This content was written and sponsored by The Keri Shull Team, Arlington’s top producing residential real estate team.
Update, January 7 at 5:20 p.m.
Although Potomac Yard overlaps Arlington, it is mostly located in Alexandria. We’re revising the video accordingly.
Potomac Yard is full of beautiful new condo buildings and homes. Along with neighborhoods Crystal City and Pentagon City, Potomac Yard is poised to become a site of rapid development and economic growth as part of the National Landing area for Amazon’s HQ2.
Where to Eat in Potomac Yard
Looking for a place to eat? Try Souvlaki Festive Greek for delicious grilled pita wraps, rice bowls and other Mediterranean fare. Rustico serves wood-fired pizza with over 30 beers on tap and a truly massive bottled beer list organized by flavor type. Try Hebir Exotic for tasty Ethiopian food and stop in at Hops Grill for craft beers, burgers, lobster tails and more.
Things to do in Potomac Yard
Potomac Yard Shopping Center is home to shops such as staple retail chains as, Target, Old Navy, TJ Maxx, Staples, Barnes & Noble, Petsmart and many more.
Speaking of pets, Potomac Yard is home to Simpson Stadium Dog Park, one of Alexandria’s dog parks where your pet can run and socialize.
Near Target you’ll also find Potomac Yard Park with its playgrounds for toddlers and older children, and a splash park for cooling off on the hottest days of the year.
You can catch a movie at Potomac Yard’s Regal Cinemas or work out at Trident CrossFit.
Daingerfield Island park was the first permanent settlement of the city of Alexandria, and is now a marina where you can watch herons and kingfishers.
Potomac Yard is currently accessible via the blue and yellow D.C. Metro train lines from the Crystal City and Braddock Road stations. A Potomac Yard Station is in progress, and should open between Ronald Reagan National Airport Station and Braddock Road Station by 2021.
Potomac Yard is full of new development and newly built homes. Single family homes stay on the market for an average of 44 days with an average sales price of $945,238. Condos stay on the market for an average of 47 days and sell for an average of $491,273.
Potomac Greens is a community of 3 and 4-story townhouses within easy reach of the Potomac River waterfront.
Notch 8 is a luxury apartment building with units ranging from studios to 2-bedrooms. The amenities here include a swimming pool, outdoor living room with fire pit and a fitness center with a personal trainer and group classes.
Potomac Yard is already full of new development and great entertainment — and there’s much more on the way with Amazon’s HQ2 location. Potomac Yard might just be your new favorite neighborhood!
If you know anyone who needs help buying or selling a home, contact The Keri Shull Team.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Potomac Yard? Let us know in the comments.
JBG Smith is gearing up to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard, arguing that Amazon’s impending arrival could make the “National Landing” area nearly as in-demand as D.C. itself.
In documents delivered to investors last week, the developer revealed its most detailed plans yet for how it expects to work with the tech giant as it moves its 25,000 workers to the county.
Perhaps most notably, JBG revealed for the first time that Amazon will fork over $294 million to buy the company’s “PenPlace” and Metropolitan Park properties in Pentagon City, where it will eventually build new offices. As work on those buildings continue, the company will sign “short-to-medium term” leases at JBG’s buildings at 241 18th Street S. and 1800 S. Bell Street in Crystal City, where JBG is also planning to spend another $15 million to spruce up the properties.
JBG also told its shareholders that Amazon will lease the entirety of a new building planned for 1770 Crystal Drive, which sits at the heart of the developer’s just-approved “Central District” redevelopment project for the entire block. The company expects to spend $80 million redeveloping the building, with the eventual goal of opening it in time for 2020 and making it a more permanent home for Amazon employees.
But those changes represent only the work the developer is planning that’s tied directly to Amazon. By its own estimate, JBG already owns about 71 percent of office buildings in the neighborhood, and it hopes “redeploy the proceeds” of its Amazon windfall “into either new development or income-producing multifamily assets.”
Per the documents, potential projects could include the redevelopment of 1800 S. Bell Street property once Amazon leaves, or the overhaul of some of its other existing Crystal City and Pentagon City properties; 2001 Jefferson Davis Highway, 223 23rd Street S., 101 12th Street S., and the RiverHouse Apartments (1400 S. Joyce Street) are all listed as possibilities.
Essentially, the company is betting that Amazon’s arrival will be a “powerful economic catalyst” and “kick-start the development of a technology ecosystem that has long searched for its footing in the D.C.,” CEO Matt Kelly wrote to shareholders.
“As vacancy in National Landing burns off and technology job growth gains momentum, we expect National Landing to [surpass] Rosslyn as the most valuable Northern Virginia submarket, and approach convergence with Washington, D.C.,” Kelly wrote in a letter to investors.
Those forecasts represent quite the radical change from Crystal City’s previous woes attracting any companies to the area. The departure of federal and military tenants left the neighborhood with a persistently high vacancy rate, shrinking a key tax revenue stream for the county, but officials have long touted Amazon’s impending arrival as a way to solve that problem virtually overnight.
JBG is so bullish on the impending demand in the area that it could very well convert one of its planned apartment redevelopments into more office space instead.
The developer recently began demolition work on a building at 1900 Crystal Drive, space it eventually hoped to transform into two apartment towers with a total of 750 homes between them. JBG plans to start construction by “early 2020,” but notes for investors that “this project could switch to office in the event of a substantial or full building pre-lease.”
The company plans to eventually spend $550 million on that construction and work its other Amazon-related properties, though it expects it will have little trouble affording such expense. Kelly noted in his letter that JBG saw increased demand in the area even before Amazon made its Arlington move official, and has been able to raise rents and property asking prices accordingly.
“We have also seen a dramatic increase in demand from retailers looking to locate in our initial phases of placemaking development,” Kelly wrote. “Since the announcement, we have had a further wave of increased inquiries. We believe that this increase in demand for our holdings in National Landing will continue, and likely amplify, as Amazon grows in the submarket.”
(Updated at 1 p.m.) Amazon’s arrival in Crystal City and Pentagon City seems set to completely transform developments already planned for the area.
The company’s big announcement today (Tuesday) that it would split its planned second headquarters between Arlington and New York City represents a major windfall for JBG Smith, the largest property owner across the newly dubbed “National Landing” — an area including Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard. The developer had long sought to fill thousands of square feet of vacant office space in the neighborhoods, much of which will now presumably be occupied by Amazon’s 25,000 workers attached to the project.
But renderings posted online suggest that JBG will also tweak developments already in progress to suit the tech giant’s needs. The new “NationalLanding.com” offers a virtual tour of the area, and promises that the developer “intends to accelerate the planning, entitlement, and development of several projects” to meet Amazon’s arrival in the area — the company expects to occupy anywhere from 4 million to 8 million square feet in office space over the life of the new headquarters.
JBG Smith writes on the site that it currently controls 6.2 million square feet of existing office space in the area, with another 7.4 million of “additional development opportunities in National Landing, excluding Amazon’s proposed land purchase.” In all, the company is planning the following moves in the area, from a press release:
- Lease approximately 500,000 square feet of existing office space at 241 18th Street S., 1800 S. Bell Street, and 1770 Crystal Drive.
- Purchase Pen Place and Met 6, 7, 8 land in JBG SMITH’s Future Development Pipeline with Estimated Potential Development Density of up to 4.1 million square feet. JBG SMITH has the right to time the expected closings of the land parcel sales to facilitate 1,031 exchange opportunities.
- Engage JBG SMITH as its development partner, property manager, and retail leasing agent.
- Commence predevelopment and planning of the first office building in 2018, with construction expected to begin in 2019.
The new renderings include a “multimodal transit hub” located near the pedestrian bridge linking Crystal City to Reagan National Airport, which Amazon has volunteered to help build as part of the project. It’s unclear where exactly the hub will be located.
The renderings also center around a second entrance for the Crystal City Metro station, an amenity long sought by the county but once seemed out of reach due to funding constraints. JBG Smith is currently working on a redevelopment of the area dubbed “Central District,” and those plans included a controversial proposal to build retail space over the new Metro entrance. New sketches suggest that the developer may push ahead with those plans, now that the construction of the second entrance is assured.
“The public and private sectors are currently investing billions of dollars in the National Landing area to improve infrastructure, expand on entertainment and retail options, enhance public spaces and introduce new/repositioned buildings,” Tracy Gabriel, president and executive director of the Crystal City Business Improvement District, wrote in a statement. “We believe that Amazon will help accelerate the transformation underway in Virginia’s largest walkable downtown, further growing and diversifying Crystal City’s economy, bolstering our already strong tech presence and attracting additional companies and investment.”
Also on the way for the area is a helipad, according to the county’s memorandum of understanding with the company.
“Arlington County staff will assist Amazon in its efforts to obtain required County Board, commonwealth and federal approvals for the development, construction, and operation (at the company’s expense)” of the project, according to the memo.
Arlington is gearing up to extend its bus rapid transit system to better connect Crystal City to Pentagon City, and county officials are inviting people to learn more about the project at a meeting tonight (Thursday).
The county is holding an open house to show off details of the planned Crystal City-Potomac Yard Transitway extension, running from 6:30-8 p.m. in the Crystal City Shops (2100 Crystal Drive).
The Transitway currently operates between the Crystal City Metro station and the Braddock Road station in Alexandria, with dedicated bus lanes and stations covering about 4.5 miles in all. The expansion would add another .75 miles to the route, linking the Pentagon City Metro to the Crystal City stop.
The $27.7 million project is part of ongoing efforts to better connect the two neighborhoods, and the county recently earned millions in regional transportation funding to make it possible. The effort will involve the construction of seven new bus stations by the time it’s wrapped up.
It also includes new dedicated bus lanes set for the following streets, per the county’s website:
- Crystal Drive from 15th Street S. to 12th Street S. and Long Bridge Drive (Includes curbside rush hour bus lanes and two stations, one on northbound Crystal Drive at 15th Street S., and one on westbound 12th Street S. at Long Bridge Drive).
- 12th Street S. from Long Bridge Drive to S. Hayes Street (Includes exclusive bus lanes in the median, mixed traffic lanes, traffic signal upgrades, signage and pavement markings and three stations: east and westbound 12th Street S. at Elm Street, and eastbound 12th Street S. at S. Hayes Street)
- S. Hayes Street from 12th Street S. to Army Navy Drive (This segment will connect to WMATA’s planned Pentagon City Center bus bays project on Army Navy Drive)
The Crystal Drive segment is currently the farthest along, with transportation planners currently in design discussions for the effort. The county is still in more conceptual discussions about the other two segments.
Though they may not share the same zip code, Arlington’s Crystal City and Alexandria’s Potomac Yard are bound together in the pursuit for Amazon’s second headquarters — and, win or lose on HQ2, the area’s business community is looking to strengthen those ties in the future.
Four Mile Run may separate the two neighborhoods, but real estate giant JBG Smith controls vast swaths of property in both neighborhoods, helping the company pitch Amazon on the area’s potential. With Potomac Yard becoming a development hub for the city, and Crystal City’s commercial office space emptying out a bit, the combination could be enticing enough to win out over the region’s other offerings.
“They had the largest [space] requirement we’ve seen in economic development, ever,” Stephanie Landrum, president and CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, said during Bisnow’s “Future of Alexandria” event today (Thursday). “But there is enough square footage here to absorb that company and their requirement.”
Undeniably, Jeff Bezos’ big decision looms over any discussion of the area’s future. But, as Landrum points out, the same factors that made Crystal City and Potomac Yard attractive to Amazon will surely be enticing to other big companies.
“If we can’t get it, we turn around and ask the next Fortune 100 company about their expansion plans,” Landrum said.
That’s a big part of why business leaders are increasingly keen on unity among the various communities along the Potomac River.
Rob Mandle, chief operating officer of the Crystal City Business Improvement District, points out this organization has embraced Potomac Yard as it courts new companies, and even started to market Pentagon City in conjunction with those neighborhoods as well.
Though the areas may not be especially connected now, with transit and walkability a constant challenge, Mandle points out that, taken together, the combination of the three neighborhoods represents “the largest downtown in the entire commonwealth.”
He notes that, in terms of sheer size, the trio rivals downtown areas in mid-size cities like Indianapolis or Austin, Texas — and with the area still hurting from its loss of federal tenants, straining county coffers in the process, he’s hoping a more interconnected pitch can make a difference.
“We’re really working to articulate that to the marketplace,” Mandle said. “We see it as this seamless urban corridor between Braddock Road and Pentagon City.”
Robert Vaughn, vice president of development at JBG Smith, noted that such a connection certainly makes sense for his company.
Much of JBG’s property in Potomac Yard is residential, and he sees its “target renter” as being anywhere from 25 to 35 years old, likely working at the Pentagon or for some other government contractor based in Arlington (perhaps even in one of JBG’s commercial properties in Crystal City).
Rosslyn-Ballston corridor has traditionally been the prime area drawing in millenials interested in walkable, transit-oriented communities. That’s why Vaughn expects a similar focus on walkability could help the new combination of Crystal City, Potomac Yard and Pentagon City become attractive to that very lucrative constituency instead.
“Even though we’re all tied to our phones, we don’t want to just sit and look at our phones in our living rooms all day,” said Bill Dickinson, executive director of brokerage at Rappaport, another large regional developer. “It’s about creating space to get people out there.”
Photo via McCaffrey Interests, Inc.
More than a thousand people have given their feedback on how to make Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard — Arlington a better place — and that’s just online.
Hundreds more have shared their thoughts at close to a dozen on-site engagement activities throughout the area, and the project will continue to gain momentum throughout the summer.
The Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) is now several months into a multidimensional strategic planning process exploring the nature of the greater submarket that includes Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard — Arlington.
The process, called the Future Cities Project, includes an extensive community outreach effort via Neighborland, a platform that enables the public to engage in an accessible and equitable way both online and in person.
In addition to engaging online via www.futurecitiesproject.org, the Crystal City BID has been staging onsite engagement efforts at busy locations around the area, including Metrorail stations, residential and office lobbies, shopping areas and local events. Over the next two weeks, Crystal City BID staff will pop up at various locations soliciting immediate feedback via the effort’s signature whiteboard.
New questions — which focus on enhancing the quality of life, maximizing inclusivity and adding cultural attractions and destinations — will be posted every few weeks to maximize participation and maintain interest over the course of the next three months.
For a complete and detailed schedule of upcoming dates and locations, please visit the Future Cities Project website. You may also share your feedback online, see what others have shared and vote on ideas that you agree with.
“The public feedback collected from the community through Neighborland will be a key input into our efforts to rethink the strategic priorities for the BID as an organization and the area,” said Crystal City BID Chief Operating Officer, Robert H. Mandle. “What we learn will help drive thinking about the area’s identity and what is most needed to create an integrated and vibrant walkable urban center.”
The Future Cities Project is guided by a Steering Committee drawn from the Crystal City BID’s Board of Directors, civic associations, business and arts groups and major property owners in the Pentagon City and Potomac Yard areas, along with other public and civic sector leaders and officials. Visit www.futurecitiesproject.com to get involved and learn more.
Tracy Gabriel, a D.C. urban planning official who formerly was a vice president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, has been hired as the new president and executive director of the Crystal City Business Improvement District.
Gabriel joins the BID as Crystal City is poised for a “dynamic transformation.”
Though saddled with a high office vacancy rate following the loss of large government and military tenants, Crystal City is among the leading contenders for Amazon’s second headquarters, known as HQ2.
Even if Amazon goes elsewhere, Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard are set for significant growth — plus $2 billion in private investment and $1.5 billion in public infrastructure projects over the next decade — which will help it become “the largest walkable downtown in Virginia and of similar scale to major U.S. downtowns such as Indianapolis and Austin,” according to a press release (below).
Meanwhile, an expansion of the Crystal City BID to include adjacent Pentagon City is under consideration.
More on Gabriel’s hiring, via a BID press release, after the jump.
The Board of Directors of the Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) announces that Tracy Sayegh Gabriel has been hired as the new president and executive director of the organization. She will begin at the BID in August.
A nationally recognized urban planner and city-builder, Gabriel brings 15 years of planning, development, and place-based economic development experience in government and private consultancy in the Washington, D.C. and New York City markets. She is former vice president at the New York City Economic Development Corporation under the Bloomberg Administration overseeing neighborhood transformations and managing large-scale public projects. She is currently associate director at the District of Columbia Office of Planning, where she has led a design-forward, equity-driven planning practice since 2012 including neighborhood plans and place-making throughout the District and directing Anacostia Waterfront development. Her work has typically focused on mixed-use development and neighborhood revitalization, integrating real estate, infrastructure, and capital planning initiatives.
“Hiring Tracy is a strategic move to continue the exciting momentum underway in Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard – Arlington,” said Glenda MacMullin, Crystal City BID Board Chair and chief operating officer and chief financial officer at Consumer Technology Association. “Now is a pivotal time in our organization’s trajectory. We’re so thankful for the comprehensive, collaborative and strategic work that Rob Mandle and Rich Bradley have been doing, and we believe Tracy will help take the Crystal City BID and our entire area to the next level.”
The Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) is now several months into a multidimensional strategic planning process exploring the nature of the greater submarket that includes Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard – Arlington. The process, called the Future Cities Project, has been led by Rich Bradley of The Urban Partnership serving as the BID’s acting executive director, and Rob Mandle, the BID’s chief operating officer. The process has included an extensive community outreach effort, both in person and online, and is guided by a Steering Committee drawn from the BID’s Board of Directors, civic associations, businesses, and arts groups, and major property owners in the Pentagon City and Potomac Yard areas, along with other public and civic sector leaders and officials. The process will result in an Action Agenda to be released this fall that will drive the area towards becoming a more dynamic, urban, and walkable place.
This greater submarket is the largest walkable downtown in Virginia and of similar scale to major U.S. downtowns such as Indianapolis and Austin. With new private investment totaling $2 billion is in the pipeline and another $1.5 billion in public infrastructure projects slated for the next decade, Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard are poised for a dynamic transformation which will be supported by the BID’s strategy and leadership.
“I am excited about the opportunity to work with the Board, as well as the County, residents, businesses, and other stakeholders, to support the repositioning of Crystal City. The sheer scale of what’s happening in the Crystal City area right now will have an impact on the entire region,” Tracy Gabriel said. “I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves to work at this important nexus of design, planning, economic development, and revitalization with the great team that’s already in place.”
While vice president at the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Gabriel was responsible for high-profile development projects and neighborhood-wide initiatives, including the transformation of Long Island City, now the fastest growing neighborhood in New York City, and the development of Hunter’s Point South, one of the most innovative urban waterfront projects. She also served as a consultant on various real estate, downtown, and revitalization projects at Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates. Gabriel earned a degree from George Washington University, received her Master’s in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was a Fulbright Scholar in economic development in Damascus, Syria.
The Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) wants to hear your thoughts about the future of Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard.
The process, called the Future Cities Project, will engage members of the public on the area’s future. Simultaneously, the Crystal City BID will hold various public meetings throughout the summer at both the Pentagon City and Crystal City Metro stations, residential and office lobbies, shopping spaces and more. The schedule has yet to come out, but the BID will provide update in the coming weeks.
Throughout the process, the project will “consider public space and placemaking efforts, the strategic goals of the organization, and elevating a new identity for the area — all with the goal of transforming these interrelated areas into a lively, walkable urban center,” according to a press release.
The public engagement effort comes as the BID is weighing plans to expand its boundaries to include Pentagon City and the Arlington portion of Potomac Yard, which — should it happen — would necessitate a new name to reference the combined neighborhoods.The effort also comes as Amazon considers Crystal City as a possible destination for its second headquarters.
Photo courtesy Crystal City BID
A 360-unit luxury apartment complex has broken ground in Potomac Yard.
The new 12-story building, to be called The Sur, will have 16,000 square feet of retail space and another 25,000 square feet of shared amenities space. Units range from 557 square foot studios to 1,419 square foot three bedroom apartments. High-end features include a dog spa, a rooftop spa and a “party room.”
Situated on the site of the neighborhood’s namesake former major railroad switchyard, The Sur will be across from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport’s south end.
On-site construction hours on the site at 3400 Potomac Avenue have been approved from 7 a.m. through 9 p.m. on weekdays and between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
The development was originally approved in 2007, but Courthouse-based developer Erkiletian Development Co. sought minor modifications to the plan this past September. The site plan amendment was ultimately given the greenlight by the Arlington County Board.
The Arlington County Board will debate whether to name a park near Potomac Yard “Short Bridge Park,” after it being known informally as “South Park” for over a decade.
The county’s Parks and Recreation Commission recommended the name for the park between Potomac Ave and U.S. Route 1, along Four Mile Run. Arlington County and the City of Alexandria both own portions of the park.
A county staff report on the naming notes that the park had the informal moniker “South Park” as it is the southernmost park in the Potomac Yard Phased Development Site Plan, which provides a roadmap for development in the area. It was created in October 2000.
The park currently has a publicly accessible playground and a playground exclusively used by a daycare facility, planted shrub/perennial beds, walkways, a large grassy field and a steeply sloped grassy area.
Renovations to the park will improve its connectivity to the Four Mile Run Trail, as well as add facilities like a dog park, an “interpretative plaza,” more pathways, a shade structure and other plazas and a meadow.
In a letter to the Board, Parks and Recreation Commission chair Caroline Haynes said the group supports the plans for the park and its new name, which she said is a “complement to ‘Long Bridge Park‘ both in size and location.”
Eastern Foundry Expanding Again — Government contracting startup accelerator Eastern Foundry is expanding once again. The accelerator is taking a 6,175-square-foot space directly below its Crystal City offices and dividing it into four suites “to attract larger companies that want a foothold in the co-working world.” [Washington Business Journal]
JBG’s Big Plans for Crystal City, Potomac Yard — The newly-merged JBG Smith sees an opportunity to transform its holdings in Pentagon City, Crystal City, Potomac Yard and North Old Town Alexandria into “24/7 environments” that “feel more like the [Rosslyn-Ballston] Corridor.” In Crystal City, the company wants to add new amenities. “What we want to do there is add retail amenities and residential to convince people who work there to live and play there,” said an executive. [Bisnow]
Real Estate Market Continues Upward Trajectory — “Year-over-year home sales and average sales prices across Northern Virginia were up slightly in July, leading to a 6.6-percent increase in total sales volume, according to new figures.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Work at a new Potomac Yard apartment building set to include a new church is well underway.
The County Board approved the addition of a church to the first and second floors of the 12-story residential building in 2015. The building was originally approved in 2007 but went unbuilt for some time.
Now, however, the site between Jefferson Davis Highway, 33rd Street S., 35th Street S. and S. Ball Street has been cleared by construction crews, with foundations set to be lain soon.
The new church — known previously as the “Meetinghouse of Worship” — is planned for a portion of the first and second floors of the building. It will be occupy 23,906 square feet of space, with a 300-seat sanctuary, classrooms, administrative offices and a multipurpose room on the first and second floors.
The church will be on the left side of the building, next to 33rd Street S., while on the right side of the building, the apartment complex will have a lobby and retail space.
The apartment complex is set to have 342 units, having added 11 with the church’s approval. A brochure on the building by architects DCS Design touts its “ground floor retail, rooftop pool and a private exercise facility,” and its proximity to public transit options.
The building will be close to a Crystal City-Potomac Yard transitway stop on Crystal Drive, parallel to Route 1.
Representatives with developer The Praedium Group did not respond to requests for comment on a timeline for construction, or further details on the church that will move in.
Progress on an undeveloped parcel of land in Potomac Yard may not happen for another three years after a recent County Board vote and Virginia General Assembly bill that passed this year.
At its meeting Tuesday, the Board allowed Lidl US, the owner of Land Bay C in Potomac Yard, to withdraw its application to extend the life of its final plan for the site by three years.
The site plan was originally approved in 2007, to include four buildings over an underground parking garage. It includes more than 1 million square feet of office space, 41,000 square feet of retail space and a half-acre park known as North Plaza.
Lidl looked to withdraw its extension after Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) signed HB 1697 into law. The bill automatically extends certain approvals from July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2020 on projects designed to help Virginia recovery from the 2008 housing crisis.
Lidl originally applied for a three-year extension on the site plan last November, before the bill had been debated and passed in Richmond.
The plan is valid until 2020 thanks to the bill’s passage, and at the meeting there was no discussion on a timeline for the project. Representatives with Lidl US did not respond to a request for comment. If construction does not begin before the site plan’s 2020 deadline, the applicant would either need to withdraw the plan or file for another extension.
During the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting, local resident Jim Hurysz noted the surrounding community’s concerns about the uncertainty surrounding much of the development at Potomac Yard.
Hurysz noted Alexandria City Council’s worries about a lack of open space in North Potomac Yard during its own planning process, as well as an expected influx of traffic when the Virginia Department of Transportation extends the HOT Lanes on Interstate 395.
An under-utilized park south of Crystal City is in line for some major upgrades.
Across jurisdictional lines, the planning process for South Park at Potomac Yard near Four Mile Run is gathering steam, with a projected completion date of later this year. Arlington County and the City of Alexandria both own portions of the park, located between Potomac Avenue and U.S. Route 1, along Four Mile Run.
The park currently has a publicly accessible playground and a playground exclusively used by a daycare facility, planted shrub/perennial beds, walkways, a large grassy field and a steeply sloped grassy area.
A post on the county website explains the park’s unique history.
“The boundary line curvature represents the natural Four Mile Run channel before it was straightened and channelized by the Army Corps of Engineers after the 1972 Hurricane Agnes, which produced heavy rain and extensive flooding,” the post reads. “As a result, the Army Corps of Engineers straightened and channelized Four Mile Run and covered the stream’s natural banks with riprap. Unfortunately, this created a less than desirable condition for the stream’s ecology.”
And with money available in the county’s capital budget as well as a federal grant available to construct and improve connectivity to the Four Mile Run Trail, staff in the parks department are preparing to make improvements.
The first phase of construction is anticipated to begin early next year and link Route 1 to the Four Mile Run Trail. The second phase is slated to begin in 2022 for the remaining park elements.
Those remaining park elements will be decided through a civic engagement process led by county parks and recreation staff that began late last month with a community meeting at Gunston Middle School.
Three more meetings are scheduled — the next on March 29 at a location yet to be determined — with a view to residents helping determine the park’s design.
Attendees wrote down their desired park amenities at that first meeting, then the next meeting will bring further determination of park elements as well as staff soliciting potential park names.
“The Four Mile Run Restoration Master Plan and Design Guidelines provide a vision for in-stream and near-stream improvements,” said Bethany Heim, an associate planner at the county’s parks and recreation department. “The vision calls for public and private improvements to recognize Four Mile Run as an asset and, through design, make visual and physical connections to the water. The master plan also calls for innovative strategies to treat stormwater runoff that will improve the water quality.
“The South Park Master Plan will identify ways to connect people to the water, take advantage of view sheds, and improve the water quality of Four Mile Run.”
Alexandria, meanwhile, intends to improve its section of the site as part of the redevelopment of North Potomac Yard.
Dana Wedeles, acting principal planner in Alexandria’s department of recreation, parks and cultural activities, said she expects plenty of cooperation between the two jurisdictions on this project despite the differing timelines.
“We are working collaboratively to ensure that what is proposed through the Arlington process does not preclude complimentary future improvements to the Alexandria portion,” Wedeles said in an email. “We envision that the site will be used by both Arlington and Alexandria residents and, despite the two jurisdictions having different, timing of planning, design and implementation, we ultimately want to see one seamless improved open space.”
The redevelopment of North Potomac Yard in Alexandria gathered more steam last week, and residents in Crystal City are keeping an eye on its potential impacts.
North Potomac Yard is in the northeast corner of Alexandria, just across the Arlington County line, near a planned Potomac Yard Metro station. It is currently occupied by a Regal movie theater, a Target and other big box stores and restaurants.
The City of Alexandria is in the planning process for a massive mixed-use development at the 69-acre site, to include retail, residential units, a hotel and office space.
On February 22, city staff released the first draft three chapters of the updated plan, then the following day met with the Crystal City Civic Association at its general meeting.
Association president Christer Ahl told ARLnow.com that his members are most concerned that Crystal City will be left behind as nearby developments spring up in Arlington and Alexandria.
“Perhaps the larger issue which the project raises is whether it could contribute to the notion of Crystal City becoming a ‘backwater,’ stuck with many old buildings which at best might be renovated, while the Rosslyn/Ballston corridor and Potomac Yard in two very different ways will be full of exciting new development,” he said.
“Of course, this depends a lot on the attitude and priorities of the county, JBG/Smith and other developers, together with the near-term market situation.”
Ahl added that many in the area are also concerned with the impact on traffic along Crystal Drive and Route 1 from the new development, which could total as much as 7.5 million square feet.
The Alexandria City Council voted to approve the new Metro station in May 2015, to be located on the Yellow and Blue lines between the Braddock Road and National Airport stops.
While the new Metro station and the Metroway bus rapid transit route along Route 1 could take care of a lot of traffic impact, Ahl said, there were still concerns about the number of cars to hit the roads with the new development.
“If we assume that the new development goes hand-in-hand with the new Metro station, that should take care of a lot of the concerns,” Ahl said. “Alexandria very strongly focuses on being as pedestrian, bike and transit-friendly as possible, and conversely avoiding car dependency. In terms of vehicular traffic on U.S. Route 1 or Potomac Avenue leading into Crystal City, I guess the proof in the pudding is hard to predict.”
One other aspect that Ahl said troubled some association members is the potential loss of amenities like the movie theater and Target, which are major draws. But he said members will continue to monitor the situation and see how it evolves.
“To some extent, it becomes wait and see,” Ahl said. “Depending on their own inclinations and their own preferences, we’re speculating on whether it will be positive or negative in some sense. Some people would hate to see losing some of their existing favorite places, although they emphasized in our meeting that Target has a lease in place until 2028, so that might be the last thing that happens down there.”
According to a timeline, an advisory group tasked with updating the North Potomac Yard plan will present its final recommendations in April.
Images via City of Alexandria