, she lamented that small businesses are still encountering regulatory road blocks. As an example, she cited the experience of former Democratic state delegate Rob Krupicka, who opened a Sugar Shack Donuts location along Columbia Pike in February.

Garvey noted that Krupicka — who served in the House of Delegates for four years, representing parts of Arlington and Alexandria — had been expressing frustration on Facebook with the process of opening a shop in Arlington. She later reached out to him, asking that he share his experience with county staff.

“It was a little hard as a Board member to sit there and hear it,” she said. “He had to come in six times to get approval for a sign… And this was a small business, [Rob] is the one doing it all. [He also] had to come in to pay for permits and things because you can’t pay online.”

“We need to be thinking of the big guys, going to China [to attract businesses],” said Garvey, “but we also need to be down on the very granular level and make sure people don’t have to come six times for a sign — and can pay online. We’re working on it, we’re not there yet, but we’re absolutely committed to making it work.”

Asked about his experience, Krupicka said it was “definitely easier” to open his first donut shop in Alexandria than it was to open his second in Arlington.

“Both have their issues. Both have good staff. Alexandria has put a lot of effort into streamlining and it shows,” Krupicka told ARLnow.com. “The Arlington permitting process is in need of streamlining and modernization.”

There were five areas in particular where Arlington County could improve, according to Krupicka.

  1. “Payments have to be made by mail or in person rather than online and for some things you can’t move forward without payment, so that means waiting in line in the planning office for hours to get your name called so you can hand a check to somebody.”
  2. “Planning, Zoning, Health, etc. don’t talk to each other and it appears they don’t understand where each other fits in the process. The process actually seems to assume the small business person will force that communication and coordination. That is crazy, as the small business person shouldn’t have to be an expert on government process, the process should be designed to be easy. The big guys just hire lawyers. Small businesses should not have to.”
  3. “Many permits need to be applied for in person. You can’t just submit them online. You have to sit in the office and wait to be called, wasting hours of time. I have spent days waiting in the county offices. I have overheard a lot of very unhappy individuals and business people. The elected officials should spend some time walking through this process.”
  4. “In Alexandria you only need one permit to put up a building sign. It takes 20 days or so. In Arlington, you need two permits, zoning and construction, and it takes 60 days plus. In Alexandria you can apply online and never have to go into the office. My Arlington sign had me to to the County Offices at least 5 times wasting a lot of money on parking and more importantly time.”
  5. “There is an online system for some things, but in my experience, it was very cumbersome and I spent hours working with tech support to get it to work. I’m hoping that is fixed now.”

“All of this could be streamlined without impacting the proper county regulatory role,” Krupicka concluded. “I was impressed the way Libby Garvey reached out to me, tried to help and then made time and organized county staff to listen to my experience in order to try and fix it. She, [County Board member John] Vihstadt and Commissioner [of Revenue] Ingrid Morroy were the three that made a real effort to help me.”

by ARLnow.com — June 21, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

Greene Turtle ad spotted on the side of a bus (photo courtesy Melissa P.)

Historic Designation May Not Stop Westover Redevelopment — It’s probably too late to start the process of designating a soon-to-be-redeveloped garden apartment complex in Westover as a local historic district, county officials said in response to residents who want to stop the development. By state law the county can’t stop a by-right development, so the only option for preserving the garden apartments would be for the county to buy the property, said County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac. [InsideNova]

Zara Now Open in Pentagon City Mall — The fashion retailer Zara is now open in the expanded portion of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall. [Patch]

Continued Kudos for W-L Soccer — After winning the state title, the Washington-Lee High School boys soccer team has since been recognized by the Arlington County Board, the School Board and has received a raft of media interest. [InsideNova]

Wardian Wins Crazy Trophy at Crazy Race — Arlington’s resident elite ultramarathoner Michael Wardian has won the Great New York City 100 Mile Running Exposition and the very unique trophy that goes along with it. [Instagram]

Arlington’s Street Names, Explained — In a post that was just republished, after originally appearing in 2009, urbanist blog Greater Greater Washington explains the complex but mostly logical system for naming streets in Arlington. [Greater Greater Washington]

Photo courtesy Melissa P.

by Andrew Ramonas — June 20, 2016 at 4:55 pm 0

A 12-story, mixed-use development with a possible grocery store in Ballston received the Arlington County Board’s endorsement over the weekend.

The board Saturday unanimously approved a proposal by developer Saul Centers Inc. to construct the building on the former Rosenthal Mazda dealership site at 750 N. Glebe Road, which is three blocks from the Ballston Metro station. The dealership closed in April, in advance of the redevelopment.

In addition to a possible full-service supermarket, the almost three-acre property is set to have an Enterprise Rent-a-Car location and 491 apartments, 22 of which are slated to meet the county’s threshold for affordable housing. Saul Centers also is expected to earn LEED Gold and Energy Star certifications for the development.

“It will enhance the vibrancy of one of the County’s most successful urban villages, and offer residents easy access to transportation options, lively outdoor cafes, shopping and more,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement after the vote.

But not everyone at the meeting was in support of the project.

Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement and other locals at the meeting said they were worried about a major influx in traffic from a grocery store, among other concerns.

“The traffic generated by the grocery store will not only add to the hazard of walking in the vicinity, but will also add to the gridlock of traffic dumped by a newly constructed lane on I-66, just one block away at the intersection of Fairfax Drive and Glebe Road, which is in the works.”

Images via Arlington County

by ARLnow.com — June 20, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Crystal Car show in Crystal City on Father's Day 2016

Courthouse, Columbia Pike Developments Approved — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved a 90-unit condominium building at 2000 Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse. The Board voted 4-1, with John Vihstadt voting against, after hearing objections from residents of the nearby Odyssey condo tower. Also on Saturday, the Board unanimously approved a 105-unit condo building on the Rappahannock Coffee site on Columbia Pike. [Arlington County, Arlington County]

Plans Filed for New Affordable Complex in Rosslyn — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing has filed preliminary plans to redevelop the 39-unit Queens Court apartment complex into a new, 12-story, 250-unit affordable apartment building, with underground parking and a 9,000 square foot public park and playground. The redevelopment was included in 2015’s Western Rosslyn Area Plan, or WRAP. [Washington Business Journal]

Woodlawn Park Renovations Approved — The Arlington County Board has approved a $616,000 contract for improvements to Woodlawn Park in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood. The improvements to the 3.2 acre park includes “replacing the playground equipment, updating the trails and better protecting Lubber Run stream.” [Arlington County]

Couple Gets Engaged at Local Event — A San Antonio, Texas couple got engaged at Friday night’s Wine in the Waterpark event in Crystal City. [Twitter]

Stream Restoration Project OKed — The Arlington County Board has unanimously approved a $3.5 million contract to restore the lower portion of the Four Mile Run stream. Work on the project, which has been in the works since 2000, is expected to begin later this summer and may result in some trail detours over the course of a year. [Arlington County]

First Day of Summer Today — Today is the first day of astronomical summer, the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. [Capital Weather Gang]

Leadership Arlington to Run Volunteer Arlington — The nonprofit group Leadership Arlington will be taking over the administration of Volunteer Arlington from Arlington County. Leadership Arlington won the contract in a competitive bidding process. Volunteer Arlington is “the County’s clearinghouse for volunteerism, matching volunteers with non-profits and government programs that rely on volunteers in carrying out their work.” [Arlington County]

by Tim Regan — June 17, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

The Arlington County Board will consider planned residential developments in Courthouse and on Columbia Pike this weekend.

The Board will discuss a new residential tower planned in Courthouse and the redevelopment of the Rappahannock Coffee site on Columbia Pike during its monthly meeting Saturday.

A developer is seeking the Board’s approval the Bush Construction building at 2000 Clarendon Blvd to build a tower with 14 floors of apartments or condos, a rooftop terrace, ground floor retail and five levels of underground parking and storage.

At the Rappahannock Coffee site, developer B.M. Smith seeks a use permit to tear down a trio of buildings at 2330, 2342 and 2406 Columbia Pike and replace them with a six-story mixed-use building with 105 new residential units, 13,000 square feet of ground floor retail space and a 140-space parking garage.

County staff is recommending approval of both projects. The Board is scheduled to meet at 2100 Clarendon Blvd tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.

by ARLnow.com — June 17, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

View from the rooftop of the new Bartlett apartment building in Pentagon City (photo courtesy @rydaka)

Some Developers Are Pessimistic About the Pike — “The mood is not good,” Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization chairman John Murphy said of developers. “Some of them made big investments, big bets based on the county saying we’re going to do the streetcar. They feel betrayed, they’re not happy at all.” [Bisnow]

Board to Buy Bungalow to Bolster Benjamin Banneker — The Arlington County Board this weekend is expected to approve the purchase of a $637,500 property on 17th Street N. in order to expand Benjamin Banneker Park, near the East Falls Church Metro station. [InsideNova]

DCA Flight Path Changes — The Federal Aviation Administration is considering changes to flight paths for planes departing Reagan National Airport, in response to complaints from D.C. residents. Meanwhile, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is organizing a community meeting to discuss “recent changes to departure procedures for aircraft taking off to the south of the airport.” [WTOP, Rep. Don Beyer]

Chaplain at DCA Mourns Son — Rev. Nace Lanier, the chaplain at Reagan National Airport, is mourning the loss of his 10-year-old son to a brain tumor. [Washington Post]

Clarendon Salon Closed Due to Flooding — Casal’s at Clarendon, a salon and day spa, has been closed for a week “due to a water pipe breaking and flooding the salon.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Sehkraft Makes ‘Hottest New Bars’ ListSehkraft Brewing in Clarendon is one of the 10 hottest new bars in the D.C. area, according to Zagat, which writes: “This sprawling, pulsating Arlington brewhouse, gastropub, butcher shop, beer garden and live-music venue is powered by the brilliantly colored art on the walls, robust smoked and grilled American fare and curated craft beers.” [Zagat]

Free Smoothies Today — Tropical Smoothie Cafe, which has a location at 3811 Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square, is celebrating National Flip Flop Day by raising money for charity and giving out some free smoothies. The store will offer free smoothies to customers wearing flip flops from 2-7 p.m. [Tropical Smoothie Cafe]

Photo courtesy @rydaka

by Larry Roberts — June 2, 2016 at 1:00 pm 0

Larry RobertsProgressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.

By Lawrence Roberts

In generations past, the American dream for many was a home in the suburbs. That dream served our country and our County well for those who could afford to make that dream a reality.

The growth of the suburbs represented a massive shift of wealth, human capital, employment, education, and innovation away from cities and urban centers that, in turn, saw declines across most measures of urban quality of life.

In recent generations, we have seen continued demand for suburban living matched by a desire by many residents and businesses to be located in urban centers.

Millenials have sought a lifestyle that is less dependent on long commutes and is more focused on transit and urban amenities. Baby boomers who raised families in the suburbs have shown an interest in returning to urban areas to downsize their housing and find walkable communities.

And businesses have shown an increasing interest in locating near transit – in our region that means primarily near Metro stations. This is a competitive advantage for Arlington and is a primary reason for our County to show leadership in improving Metro’s facilities and finally creating a realistic financial plan for system maintenance.

The revitalization of urban and transit-oriented centers need not be at the expense of suburban living. Indeed, the vision of Arlington leaders and taxpayers in supporting high-quality schools and planning for urban corridors near Metro stations, lower density growth along highway corridors, and strong protection of suburban-style neighborhoods has made the County a highly desirable place to live.

But Arlington can’t meet the challenges generated by growth and its own success by striving to keep things just as they are or have been. Keeping the status quo is simply not possible. Retrenchment and disinvestment are even worse.

We must continually move forward or we will inevitably see a decline.

Housing affordability is an issue that requires our attention if we are to move forward. Healthy, vibrant urban centers and nearby suburbs require housing affordability in order to sustain economic growth. A modern economy needs workers across a range of income levels who do not have to commute long distances. When people can afford to live closer to work, then they can free up roads and lessen traffic congestion that constrains an economy.

The unsustainable desire to keep things just as they are has been given the term NIMBY – not in my backyard.

Of course, there have been many times when communities have rejected poorly-conceived projects that would have destroyed neighborhoods, failed to deliver economic returns, or wreaked environmental havoc.

But today, increasing numbers of people view NIMBY actions as preventing the investments in infrastructure and creative housing policies that will be necessary to accommodate the desire of people of all ages to live in settings much like Arlington – urban and close-in suburban areas that have access to multiple transportation options.

Will Arlington continue to achieve a sustainable balance that accommodates growth and preserves neighborhoods? Will we find ways to make housing affordable so that people can live and work in Arlington?

Across the country, communities have done far worse than Arlington in planning for growth and sustainability. The result is a housing crisis with growing demands for building more housing.

The movement is coalescing around the name “YIMBY” – “Yes in My Backyard.”

The epicenter has been in California, which has often been at the forefront of national movements. San Francisco and Silicon Valley are experiencing the most painful housing affordability and displacement problems. But well-organized YIMBY groups have also grown up in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Toronto, Austin, and elsewhere – places that are economic competitors of Arlington and the greater Washington region.

The national momentum will build later this month with the first national YIMBY conference, in Boulder, Colorado.

Hopefully, Arlington will find creative solutions that need not be caught up in a NIMBY/YIMBY battle.

For the foreseeable future, people of all ages will want to move to places like Arlington. We can embrace that trend, try to stop it, or be overrun by it.

Arlington’s success has been due in large part to getting ahead of problems, building consensus, and implementing forward-moving change to avert crises.

It is time for us to meet the challenge of housing affordability through creativity, flexibility, consensus, and uniquely Arlington solutions.

Larry Roberts has lived in Arlington for over 30 years and is an attorney in private practice. He has been active in County civic life. He also chaired two successful statewide campaigns, served as Counselor to the Governor in Richmond, and served as Chief of Staff to the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

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