Arlington, VA

A real estate company developing an apartment building in Crystal City is looking to “refresh” its holdings nearby with a new retail plaza.

Lowe Enterprises Real Estate, which owns 2450 Crystal Drive and 2641 S. Clark Street, has applied for a minor site plan amendment to help break up the “mega block” along Crystal Drive south of 23rd Street S. Where a low-slung building space is currently sandwiched between two taller office buildings, Lowe envisions a plaza and retail pavilion, according to application documents.

The application comes nearly four years after the Arlington County Board approved Lowe’s “Century Center Residential” development: a yet-to-be-built apartment building to go on top of the Buffalo Wild Wings at the corner of Crystal Drive and 23rd Street S.

Lowe is now proposing a 10,500-square-foot public plaza with ground-level retail improvements to take the place of a chunk of office space. This change “fulfills the ‘market’ public plaza” called for in the Crystal City Sector Plan, the applicant’s attorney, Kedrick Whitmore, told the county in a letter.

“The proposed changes would substantially enhance the existing condition of the area,” boosting the ability for outdoor gatherings and seating, Whitmore said.

The plaza would be an interim installation until the time when an east-west road between Crystal Drive and Clark-Bell Street can be built. For that to happen, however, additional buildings will need to be torn down, which requires some leases to expire.

Members of the public had the chance to engage with the site plan amendment last week as part of a new community engagement process, Arlington Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development spokeswoman Jessica Margarit tells ARLnow.

“For this subset, County Planning staff believe additional community input would be beneficial prior to consideration by the County Board,” she said. “While a majority are in fact minor, at times others can have a significant impact on the public realm or garner broad community interest.”

Examples of these minor plans with major impact include public park improvements or reconfigurations and substantial streetscape or road modifications, she said.

The focus on increasing community engagement for “minor” changes follows problems with a recent site plan amendment from JBG Smith to make changes to the Crystal City Water Park. The County Board initially denied its application in January over potential problems and approved the latest iteration of the project last month. During this process, members said this project revealed how technically minor site plan amendments can be major enough to warrant more public engagement.

Since then, the county has solicited public feedback on amendments to the Reed School Stormwater Facility, to Westpost (formerly Pentagon Row), and now, Century Center, Margarit said, adding that the feedback so far has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

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The County Board has unanimously approved plans to improve walking and cycling connections and add amenities to the Crystal City Water Park.

Water features and a food stand currently activate the privately-owned Crystal City Water Park at 1601 Crystal Drive. It also provides connections to the Mount Vernon Trail and Reagan National Airport, as well as the proposed Virginia Railway Express north entrance.

Park owner JBG Smith initially came to the board in January with plans to modify the Crystal City Connector path — which cuts through the site — and renovate the park. Members deferred the proposal over predictions that the developer’s plans for the pathway would lead to unsafe pedestrian and cyclist interactions.

On Saturday, County Board members signed off on revision to the project. The Crystal City Connector path will be turned into two paths accessing the Mount Vernon Trail and the new VRE entrance: one for pedestrians and the other focused on bicyclists.

JBG Smith will be “adding retail shops, cafes, and restaurants along the edges of the park, upgrading the existing water wall… adding a new water feature, [and] adding public art and an outdoor bar,” the county announced on Monday.

The additions include “nine (9) 300 square-foot retail structures positioned along Crystal Drive, a 1,415 square-foot retail structure along the northern edge, a 760 square-foot bar with a 2,069 square-foot terrace atop the water wall, a 409 square-foot performance platform to be used for the event lawn, and a 747 square-foot trailhead restroom facility,” per a county staff report.

“We’re proud to say that this project has evolved in response to the comments and we think gotten to a place that is better than we were a couple of months ago,” said Kedrick Whitmore, an attorney representing JBG Smith.

The staff report said the plan has been redesigned to minimize conflicts and support increasing number of pedestrians and bicyclists accessing the trail and the VRE station. Potential users testified in January that the initial proposed design, below, would lead to conflicts at the exit from the Mount Vernon Trail access tunnel, where visibility is low.

JBG Smith’s new plan removes the stairway that linked the pathways to the water park, located near a series of tunnels. It does not, however, remove an adjacent path between the Crystal City Connector path and the connection to the proposed VRE station, although some community members predicted it too would be unsafe.

“We think this is a really important area to maintain a connection,” Whitmore said. “Despite keeping the connection in place, we did hear loud and clear that there were safety concerns, and the use of paint, mirrors, signage and paving will help.”

The developer will also widen the sidewalk along Crystal Drive from eight to 10 feet and use landscaping, signage, striping and paving treatments near the tunnels and the connection to Crystal Drive to increase visibility and heighten awareness for all users, the report said.

Board members told County Manager Mark Schwartz that the county needs to increase the level of public engagement for similar projects going forward. Board members agreed with some speakers that more scrutiny from county commissions could have uncovered the safety concerns sooner and prevented the project’s deferral from earlier this year.

“Let’s not do this again,” said Pedestrian Advisory Committee secretary Pamela Van Hine, suggesting a smaller-scale version of the site plan review process for large projects. “We can help you but you have to ask us to help you.”

While the county classifies this project as a minor site plan amendment, Board member Katie Cristol said such amendments “may have a major impact on how people experience the site.”

Photos via Arlington County

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(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) Will the proposed development for Landmark Block in Courthouse be the site of a “revolution” in urban living?

Arlington County says so. And developer Greystar Real Estate Partners appears ready to ignite this uprising, with plans to replace the aging, low-slung buildings on the 2000 block of Wilson Blvd — including the former Summers Restaurant — into an apartment tower surrounded by a pedestrian promenade and a curbless street.

But for some Planning Commission members, aspects of the proposal are not revolutionary enough, and one could be unsafe for pedestrians.

In 2015, the county published its vision for the square as an “attractive, accessible, and inclusive public space,” a sustainable 18-hour-a-day hub that celebrates Courthouse Square’s “rich history.”

The “civic and cultural heart of Arlington” will be flexible, innovative, sustainable and timeless, according to the 2015 Courthouse Square Sector Plan addendum. In short, the planning document said, Courthouse Square will be “where the revolution begins.”

To lead the charge, Greystar needs approval from the County Board, which is slated to review the proposal on Saturday.

Greystar is proposing a 423-unit apartment building with ground-floor retail and underground parking. But this bread-and-butter project includes community benefits that will be “a truly landmark project,” said Nicholas Cummings, Greystar’s legal representation, during a Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday.

These is a proposed pedestrian promenade on N. Uhle Street that will lead to a revamped Court House Metro station entrance, as well as the shared, curbless concrete street on 15th Street N.

“The existing N. Uhle Street is harsh, with asphalt, no benches and minimal trees,” said Steve Smith, a principal architect for Cooper Carry, the architect for the project. “We’re excited about this opportunity to transform it into a fully [compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act], pedestrian-only promenade, which provides increased tree-lined dining and public seating areas that activate the path to the Metro entrance.”

Meanwhile, 15th Street N. will be resurfaced and raised to create “a curbless table that blends into the sidewalk on both sides of the street,” he said.

Other community benefits include on-site committed affordable housing units, LEED Gold certification, a $800,000 contribution toward improving a future “Civic Square,” and $250,000 “for a public art installation in the square.”

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(Updated at 9:35 p.m.) A new CVS Pharmacy is open at the revamped Central District Retail shopping plaza, also known as “Crystal Square,” in Crystal City.

The store opened on Sunday, Feb. 28, a JBG Smith spokesperson confirmed. It is part of a major redevelopment that the property owner has planned for a block of Crystal Drive between 15th and 18th streets.

In 2018, the County Board approved the project, which JBG says will blend retail, public spaces and transit services.

Signage appears to now be up for two more occupants: Mah-Ze-Dahr, a bakery said to have some of New York City’s best doughnuts, as well as a yet-unnamed specialty grocery store. The first D.C. outpost of the NYC bakery opened in Navy Yard in the fall.

JBG once more declined to comment on which grocer will be filling the space. Permits indicate that the store will offer prepared foods like packaged salads, sandwiches, entrees and soups, as well as various beverages. The permits further specify that the store will have “self app check-out.”

A spokesperson previously confirmed that the specialty grocer will sell produce, meats and poultry, frozen foods and baked goods. Taken as a whole, the concept sounds similar to that of Amazon Fresh stores, a new bricks-and-mortar retail offering of the tech giant, which is currently constructing its HQ2 up the street.

The store will be built in the existing office building at 1550 Crystal Drive, according to the county. The new one-story retail area will replace a 1990s-era strip and will link the grocery store to a planned Alamo Drafthouse movie theater at 1750 Crystal Drive.

The theater chain recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but a company spokesman tells ARLnow the planned Crystal City location is owned by a franchisee “which has not filed for bankruptcy.”

“There are no changes to its development plans at 1750 Crystal Drive,” the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, outposts of New York City taco chain Tacombi and the boutique fitness gym Solidcore — which has existing locations in Courthouse and Ballston — are still on track to open in the area.

A spokeswoman for Solidcore confirmed that the gym is slated to open this summer.

“Central District Retail will enhance the street-level experience with new dining, shopping and entertainment options on Crystal Drive,” Amy Rice, senior vice president of Retail Leasing at JBG Smith, previously told ARLnow in a statement. “It will serve as the retail heart of National Landing and a vibrant destination for people throughout the region.”

Photo (2) courtesy Car-Free#HQ2/Twitter

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A major redevelopment proposal in Rosslyn is facing pushback from those who think it doesn’t do enough for cyclists and pedestrians.

McLean-based Jefferson Apartment Group is proposing a 27-story mixed-use residential complex with 424 units at 1901 N. Moore Street, replacing the 1960s-era RCA building. Two towers will be connected at the top by a penthouse and at the base with ground floor retail.

But as the project moves through the public review process, some have expressed concerns a number of transportation-related issues: the proposed unprotected bike lanes along 19th Street N., the project’s parking ratio, and the pedestrian experience along the block.

These three topics are likely to resurface during a follow-up Site Plan Review Committee meeting on Monday, March 15 — and perhaps later this spring, when the project will go before the Planning Commission and the County Board.

“We’ve been identifying issues, responding to citizen comments, and having very good discussions with surrounding community groups,” said Andrew Painter, an attorney with land use firm Walsh Colucci, during the first SPRC meeting last month.

Staff members are considering some protections for the proposed 19th Street bike lanes in response to public input.

“It may be possible to provide an additional level of protection in one direction” on the block from N. Lynn to N. Moore streets, said Principal Planner Dennis Sellin, adding that staffers “don’t see the capacity to do it in both directions.”

Arlington Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt said 19th Street N. has enough traffic to qualify it for protected or buffered bike lanes.

Another hot issue was the parking ratio of .625 spaces per residential unit. Jefferson is proposing 290 total spaces, split among 265 residential spaces, 15 retail and 10 visitor spaces, according to a staff report.

“The goal is to right-size the garage to meet the market demand but not provide extra that incentivizes people to drive,” Painter said.

Although the proposal is within county guidelines, Sellin said “we would certainly accept a lower ratio.” The minimum is .2 spaces per unit but the lowest Sellin said he has seen proposed is .38 spaces per unit.

North Rosslyn Civic Association representative Terri Prell said people, particularly the elderly, still need cars for tasks such as grocery shopping.

“You have to understand this is a residential community, not a business community,” she said.

Lowering the ratio would attract people who want to lead a car-free lifestyle, Slatt said, asking for data on space utilization rates.

The parking needs to be built partially above ground due to “particularly dense rock” and Metro tunnels. To conceal the parking above the retail and below the residential units — and add public art — the architect is exploring adding graphics by local artists, said architect Shalom Baranes.

The Metro tunnels add another complication: a longer expected demolition process.

As for the pedestrian experience, some members were concerned that the block will be too long and there will be no opportunities for cutting through it. Sellin said the block is comparable to others at 400 feet long.

SPRC Chair Sara Steinberger said knowing the length “may not change the community’s feelings on what feels like a longer stretch of block when you have large buildings covering a greater area.”

In 2017, Weissberg Investment Corp., which developed the RCA building in the 1960s, filed plans to redevelop the RCA site — but those plans were put on hold indefinitely in 2018. Jefferson started filing application materials in May 2020.

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(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) Arlington County has asked JBG Smith to go back to the drawing board after reviewing its plans to upgrade the Crystal City Water Park.

The privately-owned park at 1601 Crystal Drive currently includes water features, trees, and a food stand. It has frequently been used for local events and gatherings.

The project to upgrade it will be deferred two months so that JBG Smith can address pedestrian and cyclist safety concerns raised by Arlington County Board members and community members during the Board’s Tuesday night meeting.

“This is not a fully baked plan yet,” Board member Christian Dorsey said. 

The Bethesda-based real estate company is proposing a new performance area, more outdoor seating, preserving and updating the existing water fountain, and incorporating a new water feature in the center of the site. The proposal also includes a number of retail structures: small kiosks, a bar, and a trailhead restroom facility.

Most of the discussion was devoted to two paths — one ADA-accessible — that JBG Smith proposed to build to connect people to the nearby VRE station and the Mount Vernon Trail. A small pathway linked the two connections.

Community members and County Board members said these paths, as proposed, would create conflicts between pedestrians and bicyclists. People would have to cross the Mount Vernon Trail connector to get to the rest of the park and cyclists would be battling a grade change while avoiding pedestrians.

“We thought we were being helpful, but we’re hearing loudly and clearly that this is scaring people, and we should reconsider it,” said Robin Mosle, a consultant on the project.

The Bethesda-based real estate company opted out of a public design process — something that drew the frustration of some Board members, including Takis Karantonis.

“This would be a conversation that we would have had in the Park and Recreation Commission in advance of the meeting,” Karantonis said. 

The County Board is now expected to see the project again when it meets in March.  

News of a plan to invigorate the park with new retail dates back at least to 2017, when ARLnow reported that the concession stand in the park had closed. A few months later, The Stand opened in its place, hosting many pop-up eateries. In April, D.C. food truck Peruvian Brothers took it over.

Photos via Arlington County

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After years of delays, plans for half of an undeveloped parcel of land in Potomac Yard, called Land Bay C East, are taking shape.

Two residential buildings with ground-floor retail, bisected by a pedestrian pathway, are planned along Potomac Avenue and Crystal Drive between 29th Street S. and 33rd Street S. In addition to 488 residential units, the plans call for underground parking and open space.

The developer, ZOM Living, has dubbed the project Hazel National Landing. A luxury apartment developer with an office in Tysons, ZOM Living has built The Beacon Clarendon on N. Irving Street and 19Nineteen in Courthouse.

The plans are a long time in coming for the parcel, which is currently used for parking and as a construction staging area, said Adam Watson, a County planner, in a staff presentation from December.

“Despite persistent leasing efforts, the property remains vacant,” said Martin “Art” Walsh, the attorney for the project, said in ZOM Living’s presentation from December. “We’ve worked with economic development to verify our efforts in terms of trying to lease the property.”

The original site plan was approved in 2007 and situated four office buildings over an underground parking garage. It allotted more than 1 million square feet to office space, 41,000 square feet for retail space, as well as a half-acre for a park.

The land is owned by German grocery chain Lidl, which has its U.S. headquarters nearby. In 2017, the County Board gave Lidl a three-year extension to develop the property.

In February 2020, six months before the three-year extension ended, Meridian Development Group seemed poised to swap offices with residential buildings. Two months later, ZOM Living submitted its plans.

ZOM Living’s development covers Land Bay C East, while the western half is still slated for offices.

The first residential building will be 150 feet tall, with 14 floors and 297 residential units. The second building will be 120 feet tall, with 11 floors and 191 units. The towers share 9,181 square feet in retail space and two floors of below-grade parking, with 399 residential spots and 15 retail spots.

Some of the lower-level units will have their own townhouse-style exterior entrances.

Renderings illustrate primarily brick buildings with large patios and greenery on the ground floor and rooftop, overlooking a tree-lined passageway and plaza.

“We’re very excited about the vibrancy and potential of this project, not only for the buildings but the public open space,” said Tom Kerwin, the founding principal of bKL Architecture, during the December presentation.

A public engagement period for the project ended in December 2020. The Site Plan Review Committee will look over the project in February and March, prior to consideration by county commissions and the County Board.

Photos via Arlington County

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The second of two residential towers at Pentagon Centre, in Pentagon City, is taking shape at 15th Street S. and S. Hayes Street.

This past spring, work began on The Milton, an 11-story building with 253 residential units and 15,541 square feet of ground-floor retail. It follows on the heels of a 26-story, 440-unit residential tower with 7,000 square feet of ground-floor retail called The Witmer (710 12th Street S.), which opened in July 2019.

The Milton is set to be completed in 2023, said Geoffrey Glazer, the Senior Vice President for National Development of Kimco Realty, owner of the shopping center.

The County Board approved the buildings in 2015 as part of Kimco’s three-phase, 30-year development of Pentagon Centre. Phase one began with a parking garage near Costco. The project also includes a 9,000-square foot open space, according to a staff report.

Construction crews worked from spring to fall relocating utility lines for the new building, and the project is still on-schedule, Glazer said. Right now, they are doing preliminary foundation work and will eventually start digging.

“We’re very close to where we were [supposed to be] when we started that project,” he said. “We worked through most of the pandemic, and construction on the site work all kept moving forward.”

He does not anticipate the construction causing any disruptions to shopping at Costco, Nordstrom Rack or Marshalls.

“Access to our existing parking structures and fields will all be open and operational,” he said. “There will be additional signage for people to have clarity for how to move around.”

In later phases, scheduled out about two decades, leases will be up for the big-box stores, making way for public open space and new development.

“It’s out there,” Glazer said. “Everybody’s leases have lots more term.”

Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A and a Chase Bank branch are moving into the ground floor of The Witmer, joining Arlington’s second outpost of Wiseguy Pizza. The local D.C. pizza chain opened the Pentagon location in June.

Ultimately, as currently configured, the site will have 346,000 square feet of retail, 705,000 square feet of office space and a 200-room hotel. With the residential buildings, that brings the total project size to nearly 2 million square feet, according to Kimco.

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(Updated 3/4/21) McLean-based Jefferson Apartment Group has taken over plans to convert the RCA building in Rosslyn into a 27-story mixed-use residential complex.

The next steps for the proposed retail and residential building at 1901 N. Moore Street include community engagement — an online feedback form available through next Wednesday — and site plan reviews in February and March.

In 2017, Weissberg Investment Corp., which developed the RCA building in the 1960s, filed plans to redevelop the RCA site — but those plans were put on hold indefinitely in 2018. Jefferson started filing application materials in May 2020.

Jefferson proposes a building with two towers, 260 feet and 239.5 feet tall, atop a base, connected at the top by a penthouse level, creating “a sky window” in the middle, according to staff and architect presentations. As currently planned, the building will have 424 residential units and nearly 12,000 square feet of retail space.

Though it has some ground-floor retail, the current building is mostly devoid of street-level activity, while the sidewalk around it is shaded by an overhang.

“In 1969, the current RCA building was constructed, and quite unfortunately drained the site of that rich pedestrian environment that formerly occupied the site,” Shalom Baranes, the architect for the project, said in the developer’s presentation. “One of our goals with the proposed project is to restore the street-level retail vitality that existed years ago.”

Parking access will take up most of N. Moore St while retail — dining, entertainment, services and repairs and sales — will be housed on the other three sides of the block: 19th Street N., N. Lynn Street and Lee Highway.

The site will have 290 parking spaces, including 15 retail and 10 visitor spots. Not all of the 265 residential spots can fit below-grade, due to “particularly dense rock” and some Metro tunnels, Baranes said.

Two levels of parking, or 102 spaces, will be inside the building — above the retail and below the residential units.

“We have been very careful to integrate the parking architecturally so that it appears to be part of the overall building composition,” Baranes said.

There will be 171 long-term and 12 short-term bike spaces.

Arlington County principal planner Kristen Walentisch said that increasing the share of housing will make Rosslyn more vibrant and economically competitive.

“Historically, Rosslyn has been dominated by commercial office spaces and hotels, so the Rosslyn Sector Plan adopted in 2015 includes several land use goals aimed to establish a greater balance between commercial and residential uses and activities,” she said during a staff presentation.

Photos (2-3) via Arlington County

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(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) Few office and retail spaces were approved or completed in the first three quarters of 2020, but Arlington officials say it is too early to attribute the drop to the pandemic or consider it a trend at all.

The 2020 third quarter report on retail, office, hotel and residential development appears to show that the rates at which projects are approved, buildings are demolished, and construction starts and ends have dropped off in 2020. Meanwhile, the demolition and redevelopment of single-family detached homes appears to remain consistent.

No hotel rooms have been approved or built so far in 2020 (though a former hotel was demolished in spectacular fashion on Sunday). About 120,000 square feet of retail has been completed this year, and 40,000 square feet approved, but rates exceeded both those sums in 2019. About 17,000 square feet of office space was approved this year, compared to 2 million last year thanks to Amazon’s HQ2.

“It would be easy to think because of COVID-19 that that might explain the tapering off of development, but it’s too early for us to know,” said county planner Emily Garrett, who led the Q3 Development Tracking Report. “It could be normal to have a slower couple of quarters following large projects.”

In the view of Marc McCauley, the director of real estate for the Arlington Economic Development office, the coronavirus has impacted existing properties more than future projects.

“If you’re in development and considering mixed-use, we haven’t heard a lot of projects significantly delayed or dropped because of concerns, but you may be concerned about getting a hotel financed,” he said. “It has not moved the needle one way or another in terms of development.”

Although these reports look back to the third quarter of 2015, that is not long enough in the scheme of big projects to determine if large-scale office, retail and mixed-use developments are actually slowing down, the two officials agreed.

Rather, such projects could be on four- to five-year cycles, which looks inconsistent compared to the 50 to 60 houses that are approved, demolished and rebuilt each quarter, like clockwork, Garrett said. Before Amazon was granted 2 million square feet in December 2019, the last time a comparable project came around was in the first quarter of 2016, she said.

As for retail, the change reflects the broader trend in Arlington’s development extending beyond the last five years. McCauley said. Retail clusters such as the Ballston Quarter explain the occasional retail spikes, but it is more common to have small amounts of ground-floor retail approved as part of a mixed-use project.

“There’s only so much retail clusters you can support,” he said. “Through long-term market cycles, they get repositioned because it’s about refreshing your concept to be able to compete for customers.”

Meanwhile, the housing development rates reflect the trajectory Arlington has been on for decades, Garrett said, with most new development focusing on denser housing near transit hubs.

“I would definitely say overall the way development trends aligns with the overall demographic trends of Arlington County for decades now,” she said.

The average household size shrank in 1970 and has been stable ever since, with more opting to live in smaller housing units, she said. The report shows that the number of apartment units is growing, while the number of single-family homes remain flat, with detached homes being replaced at a nearly one-to-one rate.

The last three quarters of relative inactivity come as the county is focusing on new and ongoing development plans, including along Lee Highway and in the Clarendon area.

“We’re at that point where we’re looking at studies that have been completed and… seeing where there might be additional potential,” Garrett said.

Garrett said it “could be a year, or years” before the County sees the true impact of the pandemic on development. “We’ll just have to see.”

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From themed attractions to hydroponic farms, locals have dreamed up novel ways to revitalize Crystal City Shops (1750 Crystal Dr), an underground mall.

The shops, which rely largely on foot traffic from Crystal City office workers, have been struggling during the pandemic. But with Amazon’s arrival spurring new development, some local groups have been brainstorming a new future for the half-mile corridor.

Last week, the best ideas were proclaimed winners of the “Underground Challenge,” developed by Livability 22202, a group that includes the Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands and Crystal City civic associations.

“The Underground Challenge was organized to spur creative thinking about the Crystal City Underground and its future with the change and new development now happening in Crystal City and National Landing,” said Livability 22202’s press release. The group said that subterranean shops are “much loved by local residents.”

The challenge was sponsored by JBG Smith, which owns the shopping center, and the National Landing Business Improvement District, which serves the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods. The three groups founded a working group to liven up the sparse hallways.

People submitted creative writing pieces, videos or business plans to revitalize the buildings, corridors and plazas that were built a half-century ago.

“Entrants celebrated their fondness for the underground, pointed out its quirks and features, and proposed new ideas for its future,” said the press release.

These ideas included libraries, museums, urban farms or spaces for kid-friendly STEM activities.

Patricia Heath’s “Underground Energy” won first place in the “Write Underground” category:

“There are myriad issues to be addressed, and I don’t have all the answers (and likely don’t know all the challenges),” Heath wrote. “What I do know is this: the Water Park may be the outdoor personification of our Crystal City urban village, but the Underground is its beating heart and circulatory system, literally and figuratively.”

Runners-up in the creative writing category included Neena Gupta’s “In Search of a Protagonist” and Matthew Mercado’s “Dr. Mercado’s Diagnosis.”

Kari Klaus won the video category with a vision of a Las Vegas-inspired Underground.

Videos from the runners-up Emma Benson and Eric Cassell offered “fond — and satirical — commentary on the existing Underground experience.”

Business plan category winner Matt McKinstry suggested the “Under Grange,” a network of indoor hydroponic farms and agri-tech startups that grow vegetables, greens and herbs, and support cheesemaking and beekeeping, to supply local restaurants.

Runners-up included Michael Hong, who suggested a Museum of Science Fiction and venues for live music, and John Chapin, who imagined security-related businesses settling into the Underground.

“The community’s robust level of engagement in the ‘Underground Challenge’ truly reflects their passion for great places and appetite for continuous reinvention,” said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, the president and executive director of the National Landing BID, in a statement. “National Landing is fortunate to have such a committed community of residents focused on positive efforts that will improve the neighborhood for all.”

The contest’s judges included Robert Siegel, former co-host of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered; Arlington videographer Eric Courtney; and Arlington authors Rick Hodges and Kim O’Connell.

Livability 22202 said it plans to share ideas from the Challenge in future discussions about the underground.

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