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With the construction of Amazon’s HQ2, a nearly 40-year-old planning document guiding development in Pentagon City has reached the end of its useful life.

Now, Arlington County has to lay out a vision for the next 20 years of development. According to the most recent draft of the Pentagon City Planning Study, that will include a significant amount of redevelopment and infill development, with an emphasis on residential buildings. Two other priorities are increased green spaces and multimodal transportation upgrades.

The year-plus planning effort is set to wrap up later this fall, and currently, county planners are engaging with the community about their second draft plan.

Per the draft, Pentagon City could — if developers follow through — see about nine significant redevelopment projects over the next two decades.

“We have tried to continue to engage to get an understanding of what they’re thinking,” said Kathleen Onufer, of architecture firm Goody Clancy, which worked with the county on the plan. “The years are based on conversation with the property owners and their sense of interest.”

Pentagon City Planning Study Area (via Arlington County)

RiverHouse, one of the largest housing complexes in the D.C. area, is listed as having significant development potential. That’s why county planners included the apartments in the study, despite them being outside the document’s core planning area.

Adding more density to RiverHouse and its expanse of surface parking lots and green space — already a hot topic — prompted a strong reaction from attendees of an open house last night (Tuesday). A number of attendees expressed disapproval for the impact they believed it would have on property values, while a few were more supportive.

“There is plenty of room to build out mid- and high-rises west [on] Columbia Pike [and] south on Richmond Highway, Potomac Yard, and Arlandria,” former RiverHouse resident and attendee Tina Ghiladi said. “To think RiverHouse should absorb the majority of all this density is being expedient. We’re not being NIMBYs. We understand the need for additional housing, we just want height limits.”

After the meeting, Aurora Highlands Civic Association member Ben D’Avanzo told ARLnow he supports turning the tracts of parking spaces into additional housing.

“RiverHouse is a sensitive area, being both a transition to lower density neighbors and one of the somewhat affordable rental housing [options] available” in the area, he said. “Yet, as housing values and rents skyrocket, there are wide swaths of surface parking just blocks from the Metro that do not represent a livable version of our neighborhood. I think the Pentagon City final plan should, accounting for more detail needed on streetscape, open space, schools and other community needs, have a balance of new housing types at RiverHouse, with townhouses at the southern end and more density at the northern [end].”

Overall, the draft plan divides potential redevelopment opportunities into five phases, ranging between two and five years.

“Reality is not that convenient and neat, but it gives you a sense [of] what we can expect if these sites actually redevelop,” said the lead county planner on the project, Matt Mattauszek. “That’s not in our control, but at least organizing it this way gives people a sense of what’s more likely to redevelop sooner rather than later, and what that means for the addition of units and the impact on schools.”

The current and proposed mix of land-use in Pentagon City (via Arlington County)

The phases are as follows below.

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More than a dozen major redevelopments are in the pipeline in Arlington, from the second phase of Amazon’s HQ2 to large-scale apartment buildings.

Of the 16 ongoing and anticipated major site plan reviews, the county’s planning division expects 10 of them to go before the County Board for approval over the next nine months, before the beginning of the 2022-23 fiscal year on July 1.

1. Amazon HQ2 / PenPlace

One of the most consequential projects slated to go before the County Board by the end of 2021 is the second phase of Amazon’s HQ2 in Pentagon City, PenPlace, the public review process for which is ongoing. If approved as initially proposed, the “PenPlace” site would feature The Helix, a 350-foot tall spiraling office building that recreates a climb in the Blue Ridge Mountains..

2. Vacant Wendy’s site (2525 Clarendon Blvd) in Courthouse

Another notable development winding through public meetings is the apartment building proposed for the long-vacant Wendy’s site in Courthouse. A date has not yet been set for Board review.

3. Marbella Apartments near Rosslyn

The Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development recently accepted an application from Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to redevelop the Marbella Apartments near Rosslyn. The public review process is just kicking off with an online feedback opportunity slated to open today (Monday) and close Wednesday, Oct. 13.

4. Joyce Motors site in Clarendon

Planning staff say a site plan application to replace Joyce Motors in Clarendon with apartments and retail, filed in May 2020, has also been accepted, with a County Board review expected before July 1, 2022.

Continued progress on the Joyce Motors project, however, is tied up with efforts to plan the future of development in Clarendon, precipitated by a bevy of other projects proposed there. Planning commissioners continue to provide feedback on the Joyce Motors development as part of their input on the Clarendon Sector Plan update, which currently includes three other proposed projects.

5. Wells Fargo/Verizon site in Clarendon

Site plans for two of the projects proposed in the Clarendon Sector Plan — one for the Wells Fargo and Verizon sites and the other for the Silver Diner site — could be filed by July 1. Only the Wells Fargo site is expected to see County Board action this fiscal year.

The Wells Fargo site is slated to be redeveloped as a mixed-use building with retail, office space and apartments. The second would be a hotel and apartment building over on the Silver Diner assemblage at 3200 Wilson Blvd, which includes well-known beer garden The Lot (3217 10th Street N.) and neighboring office retail buildings. Staff don’t anticipate this one reaching the board before July.

As part of the sector plan update, the county’s Long-Range Planning Committee is examining everything from building heights to historical preservation to open space. According to a recent timeline, the committee will issue draft recommendations this month that the County Board could consider in November or December.

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Since 1980, Glebe Road has been considered the border between central and west Ballston.

But in recent years, the dividing lines drawn in Ballston’s 40-year-old sector plan have become more stark, with businesses thriving in one area and struggling in another.

Today, Ballston contains the densest census tract in the D.C. area. As more apartments and retail are proposed and built, however, some argue that the county needs to address the impact of uneven development on either side of Glebe.

Many of the new business openings orbit the Ballston Quarter mall and the ground floor of Ballston Exchange, both in the central part of the neighborhood. But west of Glebe Road and north of Carlin Springs Road — which is technically part of the Bluemont Civic Association — there have been numerous high-profile closures.

Leaders in planning and business development have different ideas for improving west Ballston, but they do share an interest in making it welcoming, walkable and sustainable without getting into the weeds of a sector plan update. During a joint County Board and Planning Commission meeting this month, Planning Commission Vice-Chair Daniel Weir stressed the importance of re-examining Ballston in the near future.

“Glebe Road continues to become a wall that separates east and west Ballston, which are separate communities,” Weir said. “Pedestrians and people not in cars are unwilling to cross five to seven lanes of traffic to get a very excellent donut or to go to one of the many restaurants that have been circulating through some of the bays there.”

A map of Ballston from the Ballston Sector Plan, adopted in 1980 (via Arlington County)

Rather than rewrite the admittedly old sector plan, which county staff don’t have the capacity for, he said they ought to take “a more agile, nimble approach.”

“It doesn’t need to be completed in 2022, but it’s an opportunity we can and should think about, especially since, if done right, it could be a model for more agile sector planning going forward,” he said.

Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone agrees that Glebe Road is a problem. She says no other road elicits the same number of complaints, ranging from excessive vehicle speed to unnerving pedestrian crossings. She suggested extending the sidewalks, turning some parking spaces into parklets and widening the medians.

“We need to come together as a neighborhood and work with county to solve the problem,” Leone tells ARLnow. “There hasn’t been a plan — everyone does their own thing and no one is looking at Glebe Road as an entity.”

In response, Arlington County’s Department of Community, Planning, Housing and Development said it is using and will continue to use opportunities during development, capital improvements and county programs such as Vision Zero to improve Ballston’s walkability.

“Over the past two decades, we’ve worked with partners to make N. Glebe Road in Ballston safer and more attractive for all users and have better integrated the street within Ballston’s overall urban fabric,” CPHD Director Anthony Fusarelli, Jr. said. “The County will continue to make the most of similar opportunities in the future.”

“Enhancements have occurred thanks to the combination of infill development, streetscape improvements, signalized pedestrian crossings, intersection improvements, and curb space management techniques, all of which have collectively and significantly improved the experience of traveling along and across N. Glebe Road in this area,” Fusarelli added.

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A proposed development for the Xerox building in Rosslyn is under review by county planning staff.

Building owner and financial services company TIAA, along with its real estate management arm, propose to tear down the building at 1616 Fort Myer Drive and build a 30-story, 691-unit apartment tower in its place.

“Recognizing the Property’s location and topography, this application envisions the transformation of the property into an exciting multifamily residential development with world-class architecture,” the applicant’s legal representation Nan Walsh and Andrew Painter wrote in a letter to the county in June.

The office building on the site, which neighbors a condo complex, a hotel and another office building (recently home to President Trump’s re-election headquarters), opened in the 1970s. After housing Xerox for many years, it has recently seen some vacancies, the Washington Business Journal reports.

The new 1616 Fort Myer Drive “will serve as an iconic architectural feature for Rosslyn’s southern gateway,” said Walsh and Painter, lawyers with land use firm Walsh Colucci.

They say both the height and the architecture would tick a box in the Rosslyn Sector Plan stipulating that a development should “consider its appearance as a gateway to the Rosslyn area.”

TIAA’s tower would be 290 feet tall, the maximum height allowed in the sector plan. Residents will have access to a semi-underground parking garage that the lawyers say will be “tucked into the property’s natural grade,” which slopes from north to south. There will be 437 parking spaces, for a ratio of 0.63 spaces per unit.

Above-grade parts of the garage “will be fully screened through architectural treatment and residential uses,” they wrote.

TIAA may use more than a third of the apartment units for short stays while the building works on getting longer-term tenants.

“The applicant is considering designating up to 250 residential units for a temporary hotel use and short-term rental during the initial lease-up period for a limited period of up to five years,” Walsh and Painter wrote.

That’s a revenue stream other area developers want to tap into, and one that the County Board has recently deliberated. Some community members have raised concerns about the impact such a policy would have on housing affordability.

Staff from the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development say they intend to study the issue. For now, per a recent staff presentation, the division will consider temporary hotel use requests for up to two years.

As for community benefits, the developer aims to achieve LEED Gold sustainability certification, contribute to Arlington’s underground utility fund, contribute to public art in Rosslyn, and make streetscape improvements. Plans for additional affordable housing contributions are being developed.

A preliminary review of the project is underway. After its full site plan application is accepted by county staff, dates will be set for public meetings ahead of a County Board vote. Staff anticipate bringing this project to the board prior to July 2022, per the presentation.

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(Updated at 2 p.m.) Plans from a local affordable housing nonprofit to redevelop apartments in the Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, near Rosslyn are ready for public review.

Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) proposes to redevelop some buildings in a housing complex consisting of a series of three-story garden apartments and a detached single-family residence. These buildings are located within a mile of the Rosslyn and Courthouse Metro stations.

If approved, the plan will demolish some of the existing Marbella buildings, while renovating others and adding two 12-story buildings, at 1300 and 1305 N. Pierce Street, for a total of 561 units. The new buildings would only have committed affordable dwelling units.

According to APAH, a public comment period is set to open today for residents to provide feedback on the project. The site plan submission for the project was accepted by the county earlier this month, a precursor to reviews by county commissions and the County Board. Public review meetings and a County Board vote have yet to be scheduled, however, per the project’s webpage.

“The development will provide critically needed affordable housing in north Arlington, thereby advancing the priorities of the County Affordable Housing Master Plan and other County housing policies,”  said Kedrick Whitmore, a land-use lawyer with Venable.

Currently, the apartment complex — deemed “notable” in the county’s historic preservation program — has 72 committed affordable units. The new construction will bring a net increase of 489 committed affordable units to Arlington.

The two buildings, designed by KG&D Architects, are designed to attain EarthCraft Gold energy efficiency. They will feature a mixture of family-size and senior housing units.

The project will be divided into two phases. In the first phase, a 12-story tower with 325 residential units — 132 of which are dedicated to senior housing — and 163 underground parking spaces will be built. The second phase will see the construction of the second 12-story tower with 236 residential units and 118 below-grade parking spaces.

The project includes streetscape and sidewalk improvements, make utility fund contributions and improvements and add bicycle parking. There will also be in-building wireless first responder networks.

APAH is looking to request modifications for bonus height and density, among others possibly needed for the projects.

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Arlington’s planning department is stretched too thin and cannot take on a bigger workload, its director told the County Board this week.

At full strength, the 30-person staff of the Department of Community, Planning and Housing Development shepherds a myriad development projects and permit applications through county processes, from cafés seeking to renew their outdoor dining permits to developers planning large-scale projects. It also helps to produce the lengthy planning documents that guide the future development of neighborhoods.

Right now, with a flurry of activity underway in the wake of the arrival of Amazon’s HQ2, seven major long-range planning studies are in process. The department anticipates overseeing 10 major development applications while working through more than 400 minor development and administrative approvals, CPHD Director Anthony Fusarelli, Jr. told the Planning Commission and the County Board during a joint meeting.

“To have this number of ongoing planning efforts and engagements at one time… truly represents a substantial volume of ongoing work being managed by the division, also requiring time energy and resources by other county staff and the community,” Fusarelli said during his presentation. “Collectively, these ongoing efforts command a significant amount of staff resources, leaving little if any capacity to add new work and initiate additional projects at this time.”

Once major projects are done or big milestones reached, he said staff will be freed up to start new initiatives or address new county priorities.

While deferential to the hard work of CPHD, Planning Commission and County Board members had a few ideas for work CPHD should undertake in the near future, from changing how the county evaluates the environmental impact of developments to not losing sight of deferred projects such as implementing the plan to enliven Four Mile Run Valley.

One potential change could save CPHD time and resources, argued Planning Commission Chair James Lantelme. Currently, renovations to “non-conforming” duplexes, townhouses and low-rise multifamily buildings go through the same lengthy approval process used for major developments, known as Site Plan Review. He suggested instead that these folks, who want relief from zoning regulations, go through the Board of Zoning Appeals, which hears similar requests from those on single-family residential lots.

“I’m assuming we’re going to be seeing more of these small things coming before us, and we think we really need to deal with this,” Lantelme said. “It’s a waste of the Planning Commission’s time, it’s a waste of staff time. We have a huge amount of consequential work, and to have a Site Plan for one duplex…  there’s no value added by doing that. It’s not appropriate, and in fact, it’s contrary to what our comprehensive plan is advocating for, for affordable housing — for housing period — and for equity.”

It’s likely on his mind because the commission oversaw one such project, a request to build out the deck of a townhouse, which recently received County Board approval, and members are now reviewing another, a duplex renovation proposed by the owner. The approvals feature televised, public meetings and detailed presentations created by planning staffers.

The townhome was in a “legacy district” used for a few developments in the 1970s, while duplex sits on a smaller-than-standard lot that had been grandfathered into a zoning district. Both owners proposed increasing the footprint of their home, tipping them into the Site Plan Review path, which requires lawyers, experts, and Planning Commission and County Board approvals.

“If it was a McMansion, it would go through BZA,” Lantelme said. “You have to go through more time, expense and uncertainty in order to have a duplex, which is what we want in these areas… It would really save us time money and staff resources if we could get this addressed.”

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A kitchen trailer in Clarendon that popped up last summer in a vacant lot has since been joined by two others.

And now they’re producing meals from more than a half-dozen “ghost kitchens” available on food delivery platforms such as DoorDash and Grubhub. Out of these kitchens come fried chicken sandwiches, asada fries and Asian street food, among other dishes.

The three trailers between the Clarendon Whole Foods and the PNC Bank are owned by REEF Technology, a company focused on turning underutilized, urban parking lots into food and logistics hubs. The food service arm of Reef is called NBRHD Kitchens.

In total, according to signage on the property, these three trailers produce meals for seven restaurant concepts. They’ll be bringing activity the vacant lot while Arlington County embarks on a special study to determine if the zoning codes for the property, near the border of the Clarendon and Courthouse neighborhoods, should allow for a new apartment building.

“REEF launched its delivery restaurants in Arlington in June 2020, being the first municipality in which the company establishes its operations,” the company tells ARLnow. “REEF’s delivery restaurants in Arlington are among the highest performing.”

The company also has two kitchen hubs in D.C. — at P Street NW and K Street NE — and each can support between four and six brands. But REEF did hint at possible expansion.

“As Arlington continues to be a great performing location, REEF continues to look at opportunities to grow its footprint in terms of delivery restaurants and other business verticals,” REEF said.

REEF’s growth and expansion mirrors the trends that the food delivery platforms DoorDash and Grubhub tell ARLnow they’re observing. Spokespeople for the companies said delivery-only kitchens have proliferated particularly in the last year in response to pandemic challenges and the rising costs of establishing a physical location.

“Delivery-only virtual (or ghost) kitchens on Grubhub have been a rising trend over the last year, representing a flexible way for restaurant owners to experiment with new menu concepts, brand a subset of existing menu items, or capture unmet customer demand without adding overhead,” a Grubhub spokeswoman said.

DoorDash doesn’t collect data on the breakdown between delivery-only restaurants and those with storefronts, but the pandemic blurred that line anyway, as traditional dining establishments turned to different models to keep operating when dine-in wasn’t an option.

“For many restaurant owners, ghost kitchens provide a more cost-effective way to expand their business — reaching new markets and customers — because they don’t involve the typical overhead costs associated with opening a new restaurant,” said Emily Tung, the director of DoorDash Kitchens. “Many independent businesses have been successful in their ghost kitchen endeavors and our goal is to support our partners across all their locations and help accelerate their online success.”

But the ghost kitchen activity at this location is destined to be temporary, as the company that owns the lot aims to redevelop it.

Dubbed Courthouse West, the lot at 2636 Wilson Blvd is bounded by N. Danville Street, Clarendon Blvd, N. Cleveland Street and Wilson Blvd. The property’s owner, CRC Companies, has asked the county to change the land-use designation — which currently allows for one- to four-story buildings — to one that allows for hotels or taller apartments.

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The Garrison residence at 523 24th Street S. (courtesy of Les Garrison)

(Updated at 6:15 p.m.) Seven years ago, Les Garrison bought a two-family home in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood so that his son’s family could live in one half and the other could be rented out.

He had always intended to renovate the home near Crystal City, which consists of two apartments, each with two bedrooms and one bathroom. He also wants to modernize it, making it accessible to people with disabilities and adding solar panels.

Garrison tells ARLnow he wants to provide an affordable housing option to his son, a county employee, and people like his other tenants — two women over 60, a barista and a graduate student.

“My son… he can’t afford to live in this neighborhood, unless we have revenue coming in from the house,” Garrison said. “That’s what this is about: allowing him to stay in Arlington.”

He expected to get approvals in 2017 and start construction in 2018. Instead, his plan to enlarge and modernize the house will require approvals from the Planning Commission and the County Board as part of a more complex county permitting track that even features a county webpage devoted to the project.

The Garrison’s Site Plan Review process, which involves more scrutiny and more revisions to attain the green light to start construction than an administrative approval typical for single-family homes in Arlington, has also put him out nearly $100,000 in permitting fees, and payments to lawyers, architects and arborists.

Although dates have not yet been set for County Board approval, the Garrison residence would be the second duplex project to go before the board this year. Members approved construction at a Ballston duplex at 1201 N. Vernon Street in May. Meanwhile, from January through June, the county has administratively approved construction of 66 single-family detached homes and construction started on 27 similarly-approved townhouses.

This disparity has drawn criticism from some members of the Planning Commission, who are the last to provide input before sending a project to the County Board for a virtual rubber stamp, as well as housing advocates, who say this reflects a “broken” zoning code.

County staff, meanwhile, say that changes Garrison is proposing require community input. But, they said relief for duplex homeowners in similar situations could come in the future, if zoning standards are changed for lower-density multifamily housing types as part of the in-progress Missing Middle Housing Study.

That might put homeowner renovations of duplexes that don’t confirm to current zoning on the same regulatory playing field as the tear-downs that have become commonplace across the county.

“Right now, a builder can put up a 3,000 square foot house and sell it. It’s pretty much that simple — no public meetings, no expensive lawyers, no neighborhoods weighing in on, I don’t know, whether your driveway pavers should be beige or gray,” said Daniel Weir, who is the vice-chair of the Planning Commission. “Split that exact same building in half — same amount of driveway, same amount of parking, same lot lines — try and build literally almost the exact same building, and all of a sudden everyone in the county gets to have a say.”

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Morning Notes

Langston Blvd Plan Meets Resistance — “Following this May’s release of area planning maps and a presentation on density from consultant AECOM, a furious screed was published by Lyon Village Civic Association president John Carten. Though the process is still in the community engagement phase that precedes concrete recommendations, the hint of possible changes in the General Land Use Plan prompted the Lyon Village group to predict a parade of horribles.” [Falls Church News-Press]

New Clarendon Apartment Building Sold — “Trammell Crow Residential has sold the Alexan Earl, a 333-unit multifamily building at 1122 N. Hudson St., to Lincoln Property Co. for $192 million… The Earl represents the first phase of the long-planned Red Top Cab redevelopment… Shooshan continues to plan for the second phase, a roughly 250-unit building fronting Washington Boulevard at the intersection with 13th Street North. It expects to start demolition this fall.” [Washington Business Journal]

Online Fundraiser for Fallen Officer –” The family of George Gonzalez started a memorial fund Sunday for the Pentagon Force Protection Agency officer who was fatally wounded Tuesday on the platform of the Pentagon Transit Center… By 3 p.m. on Monday, the GoFundMe campaign had already raised $15,000, outstripping its original goal of $1,000.” [Patch, GoFundMe]

Local BBQ Joint Competing in ‘World Championship’ — “Arlington’s Smokecraft Modern Barbecue… has been invited to compete in the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue.  Taking place in Lynchburg, TN on on October 8th and 9th, ‘The Jack’ as it is known, is widely considered the world’s most prestigious barbecue competition.” [Press Release]

Va. AG Continues to Fight Robocalls — “Attorney General Mark R. Herring today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fight back against the scourge of illegal robocalls by moving up the deadline for smaller telephone companies to implement caller ID technology. Attorney General Herring joined a bipartisan coalition of 51 attorneys general have in submitting comments to the FCC.” [Press Release]

Pentagon to Require Vaccinations — “The Pentagon will require members of the military to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 15, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo on Monday. About 64% of active duty military members are fully vaccinated, a low enough rate to pose concern for potential outbreaks and international deployment.” [Axios]

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Morning Notes

Pentagon Metro Station Reopening — “Metro will reopen the Pentagon Station and Pentagon Transit Center to customers beginning with the start of bus and rail service Thursday morning. The station and transit center has been closed since early Tuesday, due to the law enforcement response and investigation following a fatal incident that occurred in the bus bays.” [WMATA]

Chamber Supports Langston Blvd Plan — “The Arlington Chamber of Commerce broadly supports the Plan Lee Highway Scenario Analysis, providing for additional commercial and residential density in an established, aging, yet vibrant and critical transit corridor. Moreover, the Chamber encourages creating flexible land use policies and regulations so as to attract investment to the Langston Boulevard corridor.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

ACPD Celebrates ‘National Night Out’ — “Across the nation and throughout the region, neighbors and police mingled Tuesday night in the National Night Out — an annual effort to fight crime by building relationships between communities and police. In Drew Park, nestled in Arlington County, Virginia’s historic Green Valley neighborhood, a DJ played music and children petted a yellow Lab K-9, while their parents huddled together with police officers including Chief Charles ‘Andy’ Penn.” [WTOP]

New Community Center Profiled — “This is a story about a building, but it’s also a story about a park, which flows into the building, driving the structure’s design to an unusually high degree. Located in Arlington, Virginia’s Lubber Run Park–a public recreation area with walking trails and a gentle stream winding through a forest–the Lubber Run Community Center replaces an outdated building from the 1950s that was torn down in 2018.” [Metropolis]

Mini Earthquake Shook Area Yesterday — “A small earthquake shook parts of Central Maryland in the overnight hours of Wednesday morning. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 2.1 earthquake was centered in Clarksville, Maryland, at 2:11 a.m. with a depth of about 1.8 miles.” [WTOP]

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A small splash of green space in Rosslyn may become the prototype for similar installations, or “parklets,” across the county.

In 2018, Arlington County and the Rosslyn Business Improvement District unveiled this parklet, about the size of two parking spaces, on the northwest corner of N. Oak Street and Wilson Blvd. The county and the BID, which maintains the seating spot, installed it as an experiment to see if parklets could be a new tool for adding open space to urban areas.

After observing how people used the mini-park, the county has prepared a formal process for adding more micro oases to help compensate for the county’s dwindling supply of available land for open spaces. The County Board is slated to review the “parklet program” this Saturday.

“Parklets are publicly accessible to all and serve as extensions of the sidewalk by converting curbside parking spaces into vibrant public spaces,” according to a staff report. “Parklets are social platforms for the community and are often developed through a partnership with the county, local businesses and neighborhood organizations.”

When the prototype was installed, then-Board Chair Katie Cristol said she expected to see a plan for adding more parklets included in an update to the Public Spaces Master Plan. The update, approved in 2019, recommends the creation of a “parklet program.”

“Despite their size and atypical location, parklets can contribute to the public space network and overall sidewalk experience by providing places to sit, relax, or socialize,” the report said. “Future installations of parklets can increase social activity and enhance the pedestrian experience in the urban corridors throughout the county.”

The county would lose money on these micro-parks. Each parklet removes two parking meters, which together generate about $6,150 per year, staff estimate.

The county has found a new source of revenue, however. A new parklet application would cost $2,100 and annual renewals, $500. These fees are intended to cover the time required to review these applications, and not to recoup parking revenue, the report said.

A number of county commissions have weighed in on the program, according to the report.

Responses were “[overwhelmingly] favorable, with comments favoring the potential for an increase in outdoor public spaces, especially in Arlington’s commercial and urban centers where public space is limited,” it said.

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