Once it was cutting edge; a few decades later, it was obsolete. Now, Crystal City has a golden opportunity to reinvent itself yet again — as National Landing — after Amazon chose the urban neighborhood in Arlington County, as one of its two new headquarters.
“It’s a decision that I think will be a benchmark and a case study for many years to come,” says Uwe Brandes, faculty director of the Georgetown University Master’s program in Urban & Regional Planning.
Here, Brandes talks with Glenn Williamson, faculty director of the Master’s in Real Estate program, about the decision’s impact on Northern Virginia and the entire Washington, D.C. region.
Crystal City developer JBG Smith “had a portfolio of buildings that were obsolete, and they were like ugly ducklings,” Williamson said. “And what they’ve managed to do now with this property is to turn it into a beautiful swan.”
The Arlington County Board on Thursday will consider joining a partnership to study the feasibility of a gondola running from Rosslyn to Georgetown.
County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending approval of the multi-party partnership, which calls for Arlington County to contribute $40,000 to the study’s expected $250,000 cost.
Among the parties to the proposed Memorandum of Understanding are the Georgetown Business Improvement District, which first floated the gondola idea, along with the District of Columbia Dept. of Transportation, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, Georgetown University and property owners JBG, Gould Properties and Vornado.
The Georgetown BID would be the biggest contributor to the study, with $75,000 pledged. The other parties, besides Arlington, are slated to contribute between $35,000 and $5,000.
County staff said that an aerial gondola system running above the Potomac could draw more visitors to Rosslyn and could help ease vehicle and pedestrian traffic on the congested Key Bridge. Georgetown is the largest employment center in the District without a Metro system — more than 22,000 people work there, including 10,000 at the university — and the walk from the Rosslyn Metro station across the bridge is about a kilometer, a chilly and windy 0.6 miles in the winter.
“A more efficient and reliable transit connection between Rosslyn and Georgetown would benefit both communities socially and economically,” county staff wrote.
The county’s Transportation Commission voted 6-3-2 in favor of the study. Opponents worried that “the primary purpose of a gondola would be for tourism rather than for transport.”
“The Commission is of multiple minds on this proposal,” wrote Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt in a letter to County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “There is a fear that the gondola proposal does not solve a real transportation need, and many commissioners fear that even contributing to a study will provide substantive fodder for transit-naysayers.”
The gondola study is expected to take seven months to complete and could be complete by October 2016.
Rendering via Georgetown BID
Monument Lights to Be Turned Off — The decorative scaffolding lights on the Washington Monument will be turned off today, as repairs on the monument wrap up and the scaffolding is prepared for being taken down. [Washington Post]
Georgetown Scraps Satellite Dorm Plan — A plan that might have resulted in Georgetown University students being housed in Clarendon has been scrapped due to overwhelming opposition from students. The university will instead find a way to house more students on campus. [The Hoya]
Winter Coat Drive in Rosslyn — The Rosslyn Business Improvement District is collecting coats and other outerwear starting today. The donations will benefit the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network. [Sun Gazette]
Free Flu Shots Tomorrow — Arlington County will be giving out free flu shots as part of a “public health emergency preparedness exercise” on Tuesday. The shots will be distributed between 7:00 and 11:00 a.m. at the Washington-Lee High School cafeteria. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Andrew Clegg
The Hoya student newspaper reports that the school is looking at Clarendon, Capitol Hill and a location north of the Georgetown’s main campus as possible areas to house 385 students starting in the fall of 2015.
The off-site housing is necessary in order for the university to comply with an agreement with Georgetown residents and the D.C. government to house 90 percent of students on campus by 2025. Construction of a planned on-campus dormitory has been delayed, The Hoya reports, making a satellite campus — likely apartments rented by the university — a last-resort option for compliance.
The school may have a hard time convincing students to live far outside campus, however.
“University officials have discussed making satellite housing higher quality than current campus housing by including a swimming pool for student use or situating the campus near a Metro stop,” The Hoya wrote. Georgetown would also run a shuttle from the satellite campus to the main campus across the Key Bridge.
Stacy Kerr, Assistant Vice President of Communication for Georgetown, disputed The Hoya article and said it overstates the number of students who would be potentially be housed in Clarendon. She said the university is actually looking to house some 160 students.
Georgetown has a history with Clarendon, operating its Center for Continuing and Professional Education on Wilson Blvd across from the Clarendon Metro station. The program, however, has moved to a new office in D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood. The school’s lease on the building runs until 2014.
Bike to Work Day Tomorrow — More than 12,000 bicyclists around the Washington region are expected to participate in Bike to Work Day tomorrow (Friday). Arlington will host four Bike to Work Day pit stops — in Rosslyn (6:30 to 9:00 a.m.), Ballston (6:30 to 9:00 a.m.), Crystal City (7:00 to 9:00 a.m.) and East Falls Church (4:00 to 7:00 p.m.). The annual event is free but attendees are encouraged to register.
Rosslyn Metro Project 85 Percent Complete — The new Rosslyn Metro entrance is over 85 percent complete, Arlington County announced this morning. The $32.6 million project will add a new entrance to the Rosslyn Metro station, featuring three high-speed elevators and an emergency staircase, but no escalators. With the elevator shaft and the emergency stairwell complete, the next step is installing the high-speed elevators.
Tiny Apartments: Solution to Rising Rents? — The average monthly rent for an apartment in Arlington was $1,999 in 2012, a 13 percent jump from one year prior. A recent forum sponsored by the Arlington-based Alliance for Housing Solutions suggested that one solution to rising rents could be smaller apartments. Specifically, the forum focused on sub-400 square foot apartments known as “micro-units.” [Sun Gazette]
Tuckahoe Home & Garden Tour on Saturday — The 13th annual Tuckahoe Home & Garden Tour will be held on Saturday from noon to 5:00 p.m. The line-up this year includes seven new and renovated homes and two gardens. Tickets for the event, which raises money for the Tuckahoe Elementary Discovery Schoolyard, are $20-25. [Tuckahoe Home & Garden Tour]
GU May Rent Rosslyn Apartments for Students — Georgetown University is considering renting units in the brand new Slate apartment building in Rosslyn in order to house graduate students. The Slate building, developed by JBG and located on the 1500 block of Clarendon Blvd, has 203 apartment units. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
The Georgetown Center for Continuing and Professional Education (CCPE) will be moving from Clarendon to the District.
The campus, part of the Gerogetown School of Continuing Studies (SCS), is recognizable by the “Georgetown University” sign across from the Clarendon Metro station. CCPE, which offers non-credit classes and 25 professional certificate programs, is one of the tenants of an office building at 3101 Wilson Boulevard.
The Center is being consolidated into a newly-announced Georgetown SCS campus in the Chinatown section of D.C., according to a university spokeswoman.
“Right now we’re hoping the new Georgetown downtown space will be ready for fall 2013,” said Stacy Kerr, Georgetown’s Assistant Vice President for Communications. “We would intend to keep our SCS students in Clarendon until the new space is ready.”
Kerr tells ARLnow.com that the university is still deciding what to do with the Clarendon space. Georgetown’s lease runs through fall 2014, she said.
“We certainly have needs and we would like to keep it as a consideration,” said Kerr.
Town-gown relations started deteriorating in 2007, when the university implemented a restrictive on-campus alcohol policy that forced parties off-campus and into surrounding neighborhoods. Complaints about noisy, drunken students have gotten so loud that D.C. officials are seriously considering a proposal to force Georgetown — the District’s largest private employer — to downsize if they don’t house an unprecedented 100 percent of students on-campus by the fall of 2016.
The Washington Post editorial board weighed in on the proposal over the weekend, calling it “unrealistic” and “troubling,” particularly during uncertain economic times.
“The District seems distressingly disinterested in promoting a knowledge-based economy,” the Post said in its editorial.
While there have been suggestions for less-restrictive ways to satisfy the university, its students and neighbors through a series of policy changes, one other potential solution that has been brought up is to have the university house more of its students and/or programs in Arlington — particularly Rosslyn.
The university already has a presence in Arlington — its Clarendon-based Center for Continuing and Professional Education. An even bigger presence could potentially diversify and strengthen Arlington’s economy. (Disclosure: Georgetown University is an ARLnow.com advertiser.)
Would you welcome an increased Georgetown University presence in Arlington?